Are you on the fence about your marriage? Unsure if your relationship is sustainable? Perhaps you’ve fallen out of love or even developed feelings for someone else. Or maybe you’re reeling from your partner’s affair. And now you don’t know if you want to be in this relationship or if it’s worth saving.
Well-meaning friends, family, and therapists suggest one of two options. A) Hire an attorney or B) go to couples therapy. While these are good suggestions, I recommend discernment counseling. If you’re on the fence, you don’t need a lawyer or failed couples therapy. You need greater clarity and confidence about your decision. Through discernment counseling, you gain clarity and confidence and develop a deeper understanding of what happened in the marriage and each person’s contributions.
Discernment Counseling for Couples on the Brink of Divorce
Couples who complete discernment counseling have more clarity about their marriage. They feel confident about their decision about the future of their relationship. In addition, they have a greater understanding about what happened in the marriage, each person’s role in it, and what they need to change to move forward (together or separately).
What is Discernment Counseling?
Discernment counseling is a short-term and research-backed approach to working with couples on the brink of divorce. The goals of discernment counseling are 1) to help couples gain clarity about the marriage. 2) Have confidence in their decision about the future of their relationship. And 3) develop a better understanding of what happened in their marriage and each person’s contributions. This makes it completely different than couples therapy. The goal of couples therapy is improving the relationship. And success in couples therapy requires that both spouses be committed to this goal.
While you attend sessions together, most of the work is done individually with the discernment counselor. During discernment counseling you explore your options as well as your contributions to the marital problems. At the end, you make a decision about the future of your relationship.
Deciding your Future Path in Discernment Counseling
Part of gaining clarity and confidence is examining your options or “paths.” Through discernment counseling, couples choose one of three paths. Path one is continuing on as you have been. Path two is pursuing (or continuing with) divorce. And path three is taking divorce off the table for *six months* and committing to couples therapy during that time.
There is no right or wrong path. The discernment counselor is not emotionally invested in any outcome. We do, however, challenge you to really explore your options. In addition, we help you see your role in the relationship. Because, at the end of the day, you can’t divorce yourself. Learning from your mistakes helps you make different decisions in the future.
Who Should Do Discernment Counseling?
Discernment counseling is for couples where both partners have some level of uncertainty about divorcing. It is designed for couples with opposing goals (one person wants to save the marriage and the other person is leaning towards ending it). For these couples it works great! And they gain clarity, confidence, and understanding about their relationship and the future of it.
It is not for couples where one or both partners are 100% committed to divorcing. It also won’t work if there is active violence and/or coercion in the relationship. And it’s not the right option when both of you are want to save the relationship. If that’s the case, couples therapy is the better option.