Should We Still See A Couple’s Therapist if Divorce is on The Table?
Do you know there is evidence that seeing a marriage therapist is a predictor of divorce?
You’re probably asking yourself why a marriage therapist would say this! I’d like to share a few facts about couples therapy. While research reports couples therapy can be a predictor of divorce, this statistic does not apply to ALL couples. This statistic applies to a sub-section of couples who are identified as “mixed agenda” couples. Mixed agenda couples are defined as one partner wanting out of the marriage (but there is still at least some ambiguity about staying in the marriage) and the other partner desperately wanting to save their marriage. Couples come to marriage therapy often years too late. More often than not, they come at a time when one partner was already planning their exit. Couples therapy is ineffective for mixed agenda couples. However, when both partners are leaning in towards the marriage, couples therapy can immensely improve your relationship.
Where do mixed agenda couples turn to for help since traditional couples therapy is ineffective?
A mixed agenda couple should seek a therapist who specializes in “discernment counseling.” The goal of discernment counseling is to help partners feel a greater sense of clarification and confidence in their decision-making about the future direction of the marriage.Discernment counseling is not considered a form of couples therapy because a discernment counselor does not help you work on the marriage. You will not receive any homework assignments after sessions. The therapist will not provide you with interventions in session to solve the problems. Rather, a discernment counselor will help you feel a greater sense of clarification about whether or not the problems are solvable and help you discover the future direction of your marriage. Discernment sessions are longer than traditional couples therapy sessions. The structure of discernment sessions is different; the couple is split into their own individual sessions, while also spending some time together in the session.
Divorce is a lifetime decision. You will carry your divorce legacy with you for the rest of your life. If you are thinking about divorce, make sure you are 100% confident about your choice. If not, you may have a lifetime of regret.
Here are some tips if you are considering a divorce
1) If there is at least 2% ambiguity about staying in your marriage, or your partner is on their way out the door and you’d like to save your marriage, consult with a discernment counselor to see if discernment counseling is a right fit for you. In the long run, it will benefit you greater to take some time and think about this decision. It’s not recommended to rush a divorce, unless you are in immediate physical or physiological danger
2) If you are leaning out of your marriage and 100% ready to file a divorce with a sense of confidence, hire a collaborative divorce attorney or mediator who will help preserve the family partnership. The marriage relationship is not forever, but the parental relationship is (if you share children together)
3) If you are the spouse who is “leaning in” towards the marriage, there are certain stances you can take to avoid pushing your spouse more out the door. I’d suggest you read the book,“The Divorce Remedy” by Michele-Weiner Davis who can guide you through these stances
4) If you are considering divorce and have kids, you have a duty to protect them from the impacts divorce can have upon their life. Research states if two partners can co-parent amicably and avoid eliciting their children into their marriage problems, divorce can have minimal impacts on the child. If not, unfortunately, your children will be impacted. It doesn’t have to be this way, there are professionals who can help you!