Discernment Counselling For Couples On The Brink Of Divorce

It takes two to decide to marry…
…But only one to divorce

Are you – or your partner:

  • Considering divorce, but not entirely sure?
  • Being pulled in so many directions you feel like you’re being torn apart?
  • Finding it impossible to decide whether to stay in your relationship or to end it?
  • Finding the uncertainty of the situation casting a dark shadow onto all areas of your life?
  • Find yourself thinking: “If I could just make the right decision, everything in my life would be so much better.”?
If any of this sounds familiar to you, then rest assured, you’re in the right place…

…And you’re not alone.

National surveys suggest each year, 25% of married couples have serious thoughts about divorce and most have not told their spouse.

On this page, you’ll discover there is a tried and tested solution to this common problem and it’s called Discernment Counselling.

Let me explain…

Discernment Counselling Gives You An Opportunity to Slow Down…

…Take A Look At Where You Are And Decide On A Direction With No Pressure To Change Or Solve Your Problems

Discernment Counselling was created to solve the exact problem you’re facing. It was developed in partnership with family therapist William Doughty and divorce lawyers focusing on divorce uncertainty.

Discernment Counselling accepts your uncertainty rather than ignoring it, trying to work around it, or overcoming it.

The Goal of Discernment Counselling: To give you clarity and confidence about a direction for your relationship based on a deeper understanding of what’s happened to the marriage and each person’s contribution to the problems.
Keep reading, to discover more about Discernment Counselling and how it can help you to make an informed decision about your relationship and how to move forwards.

Considering Divorce But Not Completely Sure?

Discernment Counselling is a short – 1 to 5 sessions max – for couples on the brink of divorce, where there is a ‘Mixed Agenda’.

What’s a Mixed Agenda?” you’re probably wondering.

Good question.

A Mixed Agenda is where one of you is Leaning Out of the relationship and the other one is Leaning In.

And because you and your partner have different agendas you’ll work separately and together, each on your own agenda.

Let’s take a closer look at what that means:

  • Leaning Out Partner – The focus is on determining whether to move forward separately or continue working on the relationship.
  • Leaning In Partner – The focus is to be constructive and healthy in order to open up the possibility that couples therapy might be successful.

In Discernment Counselling you don’t work on your relationship, which may or may not come later. Instead, you’re seeking to clarify whether you want to work on it (or not). It’s about figuring out whether you want to move forward together or not. Therapy comes later, only if you decide you want to move forward together.

It’s very important you understand that…

Discernment Counselling is not Couples Therapy

Couples Therapy is very different to Discernment Counselling. Couples Therapy assumes there is a ‘Joint Agenda’. That both partners are ready to roll their sleeves up and commit to improving the relationship, resolving conflicts and working on the problems in the relationship together.

Without a Joint Agenda, couples therapy doesn’t work.

Discernment Counselling is for when one of you is seriously contemplating divorce but isn’t absolutely certain.

Again, the aim is not to fix the relationship, that’s impossible at this stage. It’s to invite both of you to look in the mirror at yourself. Identify the problems in your marriage, your responsibility for them and a commitment to working on them later – If you decide to.

The nature of this relational crisis means you don’t have the luxury of time. Within one to five sessions, I help the Leaning Out partner to decide on choosing one of three paths:

  1. Path 1: Status Quo – Continue as you’ve been – To neither divorce nor do couples therapy.
  2. Path 2: Separation/Divorce – Discernment Counselling usually results in a more peaceful divorce with a softer landing afterwards.
  3. Path 3: Couples therapy – A six-month commitment to see if reconciliation is possible, with divorce off the table.

Going through the Discernment Counselling process gives you clarity and confidence about your choice.

Outcomes Of Discernment Counselling

According to a study by Doherty, Harris, & Wilde (2016), Discernment Counselling resulted in:

  • 51% of couples end up on Path 3: Couples Therapy
  • 30% End up moving immediately to Path 2: Separation/Divorce
  • 19% End up choosing Path 1: Status Quo
  • 40% were still married two years after discernment counselling.

Discernment Counselling helps couples in a specialised way during a crisis moment in their lives.


  • If your relationship is on the brink of divorce…
  • If you’re divided about your future…
  • If you’ve got a mixed agenda…
…Then rest easy knowing that Discernment Counselling is a tool specifically created for your situation. It will help you to develop clarity and perspective towards divorce before actually going through with it.

Divorce is usually an attempt to solve a problem that people think can’t be solved in any other way.

Myths About Divorce

Divorce Myth 1: Divorce comes at the end of a long downward slope – Wrong. If you go back two years before a couple got divorced, the studies suggest most couples were average in happiness. They were doing pretty well two years before they broke up.

Divorce Myth 2: Once couples file for divorce, they don’t consider reconciling – Wrong. Researchers asked 2,484 divorcing parents, well along in that process whether they were interested in services to help them reconcile. In at least 10 percent of these divorce cases, both spouses were open to efforts to reconcile, and in another 30 percent, one spouse was interested in reconciliation. Results for couples earlier in the divorce process were even more promising.

Facts About Divorce

According to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale – which measures the stress of different life events – divorce comes in second as most stressful life experience a person can go through, after the death of a spouse.

30% of couples who enter into couples therapy are qualified as ‘Mixed Agenda’ couples. This means the therapy is unlikely to work, is likely to make the situation worse and always ends up being a waste of time, energy and money.

Survey data reveals that approximately 50% of both men and women expressed regret over having divorced.

In 75% of divorced couples, at least one partner had regrets about the decision to divorce one year after the breakup

The Costs Of Divorce

The cost of a divorce in the UK can vary widely depending on various factors, such as the complexity of the case, whether or not it is contested, and the method you choose to use.

If you are able to reach an agreement with your spouse and file for an uncontested divorce, the cost can be relatively low, with court fees totalling around £550.

However, if your case is more complex and requires legal representation, the costs can quickly add up.

For example, if you hire a solicitor to represent you, you can expect to pay anywhere from £1,000 to £5,000 or more, depending on the complexity of your case and the hourly rate charged by your solicitor.

If your case goes to court, the costs can increase significantly, with the total cost of a contested divorce potentially running into tens of thousands of pounds.

It’s important to remember that the cost of a divorce can also be affected by factors such as property and asset division, child custody arrangements, and spousal support payments. It’s always best to seek legal advice and get a clear understanding of the costs involved in your particular situation.

But It’s Not Just The Legal Costs You Have To Consider

You’ve also got to consider:

  • Emotional distress
  • Impact on children
  • Financial constraints
  • Social implications

All of which is to say…

…Divorce is a big decision with lots of consequences. And you want to make sure you know you’ve looked under every rock before you decide to divorce.

Discernment Counselling Sounds Good, But..

Here are 3 of the most common objections I hear about Discernment Counselling:

1. Isn’t It Expensive? The cost for a Discernment Counselling session is £200 and lasts for 90 minutes to two hours depending on a number of factors. Compared to the cost of a long and contentious divorce, Discernment Counselling can be a cost-effective option helping you to avoid legal fees, court costs, and other expenses associated with divorce.

It might even help you to avoid divorce altogether if you decide to pursue Path 3: Couples Therapy.

Also, consider the benefits associated with Discernment Counselling which include:

  • Greater clarity about the relationship
  • Improved communication between you and your partner
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Better co-parenting
  • Deeper understanding of each other’s needs and concerns

2. Won’t it require a lot of time? It’s true, Discernment counselling can seem like a significant time commitment for couples who are already busy. Fortunately, unlike couples therapy the emphasis is on as few sessions as possible. So the time commitment is less and the results are better because couples therapy isn’t the best route for you right now.

3. Are you biased? Rest assured, as your counsellor, I remain neutral in the process. My goal is to empower both of you to make your own decision, without taking sides or pushing for a specific outcome.

Your Call To Action

Studies suggest as many as 30% of couples presenting for couples therapy fall into the mixed-agenda category

In my experience couples therapy (even that offered by specialists) is not effective enough for couples on the brink of divorce, especially when they differ on whether to try to save the marriage.

So, if you’re relationship is on the brink of divorce. If you’ve got a mixed agenda (one of you Leaning in and the other Leaning out) it’s important you understand Discernment Counselling is a very different way of working from couples counselling.

Don’t Wait to Find Clarity in Your Relationship

Your relationship is too important to leave to chance. With limited availability, now is the time to take the first step toward understanding your options and making the best decision for your future. Book a Discernment Counselling session today:

Counselling Services with Marcus Santer

Remember, Discernment Counselling was created specifically for couples like you – don’t miss this opportunity to find the clarity and direction you need.

Bye for now


Discernment Counselling In Dawlish

The Manor House, Old Town St, Dawlish EX7 9AP