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Posts Tagged ‘marriage counseling’

Wedding

June is a busy month for weddings.  As we enter the season known for wedding ceremonies, share your knowledge and experience with couples who want to tie the knot.  We all want them to have a strong and beneficial marriage that will last.

Some couples fall into the trap of spending more time planning the ceremony than discussing their married life together.  A wedding ceremony can last 20-45 minutes, but the marriage is intended to last for the rest of their lives.  In an age when 47% of marriages end in divorce, couples need to build a solid foundation for their marriage to succeed.

Here are some observations from my foxhole.

Get pre-marital counseling.  This is extremely valuable to couples before the wedding bells chime.  Counseling get help you to identify problems before they turn into issues down the road.  Counseling will also help in finding strong solutions that will not jeopardize your union.

Strengthen your communication skills.  You can learn how to listen to your spouse and speak effectively with each other.  This does not happen by accident.  It will take time, effort, and practice.  While better communication skills may seem like a catch phrase, couples who learn the skills can resolve issues more quickly and avoid serious fights.

Discuss roles and expectations.  What will married life look like after the ceremony?  Don’t expect this to take care of itself down the road.  Now is the best time to discuss expectations.  Topics should cover a wide range of issues to give transparency and depth.  Who will make the morning coffee?  Will you have a joint checking account?  Will you be a one or two income household?  Does your spouse plan to go back to school?  Where will you worship?  Marriage counseling is a great place to start or continue the conversation.

Learn how to fight fair.  Couples get into arguments.  That is a given fact of life. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people.  Verbal fights, arguments, and conflict will happen.  I can’t prevent you from fighting, but you can learn to fight fair with each other.  Take the time to educate yourself on these skills. Learn what to avoid, how to cool down, and move toward solving the problem as a team. 

Strengthen your faith.  Ecclesiastes 4:12 shares, “a rope of three strands is not quickly broken.” There is incredible wisdom in having God as the third strand in your marriage.  Allow His love to surround you, teach you, and draw you closer to your mate.  Learn to follow God’s plan for yourself and your marriage.  Live within the covenant of marriage.  Make faith a priority in your marriage. Worship together and reach new highs through Christ.

Marriage is a lifelong commitment.  So it is important to discuss where you are going and where you want to be as husband and wife.  Make time to discuss your goals and plans.  This is an exciting time to chart out a direction for your future together.  Keep God at the center of your plans, and your marriage will continue to grow.

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dv month

Silence regarding domestic violence only makes the problem worse.  Christianity should not be silent, nor should it struggle on how to address domestic violence. We cannot afford to be silent when sisters and brothers live under the threat of violence in their own homes and communities.

Christianity can serve as a valuable resource in a variety of ways to those suffering domestic violence.  The key is demonstrating the love of Christ. Here are some ways that Christians, churches, and ministry organizations can make a difference.

Understand the problem.  Violence, inside or outside the home, is never justified. Violence in any form—physical, sexual, psychological or verbal—is sinful; often it is also a crime.  Knowledge on the issue is important.  If we know what right relationships look like and how the love of Christ should operate in families, we can practice and teach these examples to our children.

Make safety your priority.  Allowing a person to find safety can be a matter of life or death.  Spiritual leaders should work with a team of community service providers to help the victim-survivor establish a safety plan, should the abuse continue or escalate.  If the home is no longer a safe place, then encourage the victim to leave or stay somewhere else. Groups and organizations may want to create safety kits for temporary assistance.  Safety kits should include: cash, gift cards, a change of clothing, toiletries, emergency phone numbers and places of shelter.  Once physical safety is established, then it is time for spiritual care. Offer to pray with the victim, share a relevant Bible verse, give support, and provide wise counsel during this traumatic time.

Wait on marriage counseling.  The timing must be right for this to succeed.  Too often church leaders rush the situation in order to “save the marriage” or “keep the family together” when these goals should be contingent on the offender’s willingness to undergo treatment.  These are certainly worthy goals, but only after the abusive behavior has stopped, should the focus shift to repairing the relationship.  Domestic violence is not a relationship issue that needs to be resolved.  It is mostly about a person’s conscious decision to violently control the will of another to maintain power and dominance.  There are times when couples’ or marriage counseling is inappropriate and risky.  If people push the envelope on immediate counseling it could lead to further abuse or even the death of the victimized.

Minister to the offender.  This may not be popular or pretty, but it is the right thing to do.  Pick the right person to mentor and coach the offender.  Bathe this mentor in prayer.  Redemption work is tough and dirty, so make sure that he or she receives the prayer support necessary for the task ahead.  When Christians focus on the offender, we are performing restoration work.  We are working on the root cause of the problem, not symptoms.  The abuse should be dealt with directly, however the root hurt or trauma should be sought after as well.  Encourage the one inflicting violence to also seek professional counseling during this process.

Teach mutual submission to couples.  The biblical topic of submission is not grounds for abuse or violence in the home. Christians must understand that submission is not a license to control and dominate another human being. Christians should also work to breakdown a deception that the Bible supports abusive behavior.  In Ephesians 5, Paul tells husbands and wives to yield to one another in mutual submission out of reverence and love for Christ – abusive behavior violates this Scripture and is not a God-given right.

As followers of Jesus, we are called to love one another.  May God grant us the patience, strength, and ability to combat domestic violence where ever it may exist.

 

 

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As a pastor and a military chaplain I am asked to perform a flurry of weddings each year.  It is absolutely wonderful when a couple wants to tie the knot.  I want them to have a strong and beneficial marriage.  That is why I require a minimum of four marriage counseling sessions before the big day.

Some couples fall into the trap of spending more time planning the wedding than their married life together.  A wedding ceremony can last 20-45 minutes, but the marriage is intended to last for the rest of their lives.  In an age when 50% of marriages end in divorce, couples need to build a solid foundation for their marriage to succeed.  Making time to strengthen your relationship before you tie the knot, will help it stay tied.

Pre-marital counseling has some distinct benefits for couples.  Here are a few reasons you should get marriage counseling before the wedding bells chime:

1.  Strengthen communication skills

You can learn how to listen to your spouse and speak effectively with each other.  This does not happen by accident.  It will take time, effort, and practice.  While better communication skills may seem like a catch phrase, couples who learn the skills can resolve issues more quickly and avoid serious fights.

2.  Discuss roles and expectations

What will married life look like after the ceremony?  Don’t expect this to take care of itself down the road.  Now is the best time to discuss expectations.  Topics should cover a wide range of issues to give transparency and depth.  Who will make the morning coffee?  Will you have a joint checking account?  Will you be a one or two income household?  Does your spouse plan to go back to school?  Where will you worship?  Marriage counseling is a great place to start or continue the conversation.

3.  Identify past relationship problems

We can learn from our past.  Discussing past relationships can allow a couple to eliminate destructive behaviors.    This time of discovery can show why a past relationship failed and help you build strategies on staying together.  It is also important to discuss the role of your family.  How and what did you learn about marriage from your parents?  There are likely good and bad examples, but this is the time and place to share those lessons.  No one is doomed to repeat past mistakes if we identify what went wrong and make a plan for success.

4.  Learn how to fight fair

Couples get into arguments.  That is a given fact of life.  We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people.  Verbal fights, arguments, and conflict will happen.  I can’t prevent you from fighting, but you can learn to fight fair with each other.  Take the time to educate yourself on these skills.  Learn what to avoid, how to cool down, and move toward solving the problem as a team.

5.  Strengthen your faith

Ecclesiastes 4:12 shares, “a rope of three strands is not quickly broken.”  There is incredible wisdom in having God as the third strand in your marriage.  Allow His love to surround you, teach you, and draw you closer to your mate.  Learn to follow God’s plan for yourself and your marriage.  Live within the covenant of marriage.  Make faith a priority in your marriage.  Worship together and reach new highs through Christ.

6.  Build a marriage map

Marriage is a life long commitment.  So it is important to discuss where you are going and where you want to be as husband and wife.  What should your marriage look like?  Marriage counseling allows you to discuss a plan for now and much later in life.  Do you want to have children?  How many children seem like the right fit for your family?  Will someone stay home during that time?  Will you continue to have a date night after the baby arrives?  Make time to discuss your goals and plans.  This is an exciting time to chart out a direction for your future together.

Books and Manuals

While no one likes to talk about homework, I encourage couples to read a book after our first session.  It will be the topic of discussion for our second session.  My personal favorite is Gary Chapman’s, The Five Love Languages.  There are several different marriage workbooks and programs out there.  Pastors and counselors may use another device, but take the time to strengthen your faith and your relationship before you say, “I do.”

What homework did you have for marriage counseling?  Are there additional books that have helped your military marriage?  What books would you recommend to a couple before they tie the knot?  Feel free to list your books and suggestions in the comment section.

May God continue to bless you and your marriage.

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