How A Christian Marriage Counselor Can Help
By Roy M. Milam, Cornerstone Marriage & Family Ministries
I have talked with many people who have stayed in an unhappy marriage until the resentment built and they felt they had no choice but to divorce. These people often don’t voice their unhappiness, but rather coast along and go with the flow hoping that their situation will get better, that something will change and the problems will be instantly solved. Then there are those who “try” with everything they have to make the marriage work before they leave. These people are problem solvers who feel they owe it to the marriage to try to find solutions to the problems before they throw in the towel.
The one thing both have in common is that they rarely go to marriage counseling. In my experience, I’ve found that very few people go to marriage counseling before deciding to divorce. In other words they don’t really give their marriage a fair chance by working with a professional.
Maintaining a marriage and solving problems within the marriage takes skills that few of us are naturally equipped with. We may think we are doing all we can to solve the problems in a marriage but, a good Christian marriage counselor can be of great benefit in teaching us new ways of solving problems and meeting each other’s needs.
There are many benefits to participating in distinctively biblical, Christian marriage counseling:
- You can learn how to resolve conflict in a healthy manner. In marriage counseling you can learn communication skills that will help you not only listen to your spouse but, to also process and understand what your spouse is saying.
- You can learn how to state your needs clearly and openly without resentment or anger.
- You can learn how to communicate assertively without being aggressive or offensive. Both spouses need to be able to talk about their issues without fear of hurting the other spouse. In marriage counseling you will learn that you can express what you need without having to make demands and engage in conflict.
- You can learn to process and work through unresolved issues. Marriage counseling offers a safe environment for expressing any unhappiness you feel. Getting your feelings out into the open with the help of a trained professional may be all you need. You may find that your spouse is more than willing to work together to solve the problems in the marriage. You may also find that your spouse is unwilling to do the work. If so, you are then free to leave the marriage without any guilt because you have given it your best shot.
- You can develop a deeper understanding of who your spouse and what his/her needs are. Better yet, you will likely learn more deeply who you are and what your needs are and how to go about getting your needs met in healthy ways.
Relationship skills needed to maintain a fulfilling marriage are learnable. A marriage counselor can teach you those skills while monitoring your progress, mediating conflict and giving objective feedback.
If you wait too long to seek marriage counseling, the odds are against you. Even if you feel it is too late and no amount of marriage counseling will help. Doing so just may keep you from making a mistake you will later regret. If you are thinking about divorce, protect yourself from future regret by working with a Christian marriage counselor.
What Is Christian Marriage Counseling?
Christian Marriage Counseling – The Purposes
Christian marriage counseling generally involves three main areas: 1) problems or issues in general, such as difficulty communicating, a loss of closeness, etc. 2) personal problems that develop or occur within marriage. 3) loss of a sense of God’s principles for marriage.
The need for Christian marriage counseling cannot be emphasized enough, because we live in a world that often devalues marriage. As Christians, we additionally recognize the presence of an enemy, on the prowl to devour (1 Peter 5:8) marriages. From the beginning, marriage has been part of God’s plan for His creation, and Satan is vehemently against this precious tradition. If we need evidence that we are in trouble, just take a look at the divorce rate both in Christian and non-christian environments.
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The American Association of Christian Counselors
The Marriage and Family Counselors Network
Christian Counselors of Texas
The Association of Marriage and Family Ministries