Question: My husband struggles with issues from his past. I’ve encouraged him to talk to a counsellor, but he thinks counselling is for "losers." Is there anything I can do to change his attitude about seeking help?


What a great question! You are describing one of the most common situations in marriage: A man and his marriage need help, but he’s reluctant to get it. What can a wife do? Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Realize that needing help is a man’s worst nightmare. Nothing is more embarrassing, infuriating and frightening than to be "lost" – on a drive, at work, in marriage or with his own issues.
  2. Affirm what he does well. A man needs respect, especially when he’s struggling. The heart of respect is expressing your appreciation. Whenever you see him fixing the car, coaching soccer, reading to the kids or just getting up and going to work, thank him.
  3. Assure him that you know getting help takes enormous courage. Tell him that you would only think more of him for seeking the counsel he needs.
  4. Remind him that even the wisest and most competent people need advice at times. Moses needed the counsel of Jethro to avoid being overwhelmed by his responsibilities. David needed the encouragement of Jonathan to overcome his crippling doubt and depression. And Timothy needed the affirming letters of Paul to keep from being paralyzed by feelings of inadequacy.
  5. Offer to go with your husband to see a counsellor. Your reassuring presence may give him the courage he needs.

My wife, Bev, and I taught marriage issues at the Focus on the Family Institute for seven years. Although we are "marriage experts" and enjoy a healthy relationship, we have at times been so paralyzed by our personal weaknesses and so frustrated with each other that it took a good, compassionate counsellor to sort through our problems. For me as a man, going for help was always embarrassing and frightening. But our marriage is alive and well today because we went. Thriving marriages are not those without trouble; often they are those strengthened through trouble as couples get the help they need.

Roc Bottomly was a lead pastor and former senior fellow for marriage studies at the Focus on the Family Institute at the time of publication.

© 2008 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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