Is one of you trying to save the marriage and start counselling while the other is thinking of ending it?
Do you have one foot in and one foot out and can’t decide to stay or to go?
Have you discussed divorce or one of you already seen a lawyer but you’re not sure if this is the right decision?
Some couples seeking therapy have different agendas. If one of you is ‘leaning in’, which means trying to save the marriage, and the other is ‘leaning out’, which means considering ending the marriage, then you have mixed agendas. In these situations, couples counselling is not the right approach to take and will generally only make things much worse. So if this is your situation, whatever you do, DO NOT engage a couples therapist and especially DO NOT engage a ‘marriage coach’.
Discernment counselling – An effective first step
In response to the poor outcomes achieved from couples counselling when couples have different agendas, the renown American family therapist Dr William Doherty developed a radical new approach for such couples which is called “Discernment Counselling”. The goal of Discernment Counselling is not to solve the marital problems but to see if they are solvable. You will each be treated with compassion and respect no matter how you are feeling about your marriage. Discernment Counselling is specifically tailored to the needs of couples where one of you simply cannot decide to stay or to go.
Discernment Counselling is NOT Couples Counselling
Discernment Counselling is NOT the same as couples counselling. It is only for couples where at least one partner isn’t sure if they want to stay together or work on saving the marriage through couples counselling. It is short-term (maximum of 5 sessions) and designed to seek clarity and confidence in the decision about the future of the marriage based on a deeper understanding of what has happened to the marriage. This approach enables you both to slow down, take a deep breath and consider all your options and future possibilities.
Have any of these words been spoken in the relationship?
“I don’t love you anymore”
“You’re not the person I married”
“I’ve been unhappy for a very long time”
“We should never have gotten married”
“I’ve met someone else”
If you’re the one wanting the save the marriage, these words are like a knife in your heart. You are in shock and feelings swing between anger and sadness. If you are the person considering leaving, the words sound like justification for the divorce. However, divorce has significant consequences for both you, your partner and your children, so it’s understandable if you have a few doubts.
With Discernment Counselling, if you are leaning in, you will learn what changes you can make yourself right away to have the best chance at saving the marriage. For the partner leaning out, you will learn all your options and gain clarity about the relationship and your decision to stay or to go.
Gain clarity and confidence around your decision
All the couples I have worked with in this way report having a greater understanding of themselves, their partner and the relationship. If they choose not to try to work on the marriage, this process can help them prepare for a more amicable and collaborative divorce.
Did you know that divorce rates are much higher for second and third marriages? Whatever you brought into this marriage, you will take into the next. If you don’t want to get stuck in past trauma, this approach can help you gain insight and clarity and help you move forward, either separately or together.
Before you make a life-changing decision to stay or to go, gain clarity and confidence with my professional help.