No matter how committed or loving the couple, infidelity and resentment can turn any marriage sour over time. When the two parties are split on how to handle the situation, discernment counseling is a smarter alternative to traditional counseling visits. Find out how this type of therapy differs from other relationship counseling options to decide if it's right for you.
Are you or your spouse afraid of spending months or years in endless therapy sessions? Unlike the usual arrangements made with counselors, discernment therapy is limited to a set number of visits. You, your spouse, and your therapist all agree to reach a concrete decision by the end of one to five visits. You can get all the appointments done in one month or take up to six to think over your dedication to the relationship.
Is your spouse avoiding all discussions about your relationship? Whether they have their heart set on divorce or try to ignore the idea of breaking up, a focused counseling visit is a good way to encourage open communication. The therapist can ask questions and offer writing assignments that reveal the truth lurking underneath your fights. If all your current attempts to talk honestly about divorce results in screaming matches, handling the discussions in a structured environment with a mediator keeps the communication channel open.
What you learn in discernment counseling will help you with relationships outside of your marriage as well. Communicating better with your children, friends, and new love interests is well-worth the expense of professional therapy even if you end up getting divorced. You can learn these skills in individual and traditional couples counseling too, but it's crucial to polish up on your communication abilities during a divorce to work out the details without worsening the emotional effects.
Counseling for married couples developed out of therapy for the entire family as a complete unit, so it makes sense that traditional appointments focus on keeping the two working together during the entire session. In contrast, most of the pre-planned discernment counseling sessions include at least a little separate discussion time with each side. This helps you both by
- Giving you a chance to express your emotions and plans honestly, without fear of judgement from your partner
- Helping you prepare for your future, regardless of whether you divorce or stay together
- Allowing you to focus on traumatic events from past relationships that are sabotaging your current marriage.
Discernment therapy may only last a few months at the most, but you're still working with a licensed and experience couple's counselor. You can continue seeing the same therapist on your own after a divorce or if you stay together with your partner and need a little extra help staying committed. If you work with a therapist who prefers to end their engagement with a couple after a run of discernment counseling, they can still refer you to another service provider so you can get both individual and couple's therapy from reliable sources.
Don't forget that your disagreement over divorce is affecting the children or other family members sharing your house. You might think staying together is necessary for raising healthy kids, but that plan can backfire if you're fighting endlessly. Your discernment counselor can encourage both you and your spouse to treat each other with respect to limit the impact of your relationship troubles on the family's stability.
If you have any doubts that marriage counseling could help but can't commit to divorce either, take a short run of discernment therapy to work out your differences. You'll emerge with a clearer idea of your relationship's health and a game plan for facing the future, no matter what it holds.
Click here to learn more, or contact a local counseling clinic.