If you’ve landed on this page after searching “I want to leave but he wants couples counselling”, you are likely feeling confused, hurt, frustrated and lonely in your relationship.
Grappling with the difficult choice of whether to stay in a troubled relationship or leave, is not easy.
After all, when you got together, you had the intention of staying together.
Even though you know it’s cliche, you really did hope to live happily ever after.
Yet, despite all your hopes and dreams in the beginning, and all your good intentions now, there are days when it seems impossible to continue.
You’ve lived through too many battles and experienced so many unresolved hurts. It’s no wonder, at least intellectually, you’re considering moving on.
If you’re wrestling with thoughts of leaving your relationship, you’re not alone. A study of by The National Divorce Decision-Making Project that surveyed married individuals (ages 25-50) found that 1 in 4 (25%) survey participants reported some recent thoughts about divorce. Of those that had recently thought about divorce, 40% have spoken with their spouse about these thoughts.
Perhaps you are considering sharing these feelings with your partner or, maybe you’ve already made your thoughts known.
Either way, what’s clear is that they don’t agree with the decision to break up.
It’s not uncommon for me to get a call from a prospective client asking “I want to leave, he wants couples counselling. What should we do?”
It’s been my experience, that this conversation is often what prompts couples who have let frustration, disconnection and resentment build up in their relationship for a long time, decide to seek couples counselling.
Because it has been hard for so long, it makes perfect sense that one, or both, of you are skeptical or unsure if counselling can help.
Even if one or both of you have very little hope that things can be different, if you are both are open to exploring the possibility, couples therapy can be very helpful.
However, there are some situations when traditional marriage & couples counselling is not going to be a right fit:
- If one person is having an affair and does not want to leave their affair partner
- If one person is committed to separation/divorce and has their mind made up
- If one person is not willing to attend couples therapy. Attending therapy is not something you want to pressure or talk your partner into.
- If there is intimate partner violence and you don’t feel safe
Can couples therapy help us?
Research studies on the effect of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) consistently show that it decreases relationship distress. These improvements not only happen during therapy, but continue after therapy has concluded.
EFT is an evidence based therapy rooted in attachment science and neurobiology. Studies such as “Soothing The Threatened Brain” confirm, through the use of modern science, that therapy can help shape loving feelings between partners and change the way our brains respond to threat and pain.
Marriage counselling can help you;
- Identify behavioural patterns that are keeping you and your partner stuck
- Help each partner can gain new insights about their primary (softer) emotions and learn to communicate these in the relationship
- Resolve conflict effectively by first having you experience successful communication in session and showing you how to do it between sessions too
- Deepen your sense of empathy and connection with your partner as you begin to know them more fully
I Want to Leave and he Wants Couples Counselling.
You may not be 100% sure that you want to pursue a separation, but you are sure that you do not want to go to couples counselling to talk about restoring your relationship.
You have expressed your desire to leave but your spouse wants to go to couples counselling.
Discernment Counselling is designed for you.
Unlike traditional marriage & couples counselling which is aimed at rebuilding your relationship, Discernment Counselling is designed to guide you and your partner, through a series of conversations to help you conclude what direction you will move in.
These conversations help couples, where one person is “leaning out” of the relationship and the other is “leaning in”. Or, in other words, both partners do not have the same goals for their relationship going into therapy.
How does Discernment Counselling Help Me?
Discernment counselling helps both partners look at their contribution to the state of the relationship. Part of a Discernment Counselling session is spent 1:1 with a therapist.
If you are the “leaning in” spouse, you will learn new skills to help you cope effectively in the midst of these difficult circumstances. You will also explore some of the ways you have contributed to the challenges you currently face in your relationship.
If you are the”leaning out” spouse you will gain greater clarity concerning the difficult decision you are making. The objective of discernment counselling for the “leaning out” spouse is, in part, to help you consider all the implications so that you can feel more certain that you are making the best choice possible.
Following 1:1 time, the three of us will meet together to discuss what each of you have learned in your individual meetings and help you evaluate if you are ready to commit to a course of action- to pursue a separation or to commit to a 6-month course of couples therapy.
Discernment Counselling is a short term form of help (up to 5 sessions) and is considered successful when both partners have an increased understanding of what went wrong in the relationship and how they want to move forward.
Will this help me decide if I want to leave?
Making the decision to stay married or to separate is a very difficult and complex. An experienced relationship therapist can help you individually to sort through your own thoughts and feelings, but, they do not know your partner or their side of the relationship.
The benefit of Discernment Counselling is that there is a specific roadmap for the therapist to follow. It is a structured process that can help both of you look at your relationship and the decision you face more objectively It gives both of you emotional support through the process.
By the end of the Discernment Counselling sessions, you will have explored these 4 key questions;
-“What has happened to your marriage that has gotten you to the point where separation/divorce is a possibility?”
-“What have you done to try to fix these problems so that you didn’t get to this point? It might be things you tried individually, as a couple, or with outside help.”
-“What role, if any, do your children play in your decision making about the future of your marriage?”
– “What was the best of times in your relationship since you met? A time when you felt the most connection and joy in your relationship.”