Have you heard of Discernment Counseling?
Do you want to divorce? Be sure you’re sure!
If you have landed here you are likely divorced. Or perhaps considering it and you are here to explore what life might look like should you take that crucial step. In the case that you are teetering, here is some information you might find useful.
Not every individual who lands in the office of a family lawyer is ready to dissolve their marital union. Of course, that notion is irrelevant if, in fact, the other spouse is. A healthy relationship or the like can only exist when both parties are committed to the dance.
The decision to divorce is one that is on the table in households daily. Numbers of unsatisfied married people make a decision to dissolve their relationship on a regular basis. According to research, however, divorce does not necessarily make unhappy adults happier. Survey data reveals that approximately 50% of both men and women expressed regret over having divorced.
Unhappily divorced men and women were no happier five years post-divorce than those who remain married; two-thirds of those who remained married reported being happy five years later. It seems then marriage may indeed be good for some, but, pausing and bettering yourself may be advisable more often than not.
When You Aren’t Completely Sure You Want a Divorce
When you and/or your partner are actively considering what life brings on the other side yet share ambivalence, fear, and/or trepidation, Discernment Counseling might be for you. It is the therapeutic equivalent of a “pause”.
Discernment, according to the dictionary, refers to the ability to judge well and to be astute about topics often ignored or overlooked by others.
In the area of marital therapy, with its widespread theoretical variations, there may be a lot of wisdom to impart on the couples who walk in our doors but they themselves often have little discernment.
Discernment Counseling was developed by psychologist William Doherty of Minnesota (see the Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project) to help “mixed-agenda” couples herd some momentum and draw a conclusion with ‘clarity and confidence.
An estimated 30% of couples enter couples therapy with a “mixed agenda”, that is, where one is leaning out and one is leaning in. Traditional couples’ therapy is unsuccessful for these couples; effective therapy is impossible unless both partners are in the game, albeit with some hesitation.
With Discernment Counseling, couples leave having made one of three decisions—
- Keep the status-quo
- Pursue divorce
- Commit to a six-month period of couple’s therapy
As you are aware, having heard countless narratives on how and when the decision to divorce occurred, there is no best time to make that final decision.
That decision becomes even that much more complicated when there are others in the picture who are being affected, most typically children, young or old, and sometimes aging parents.
This process is intended to move things along, for the better, regardless of the choice.
Approximately 48% commit to therapy, 42% divorced and 12% render a non-decision to stay the same.
Some couples who are terminal and at death’s door rebound and with couples therapy reconcile and get back their mojo. And, with those who engage in the process of DC (vs those who do not), they navigate the divorce process in a healthier manner, should that be their end game.
Discernment Counseling is not therapy. It is not couples counseling nor is it divorce therapy. Couples will not see a change in the dynamics of the relationships, although there may be revelations and observations both they and their therapist may have that can help. Couples will be able to determine if, in fact, their problems are solvable.
Since we tend to show up again in our next relationship, it is important to know how you got here prior to making a decision, with that process more critical when it involves more than just the couple.
With Discernment Counseling couples will gain:
- the clarity and confidence to make a decision
- awareness and understanding of each person’s contributions and dynamics in the relationship and
- a deeper knowledge of how the marriage has progressed through its stages and how they came to the brink of divorce
There are times when neither Discernment Counseling nor couple’s therapy is the most relevant choice for a couple on the brink and other options are preferred. It is not appropriate when:
- There is the presence or danger of domestic violence or sexual abuse
- When one spouse is coercing the other to participate
- When at least one partner has made the decision to divorce
At the end of the day, many relationships can be saved. If we fail to pause, we invariably take ourselves into our next relationship often with a repetition of the pattern that we have in our current relationship. Discernment Counseling is an available option for these couples that are uncertain and on the brink and they typically leave better, regardless of their decision.