Marriage was established by God, and His divine design for marriage beautifully reflects His love for us. However, marriage brings together two imperfect people. All of us have a natural tendency toward selfishness, and when two individuals who seek their own interests come together, conflicts often arise. Christian marriage counseling helps couples deal with these conflicts and the issues that cause them from a biblical perspective.
Every couple disagrees, argues and hits bumps in the road; these minor stresses are like exercise for a muscle, making a relationship stronger as husbands and wives resolve these conflicts as one. However, repeated or acute clashes, like too much weight for a muscle, can cause injury to a marriage and even sever one. Continual avoidance of problems can have this same detrimental effect. Christian marriage counseling helps couples work through the issues that threaten to harm or have already caused injury to the marriage relationship.
Christian marriage counseling differs from other marriage counseling in this it’s based in biblical principles as well as psychology. A session may include prayer and the utilization of Scripture, though counseling styles vary depending on the type of counseling professional and the issues you’re seeking to address.
Seeking Christian marriage counseling is a proactive step toward improving your relationship so that it’s more like the divine design for marriage. Through Christian marriage counseling, couples can address the challenges they’re facing and the issues that often underscore them. Common issues that couples tackle with a Christian counselor include:
- Unrealistic or unvoiced expectations
- Financial disagreements
- Unresolved conflict
- Lack of communication
- Divergent goals
If your marriage could benefit from Christian marriage counseling, your first step is to find a Christian counselor you both trust and feel comfortable talking to. Your pastor or another member of your church’s leadership team may be able to offer recommendations. Counselors of any specialty will also be very likely to have a name or two they could pass along from their professional networks. You could also ask another couple that you know benefitted from a therapist.
Several types of professionals offer Christian marriage counseling; they include licensed professional counselor (LPC), licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), psychologist and psychiatrist. Many other unlicensed counselors also offer Christian marriage counseling; while some offer helpful advice, there’s no guarantee of their training or expertise.
Several website offer helpful databases of Christian counselors. The National Association of Christian Counselors’ website (www.ncca.org) allows you to search for a counselor from among their members by zip code and lists each member’s areas of expertise, and the American Association of Pastoral Counselors’ website (www.aapc.org) offers a variety of search options.
When considering a counselor, ask questions about their approach to Christian marriage counseling, what a typical session is like and if they have experience in helping couples with the specific issues you’re facing. By finding a Christian counselor that you trust and who’s equipped to come alongside you, you’re making an investment in making your marriage all God designed it to be.