Like so many other things in life, divorce happens in stages.
The first stage in any divorce begins simply by thinking about it. Truth is, the average time a person has thought about divorce before triggering it is about 2 years.
To even begin thinking about divorce though, there would have been issues or concerns in the relationship long before that, that finally gave rise to the thoughts of divorce. If this is you and you are still only thinking about divorce, you may want to consider going to counselling with your partner first.
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Counselling enables the discussion and resolution of issues between couples. It provides a place to talk and even to learn how to talk so that you can resolve issues more effectively. So many people when discussing divorce say they couldn’t communicate with their partner. Counselling can not only help you communicate, but in such a way that you can understand each other’s needs and wants better. In doing so, counselling can even help people change, improve or modify behaviour.
Going to counselling can be scary for some people. It can create the impression there is something wrong with them or it may press on a belief that they should be able to solve problems independently. The decision to go may itself take weeks and months to come to terms with.
If you really want your partner to go with you to counselling, it shouldn’t be used as a threat or ultimatum. The request to go should be expressed through a concern to improve the relationship.
If you are thinking about counselling for a couple related problem, it is usually best to go together.
If one person goes on their own, the counselor will only have a one-sided view of the issues and may inadvertently reinforce a negative view of the other without necessarily helping you address what may be your contribution to the relationship woes.
If you think you will go ahead of your partner and that your partner will join in later, this too does not make for effective couple counselling as the partner who comes in second will typically feel in a one-down position with the therapist.
Going together maintains balance in the process.
The one consideration in not going together is if there is violence between you and your partner and you are concerned that the violence may escalate if you do address your concerns openly in the counselling process. If that is the case, then you may want an individual counsellor for yourself first, before attending couples counselling.