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The decision to get a divorce is never easy, but neither is going to a marriage counselor. Many couples struggle while considering whether they should fight for their marriage or just split and get it over with. Unfortunately, there is only one situation when the answer is 100% clear. It’s when one of the spouses is abusive. In that case, a divorce, and perhaps a restraining order, is a must.
If your situation isn’t that extreme, you should consider the following when making the final decision.
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What can You Realistically Expect from Marriage Counseling?
The first thing you need to understand is that a marriage counselor isn’t some kind of expert that will evaluate your marriage and tell you what to do. In fact, it’s imperative for these professionals to avoid telling a couple if they should divorce or stay together. It’s against their ethics code and if your counselor tells you to make some specific kind of decision, you might reconsider your choice of the counselor.
The exception is, of course, when the relationship is abusive.
Otherwise, you should expect marriage counseling to guide you through identifying and analyzing your issues. Your priority would be to understand what exactly causes problems in your marriage and try to resolve them with techniques offered by the counselor.
Then, based on what kind of results you are getting, you will be the ones to decide whether to keep trying or to file for a divorce.
Are You Prepared to Go Through a Divorce?
Sometimes, people get marriage counseling when they have already decided to go through with the divorce. In this case, they are looking for help on how to separate in a way that will be the least traumatic for everyone’s mental health. Visiting a family counselor might be best if you have children as they will also need assistance dealing with this change.
Going to a marriage counselor, in this case, is a particularly good choice if you want to avoid the court and choose the less stressful route of getting a divorce online. This can only be achieved if you file for an uncontested divorce. In this situation, your counselor can help you navigate the emotional landmine field that is divorce, which will help you resolve your issues without hiring attorneys to do the talking for you.
However, in this case, you should inform the counselor about this directly. You aren’t here to try and mend your relationship and they need to understand what kind of help you want in order to be able to help you.
What Are Your Reasons For Trying To Stay Together?
If the answer to this question is “for the kids” or “for the job” or “for” anything else except for your actual marriage, your relationship might be beyond salvation already. Staying together for the kids is the most prevalent trend among these, and it’s a huge mistake.
Children who grow up in an unhappy marriage do not become the well-adjusted adults you might hope them to be. Therefore, getting a divorce might be the better choice for your kids. Of course, that will only happen if your divorce is smooth and as stress-free as possible. And marriage counseling can help achieve that as much as professional divorce mediation.
On the other hand, if you want to attempt saving your relationship because you can feel that your love is still alive and that you genuinely want to have this connection rebuilt, you should give counseling a try. It might not work, but in this case, you would know that you did everything possible to salvage your marriage.
But bear in mind that this has to be a mutual decision. If only one of the spouses wants to try counseling while the other is resolved to divorce, there might be no point in trying. This will depend on your personal situation and the other party’s decision.
Is There Cheating Involved?
Affairs are one of the most common reasons for divorce. It’s also a matter that hits so deeply that the majority of affected parties don’t even contemplate counseling or trying to save the marriage.
However, in many cases, these relationships can be saved. And many people claim their marriage has actually gotten stronger after this kind of incident and a long stretch of intensive counseling.
This is the kind of issue where counseling can really make a difference. This means that this is when you should give it a try over a divorce. Even if you only go through a few sessions and decide to get a divorce anyway. These sessions will help you process the incident so you can put it behind you and move on. It might not be enough to save your relationship, but it will help you build better relationships in the future.
At the very least, counseling will prevent this incident from crippling you emotionally. Building trust with anyone will be difficult after experiencing this kind of betrayal. Therefore, you can treat it as the first step on your road to personal recovery.
Conclusion: Should You Choose Marriage Counseling or Divorce?
In the majority of cases, marriage counseling is worth it, regardless of whether you do it to save the marriage or to ease the separation. It’s the kind of help that everyone needs when they are living through the breakup of a relationship that played such an important role in their lives.
Think of counseling as an investment in your future. Its main purpose is to help you understand where both of you stand in the relationship at the moment and the path that led you there. From that point on, it’s up to the couple to decide whether they want to try rebuilding their relationship or applying for a divorce. In either case, seeing the reasons for the relationship’s collapse is essential for moving on.
However, there’s another important thing to consider. You shouldn’t rush the decision of whether to try for counseling or divorce. Don’t make it when you are hurting and angry and want this to end as soon as possible.
Instead, give yourself a few days to cool off and then talk to a counselor. You might start with personal counseling and move on to couple’s therapy from there.
Let divorce be the last resort because this is the kind of decision that you can’t get back from. Counseling, however, will prepare you for it if you do choose to go all the way.
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