Considering Divorce: How To Think This Through For Success

Almost every couple who comes to Marriage Quest ® for a couples retreat is considering divorce. Either one or both spouses might already have a foot out the door, or they are questioning if they are compatible or not. Some have even filed divorce papers and now are questioning their decision. Our Marriage Quest retreat offers you an opportunity to explore your relationships successes and failures in a supportive environment and make a clear decision with as much information as possible.

Exploring the divorce decision is called Discernment Counseling

The far majority of couples we work with choose to stay together and learn how to move forward toward a positive future together. For couples who come to believe that too much damage has been done or they cannot overcome their incompatibility, we offer a path to lovingly detangle their lives and create a plan for them that will help them and their children to be happier and healthier.

Affairs Can Be An Opportunity For Greater Connection

Whether you found out your spouse is having an affair or you are personally struggling with your own infidelity, dealing with an affair is often very painful and exhausting. This break in trust and the marital contract is usually a symptom of deeper issues in the relationship. Our job is to fix the root cause. The research on affairs shows that about 80% of people that divorce due to infidelity regret it later. Additionally, couples who are able to recover from an affair often report higher marital satisfaction than in their previous several years together.

happy couple who were considering divorce leaving successful discernment counseling session

Why Am I Considering A Divorce? 

Considering a divorce is a huge step. Obviously, you have been stressed out lately and probably feeling very disconnected from your spouse. There have likely been some rough times between the two of you, arguing, stress in the whole family, maybe even some emotional or physical abuse. It’s normal to question the long-term viability of your marriage when this is your daily experience. While stress is normal in a marriage, long-term stress is not healthy for anyone in the family.

What To Know When Considering Divorce

It’s good to get some professional advice if you are considering a divorce. Just like with any medical situation, there are professionals who can help you sort out your thoughts and feelings as well as your options. Some marriage therapists will only side with you and want the best for you alone without considering your spouse or family. Look at the big picture. Maybe what feels like a crisis is actually an opportunity for growth and change for you and all of your family members.

The Reality of Divorce

Divorce changes a couple’s lifestyle, their roles, their friendship circles, and it changes the meaning of the world. When couples have tried all they could do 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. 

For couples who believe they have done everything they can do to save the marriage to no avail and are going to consider divorce, the major goal is to desensitize you and your partner to the idea of divorce and stimulate personal growth by preparing each of you for your 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. Divorce can be respectful and help both partners continue to grow and thrive when it is handled appropriately. This can be a complicated process.

I'm Worried We're No Longer Compatible

Many couples who are considering starting the divorce process are questioning their compatibility and have either never sought professional support or have experienced marriage counseling in the past that actually made their situation worse. 

The truth is that most couples really are compatible, but they have never been taught how to be in a longterm romantic relationship. A Marriage Quest Retreat can help you improve communication, repair from past hurts, and finally make a decision about the future of your relationship.

Many People Regret Getting Divorced

About 40% of couples report regretting getting divorced, and that number increases to 80% if the separation was due to an affair. This is often because with time comes clarity, and people start to recognize possible ways they could have saved their marriage while at the same time experiencing delayed empathy or perspective for the situation and their partner. 

It really does take two to make a marriage work. It also usually takes two people to create unhappy marriages. Spouses that did not see their role in the dis-ease of their marriage, now see their part in the breakdown and leave with a new empowered perspective.

What Are The Red Flags In A Marriage?

In a healthy marriage, spouses go out of their way to make the other person feel good about themselves. Unfortunately, many couples do not do this. They make each other feel worse. Signs that your marriage is over or could be in trouble are:

While the red flags above are a significant sign of relationship distress, our job at Marriage Quest is to help you understand the root cause of these issues and make effective changes in your relationship so that you can either repair or lovingly decide to separate and move on.

Can Couples Counseling Save A Relationship?

Yes. Part of our marriage retreat is a period of time listening to each partner describe what they have in mind. This may well be the first time they have ever, in each other’s presence, explained how they feel about their marriage and about each other and what their goals are. Also common are couples who are so confused about what they want; our goal is to help them find clarity.

Sometimes Considering Divorce Creates Reconnection

It is worth noting that even after exploring separation or divorce, and often because of that exploration in detail, it is more than possible that the couple reaches a critical mass and they reverse their decision. Many couples find peace with their past and now can move forward together with their new found skills and understanding.

How To Prevent A Divorce

The initial decision to consider divorce is often rooted in strong emotions. You probably feel hurt, betrayed, untrusting, or just generally defeated and hopeless. Many couples enter marriage at a time of strong connection and hope, but various stressors in life start to pull the couple away from each other and cause conflict. Some couples enter at the pinnacle of conflict and can barely be in each other’s presence without feeling stressed out.

Preventing a divorce requires active effort and understanding how your partner wants to be cared for while also expressing your needs clearly and respectfully. It’s normal to have ups and downs in a marriage, and in fact the negative experiences can bring a couples closer together when handled in the right way.

A trial separation might happen when a couple is in the process of considering a divorce but are not positive that it is the right decision. This often happens when there are children involved. 

Some people go to an attorney to make it a legal separation so there is no issue of “abandonment” with the person leaving the marital home. Often, but not always, the trial separation leads to a new beginning for the couple. At the very least, it is a helpful exercise so you know what to consider before divorce becomes your next step.

Are the issues that you and your partner are dealing with a test that something needs to change or a sign that you are not compatible? Many couples go through rough patches. While that is normal, it still is useful to get good help before making the decision to get divorced. 

Some children will say that their parents should have divorced long ago and not “stayed for the sake of the children.” Other children will say, “Why didn’t you get some help?” Many marriages can be flipped around, especially if there was a strong attraction in the very beginning of the relationship.

Everyone understands that if you have a toothache you shouldn’t go to a heart surgeon for guidance. In the field of counseling, coaching, and therapy the clinician can work with all kinds of situations without specific training and expertise. 

Marriage counseling is different from individual therapy, and doing marriage counseling is far from popular amongst therapists. They might do it, but not necessarily like it nor have proper training in it. We are specialists in doing couples retreats and are very good at it.

Grey Divorce

There is a new phenomenon called “Grey Divorce”. This represents couples who are over 50 years old, many who are retiring, empty nest, and now wanting a divorce. Some of them have stayed together for raising their children and planned to divorce when the children were launched. Other people suddenly realize how little they have in common with their spouse and how they may be alive for many more years. This realization can be motivating to make some changes in the marriage or to let go and move on. 

Our goal at Marriage Quest is to help couples explore what can be changed and what cannot be changed. Couples are often surprised to learn that there are some very easy ways to improve their situation, sometimes in very significant ways. Many couples actually report higher sexual satisfaction after retirement than when they were younger and busier. They have the time to focus and enjoy each other in a renewed and exciting way.

What Is The Success Rate Of A Marriage Intensive?

Many couples ask us, “What is the success rate of a marriage intensive?” and “What is your success rate?” The overall success of any marriage counseling is about 70 to 90%. This is usually based on couples that have been in therapy for many months or many years. We see the same results in our 3-day intensive marriage retreat.

Most couples who come to a Marriage Quest retreat are looking to save their marriage, yet others are looking to make a decision on whether to get a divorce or not. They are looking for some relief from their painful situation and looking for guidance from professionals in the field. If a divorce seems like the best outcome, they are satisfied knowing that they’ve tried everything and knowing that they will be better co-parents for their children in the future.

Miracles Can Happen

We have witnessed more than once or twice a couple who has worked through their plans to separate, or even divorce, only to change their minds days, weeks, or months later and rekindle their marriage. The truth is we have also helped couples reunite their marriage years after they divorced. Relationships are complicated, and that is what we are best at. Even the strongest marriage doubts can be healed with the right tools and effort.

Testimonials From Happy Couples

Our marriage was in the final days of divorce. We mutually decided to put the divorce on hold and to give one last attempt at intensive counseling. The weekend experience was phenomenal! We have learned many positive communication strategies and have been able to practice them since returning home in our daily lives. Whatever the future holds for our marriage, we have both learned important things about ourselves individually as well as about relationships. If our relationship endures, we will definitely consider an additional weekend in the future or at the very least have tools to take with us into future relationships.

L & E


The decision to divorce was hard for my husband and me, but it was the right one. He sounds more contented now when I speak with him. I think that I will be grateful to him for the rest of my life for agreeing to go for counseling. The things that you helped us to see about ourselves made the parting much easier than it would otherwise have been.


Frequently Asked Questions

If you want to tell your spouse that you are considering a divorce, share what you want or wanted in your marriage. Don’t complain about everything that is annoying you about them. Share your own thoughts and feelings in a more positive and useful manner. Perhaps something like, “Honey, I love you, but I have not been happy for a long time. I want thing to be better here or I might look to get a divorce.”

Stonewalling in a marriage is when a husband or wife shuts down completely in a conversation or refuses to communicate with their spouse at all. Typically, the listener shuts down and tunes out the spouse who is speaking, thereby “putting up a wall” between each other. When a marriage gets to this point of disconnection, it is challenging to turn things around.

About 40% of couples report regretting getting divorced, and that number increases to 80% if the separation was due to an affair. This is often because with time comes clarity, and people start to recognize possible ways they could have saved their marriage while at the same time experiencing delayed empathy or perspective for the situation and their partner.

For some people there is always a bit of ambivalence about holding onto their marriage or letting go. It is not straight forward and clear. For others it is very clear. Obviously when there is a lot of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, the marriage is not healthy even if there is love. It’s useful to get a professional opinion from someone who can analyze your marital situation and give you some idea of what you can possibly do to change your negative situation into something more positive and how you can do that, or if it appears to be hopeless. This is kind of like going to the Emergency Room if you have injured yourself and need a triage assessment.

A trial separation can be helpful for many couples as it provides a reality check on what their divorce would actually look like. It’s important to discuss the trial separation rules in enough detail so that you are both clear on the guidelines. For example, some spouses ask “Can I date during a trial separation?” In some cases, dating other people is a trial separation benefit. For other couples, that might be too painful. Having clear boundaries and trial separation rules is important for a successful outcome.

A Marriage Counseling Retreat Is Your Solution

While navigating the complex world of separation and divorce versus staying together, you want a clinician who has done it many times before with success. If you are wondering what are the red flags in a marriage or you are already considering divorce, we are here to help. Marriage Quest is an intensive counseling retreat designed to aid couples in making healthy decisions during troubling times.

Let's Plan Your Couples Retreat

Contact one of our well trained therapists today to make sure we are a good fit for your relationship and marriage goals. You can send us an email or schedule a free 20-minute phone consultation to answer your questions and provide information on available dates and pricing.