HELPING YOU DECIDE: TO STAY OR TO GO
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU WANT TO SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE?
Discernment Counseling is therapy that helps you answer this question, serving the couple that hasn’t decided, and needs help making this decision.
DISCERNMENT COUNSELING IS NOT MARRIAGE COUNSELING
Discernment Counseling respects and recognizes that the couple in crisis is most likely a mixed-agenda couple—where one partner is ‘leaning out’ and inclined to leave the marriage and seek divorce. And the other partner is ‘leaning in’ and inclined to stay in the marriage and work toward repair. Often the ‘leaning in’ partner is frightened and desperate as the other becomes more and more ambivalent and disconnected. There is frequently a great deal of tension because of the uncertainty and anxiety. And there is frequently a great deal of acting out as both partners retreat to their positions in confusion and self-protection.
NEITHER PARTNER HAS MADE A FINAL DECISION YET
Importantly, the Discernment Counselor recognizes and respects that neither partner has fully committed to a final decision—divorcing or reconciliation. There is no pre-ordained agenda to promote the dissolution of the marriage or to promote a reconciliation. Rather, Discernment Counseling is specifically designed to help the couple figure out exactly what to do—whether to stay in the marriage, or to leave it and divorce.
DISCERNMENT WORK INCLUDES EXAMINING A FEW ITEMS:
- Discernment Counseling helps each partner understand their role in bringing about the marital dissatisfaction. Gently and respectfully, the treatment works to bring about a deeper understanding of self and other, and of the relationship as well. The therapy looks at what went wrong and why, how each partner participated in creating the problem, and whether there is a possible narrative for repair.
- Discernment Counseling looks to explore the real-life consequences of each option. The couple learns about and discusses the consequences of both reconciliation and divorce. They explore their ideas and thoughts about what each option would look feel like and look like.
- Discernment Counseling provides a safe, neutral and well-guided space in which to work. While Discernment Counseling is not marriage counseling, it adopts some of the same important operating principles of working with couples, including neutrality and impartiality, as well as conflict reduction and facilitating honest communication.
DISCERNMENT COUNSELING IS NOT FOR EVERYBODY
- Discernment Counseling is not appropriate when one spouse has already made a decision.
- Discernment Counseling is not appropriate where there’s domestic violence
- Discernment Counseling is not the venue to announce your decision to your unsuspecting spouse
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?
The short-term approach of Discernment Counseling helps the partners carefully consider the life-changing decision whether to end or re-commit to their marriage. When a decision emerges, the Counselor helps provide the resources to move forward with reconciliation, or move forward with separation and/or divorce.
HELP IS STILL AVAILABLE EVEN IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN DISCERNMENT COUNSELING BUT YOUR SPOUSE IS NOT
This is a common scenario. One spouse is willing to come in for counseling while the other—who is perhaps on the fence about the marriage—is unwilling to commit to treatment. As a ‘mixed-agenda’ couple, you can still benefit from Discernment Counseling. The leaning in partner learns how to make positive changes and that may contribute to saving the marriage. The leaning out partner learns about his or her role in bringing the marriage to the brink and has an honest look at whether the marriage can be fixed or no.