Do I Stay or Do I Go? Discernment Counseling for Confused Couples
As Holly mopped the kitchen floor, one song echoed in her head. “Do I stay, or do I go?” Though not a Clash fan, she couldn’t get the refrain out of her head.
Many contemplating divorce face the same question.
“If I stay, I’m afraid nothing will ever get better,” thought Holly. “Yet, if I go—how much worse could it get? How will I pay the bills? What about the kids? ………Will I always be alone?”
It didn’t help that Doug vehemently refused to discuss the issue at all. “I will NEVER agree to a divorce” was his sole response when Holly raised the issue. She knew his faith left no room for considering divorce. But, did it say anything about how to fix their marriage? He was as unhappy as she. Were they doomed to just stay unhappy?
When couples aren’t sure whether to work on their marriage or to divorce—and even when one spouse wants to divorce but the other does not—Discernment Counseling brings clarity.
Because traditional counseling focuses on saving the marriage, spouses who have already given up often find it hard to be honest. They may go to counseling to pacify their spouse. Or, to say they tried everything. Or, to announce their intention to leave. Any of these blindsides the spouse who believes that they are both going to counseling to set the marriage right.
Discernment Counseling works differently. The counseling specifically focuses on helping couples decide whether to divorce or work on their marriage. In the majority of cases, one spouse (the leaning-in spouse) wants to save the marriage while the other (the leaning out spouse) wants to move on. Discernment Counseling provides a path for both spouses to jointly engage in the process while honestly recognizing their differing perspectives. Spouses consider all the consequences of rebuilding the marriage or divorcing before deciding. Because the central issue is whether the marriage will continue (rather than how will it continue), spouses can be honest about their own hopes and reservations.
The benefits include:
Discernment Counseling requires a limited commitment. Couples engage in 1 – 5 sessions. Even spouses convinced they want to end the marriage are often willing to give a few sessions a try.
Couples enter discernment counseling focused on one issue—where are we headed in our marriage? The first session offers three options:
- Do we maintain the status quo? Couples explore the costs and benefits of continuing as they are—particularly in light of the other options.
- Do we divorce? Both spouses take a hard look at the changes divorce would bring and what they would need to do to make a divorce work.
- Do we commit to intensively work on our marriage? Couples evaluate whether they can take divorce off the table for 6 months to engage in a targeted therapy designed to create healthy patterns of relating between spouses.
Consideration of all factors:
Discernment counselors help both the leaning-in and leaning-out spouse consider their positions in light of all three options. Couples to consider together:
- What has happened in the marriage to make divorce a possibility?
- What has each of us done to fix the problems?
- What role, if any, do children play in the decision?
- What has worked best in our relationship?
Counselors then work separately with each spouse to help them understand their own role in the marriage and their willingness to work toward something different.
“Do I stay, or do I go?”
Struggling couples often can’t get the song out of their head. Discernment Counseling offers couples a clear path to make a mutual decision about their marriage and their desired future. Together, they figure out whether to stay or to go.
We understand that facing a marital crisis is scary and hard. If you would like more information on Discernment Counseling, on putting your marriage back together, or on proceeding with divorce–we are available to answer your questions. Just email info@TheResolutionCenterIndy.com or call 317-344-9740. We look forward to serving you.