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When a couple comes to marriage counseling they may come wanting to strengthen their marriage or they may have already decided they want a divorce. But often they are undecided, or one partner wants a divorce and the other wants to preserve the marriage.
Part of our marriage counseling is a period of time listening to each partner describe what they have in mind. This may be the first time they have ever, in each other's presence, explained how they feel about their marriage, about each other and what their goals are. Often couples are very confused about what they want, our goal is to help them find clarity.
Although the couple, or more commonly one spouse, may have already decided he or she wants a divorce, we are aware that people can change their minds, and this period of introspection leaves the opportunity for change.
We advocate for marriage but not at any price. When divorce is clearly the couple's choice, or when the discussion among us leads them to that decision, our attention then moves to preparation for divorce.
Divorcing couples agree change is the major theme of divorce. Divorce changes their lifestyle, changes their roles, changes their friendship circles, changes the meaning of their world. When couples have tried all they could to save a marriage and "failed," the losses they experience can be overwhelming, however the changes can be relieving. It is a time of significant stress for all family members emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually.
The major goal is to desensitize to the idea of divorce and stimulate personal growth by preparing each individual for their new role as a single or separated person. It is important to learn creative problem solving regarding the many changes that occur in lifestyles after separation, such as raising children in two single-parent households, loss of social support from friends, and loss of emotional support from the former spouse. When a couple agrees to work together untangling the mystery of their lives together, they offer an invaluable gift of cooperation and a new kind of love, a love based in respect and friendship.
Learning about how their interactions with and from family and friends have molded their roles, patterns, rules, goals, and beliefs better prepare them for a brighter future. This rite of passage can turn crisis into opportunity, pain into healing, failure into success next time around.
Our approach is to guide individuals and couples through a life crisis that society does not prepare one for. By dealing with the common problems of divorce, one can enjoy the satisfaction of new beginnings. Divorce can be dealt with in counseling as a means of achieving growth toward a more satisfying way of life.