Navigating the Darkest Hour: A Guide to Discernment Counseling

Marriage, often seen as a bond of love and commitment, can also be fraught with moments of intense suffering. From chronic illness to affairs, from midlife crises to depression, couples face numerous challenges that test the very fabric of their relationship. However, perhaps the darkest hour arises when one partner contemplates leaving while the other desperately clings to hope, each engulfed in their own anguish.

The Unique Struggle of Contemplating Leaving

When one partner entertains thoughts of leaving, a cascade of emotions ensues—burden, responsibility, guilt. They grapple with the weight of broken promises and the looming question of how their decision will impact their children if they have any. On the other side, the partner facing abandonment experiences a profound attachment injury, fearing the loss of one of the most significant aspects of their life—their marriage.

The Limitations of Traditional Couples Therapy

Traditional couples therapy, while effective for many issues, often falls short in addressing the complexities of a relationship teetering on the brink of dissolution. The demoralization of one partner and the overwhelming fear or anger of the other can hijack the therapeutic process, rendering it ineffective in such high-stakes scenarios.

Introducing Discernment Counseling

Recognizing the inadequacy of traditional models in such circumstances, Dr. Bill Doherty pioneered a specialized approach known as Discernment Counseling. This brief, targeted intervention aims to meet couples exactly where they are, acknowledging their uncertainty and fear without pushing premature resolutions.