When It’s Just A Fight

Couples typically wait an average of six years in an unhappy marriage before seeking help.  Deciding to leave a committed relationship can be a sad and complex process.  A new type of therapy called “discernment counseling” breaks with traditional couples counseling, which seeks to solve relationship problems.  Instead, discernment counseling aims to help struggling couples decide whether to divorce or remain married. 

There are plenty of reasons why people stay in an unhappy marriage.  They hope things will get better or they stay for the children.  They are scared of what comes next.  They think there will be a specific moment when they should leave.  People feel if they distract themselves, the problem will take care of itself.  People looking to get out of a marriage behave badly. They check out emotionally.  Have affairs.  These behaviors hurt their spouse even more.  The greatest source of pain for a person who is the leave-ee is that they didn’t have an opportunity to respond and work on things with their spouse.

In 30% of couples seeking counseling, one person is what counselor’s call “leaning out, “or wanting to go, while the other is “leaning in,” or wanting to stay.  In discernment counseling the marriage counselor helps the leaning out spouse decide if the decision to leave the marriage is the correct one.  And the counselor helps the leaning in spouse cope in a way that doesn’t make the situation worse- without pleading, threatening or otherwise turning off the already irritated spouse.  Over five sessions the couple examines what was good about the marriage, what got them to this point and what they did to try to save the marriage.  Three alternatives are then laid out:  the marriage as it has been, divorce, or six month reconciliation with marriage counseling.  40% of couples try the reconciliation, the rest divorce or are thinking it over.  

Whether it feels it's over or it's for maintenance, I am here to help through online couples therapy. Give me a call at 631.692.9689 or email me at [email protected].

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