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Not sure if divorce is what you want? Try discernment therapy.

According to the Gottman Institute, on average couples wait around six years in an unhappy marriage before deciding to do something about it. This may not surprise some Texas residents as deciding whether or not to leave a committed relationship can be a confusing and emotionally complicated process for many. There are a number of reasons people stay in an unhappy marriage. Some may think things will get better, or it is better for the kids if they stay together, yet others are simply afraid of what comes next.

If you are considering divorce and not sure what the next step should be for your relationship, consider discernment counseling. Discernment counseling is a new type of therapy pioneered by a professor in the family social science department at the University of Minnesota. Discernment therapy, or counseling, is designed to help struggling couples decide whether to divorce or stay married.

The new therapy is part of the Couples on the Brink Project launched by the professor last year. The idea for it came about after a local family court judge told him that a vast number of couples in his divorce court seemed to handle the process so well he had to wonder why they were even getting divorced.

The Family Court Review published a study last year that found about 30 percent of individuals going through the divorce process said they would seriously consider a reconciliation service if it were to be offered by the court. The professor stated that he estimates 30 percent of couples seeking marriage counseling have one person leaning towards divorce with the other leaning toward reconciliation.

The discernment counseling helps both spouses by helping the spouse leaning toward divorce decide if divorce is indeed the right decision for him or her, and also helping the spouse leaning toward reconciliation cope with events without making things worse by threatening, pleading or angering the other spouse in some way.

If you are considering whether divorce is right for you, consult with a divorce attorney who understands the complexities involved and can help you determine the right divorce process for your specific situation. Choosing a divorce attorney who understands mediation and collaborative law can also provide you with options for the dissolution of your marriage that can keep you out of the courtroom.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "When It's Just Another Fight, and When It's Over," April 3, 2012

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