Help Your Way

Divorce or Stay Together?

New Discernment Counseling Approach Offers Couples a “Relationship Compass.”


Do  you feel adamant that your marriage needs to end,  but your partner desperately wants to save it?  Or is it the other way around?

Perhaps your spouse is the one who wants the marriage to end.  He/she feels that it hasn’t been a real partnership for years. The counseling goal? Just enough discussion to pave the way to a “fair and friendly” divorce.  You disagree.  You are convinced that your marriage can and must be saved – especially for the sake of your children. In your opinion, you should seek counseling to reconnect.

How does this scenario usually end?

With counseling focused on trying to save the marriage, or divorce counseling.

But when one partner’s perspective is ignored, counseling is likely to fail. 

Dr. William Doherty of the University of Minnesota developed a third alternative for couples facing this conflict, called “Discernment Counseling, ” now offered in Richmond, VA at Help Your Way.

Discernment Counseling is an approach that bridges the gap between the conflicting desires of the couple. It offers a structured, time-limited opportunity for couples to explore the deeper issues that divide them.

Ideally, each partner looks within himself or herself to examine the role he/she has played in the dysfunctional relationship. Each partner accepts accountability. And even if the relationship is not salvaged, the individuals leave better prepared to build healthier future relationships.

Discernment counseling isn’t necessarily aimed at saving the marriage or at creating a good divorce. The goal is to help couples move forward knowing more about what each person wants from a relationship, and also what they bring to a relationship.

There are three possible outcomes: 

Help Your Way

  1. The couple may experience significant improvement in their relationship and decide to end counseling.
  2. The couple may decide to end the relationship.
  3. The couple may decide to begin marriage counseling with a goal of renewing their common bonds.

There are no right or wrong outcomes. The process and end result are different for each couple.

In a quandary about the future of your relationship?  Discernment counseling may be for you.

All it takes is the desire to be open and honest about your own contributions to the relationship’s  challenges; the desire to listen and not judge’; and most importantly, the interest in moving your relationship and future relationships forward in the most healthy and productive manner for all involved.

Arnold Woodruff, LMFT,  a marriage and family therapist in Richmond, VA with over 40 years of experience, is a certified practitioner of Discernment Counseling.  Call Arnold at 804-562-6604 for more information, or to make an appointment. 


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