Many couples go through some type of marriage counseling, either with a therapist or a pastor or other religious person, prior to making a decision to file for divorce. For some couples, they go through this process to see or decide if changes can be made to allow them to fix or save the marriage. Other couples (or at least one of the spouses) already believe that the marriage should end and they use the counseling or therapy to either investigate concerns or suspicions that they have had (such as affairs or infidelity) or to try to create a strategy of open, cooperative communication as a foundation for their divorce process or their future co-parenting needs if the parties share children in common.
If You Agree to Enter into Marriage Counseling During Divorce How Will That Affect Things?
A marriage counselor may request or require that the divorce process be paused or that the parties have a general “stand down” to the litigation while the parties are trying to determine if their marriage can be saved. If you believe this needs to be investigated, a stand down is okay. There are also some situations where parties enter into marriage counseling and the therapist or professional ends up helping you, or both parties, determine that the marriage simply cannot be saved. Marriage therapists or counselors are trained professionals who analyze and discuss your family dynamics and determine what workable solutions there are to issues presented. This type of therapy will only be successful if both participants to the therapy have the common goal of reaching solutions and staying together, If one party in the couple has already decided that he or she is done with the marriage then almost certainly, nothing the other spouse or the professional says will change the outcome of a determined expectation.
For many couples, if their marriage is not saved, it does not mean that the marriage counseling has been wasted time or effort. For some people, finding closure to the end of the relationship, the pain, and uncertainty of whether the marriage could have or should have been saved is well worth the effort of participating in the therapy. In many cases and situations, engaging in marriage counseling is very helpful to the divorce process as it allows you and your spouse to put hurt and anger behind you and focus on an amicable, cooperative divorce process.
What Are Some Reasons that Counseling May Be Helpful?
- You and your spouse need to be able to communicate effectively. Marriage counseling, at its core, aims to help you and your spouse have improved communication, learn techniques surrounding openness, honesty, and compromise. By learning how to give and take, hear the other person and find a compromise, you and your spouse (and your children) will benefit from these skills regardless of whether you work out your issues and stay together or if you decide to move forward with separating or divorce.
- If you and your spouse have different goals, understanding and coming to compromise on those differing priorities will almost certainly help your family. Many people will look to external things such as disagreements about money as the cause of the marital problems, but at tis core, this is about the issue of differing goals. In many situations where there is a disagreement about money, it is because the spouses have grown apart and have different mindsets or visions about what their future should look like or what the priorities for life in the future are. Where the parties have these differing visions and plans either the spouses need to find compromise to be able to continue pursuing their life together or if the spouses cannot find compromise, they may need to determine that they are not compatible to continue to build their life together.
- When you could rationalize a problem as a “rough patch” except it is more than just a rough patch. People often hear from friends or family that their marital problems or disagreements are just a rough patch. While some difficulties are common in every marriage, some type of acute problem or ongoing problem (such as a loss of job or childcare loss or even more serious issues such as drug or alcohol use or abuse by one of the spouses). When these problems or issues are lasting more than a few months, they are more than a rough patch, they represent issues that either need a resolution, i.e. a change to status quo or may need to result in a decision to end the marriage.
- If one of the spouses has already decided that a divorce is needed, it is common for the other spouse to suggest counseling first. Even though the spouse requesting the divorce is unlikely to change his or her mind, counseling can provide a safe forum to process history, hurts and the reasons behind the decision.
- If you and your spouse care primarily about the needs or interests of the children. Many people will say that they stay together for the children, however, children are almost always much more perceptive than the adults even give them credit for. Research shows that children do better living in two separated parent households than living in a household where the parents have frequent, intense conflict. Separating is often a positive development for children who have been exposed to a high level of conflict.
How Can We Help You?
Divorce is not only stressful and emotional, it is also a complicated legal/court process that requires a large amount of paperwork and many specific deadlines. At Pingel Family Law, we can work with you to hopefully lift or decrease the tremendous stress that you probably feel right now. Call our office to schedule your consultation (816) 208-8130. Allow us to speak with you, develop a plan and strategy for your situation, including if your top priority is saving your marriage and put our knowledge and expertise to work for your family.