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Fiance Agrees to Go to Therapy Then Backs Out

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My fiance has been struggling with anxiety and depression since he was a child. He’s not able to go to and keep a job because of it. A lot of his mannerisms at home are to cope with the anxiety. He feels terrible for not being able to help out financially. He apologized for being “so difficult to live with”; and for being a burden.

There have been multiple times over the past couple of years where I’ve tried to convince him to go to therapy. He went to one for a couple of months but just stopped getting up to go. He’ll occasionally tell me that he needs to go to therapy and ask me to make an appointment. But then when I ask if a day is good, or, say I made an appointment, he’ll change his mind. He’ll often get defensive if I bring therapy up.

He’s told me that he’s scared of going. That people’s illnesses normally gets worse for a few months before they start getting better. That he doesn’t want people to like him better on medicine. Says that won’t be him, just their preferred version of him. He’s also worried about putting more financial strain on me.

He’s trying to get better on his own, but that’s not happening nearly as quickly as he wants it to. He wants to do all these great and normal things and his mental illness keep getting in the way and dragging him down.

I feel like the best option is to somehow convince him to go to therapy, but I truly have no idea. I’m not good at giving the feedback he needs and I’m worried pushing therapy will make him think just want him to go on meds and be “a new person.”

I’ll support him however he needs until he can finally live without questioning whether or not he’s happy. I just don’t know how. (From the USA)

Fiance Agrees to Go to Therapy Then Backs Out

Answered by on -

A.

I am sorry that you are having difficulties with your fiancé and am glad you have taken the time to write us. I admire your courage in dealing with this issue.

There are several red flags here that you need to appreciate, contemplate, and deal with. The first is to understand that it doesn’t sound like you are working with something transient or temporary. The fact that he isn’t able to work because of his anxiety and depression is a disability that should not be overlooked. These are issues you are saying have lasted a couple of years with no improvement. Simply put, these conditions usually do not to get better without some form of intervention.

His apology that he is difficult to live with will continue to wear thin, and his own efforts to help himself seem to not be genuinely targeted toward change. Anyone who says they would be “willing to go to therapy – please make an appointment for me,” isn’t serious about change. Most therapists, if they have been well-trained, would never accept the appointment from a spouse for the other. It is the first sign that the therapy isn’t going to be effective. In general, only if the patient were a child would it work to let someone else set up the appointment for someone else’s therapy. If the person can’t take the initiative to make that appointment, they are not likely to be able to move through the difficult process of psychotherapy.

The symptoms of depression are well-known, and the best place to start is with an understanding of how depression is classified. Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:

  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
  • Disengaged, with a loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite (weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting)
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much.
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Anxiety-related physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
  • Loss of meaning or purpose, feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

While I don’t know the severity of his symptoms it sounds clear that he needs, at the very least, an evaluation. If he is unwilling to do this, or make an effort to change, then you have to ask yourself if you can tolerate a lifetime like this with him.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Fiance Agrees to Go to Therapy Then Backs Out

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Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2020). Fiance Agrees to Go to Therapy Then Backs Out. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 20, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2020/08/14/fiance-agrees-to-go-to-therapy-then-backs-out/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 9 Aug 2020 (Originally: 14 Aug 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 9 Aug 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.