Couple’s Therapy for Relationships on the Brink
The divorce rate in the US is about 50% for first marriages, 60% for second, and 70% for any after that. Most people do not enter into a marriage expecting to divorce, but sadly it becomes a harsh reality for many. When we lose a partner, or we think we are losing our partner, it can feel devastating and overwhelming. Our body responds similarly to if we have lost someone through death. We begin an intense process of grief.
When couples are on the brink and unsure if their relationship will last, we call this discernment in couple’s therapy (or couples counseling). This means we are deciding what to do with our relationship. As a licensed marriage and family therapist, I will always prioritize marriage and preserving family, but I also know the importance of individual happiness. And sadly, there are times when these two cannot always co-exist.
So, what do you do in couples counseling when your relationship is on the brink of ending?
I view therapy like a road map. When you first come in, we are at a fork in the road with three options:
(1) Do nothing. This is often not a great choice for couples in conflict or homes that feel lonely or cold.
(2) Commit to working on the relationship for a set amount of time and see if we can use this process to find each other again.
(3) The final choice is separation or divorce. Making this first decision can be easy for some couples or take a few sessions for others.
When we are working on making this choice, we will often meet once together, and then I will meet with each of you individually and then back together as a couple. If necessary, we will repeat this process. During these meetings, we will discuss what has been hurtful in the marriage or relationship, your goals, and any other concerns. If the choice is to work on the relationship, we will begin working to rebuild the relationship using a research-based, effective couples therapy model.
If, after discussing all of the options, the couple chooses separation or divorce, the therapy process and goals will go in another direction. Therapy can benefit couples who have chosen to divorce or separate, especially if children are involved. During this process, we will work on setting boundaries for the couple during the divorce process, learn communication tools, and process the loss of the relationship. Ending a relationship is extremely painful, no matter how long you have been together. One of my main goals when supporting a couple or individual through breaking up or divorces is to offer support in any way I can.
If you have any questions or are wondering if this type of counseling is right for you, please do not hesitate to reach out – send me a message, text, or call. If you are ready to get started, schedule your first appointment now.