6 Reasons Why Counseling Is a Saving Grace for a Troubled Marriage
By Michelle S. Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
Marriage is a beautiful covenant between two people who love each other. It is the best example on earth of the relationship between Jesus and his bride, the church. But humans, as we have seen in Genesis in the garden of Eden, can have difficulty in their relationships. Nothing is truer than difficulties in marriage. Marriage is hard work. Marriages have ups and downs, highs and lows. But sometimes marriages can feel as if they've reached their breaking point, with no hope of ever returning to the fruitful relationship God meant it to be. God wants us to put our very best into our marriages. No couple should consider divorce until they have gone through the counseling process. Although counseling still has a stigma among Christians as for being for people who have serious psychological problems or mental illnesses, counseling can be a great tool for even the most difficult marriages. Here are six reasons why counseling is the saving grace for her troublesome marriage:
1. It helps process pain.
Each couple brings baggage into their relationship. This includes emotional trauma, childhood wounds, and emotional voids that can only be filled with Christ. However, some people try to fill it with their spouse, believing that if they just love their spouse enough and their spouse loves them, they will fill the hole in their soul that can only be filled with Christ. A counselor can help each couple process their personal pain. They may also be able to draw connections between the issues in their past and their current relationship issues. If the dots between past pain and current marriage issues are connected properly, a counselor can help couples with tools and strategies for better communication and healing past pain so that they can interact with each other in positive, healthy ways.
2. It gives hope in the future.
When a marriage is at its worst, it is easy for couples to over-dramatize, believing their marriage is unsalvageable. As long as the marriage is rooted in Christ, anything is possible. Those couples who put their hope in God can also find hope for their future as married couples. If even one spouse remains hopeful that their marriage can be saved, both spouses can work together to take responsibility for their issues, correct their behaviors, and move forward with a positive outlook for their marriage. As long as both spouses vow they will not give up and commit to persevere, there is still hope their marriage can be saved. Even a marriage destroyed by adultery can still have hope for its future. With the power of forgiveness and through Christ's sacrifice on the cross, there is nothing a couple can't endure with Christ at the center.
3. You get a third party's perspective.
Jesus Christ acted as a mediator toward us in God. In every situation, we were not meant to be alone. It is always good to get another party's perspective on an issue. When a couple is working through a difficult situation, each sees it through their own lens. A third party who is not invested in the issue can see it and give an unbiased opinion on what to do. The counselor can also help balance the scales when it comes to placing blame and each couple taking responsibility for their part in the issue. It is easy for couples to take the blame on the other and pretend it's all the other person's fault. Yet, they both have contributed to the marriage's failure. Any marriage can be saved if a couple is willing to see the issue for what it is and pursue a resolution with humility and grace.
4. Help with communication.
Communication breakdown is one of the main issues in every marriage. When spouses cannot communicate with each other and trust is broken, they can be deceived into thinking it is easier to break up than it is to persevere. A counselor can give practical tips and strategies for each spouse to communicate and ways the other person can understand. A counselor will help each spouse communicate with each other in a way that makes the other feel heard, their feelings validated, and feel less blamed or attacked. When spouses can communicate in ways that communicate needs rather than attack the other's character, trust and intimacy can be rebuilt.
For example, a popular tool some counselors use is "I" statements. When couples fight, it is easy to make statements using the word you as the focus. One spouse may say, "you never help around the house," which makes the other spouse feel like their efforts are not appreciated. The spouse can instead say, "I feel unappreciated when I do the majority of the work around the house," communicating their need and a specific way without making the other feel like their efforts are not good enough. Further, the counselor can help understand the real need behind the statement. Is the problem just that the spouse one spouse does most of the household chores? Or is there a deeper emotional need that needs to be filled?
5. Rebuild trust.
Once trust is broken in a relationship, it is difficult to get back. And it doesn't mean that it is impossible; a very good counselor can help give you homework and assignments to complete during your sessions. This may include having each person journal their feelings separately and then coming together to discuss them. The counselor may also give specific rules for communication as a way to stop the conversation if the statements become more attack and blame rather than communicating needs and desires.
Every person wants to feel wanted by the other. But one spouse may keep the other at arm's length if they feel they cannot trust them. By taking baby steps toward rebuilding trust, intimacy can be achieved in both spouses can achieve their need for connection and intimacy.
6. Apply the Bible.
Christian couples' desires for Christ should be at the center of their marriage. However, both come from different denominational and theological backgrounds. Therefore, their interpretation of Scripture might be very different from each other. A third party, particularly a Christian counselor, can help them apply Scripture in a way that makes both the husband and wife feel needed, valued, and appreciated in their relationship. For example, it is common for couples to misinterpret or misapply the Ephesians 5 passage on marriage. A counselor can help each part of the couple fulfill their biblical duties yet give their input into situations and feel their opinions are valued and appreciated. By allowing someone from a different theological background to help them interpret the Bible in a healthy way for their marriage, a counselor can help clear up any misconceptions and allow them to apply biblical principles yet still feel as though both parties are equal partners in their relationship.
Counseling is an excellent strategy for spouses on the brink of divorce. However, counseling does not need to be saved for when the marriage is in crisis mode. If you are in constant conflict with your spouse and communicating less, it may be time to see a counselor. You can refrain from allowing small situations to explode into significant conflicts by nipping issues in the bud.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/jacoblund
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.