Once one party in a marriage has decided divorce is the best option, it can feel like there's no turning back. You may feel like it's time to get the inevitable over with, end your marriage and begin moving on. In order to be able to do so without major regret, and to enhance your understanding of each other's perspective, however, a better option is usually to try couple's counseling first. Here are four compelling reasons to try couple's counseling before you file for divorce:
Counseling Helps You Understand Each Other
By the time a couple is on the verge of divorce, they typically have a long list of grievances, misunderstandings and ineffective attempts at communication to unravel and sort through. With the guidance of an experienced therapist, you can learn to really hear and understand each other's perspectives again, perhaps for the first time in many years.
Instead of seeing each other as adversaries, you will learn to have empathy and compassion for each other's struggles. Even if you still decide to get a divorce, it will be easier to feel at peace with the decision when you know that you now understand each other.
Counseling Helps You Heal From Pain
Whether your marriage struggles have included infidelity, anger issues, hurtful accusations and insults or feelings of neglect, chances are you both feel a great deal of pain and disappointment because your marriage has not been as loving, safe and healthy as you hoped it would be. When you bury this pain instead of processing it, it will continue to affect your life in negative ways long after your marriage has ended.
Couple's counseling allows you to identify the sources of deep pain, find ties between the hurtful events in your marriage and painful childhood experiences and process the pain so that you can begin to truly heal from it. If you remain together as a couple, you will do so with less pain between you, and if you choose to move on, you will be able to try dating again without a fear of getting hurt or bitterness getting in the way.
Counseling Teaches You Better Relationship Skills
Everyone can use some brushing up on relationship and communication skills from time to time, and if you are on the brink of divorce, this need is especially urgent. Counseling will teach you to communicate effectively and clearly while also taking into account your partner's emotional needs. If you or your partner tends to be passive aggressive, avoids speaking up or only communicates in a combative or aggressive way, it is not too late to learn more effective ways to communicate.
In addition to stronger communication skills, you will learn better ways to identify and meet your partner's relationship needs, whether this means being more affectionate, spending more time together or being more vocal in your appreciation. These skills will serve you both well whether the marriage is salvaged or you move on with other partners in the future.
Counseling Helps You Learn to Co-Parent
If you have children, couple's counseling is especially important. You and your spouse will learn to co-parent in ways that make each other and your children feel supported and cared for, without one parent taking on an unfair amount of work. This cooperation will improve your marriage and family life if you remain together or make it much easier to co-parent effectively in the future if you decide to get divorced after all.
By turning to an experienced couple's counselor for guidance, you are giving your marriage a sincere and genuine last shot before filing for divorce. If after couple's counseling, you and your spouse still feel that separating is the best option, you can do so in a more loving and understanding way with the help of your counselor.