When conducted by a trained counselor, Discernment Counseling is highly effective in helping couples decide the future of their marriage.
Unlike traditional couples counseling, discernment counseling does not measure success merely by counting the number of “saved” marriages. Instead, discernment counseling is considered successful when the couple decides confidently about the future of their marriage.
When considering divorce, a couple is faced with three potential paths.
Path 1: Status Quo
Path 2: Divorce/Breaking up
Path 3: 6-months of Couples Counseling (or any other way to create the desired change)
Path 1: Status Quo.
This is a path best when couples are not yet in a place to determine whether or not they want to divorce or continue the marriage.
Perhaps they need more time to think about it. Perhaps they want to go through a separation process.
Maybe one or both partners needs to complete individual therapy, addictions treatment, or another obligation first before the couple can accurately and confidently decide the future of their relationship.
10% of all couples that being Discernment Counseling choose this path. For many however, they feel like they have already been in a place of “status quo” and are tired of it and rule this path out.
Path 2: Divorce/Break-up.
This path is best when one or both people are unwilling to work on the marriage or stay together. In order to prevent against a hasty or mis-informed decision of Path 2, it is best for participants to clearly know and identify what are the underlying problems in the marriage.
Also, through that discussion, one or both of them have come to the conclusion that the marriage is unfixable and, thus, unlikley to improve.
Path 2 can be the correct choice for a variety of reasons. For example; if the spouse that is considering divorce is unwilling to work to improve the marriage and is unwilling to stay married.
If one or both partners are unwilling or unable to make the changes necessary to meet the needs of the other person, that may also lead the couple to choose Path 2.
Since the goal is having confidence in your decision, it is important for participants of Discernment Counseling to openly and honestly talk about the flaws in the relationship, and their true willingness to work to change the problems.
60% of all couples that participate in Discernment Counseling choose Path 2.
Please note: every marriage has problems, and most marriages have one or more big problems. If you are considering Path 2, just be sure whether or not the problems are “fatal flaws” before choosing Path 2.
Path 3: All-out-effort.
40% of all couples that participate in Discernment Counseling choose Path 3. When choosing Path 3, couples are typically committing to the following:
- An all-out-effort, over a period of 6+ months, of Couples Counseling to see whether or not the relationship can improve.
- A commitment to discontinue any discussion about divorce with your spouse during the all-out-effort.
- To only discuss your couples therapy with people who will be supportive.
- To work on yourself individually in addition to your work as a couple, participating in individual therapy if necessary.
- To treat each other with respect.
- To be as flexible as possible with your time and schedule in order to make change happen.
It is important to note that Path 3 is not a decision to stay together forever. It is a decision to commit to a 6-month (or more) process to see whether or not the relationship can be reconciled.
During Path 3, you will likely be equipped to answer the question “Is this relationship something I want to continue indefinitely, or something I need to exit?”.