To Stay or Go?
Marriage Discernment Counseling


Being uncertain of whether to stay in a marriage or leave is stressful. 

It’s also not a decision that most people make very lightly.  

You may be feeling stuck… staying married may seem impossible and getting divorced seems equally impossible.  


When one of you is leaning towards leaving, marriage counseling is likely not the best type of counseling.

Enter Marriage Discernment Counseling

If you are on the brink of separation or divorce, discernment counseling will:

  • Meet you where both of you are at in your relationship.  
  • Provide a way to clarify whether the relationship issues can be fixed. 
  • Help to figure out whether you should stay or go.  
  • Name aspects of your relationship that you didn’t see before.  

Keep reading to learn 4 solid reasons discernment counseling may be right for your relationship!

1. It's short-term

Depending on the concerns and struggles of the couple, marriage counseling can last a LONG time!


Discernment counseling isn’t about trying to improve your relationship, it’s about gaining clarity and confidence to:  

  • Move towards couples counseling
  • Move towards separation/divorce.  

Discernment counseling isn’t meant to be long-term. 

Marriage Discernment Counseling is meant to give you a sense of direction.

Therefore, it is capped at five sessions.


Why five sessions?

  • It’s helpful for the person in your relationship that is seriously contemplating leaving.  This person doesn’t have to commit to long-term couples counseling.   
  • It’s helpful for the person that wants to remain in the relationship.  It is easier to get buy-in from your partner to attend counseling because it is brief.

2. Marriage Discernment Counseling Works for “Mixed Agenda” Couples

What the heck is a “Mixed Agenda Couple?”


It’s when one of you is leaning in and wants to salvage the relationship, while the other is leaning towards separation. 


Understanding that there is a mixed agenda acknowledges the reality of where your relationship is at (not where you may wish it to be):  

  • One partner is on a path towards separation or divorce.  
  • The other person is on a different path.

Simply put, with discernment counseling, you (and I) meet the crisis head-on.

Rather than giving marriage counseling a half-hearted try, it focuses on honestly addressing your thoughts and concerns about the marriage.

Similarly, rather then prematurely getting a divorce, discernment counseling provides you with the space to contemplate aspects of the marriage you may not have considered.  


Finally, regardless of the decision you come to at the end of discernment counseling, you will have laid a foundation that helps to build a more clear path and a positive relationship… even if you decide on divorce.


3. If you chose divorce, the process will be smoother

Choosing a divorce doesn’t mean the counseling was unsuccessful!


While you are in marriage discernment counseling, you will:

  • Learn more about yourself.
  • Communicate more effectively in (all) your relationships.  
  • Identify patterns of behavior that help- and hurt- (all) your relationships. 

Gaining a greater understanding of yourself- including areas in your life that you can work on- can help you to have more positive and fulfilling future relationships.

With greater communication tools and more clarity, the divorce process is set to go more smoothly.  

You’ll have:

  • Greater confidence and clarity going into the divorce.  
  • Fewer disagreements throughout the proceedings. 
  • Lawyers that will be needed less and therefore, there will be fewer legal fees. 

4. If you choose marriage counseling, the process will be smoother

What’s the next step in discernment counseling if you decide you want to work on your marriage?  


It is suggested that you move on to marriage counseling for a minimum of six months.  


This is because five sessions of discernment counseling isn’t going to strengthen your relationship adequately. 


You’ve decided to put your effort into marriage AND it takes time to change deeply entrenched patterns of behavior while utilizing the tools that you have learned.  


You’ll have a leg up when you enter marriage counseling as you’ve already pinpointed communication issues and  patterns of behavior that keep you stuck.


When considering marriage discernment counseling, it's important to remember:

Discernment counseling is about:


Gaining clarity about your marriage and determining the next steps for your relationship.  

It isn’t about solving your marital problems.  It is about figuring out if you want to try to solve the problems.   


If you are wrestling with the idea about the next steps in your marriage, discernment counseling is likely right for you.  

 In the meantime, are you ready to give therapy a go?  

Free free to contact me directly if you have questions or to schedule a brief call to see if I might be able to support you as you journey forward.


Looking for mental health services in Indy?

As a marriage and family therapist, I also offer: 

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