Do you really want a divorce?

No one should ever rush into a divorce. It's important to consider whether there's any possibility that expert counselling might be able to help. Over time, problems may work themselves out. Anger dissolves; feelings change. 

With patience, you and your spouse may be able to resolve your difficulties. No matter how black things may look to you, it may well be that there's a way to save your relationship.

The first thing to realise is that the marriage in which there have never been any problems is something that doesn't exist. It's not an admission of failure if you're having difficulties. But if things are going wrong you are likely to feel confused, unhappy and uncertain about what is the right thing to do.

For those who need clarity, Relate provides the principal counselling service for people having relationship problems. Relate has centres all over the country and over half a century of experience of helping couples in trouble. It offers counselling to couples whether they are married or unmarried.

The atmosphere at Relate centres is as relaxed and friendly as possible, with paper hankies always at the ready. The problems people bring to the counsellors are as varied as the people themselves - inability to talk to a partner or to persuade a partner to talk to them, loneliness, jealousy and problems with children or in-laws are common examples.

Relate emphasise that the time to come for counselling, if possible, is when the problems first arise. Waiting for them to resolve themselves may mean that by the time counselling is sought it's too late because things have already got themselves into such a mess. However, that doesn't mean that counselling can never help when problems have existed for a long time. Couples can be helped at any stage.

Obviously, if both you and your partner go together, counselling is likely to be more successful but even if your partner refuses to go, counselling can often help. If things do begin to improve between you as a result of the counselling sessions, your partner might be persuaded to come with you.

What the counsellor does during the sessions is to try to help you to understand your relationship, the problems which have come up, the possible causes of them, and the various choices available to you as solutions. The counsellor then helps you to work out your own answers to the problems. He or she doesn't tell you what to do; it's for you to consider the options open to you and to choose the one that seems best.

Counsellors will not try to persuade you to stay together. They know how damaging a divorce can be, especially when there are children in the family, but they are realistic. They recognise that there is no hope for some relationships. 

If a marriage must end, the counsellor is trained to help the couple to separate with less anger or bitterness and to reach a fair and friendly settlement of matters concerning their children and any property that they own.

In addition to Relate, counselling is also provided by such organisations as Marriage Care (formerly the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council) and the Jewish Marriage Council. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can also supply details of other similar organisations.

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Published on: October 25, 2010

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