Path Two: Deciding to Separate and Divorce

Your partner begs you to go to marriage counseling, but you’d rather chew ground glass. Or perhaps you have tried marriage counseling – more than once. You’re pretty sure you’ve decided to divorce, but something holds you back from pulling the plug. You wish a type of counseling existed that would help you decide if you even want to try to save the marriage.

Discernment counseling will help you make that choice.

The Three Paths

Developed by William Doherty, PhD, the goal of discernment counseling (DC) is to help couples decide between one of three paths: stay the course and do nothing for now, move toward separation and divorce, or choose to commit to six months of intensive couple’s therapy, during which time divorce is off the table. Wherein the goal of traditional couple’s therapy is improve the relationship, DC will help you determine (usually within one to five sessions) whether the relationship is worth trying to save.

Brooke and Steve: Different Values

When Brooke and Steve married five years ago, they agreed on almost everything important – except whether they wanted children. Brooke’s career was taking off, and she found herself thriving on the ever-growing demands, the frequent travel, and almost nightly social events. She was honest about her ambivalence from the beginning; Steve figured she would come around in time.

“We’re here because Brooke just dropped a bombshell, ” Steve told me in their first discernment counseling session.

“I told Steve that I don’t want to have children after all”, said Brooke. “I realize my career is my baby. We’ve been fighting about it ever since.”

Steve said, “There’s no point going to marriage counseling if our values are so radically different. I want to figure out if there’s a marriage to save before I invest the time.”

Deciding to Divorce

During Steve’s discernment process, he took responsibility for allowing hope to triumph over reality. Brooke acknowledged she shouldn’t have moved forward in their courtship once she understood how important having a family was to Steve. The couple became resigned to the fact that there was no compromise position. With deep sadness, they decided to divorce so that Brooke could put her energy into her career and, in time, Steve would be free to meet someone who shared his desire for children. Owning their own roles in creating the conflict enabled them to part in a caring way, without an expensive legal battle.

Divorce rarely is an easy decision. Discernment counseling can help you make a difficult choice with clarity and confidence.

Contact Linda Hershman today if you want to take one more look at your marriage before deciding to divorce.