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You've prayed, you've fasted, and you've fought the good fight of faith to salvage your relationship with your spouse, so why bother pursuing Christian Counseling for your marriage when nothing else has seemed to work?
Allow me to give you five reasons:
1. If the love of God was in your marriage once, it never left. You or your spouse may have, but His Spirit never did. Sometimes, albeit difficult, we simply need to return to Him.
"Return to Me and I will return to you." -Malachi 3:7
2. Whether you think you're right and your spouse is wrong, the truth of the matter is that neither of you is perfect, and only through self-examination will you be able to learn how your own underlying pathology and choices have brought you to this moment.
"Let us examine and test our own ways and turn back to the Lord." - Lamentations 3:40
3. The love of God is bigger than the mistakes or failures of both you and your husband or wife. Hear the gentle whisper of His heart now:
"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in your weakness." - 2 Corinthians 12:9
4. The argument to walk away and move on rather than stay and fight hasn't yet been won or else you wouldn't still be reading.
Some part of you already knows that the journey of healing is found on the battleground of your beliefs.
"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."-2 Corinthians 10:4-5
5. You're ready. Your spouse may not be, but you are and God is covering your husband.
He's watching over your wife. He sees you both and it's not your responsibility to make your significant other ready. What matters right here, right now, is that you are ready.
Rarely are both husband and wife prepared for Christian Counseling at the exact same time.
One is almost always ahead of the other. This is okay. Your task is to act on your readiness. Now is the time.
"For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." - 2 Corinthians 6:2
If you've ever been great at seeing the defects and character flaws in someone else (raising my own hand here), then you know that looking in the mirror to inspect the reflection for imperfections is less than a good time.
In fact, it's downright uncomfortable if you're not accustomed to self-reflection.
Lamentations 3:40 basically tells each of us to take a look in the mirror.
If I asked you go stand for three solid minutes in front of a mirror in your home, what would you see?
Take another three minutes and have your spouse stand next to you.
What do you see now? What emotions rise up in your heart and what betrayals or pain stares back at you from the reflection next to you?
Having a difficult time seeing anything past the pain when you look at him?
What about the sense of rejection when your eyes meet hers as you both stare into the mirror?
Take a few minutes and get truly honest with yourself and your spouse, but if you're not quite ready to do that, then at least get transparent with the God who loves you both so much.
He already knows, friend.
He sees your plight and He is never blind to your fight.
The harsh words spoken just yesterday.
The piercing pain of the affair still has you reeling.
It's time for the mirror of self-examination, not just for your spouse, dear heart, but for you both.
When was the last time you had to forgive your spouse for an offense?
We are tasked by God with some difficult feats in this life for sure, forgiveness is one of the most challenging.
Proverbs 19:11 says "it is to one's glory to overlook an offense," so call to remembrance the last time you basked in the waters of glory for keeping your mouth shut when you wanted to scream?
Or, picking his socks up in love to put them in the laundry basket even though you've asked him a hundred different times to please do it.
What about when she doesn't keep her car clean despite knowing the vehicle cleanliness is one of your pet peeves?
Doesn't sound too difficult, does it? Some offenses aren't that hard to overlook or forgive, but what about when the bottom drops out when you find sexually explicit photos and conversations on his phone?
Or, when you show up to surprise her at work for lunch only to see her having lunch with a male co-worker she used to date?
How about when she tells you she's pregnant, but you both know the baby isn't yours?
Friend, how do you traverse these troubled waters?
The reality is, for the repentant heart, no sin is too big for God to forgive, so the difficult task handed down to us is no less than complete surrender to His ways.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." - 1 John 1:9
That pain you're holding?
Give it to God.
Don't know how?
Simply start there and give yourself permission to not know how.
The simplest and shortest prayer in the bible is found in John 11:35 and it says "Jesus wept."
Maybe that is your next step - weep.
Let yourself weep and grieve and mourn the hard truth that your marriage hasn't turned out the way you envisioned.
You've gotten hurt by circumstances you didn't foresee.
You feel blindsided and dejected and the valley is low, and the sting of sin is death to the image you had in your head of how it would all look.
The counseling sessions ahead will not be easy, and in fact, they will probably leave you questioning whether or not you really want to move forward into reconciliation.
Maybe you will, maybe you won't, but whichever path you take, know that the real freedom you seek - freedom from the pain, dejection, despair, betrayal - it begins and ends with forgiveness that can only be found in Christ.
In psychotherapy, resolving ambivalence looks like overcoming conflictual thoughts and attitudes about a decision.
For instance, Bob, a smoker for the last 42 years, wants to stop smoking but also doesn't want to give up the relief he feels from a cigarette after a stressful day.
Bob both wants to change and wants to stay the same.
Ambivalence can be thought of as feeling stuck between two diametrically opposed desires.
In your case, you might want to save your marriage, but also want to leave, and friend, both are okay.
The struggle you're feeling is normal and many married couples face it at one time or another during their relationship.
So, how do you resolve this state of internal conflict between the two different, yet coexisting, thoughts and desires?
The simple answer is time.
The more complicated answer looks like making mental pros and cons lists, seeking counseling to identify the things you can add to each column if you were to break the two choices into possible pathways, learning to communicate, and cultivating an understanding of the process and stages of change.
Where are you today?
Are you in denial that your marriage is even in trouble or have you already written out your mental list of pros versus cons to staying in the relationship?
This is where a Christian Counselor can walk you through the process of resolving ambivalence, and rest assured, it's a process every couple must face when tasked with deciding to stay or go.
You are not alone.
Wherever you find yourself today in the marriage relationship, ask yourself this question and let God walk you through the answer.
Why have you continued to read this article to this point?
Friend, you're ready.
You are ready to take action because the search you did that landed you on this page was a step already. James 2:17 says "faith without works is dead," and your faith isn't dead.
It's alive and well and in motion toward resolution in your marriage.
Neither I, nor any counselor can promise you the outcome you desire because the reality of counseling is this - the work is yours and the journey is between you, your spouse, and God.
The Counselor is blessed to facilitate a journey, but you and your significant other must carry the Crosses of Christ.
While one of you might have one foot in the counseling room, the other of you may have one foot out the door, but don't despair.
Pick up the phone, send the consult request, or email for an appointment.
Let your faith become more active every day and see how the road turns.
"Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." - Matthew 17:20
Can I tell you that I'm proud of you?
That I see your tears and your fight and your hope.
The spark that sent your relationship to the altar of marriage burns bright still today, and I've seen some of the most amazing marital testimonies be birthed from some of the most tragic and painful stories.
The pain is there to teach you something, not just about your spouse, but also about yourself.
God specializes in bringing beauty from the ashes, so if you're standing in a field of ash today, let me tell you that I see you.
The pain of loss, betrayal, deception - it's real.
Simultaneously, however, it is a tool in the hand of God.
It is an instrument of possibility.
It is a birthing room for resurrection.
The Resurrection of Jesus didn't happen until after the Crucifixion of Jesus.
Read that again.
The Resurrection of Jesus... followed the Crucifixion of Jesus.
The new life of Christ followed the pain of His death.
It had to happen in order for us to know the beauty of the Resurrection, so if you find your marriage at the cross, the place of pain and death and heartache, know that the possibilities for new life are endless in the hand of God.
Give Him the ashes and see what beauty He will bring forth, no matter the outcome.
"To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair." - Isaiah 61:3
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