I took a call recently regarding a request for family counseling. It really bothered me and was similar to about 3 other situations I have encountered over the last several weeks. Families and couples are looking for counseling to help them work through separation and divorce. I always ask if they have seen a counselor to work ON their marriage and invariably the answer is NO. And of course the person calling doesn’t really want a divorce, but now the other spouse is finished with the relationship.
I hate that people wait until it is too late. It is never too late for God, but with people it sometimes comes to that. Unfortunately it takes two people to make a marriage work. Here are a few reasons why it is a good idea to seek help early on in marital strife:
- Marriage is hard and it is difficult to see things objectively when it is your marriage. A counselor can help provide an objective voice into the discussions. They can help you see the other person’s perspective, can calm things down if they start to get out of hand, and they can point out unique perspectives that neither of you had thought of.
- A counselor or pastor is a safe haven for help. Family loves you and may say what you want to hear or may be mad for you and get entangled in the arguments. Friends are the same, plus they bring their own hurts into the situation.
- A counselor will help you focus on underlying problems in your marriage rather than just fighting over each situation and symptom.
- Even if things aren’t that bad it is always important to work on your communication and other areas to keep your relationship healthy. Athletes get coaches to help them excel, not to just fix problems. Businesses hire trainers to continue to developing people, not to just fix weak team members. Our marriage is the most important relationship next to our relationship with God. We need to work on it more than on anything else.
Does that mean every married couple should seek counseling, even if it is just for a check-up? Not necessarily, but everyone should seek wisdom and guidance through a variety of avenues:
- A couples small group where you share bible study and fellowship with other Christian couples. There may be a couple you can lean on in troubled times, or a couple that you learn from.
- The bible is full of wisdom regarding marriage. You should know what God says about marriage and seek His word and pray when you are having low points in your marriage.
- There are many wonderful conferences on marriage and great books that can provide guidance in troubled times. Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs is one I highly recommend.
- And yes, there are marriage counselors and coaches in your church or community that can provide insight and objectivity into your relationship from a professional and confidential source.
One time a client asked me if it was like a doctor losing a patient for me when a couple divorced. It was a perfect analogy because it does feel like that. And I am sure it is upsetting to a doctor who sees a patient who didn’t come in until the cancer was already at Stage IV; it was too late for him to save the patient’s life. I know that it isn’t always in the counselor’s control but the earlier a couple seeks help when having problems, the better the chances of the counselor being able to help. And even if things are bad, if you still both are praying that things will work out, then it is never too late for God’s powerful intervention.
If you or someone you know may need assistance we are here to help or refer you to the help you need.