Many people say they would love to attend a Hold Me Tight (HMT) workshop, but can’t convince their spouse or partner to join them. It’s common for one partner to LONG to come, and the other partner to DREAD such an event. Here are 4 Steps to get a reluctant partner to join you at a weekend couple’s workshop.
Understand and validate his or her reluctance. Is your partner adverse to exposure and being judged by others? Expecting criticism or blame for his or her faults? Not expecting this event to produce what he or she wants and needs? If any of these outcomes were to come true, the workshop would be a painful waste of valuable time and money. It is normal and common to have these negative expectations.
Share the experience of HMT facilitators around the country: the vast majority of people who dread coming to a HMT workshop end up being glad they did. While there is some exposure in showing up and meeting other couples, there is no need to share personal details with anyone but each other. Your partner will experience relief that sharing with others is optional and that criticism and blame are part of a pattern that changes with new understanding. In fact, men and women who have felt criticized by their partner for months, years, or decades, usually come out of the workshop feeling understood, safer and better about themselves. Often, the person who most dreaded coming to the workshop begins to get more of what he or she wants and needs out of the relationship.
Consider what you can offer your partner in exchange for coming with you. Perhaps you can offer openness to understanding and changing your part in whatever patterns the two of you might fall into. You may want to offer your best efforts to be a better, more understanding, forgiving, or more committed partner. You may want to offer your hope to be able to resolve past hurts so they no longer come up between you. Perhaps you can share your enthusiasm for “bullet proofing” your relationship from tough times ahead – the normal life events that put the closeness of relationships at risk – having and raising children, dealing with in-laws, watching children leave the nest, and unexpected crises. You might want to offer your partner a second weekend together, perhaps something you might normally be reluctant to do.
If necessary, take care of any of the practical barriers in the way of attendance. Go ahead and make the arrangements for babysitters, pets or travel. Even if you feel you are “doing it all” to find a way to get closer and more secure in your relationship, know that this is a common pattern between couples. This workshop will help you and your partner begin to understand and change this dynamic. If need be, offer to pay for the event from your own discretionary funds. Let your extra efforts to help your partner attend be a labor of love, motivated by your belief in the potential for both of you to have the deepest, most secure and most loving connection possible.