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Should we do marriage counseling before we divorce?

Marriages break down for any number of reasons — lack of intimacy, bad communication, infidelity and money issues and common causes. But couples often try marriage counseling as a last-ditch effort to save their relationships before throwing in the towel on the marriage.

Is this a good idea? Should you and your spouse seek marital counseling before filing for divorce?

There is nothing wrong with trying to iron out your problems before deciding to split. The problem here is often that couples wait too long to seek counseling. They agree to go only once the marriage is irretrievably broken and hanging by a thread. Then, counseling may only serve to reinforce the idea that the two of you will be better off leading separate lives.

Another problem with going to counseling is when one of the spouses is going only to placate the other. That spouse may hope that their partner will then see for themselves that there is nothing left of the union except the legal ties. They may figure, too, that it is far easier for the inevitable divorce to proceed when the other spouse at least has some professional emotional support to bolster them.

Intensive counseling sometimes can turn a marriage around and save it from a divorce. But in those instances, both parties are committed to trying to make the relationship work. In some cases, counseling can also help the parties come to terms with the fact that the relationship has indeed run its course.

There is certainly nothing wrong with doing all that you can to save your marriage, and that can include seeking marital counseling. But don't look to counseling as a magical panacea that can save you from the inevitabilities of divorce.

Regardless, if you anticipate that a divorce might be on your horizon, it is always good to learn more about your legal options before initiating the split.

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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