You have tried to address challenges and problems on your own. You’re stuck and hurt and confused. You’ve exhausted your own resources and you’re looking into Christian marital counseling. What is it and how can it help you?
The following is a brief description that addresses these vital questions. Here are three realities that describe Christian marital counseling and its potential benefits.
Christian marital counseling is:
1. A setting that supports and leverages faith in Jesus
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. – Psalm 147:3
Christian marital counseling recognizes that Jesus has demonstrated whole humanity in his character and actions so that the pursuit of his character and obedience to his ways are wise and hopeful.
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – Ephesians 5:1-2
Christian marital counseling affirms the power and necessity of spiritual community for the well-being of marriages and families. The healing and transformation journey is not meant to be solitary but is undertaken with other pilgrims.
Carry each another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2
Christian marital counseling helps those whose faith in Jesus urges hope in Him and in his ability in our circumstance, his power in our weakness, his wisdom in our ignorance.
2. A process that reveals and redeems painThe focus on one’s own actions, struggles and the effects on one’s spouse/marriage can initially identify, focus attention upon, and intensify psychic and emotional pain but, in addressing one’s own choices, seeking God’s ways of living and healing, and choosing to love as Christ loved, God can give meaning and redemption to the pain.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. – Psalm 139:23-24
And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
Character is transformed in the process of counseling as insight is revealed, skill sharpened and desire clarified and activated.
Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. – Deuteronomy 30:19b
Christian marital counseling helps facilitate the resolution of pain and the apprehension of the meaning of pain. If we find meaning in our pain, we can endure it to experience joy as well.
Jesus’ example can encourage us:
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2-3
3. A relationship that validates, guides, and respectsIn the context of Christian marital counseling, a therapist will seek to validate your experience, guide you into new understanding, all the while respecting your responsibility for your choices. There are few opportunities in life to process one’s perceptions and emotions out loud.
In the setting of counseling, both partners can be heard by one another, as well as by a counselor committed to their goals. By faith, God’s presence and guidance are affirmed in the counseling relationship. He is the unseen, but not passive participant.
What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? – Psalm 8:4
Christian marital counseling is a context that helps a couple learn to live in reality and truth together with the support and structure which facilitates healing, differentiation of self and emotional connection and partnership.
If Christian marital counseling sounds like an option that you want to try, please contact me or one of my colleagues. We are broken creatures, being made new in Christ Jesus. We have experienced the truth that “those who hope in Him will never be put to shame” (Psalm 25:3).
“Loving couple,” courtesy of medium as muse, Flickr Creative Commons, CC0 License; “Couple,” courtesy of mrhayata, Flickr Creative Commons, CC0 License; “Public square,” courtesy of Sascha Kohlmann, Flickr Creative Commons, CC0 License; “Joy,” courtesy of Everton Vila, unsplash.com, CC0 License