Why You Should Consider Discernment Counseling Before You Divorce

Nowadays, it is not uncommon for couples to seek guidance when considering separation or divorce. A new mode of counseling, discernment counseling, helps the two individuals better decide which way to go with their marriage.

At times, it may be one of the two who feels unsure regarding what they should do about their relationship. Counseling can help clear things up by encouraging discussion on issues affecting the marriage and getting to the root of the problems. While no solutions are offered during discernment counseling, the couple is able to make an enlightened decision after improving their communication and investigating the source of their troubles.  

What is discernment counseling?

Discernment counseling is a form of counseling where either one or both marriage partners get advice on the state of their relationship. It stems from partners feeling indecisive about whether to continue the marriage or call it quits with divorce. Discernment counseling is mainly aimed at helping them reach a decision on the direction they need to take in the relationship.

Unlike other forms of counseling, discernment counseling involves only a couple of sessions for the couple or individual. During this time, all options and outcomes of the decision get laid out. This is not an attempt to save the marriage but is intended to ensure the couple makes the right decision.

When is discernment counseling required?

This type of counseling works in a case where one partner can’t decide on the way to go in the marriage. At times, neither partner can decide whether to separate or stay together. Discernment counseling helps by offering useful information about what either decision entails. In the event either you or your spouse, or both of you,  are not entirely decided on whether to stay together or considering separation or divorce, this form of counseling is for you. The sessions will give you a chance to rationally look at your relationship in order to determine what’s best for both of you.

Discernment counseling is offered as an alternative to regular couples counseling. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time and money rehashing arguments and working through endless problems, opt instead to focus on a solution with this new way of helping married couples.

What is one likely to gain from a discernment counseling session?

Before discernment counseling, people decided to separate or divorce without getting any form of guidance. Or, they went to countless sessions of couples therapy. Instead of making these expensive mistakes, couples can use discernment counseling to come to a suitable, quick decision about if they want to separate or not.

Before going to discernment counseling, you probably lack direction and a good understanding of the state of your marriage. You might feel stuck or nervous about what’s ahead. With discernment counseling, you’ll examine the fundamental reasons your marriage isn’t working out and see every possible solution. You and your partner will both gain an understanding of the part you’ve played in the issues involved, as well as ways in which you can resolve them. You’ll also gain knowledge about yourself you can use in future relationships if you ever do separate from or divorce your partner.

From there, you can decide what to do next. Do you want to put the marriage back on its feet again? Do you feel like staying apart for a while will help you reach a better decision? Should you start divorce proceedings? Discernment counseling can help you examine each of those questions and offer answers.

How does it work?

Merely sitting back and hoping things will resolve themselves when facing problems in your marriage does not help in any way. Discernment counseling breaks through the indecision and lays out every outcome and solution, so you can make the best choice for your relationship. You’ll either make a conscious effort to work on your marriage or settle for a divorce. Either choice will open up a new path for you and your partner.

Discernment counseling also focuses on solutions that will help your emotional well-being and promote a positive physical, mental, and emotional state. It allows you to take a couple steps back, look at all the options available to you, and make the best decision for your future.

A discernment counselor does not offer solutions, either. Rather, they will offer different angles with which to approach your issues and provide a third party perspective. You and your partner will ultimately come up with a compromise on your own, with the guidance of an expert.

Did you make the right decision?

Even after counseling, it’s not unusual for one to wonder if they made the right decision on the matter. This is a completely normal feeling, especially since marriage is such a serious commitment. Breaking up can be hard, and so can staying in an unhappy marriage. In either case, it might seem like there’s no hope for things to get better.

Other factors that couples tend to worry about when considering whether or not to separate include:

  • Staying in a loveless marriage. Staying together could mean future unhappiness for one partner or both partners.
  • The consequences of divorce. Divorce can be lengthy and draining emotionally. Not to mention the costs of litigation, additional counseling, and more.
  • Effect on the family. Staying in an unhappy marriage or undergoing a divorce can have a serious impact on your children. This makes it difficult to decide on the “lesser of two evils.”

With discernment counseling, however, there’s no need to worry. You can rest assured that you’ve made a decision that has considered every possible factor and difficulty because discernment counseling allows you to explore all your options. You’ve considered all the factors and weighed all the solutions, and now you’ve picked the best one. It’s time to commit to it and begin your new life.

The Issue of Children

Perhaps a parent’s worst fear is upsetting their children if they decide to divorce or stay together in an unhappy marriage. With a discernment counselor’s help, you’ll be able to determine what decision best fits their needs and wants. One of the important aims of discernment counseling is to reduce the amount of friction that often takes place should a couple choose to have a divorce or stay together when things aren’t perfect.

The three outcomes that can come from counseling will affect your children in some way, but they don’t have to stress you out. For example:

  1. Staying together. If you decide to keep staying together, you can still give yourselves some time to consider how your lukewarm interactions with each other affect the kids. This solution might end in divorce, but it is a good option for people who still aren’t sure about what they want to do.
  2. Divorcing. If you decide to divorce, you have to consider that even though it’ll be hard on the children at first, separating might be the better option for everyone.
  3. Staying together with counseling. If you’re willing to give your relationship some time and seek additional counseling, it might be helpful to get the children involved and listen to their concerns and fears. This will make your family ties stronger and might end up repairing your relationship as well.


For a marriage that appears to be ailing, no decision is easy to make. At times, people make rushed decisions in the heat of emotions only to later realize they did the wrong thing. There is no harm taking a bit more time to decide on something as important as your marriage.

Discernment counseling offers you the right setting to come to a decision without feeling pressured to go a certain way. You make the decision from the knowledge gained in the sessions, where facts regarding your marriage are put out in the open. No doubt this is of great help to couples who might be wondering what to do with their marriage. It helps to have someone outside the marriage give a good view of the state of the relationship while offering suggestions of what the couple can do to ensure they reach the right decision.

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