Marriage ER

An innovative, short-term intervention for couples on the brink of divorce

Your marriage is in trouble.

You can’t remember the last time you felt comfortable around each other, let alone felt attracted to or happy to see one another. Your marriage was once a place that felt like home, and your spouse was a person who made you feel special. How did things go so wrong—and when? Was it a slow erosion, or a sudden trauma? Whose fault is it, and is it even possible to get back to that place when so much has happened between you?

Leaving feels impossible, especially since you vowed never to raise your children in a broken home like your parents did. Yet staying could seem even more impossible: “What kind of model of love and partnership are we teaching our children? Is it better to stay and have them hear us fight, or worse—not talk at all? Can I live without sex for the rest of my life? Do I want to? Do I want too much? Does anyone have a happy marriage anyway, or is that a fairy tale? What the heck would that even look like? Did we ever truly love each other?”

These questions are overwhelming and paralyzing. You feel like you’re frozen in the middle of a minefield where every direction feels treacherous. What is your next step?

You need a different kind of help to answer these questions, help that can hold both the hurt and the hope for making doable, lasting changes. It focuses not on fixing what is broken, but on discerning whether there is hope for creating a better way of being with each other, or a careful path out of the unhappiness.

My Marriage ER process is based on the Discernment Counseling model, an innovative, short-term intervention that seeks to help couples who are considering divorce and aren’t sure that therapy can help get clarity and confidence in their decision-making about the future of their marriage. 

Marriage ER is NOT Couples Therapy.

It’s a marital assessment process akin to the process an ER doctor uses to rapidly diagnose and stabilize critical conditions, identifying which areas are affected, how much damage has been done, and how possible it is to be restored to health. Treatment is less likely to work until such a thorough assessment has been made and both spouses fully sign on to the process.

Marriage ER (or Discernment Counseling) is a brief, 1-5 session intervention that seeks to help couples who are considering divorce get unstuck by:

  • Identifying what each spouse brings to the couple's problems
  • Exploring all the possible paths forward
  • Creating a calm space where logical, clear-eyed decision-making can occur by working both individually and together
  • Guiding & supporting both spouses through this sensitive decision-making process.

It is especially helpful for couples where one person is “leaning out” of the relationship—and not sure that regular marriage counseling would help--and the other is "leaning in”—that is, interested in rebuilding the marriage.

Guiding you through this brief but intensive 1-5 session process, I will help you decide whether to (1) make no changes now and decide what to do at a later time, (2) move towards separation or divorce, or (3) try to restore your marriage to health by pursuing couples therapy, with divorce off the table for a set period of time and a clear plan for change.

You have lived too long frozen in your state of loneliness and worry. Investing in a brief course of DC can show you how marital solutions are already within your reach.

Is your marriage in a state of emergency?

Contact me to schedule a free 15-minute consultation to see if Discernment Counseling is right for you.

More About Discernment Counseling

In this video, Dr. Bill Doherty, the creator of Discernment Counseling, explains what makes this treatment so unique:

Not sure which way to go? Take my quiz!

This quiz will help you assess your options and leanings for your marriage and recommend possible answers on how to move forward.

Your first marriage is over; would you like to create a second one together?

- Esther Perel