Most of the time, when you begin to look for marriage counseling, you find that most marriage counseling is geared towards helping couples find ways to stay together.

Often times, when your wife wants marriage therapy, this is what she is asking for. When a wife or husband wants counseling, treatment providers try to help couples resolve differences, whatever they might be. Couples are encouraged to stay in the relationship in the hopes that things will change for the better.

What is Discernment Counseling?

This assumption that the marriage should stay together is not always the best approach. Sometimes, couples aren’t sure whether they should stay together or end things.

Sometimes, one person wants to stay in the relationship and another person wants to end it. When goals aren’t the same, the chance of finding success in couples counseling is dubious at best.

That is where discernment counseling comes in. If you’re not sure whether to stay in your relationship but your wife or husband wants counseling, this is a good way for you to explore your options.

Discernment counseling is couple’s counseling, but it’s counseling without the presumption or agenda that you’re going to necessarily stay married. Instead, it’s a way for you to discuss your relationship and whether you want to preserve things or head towards ending your marriage.

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How Does It Work?

This different way to tackle marriage problems doesn’t assume that problems are able to be solved. Instead, you explore what the problems are and whether you can solve them.

There are lots of conversations that happen separately with each partner. This helps you and your counselor assess your needs and your marriage goals, in order to see if they are compatible.

Discernment counseling also works without commitment. It’s meant to be short term. It tries to show you whether you can or want to save your marriage. If you decide to save it, you can proceed to traditional therapy.

Is it right for you?

There are a number of questions that you can ask yourself when you’re trying to decide if discernment counseling is right for you. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about your marriage and wondering if you should even try, it might be the right choice for you.

If you’re thinking these things, there are things in your marriage that are bothering you, but you find yourself torn as to whether you like any of the available solutions, or if you want to put in the effort.

Another time to try this type of counseling is when you feel like you’re at your wits end. If you feel like you’ve already tried all that there is to try in your relationship, it’s time to try this type of counseling.

You might be right, and it might be completely true that you’ve tried everything and that you don’t need to continue in your marriage in frustration. On the other hand, there might be solutions that you haven’t thought of yet, and discernment counseling can help you figure out the difference, and if there’s anything else you can do or should do before you head towards divorce court.

Do you find yourself thinking that your partner won’t ever change in ways that continue to hurt you? This is yet another reason to consider this type of counseling. You also might find that you no longer feel the love for your partner that you remember feeling when you first got together. When you work with your counselor, you can explore your reasons for feeling this way with a sympathetic ear. You can discuss things that you can work on to get this feeling back.

It’s a Compromise

If your wife wants marriage counseling, discernment counseling is a good place to go if you can’t agree. It’s also a place to go if you have your reasons for thinking that marriage counseling isn’t going to work. On the other hand, if you want to keep trying and your spouse doesn’t, it’s a good thing to ask for because you can address your partner’s skepticism with this type of counseling.

Usually one spouse wants to stay in the marriage. This person is the spouse who is said to be leaning in. The other spouse is usually leaning out. That means they’ve more or less decided the marriage is over. Don’t expect your discernment counselor to take sides. The counselor respects both sides and helps you work from there.

What Happens in Discernment Counseling?

When you opt for this kind of counseling, expect to spend some time thinking about what went wrong in your marriage. You’ll talk about your problems from your perspective and also from your spouse’s perspective. Eventually, you’ll come to a decision about ending your marriage or making one last try. Another conclusion of discernment counseling is to decide later whether to end your marriage.

How Long Does It Last?

This type of counseling is short term. It can be something you accomplish in just one session or you can take as many as five sessions or longer. Each time you can decide whether to come back for the next visit. This type of therapy defines success as helping couples find confidence in their decisions.

When couples know for sure whether or not they want to end their marriage, they can call discernment counseling successful. Also, breaking down the marriage can help you make choices in future relationships.

When Shouldn’t You Get Discernment Counseling?

There are some situations where this type of counseling isn’t suitable. It’s not an option when there is domestic violence or threats of domestic violence in the relationship. In that case, you need to seek professional assistance on your own, immediately.

It is not advised to try to negotiate with a spouse when an imbalance of power exists, such as exists in a domestic abuse situation. Similarly, when there are threats or coercion towards a partner in order to get them to stay in a relationship or even attend the counseling, this type of counseling is not recommended.

If one spouse has a Personal Protection Order or a Restraining Order from a court, this type of counseling can’t work. Couples cannot be in the same place at the same time, and there is a reason that the order of protection exists, so there is a danger that the parties must avoid. These types of orders should be taken seriously by all of the parties involved.

In addition, if one of the spouses has already decided there is no working on the marriage, it’s not worth your time to try. When that decision is 100 percent final, counseling isn’t going to help. In that event, it’s best to head to divorce court to get started with the rest of your life.

Read Our List of The Top Marriage Intensive Retreats in The US