What do you do when you want a divorce but your spouse does not want one?
Sometimes when I meet with a couple to talk about the divorce process, I realize that they are not on the same page. I can see that one person is ready to proceed with a divorce proceed, but the other is reluctant. Divorce is always difficult, even when both people agree it is the right decision, however, when one spouse does not want to get a divorce, it makes the situation even more difficult.
I suggest that couples who are in this situation consider a specific kind of counseling called discernment counseling or decision counseling. It is a focused, short-term form of therapy where the couple meets with a therapist for only 4 or 5 one-hour sessions.
The concentrated purpose of this short-term therapy is to help the couple decide one of three outcomes:
- Is the relationship really over and is it the right decision to move forward with the divorce.
- If the marriage is not really over yet, the couple may decide to engage in six months of intensive couple’s therapy to see if the marriage is salvageable.
- The couple may also decide to do nothing and stay miserable.
How to find a discernment or decision counselor
Not every counselor is trained in decision counseling or discernment counseling. A simple online internet search for decision counseling or discernment counseling should offer many professionals that have been trained in discernment counseling or decision counseling. Many of the Mental Health Professionals in Collaborative Divorce practice groups are trained in this type of therapy. If you are planning to meet with an attorney to talk about the divorce process already, ask the attorney if they know about discernment counseling or decision counseling. The attorney may be able to provide suggestions. Whenever I suggest of a counselor, I send a follow-up email to the couple with that counselor’s contact information.
Jami Fosgate is a Los Angeles area family law attorney. She focuses her practice on Mediation and Collaborative Divorce rather than litigation because she believes those processes are better for families and a better way to untie the knot.