When Marriage or Pre-Marital Counseling Is Considered…….
As a new year begins people may consider ways in which they want to see their lives change in the year ahead. Some may be planning to marry this year and seeking pre-marital counseling. Existing marriages may be looking to address areas for improvement. If counseling toward addressing conflict or establishing improved intimacy in marriage for Christian couples is on the radar screen for this year, there are some considerations that may come up in Christian counseling:
10 Critical Questions to Ask in Marriage Counseling
by Jeremy Lelek, Assn. of Biblical Counselors
(Crosswalk.com, Dec. 15, 2016)
- Does the couple read the Bible together on a regular basis? “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, ESV).
2.) Does the couple place a priority on the marriage? Ephesians 5:22-25
3.) Does each seek to put the interests of the spouse above one’s own? Philippians 2:3-4
4.) Do they use their speech to build one another up? Colossians 4:6
5.) Are they honest in their communication? Proverbs 12:19
6.) Do they have a mutually satisfying sexual relationship? 1 Corinthians 7:4-5
7.) Is the couple sexually and emotionally faithful to one another? Exodus 20:14
8.) Do either of them use or view pornography? Matthew 5:28
9.) Does the husband or wife abuse alcohol or drugs? Romans 6:1
10.) Is the couple dealing with any significant financial debt? Proverbs 14:16
Case Example of what might occur:
One young man in his early thirties in a first marriage sought advice by phone from a Christian counselor in another state when he and his wife of two years began to have conflict. They attended a large church in a community near where each had grown up. She had been married twice before and divorced due to an addiction issue by one husband and physical abuse by another. Their fights were mostly around him going out after work and drinking beer with buddies and her spending money on clothes, makeup, and hair.
After gathering information about their family backgrounds and hearing his aversion to divorce, he was asked if he was committed to the marriage, did he love her? His strong affirmation included, “I love her so much I’d die for her!”
“Tell me about a situation where you could see that happening,” he was asked.
“If we were victims of a home invasion I’d jump in front of her and take a bullet to save her, “ he said.
“Okay. That’s loving and sacrificial. But is it realistic?” the counselor asked. “Tell me another scenario you could see happening where you might be called on to give your life for hers.”
“If we were caught in a flood and the car ran off a bridge, I’d make sure she could get out of the car first.”
“Okay, that’s a bit more possible,” said the counselor. “And it’s good that you are willing to die for her because that is exactly what Christ calls you to do…..die to yourself- your own desires, your own selfishness, your own preferences or sense of entitlement in order to assure that her needs are considered and that she feels safe, secure, protected and cherished by you.”
As they talked about her past relationships, he realized that she was afraid of what might happen because of him drinking on a regular basis, fearing it would become like the addiction of her first husband and, being much larger, she was also afraid that he might resort to physical violence if they had heated disagreements. The baggage of the past colored her view of the circumstances now. He said, “That’s not fair. I’m not like them.”
The counselor said, “She probably didn’t think that about them, either when they were first married.”
As he thought about it, he decided he didn’t want to ever have her afraid that he’d become like her past husbands. He decided to quit after work drinking with buddies, to get into a men’s group at his church for accountability and fellowship, meet with a counselor at their church and ask her to join him, and demonstrate his commitment to his wife by being more aware of her needs and sharing his hopes and desires for their future with her. They got through their conflict, had several children and continue happily married now for over 10 years.