Couples therapy is the best place to start when both people in the relationship are committed to staying in the marriage, at least in the near future, and are ready to roll of their sleeves and work on fixing the problems.
Discernment counseling is the best place to start when one or both people are not sure they are committed to staying in the marriage and are ambivalent about starting the hard work of fixing the problems. Usually it’s one spouse who is feeling more hopeless about staying and trying again to make the marriage work, while the other spouse wants to keep the marriage together and start couples therapy. We call these “mixed agenda couples’ and they do better starting with discernment counseling.
We have some questions that can help you and your spouse decide whether you are better candidates for couples therapy for discernment counseling right now. Of course, you will want to talk to the counselor to make sure either way.