Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Marriage Counseling

“Over my dead body” is a typical response to a wife’s request to go to marriage counseling.

First of all this is probably the first four word sentence his wife has heard in weeks.  Since I am a guy let me translate what those four little words mean.  “There is nothing wrong with our marriage that a little peace and quiet wouldn’t resolve.  I’m not going to go to some touchy-feely guy who wants me to bare my soul.  And I’m certainly not going to sit in front of a stranger while you tell him all the things that are wrong with me.”

It is when the wife says, “Either we go to counseling or I’m leaving you” that the husband acquiesces.   Oh, and by the way they have been married for twenty-two years.

Does this seem a little exaggerated?  I wish it were. There are several factors that contribute to an unwillingness to seek help.  One may be that we don’t want anyone at church to know that we are having marital difficulties.  Another reason is that men prefer to appear strong and in control, many men perceive the need for counseling as acknowledging a weakness.  Finally there is a concern that this is just going to be a gripe session where he looks bad and the wife comes across as a victim.

 I must admit, counseling is the least favorite part of my job.   In part because by the time most couples seek help there is so much acrimony that they are polarized.  The years of neglect make it difficult to penetrate the shield of protection that each partner has erected.  Marriage is a union of two sinners saved by grace, neither partner having reached perfection. The answer is to follow God’s plan for marriage and ultimately that means “heart surgery” for both, the kind that can only be performed by the Holy Spirit.

I have experienced a difficult marriage and I have experienced a marriage filled with joy.  Joy is better.  Don’t wait to seek help.

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