#183: Help! My Partner Refuses to Go to Therapy

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What to Do If Your Partner Doesn’t Want to Work on Your Relationship

What do you do if your partner doesn't want to work on your relationship? It's one of the most frustrating and isolating questions we often hear. You want to make changes, seek help, and improve things, but your partner seems hesitant or resistant. This blog post is dedicated to answering that very question and offering insights on how to handle this delicate situation with compassion and clarity.

Your Partner’s Reluctance: It’s Not Personal

So, what do you do if your partner doesn't want to work on your relationship? Are you just stuck? Do you just hang in there and wait? And why might they be hesitant? We're diving back into these questions to explore the emotional reasons behind your partner’s actions. You may find that their reluctance to work on the relationship isn’t about a lack of love or commitment but something deeper, something they may not even fully understand themselves.

A Common but Painful Scenario

This scenario is all too familiar. One partner wants to make changes, seek help, and improve the relationship, but the other is hesitant, citing excuses—it's not the right time, we don’t need help, we can fix our own problems. This avoidance and resistance can last not just for days or weeks but for years.

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Factors Behind the Hesitation

Many times, the hesitant partner is experiencing a range of fears that they may not even be fully aware of:

  • Fear of Vulnerability: They might be scared of exposing their deepest feelings and thoughts.
  • Fear of Confrontation: Addressing past mistakes or current issues might feel overwhelming.
  • Fear of Criticism: They might be afraid of being judged or blamed for the relationship's problems.
  • Fear of Loss: They may fear that working on the relationship could lead to its end, which is paradoxically what they want to avoid the most.

These fears create a vicious cycle of avoidance and inaction that traps both partners in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction.

Empathy and Understanding as the Gateway

To break this cycle, empathy and understanding become crucial. Imagine a situation where you’ve broken a promise or an agreement and feel the awkwardness, embarrassment, and reluctance to face the person involved. This is likely how your partner feels about addressing the issues in your relationship. They want to avoid the discomfort and potential fallout, much like you’d want to avoid an awkward encounter at the grocery store.

Practical Steps to Open the Conversation

Here are some solutions to help open up this conversation with a reluctant partner:

1. Get Vulnerable

Be open about your own fears and concerns. Share why you want to work on the relationship and what it means to you. Vulnerability can be contagious and can encourage your partner to open up as well.

2. Ask About Their Concerns

Instead of demanding to know why they won't get help, ask them what their biggest concerns are around seeking help. Make sure you share yours too, fostering an environment of mutual understanding.

3. Share Your Vision

Talk about why you want to work on the relationship. Recall the good times and the vision you both had for your relationship in the early days. This can serve as an inspiration to look forward.

4. Lead by Example

Let your partner know you are going to start working on yourself. Tell them about the steps you're going to take, such as joining support groups like the Better Love Club, and how you would love for them to join you.


Change is possible, and it starts with understanding and compassion—for yourself and your partner. Take the first step, create a safe space for communication, and watch how the dynamics begin to shift. We promise to be with you every step of the way, offering the skills, tools, and support you need to navigate your relationship journey.

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Resources mentioned in this episode:


  1. Better Love Club: Access unlimited resources, workshops, and a supportive community to deepen your relationship skills. Explore the club.
  2. Relationship Conversation Cards: Enhance your communication and deepen your connection with our Relationship Conversation Cards. stacibartley.com/cards

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