Monday, 20 June 2011

Symptom Relief

The following question has been raised. “In your blogs you seem to indicate that marriage counselors who rely on behavioral change techniques are doing their clients a disservice. If they actually work, what’s the difference?”

This is a good question since the great preponderance of marriage counseling is based on instructing couples on how to change the way the couple interacts. Sometimes this is very effective and the couple begins to restore the relationship they once had. Statistics would suggest that more often than not, learning some new techniques do not change the underlying reasons why the couple is not doing well relationally. Simply teaching techniques would be like a doctor prescribing medication that would provide relief for a patient’s symptoms without addressing the underlying cause of the problem.

Granted, telling a couple to establish one date night a week; telling them to set aside 30 minutes a day to talk about feelings, concerns, dreams, and worries; learning to communicate using “I” messages; suggesting that the couple talk about what drew them to one another during the dating years; and asking them to write a love letter to one another, etc. can have a positive effect. And it is much easier than going after the underlying problem in the marriage.

Biblical counseling starts with the assumption that there is something wrong with the hearts of the couple. It presumes that there is little or no vertical connection with God. It surmises that the couple has failed to accept that God brought them together for His glory, not theirs. At the heart of the problems is often self-centeredness. “He’s not meeting my emotional needs.” “She’s doesn’t give me the respect I deserve.” It’s all about the kingdom of “me”. Dealing with heart change and submitting oneself to God is far more humbling and difficult than learning some skills.

Biblical counseling informs the couple that their problems do not stem from not loving each other enough, they stem from not loving God enough. (1John4:8). If a husband even attempted to love his wife as Christ loves His bride the church (Ephesians 5:25-29) his wife would never have a complaint. If a wife gave her husband the respect that God has commanded (Ephesians 5:22-24,33) no husband would be unhappy.

There is only one question you need ask, “How can I love my husband/wife in a way that would bring glory to God?”

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