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Discernment Counseling: How it Works

While many married couples go to marriage counseling in the hopes of restoring their relationship and improving their communication, doing so requires a commitment to ensure that the marriage succeeds. Not everyone is necessarily going to be in that headspace. For that reason, a different type of marriage counseling was created — discernment counseling. Its general function is to help spouses decide on whether or not to move on or fix the problems in their marriage.

Before you ask, “what is the point of that?” you should know that couples that are struggling often have difficulty deciding whether or not they should divorce. They may feel guilty about ending their marriage or they may feel guilty about staying in their marriage. The question may be so big and have so many life-altering consequences, that they are afraid to make a call one way or the other.

Why Discernment Counseling is Important

Most marriage counseling focuses on repairing a relationship that is struggling. But what about couples that are still sorting out their feelings? What if one spouse cheated and the other spouse is still in love, but cannot reconcile the infidelity? In a lot of cases, a spouse may feel ambivalent toward the marriage. They can feel strongly that their marriage is worth saving, but realize that the marriage will never be the same. These are all very difficult matters that couples need help with. Before they commit to repairing a relationship, both parties feel good about the emotional investment they are making in their future. Not all relationships can be saved. Some folks cannot let go of being wronged even when they are sure they want their marriage to succeed. What is true is that very few spouses enter marriage counseling on the same page about what they want. Hence why discernment counseling is sometimes necessary.

When is Discernment Counseling Useful?

In cases in which both spouses want to exit the marriage, the result is usually divorce. Any other combination will find discernment counseling useful. However, spouses that are both invested in saving the marriage generally do not try discernment counseling. They generally attempt relationship counseling. However, the matter of discernment is never far from the surface. The spouses must make an active choice to invest in their marriage every day. 

Nonetheless, the majority of spouses who go through discernment counseling are divided on the matter. One spouse wants to stay while the other spouse is considering divorce. In most cases, the counselor will meet with the spouses 1-on-1 to get their take on the matter. Then, the spouses can agree to combined sessions if they choose to move forward. By this point, one or both spouses may have reached a decision. But the therapist is not helping the couple improve their marriage, only to make the decision that is best for them.

Talk to an Indiana Divorce Attorney Today

Chris Arrington represents the interests of Indiana spouses and couples looking to end their marriage. Call today to schedule an appointment and we can begin discussing your next moves immediately. 

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