Taking Advantage of Christian Marriage Counselling
On this page we look at the importance of having and maintaining a good Christian marriage, and some information on the subject of Christian marriage counselling including online Christian marriage counselling and points to consider if you are thinking of this sort of support.
A Christian Perspective
The bible references that that a married couple is seen in Gods eyes a one body (flesh) and not two separate beings:
- Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:22-24)
- Jesus himself said “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)
Further to being seen as one flesh, strong expectations are made in the bible regarding each other’s conduct in marriage as the below scriptures show:
- Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33)
- Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. (Hebrews 13:4)
Whilst it is hard in any relationship to love the other and put them first, this is written as a command in the bible and should be our constant reminder. As God understands human nature, selfish desire and the battle of the flesh. When this command is actioned in a marriage the relationship between the married couple is strengthened and greater peace can be found.
A relationship of marriage was never intended by God to be a place of struggle and strife, but is regarded as a good thing as the scripture says, “The man who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favour from the Lord. (Proverbs 18:22). Whilst this does not provide a promise of a relationship without challenges it does show us that God sees the Christian marriage as a good thing.
The importance of maintaining a good Christian marriage
It is so easy to think that you will never be in a position of divorce, perhaps believing your marriage is immune to heartache, infidelity and fights. The truth however is that no relationship comes with a lifetime guarantee.
As Christians, we know that as we apply biblical principles and allow God to be at the centre of our marriage, a stronger foundation will be laid. The biblical principles and deepening of relationship through prayer form the basis and the understanding of the “Christian marriage”.
A good perspective and understanding of Gods plan in a marriage is also fundamental. See God never intended marriage to be a relationship of perfect happiness, to have conflict-free living and achieving constant idolatrous obsession with each other. We first have to be realistic and understand that everyone has bad days, can get angry, and at times be challenged by selfishness. Despite these imperfections, God created the marriage of a husband and wife to steer each other in His direction and to provide partnership, spiritual intimacy and the ability to pursue God together.
It is not easy living a selfless life in a self-focused world, with human nature often pulling towards a desire of selfishness. The marriage relationship does not shield us from these desires and sometimes due to the closer nature of the relationship can enhance the pull of these desires.
It is important to remember in the strain of a relationship when bills start to pile up, communication breaks down, children drain your energy or when you just get irritated with the small things and each other that following the biblical principles of the Christian marriage are fundamental.
In these times try to not be pulled into selfishness and instead try to serve your spouse. The below may help in these testing times:
- Focusing on your spouse’s strengths rather than their weaknesses.
- Encourage rather than criticise.
- Pray for your spouse instead of gossiping about them.
When is Christian based marriage counselling needed?
Due to the continued problems confronting marriage, a growing number of married couples are seeking divorce and separation, showing more of a need for good Christian based marriage counselling, which can help couples realise and work through issues or disagreements, before it gets to a point of separation.
It is advisable to look at Christian marriage counselling as soon as struggles are encountered which you are not able to resolve yourselves through discussion. It is often found that those in the relationship are unable to see eye to eye on certain issues, due to hurts or frustrations. A councillor trained in couples counselling should be able to help identify issues and open up discussions around these issues in a safe environment. It is important in the marriage to show grace to one another and not let any issues fester or boil over time as this normally only increases the struggles.
The sad truth is that too often unresolved issues become mountains that are hard to be moved later on, which can often cause a spiralling effect sometimes leading to divorce and separation. In these cases children can sometimes also become depressed and morally unstable, due to the result of ongoing arguments, stress and friction in the marriage relationship experienced at home. So it is best trying everything you can to try and resolve any issues sooner than later, even if remote or online Christian marriage counselling needs to be considered.
When is remote or online Christian marriage counselling useful?
We always feel that meeting with a local trained Christian counsellor face to face is the best option! However not all couples feel able to attend face to face meetings, or some may have physical or practical reasons for not being able to travel to, or meet with a local counsellor. If you find yourself in this position we would still encourage you to contact a local Christian based marriage counselling service or counsellor and ask if they offer remote or online Christian marriage counselling.
Some may offer this service through Skype, online chat or other video conferencing software, others may also be happy to undertake counselling sessions over the phone. The important thing is not to let fear or circumstances be a reason for not looking into the Christian marriage counselling services on offer.
Selecting a Christian marriage counsellor
When selecting a counsellor for Christian based marriage counselling, it is important to consider both the counsellors credentials (qualifications and training) and faith.
Whilst most people can be a support to talk to a trained counsellor will have learned different strategies to open conversations and carefully guide and help married couples work through certain areas of discussion.
Our advice would be to find a counsellor who had the below credentials:
- Check that the counsellor has a diploma in counselling through a college or counselling training organisation (most counselling services would have checked this already and would advertise that all there counsellors have this)
- Ideally check if they are accredited with a governing body such as BACP or UKCP. If not then definitely check they are a member of a governing body (look for the MBACP after their name)
- Check that the counsellor is trained in “Couples Counselling” or “Relationship Counselling” which are the terms used for the area covering marriage counselling.
Regarding the faith aspect, you will probably not find counsellors advertising themselves as a “Christian marriage counsellor” but will often find that that they are marriage counsellors who are Christians. There are a number of reasons for this which we do not need to cover here.
Whilst it is important to note here that any counsellor trained in couples counselling will be able to support in marriage counselling, some may feel that knowing that a counsellor is a Christian with the same understanding of biblical principles and an active faith would be better to understand and help guide you through certain struggles.
If you feel strongly on this subject, you could ask one of the following questions to provide you some additional reassurance:
- Ask if they attend church regularly and perhaps what activities they are involved in at church.
- Ask the counsellor if they have a statement of faith, or at least ask about their beliefs about marriage and divorce, to see if these conflict with yours.
If you find a counsellor who’s reluctant or uncomfortable answering these questions, and this concerns you then feel free to seek other recommendations from other trusted Christian advisors such as church leaders, staff, Sunday school teachers or look on your local church notice boards. It is better that you feel comfortable with someone rather than start with someone you are not comfortable with and give up during the counselling.
Our Recommendation (finding Christian counsellors)
So if you are looking for a Christian couples counsellor our recommendation be to first ask the minister of your church for recommended local counsellors or to log onto the association of Christian counsellors and search for our counsellor in your area https://www.acc-uk.org/find-a-counsellor/search-for-a-counsellor.html. Remembering to check that they are trained in the area of “Couples Counselling” or “Relationship Counselling” as this may not always be detailed.
We pray that by the grace of God, respect for one another, forgiveness and healing would be ushered back to the spiritual union of all marriages through Christian marriage counselling, if needed, whether in person or through online services.
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