In times of marital unhappiness many couples consider marriage counseling. That may be the wrong choice if BOTH parties are not certain they want to work on their relationship. A better choice might be “discernment counseling”, a brief (1-5 session) process designed to help couples decide whether they really want to work on their relationship, let the relationship remain the way it is (at least for a time), or move forward toward divorce.
I utilize a combination of individual sessions with each person and joint sessions with the couple. I try to help each person more deeply understand their contribution to the “gone-wrongness”, what changing that behavior might entail and how that change might impact their relationship. This is important even if divorce is the ultimate solution because each person will take their own interactive styles and vulnerabilities with them into the future. It also may open new windows of opportunity for marital happiness.
Some couples take time out from the discernment process and return to it before making a decision.
If the ultimate decision is to divorce, people tend to feel more confident of their choice having more thoroughly considered the matter. In such cases people typically divorce with less acrimony and collateral damage. Whichever way the decision goes, I seek to provide the couples with the resources they will need to proceed constructively in the direction they have chosen.
If your spouse is not open to discernment counseling and you want to do whatever you can to preserve the marriage, perhaps a short term process will help you better understand what has happened, your contribution, and what positive steps you can take that might make a difference.
If you have any questions about these options, feel free to give me a call and we can see “if this is right for you”.
* A process pioneered by William Doherty, Ph.D., Professor of Family Social Science and Director of the Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project at the University of Minnesota.