Exposing 5 Excuses to Avoid Marital Counseling
When my husband and I went to ask our pastor for help, I secretly wished the ground would open up and swallow me whole. Nothing in me wanted to go for counseling. I did not want to tear down my perfect, flowery walls of marriage and show someone else that underneath was an ugly mess of conflict, arguments, and disagreements. We had barely been married a year, and I did not want people knowing that we already needed help.
Do you share similar feelings? You put on a well-ordered display at church and special events, holding hands and smiling at each other, meanwhile behind closed doors you yell and scream at each other? People ask, “How’s married life?” and you respond with a cute smile, “It’s amazing!” Meanwhile, you wonder what sort of conflict will arise tonight.
Though I may not know what it’s like in your current situation, I do understand what it’s like to be in a battle in your marriage. I know that aching and exhausted feeling of being at odds with your best friend. I understand the terrifying thought of letting down your walls and revealing the disorder.
So trust me on this: Asking for help and getting counsel is worth it.
Don’t believe me? Already have a list of arguments for me? Well so do I.
Excuse #1 | It’s too Shameful
You do not need to feel ashamed for going to counseling or asking for help. Every married couple experiences conflict. When two sinners come together, live under the same roof, and are required to work together, conflict is inevitable. Most likely the person you go to for counsel will be quick to remind you that he or she went through many of the exact same issues you are dealing with.
Also, don’t forget the beauty of humility. God calls his followers to be humble, not prideful. Instead of feeling ashamed that your marriage is imperfect and filled with flaws, humbly come before God recognizing your utter dependence on him. It is in our weaknesses that his strength is most seen (2 Corinthians 12:9-11). Let this be a time of God being magnified through your inability to live out the perfect marriage on your own.
Excuse #2 | My Marriage Isn’t In That Much Trouble
Marriage counseling does not equate being on the edge of divorce. This was a false belief I had to move past before I was able to humbly receive counsel. I didn’t want people thinking I was near divorce. My marriage was not in trouble, so in some ways I viewed counseling as “beneath” us.
However, it isn’t wise to wait until your breaking point before going to counseling. Why would you wait to fix your cracked windshield until it shatters? Wouldn’t you rather fix the problem while it is small? We need to be diligent in guarding our marriages and watching for issues that might be sneaking it. Don’t wait until that temptation gives birth to sin. Don’t wait until that argument becomes a violent fight. Don’t wait until you accidentally say, “I hate you.” We need to start dealing with problems while they are only newly sprouted, rather than putting them off until they are deeply rooted and fill our hearts with bitterness.
Don’t view counseling as a punishment or shameful task; view it as purposeful sanctification and mortification of sin. This a time of growth, learning to love each other better, and making your marriage a better testimony of the gospel. Marital counseling is not only for the divorced, separated, violent, unfaithful, and unhappily married. Marital counseling is for those who recognize their marriage is no longer glorifying God and desire to change it.
Excuse #3 | There Are No Christian / Biblical Counselors to Counsel Us
If you are without a local biblical counselor, married friends, pastors, church elders, and family members are still an excellent marriage resource. Wisdom comes with age and much study of Scripture, which is why older married friends are such a blessing to have, whether or not you are experiencing difficulty in your marriage.
Excuse #4 | We Will Never Change
Don’t lose hope, friend. God changed you by his glorious gospel; he took you as a wretched, rebellious, God-hating sinner and gave you a new heart to love and obey him. If that is not proof enough, remember the darkened, hard heart of Paul of Tarsus; he was a persecutor of believers who by God’s grace became an apostle of Christ and wrote much of the New Testament. God can change your marriage. You are not beyond his ability to repair. As a believer, you have the hope that God will not leave you unfinished. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6 NASB). God will not abandon you. For his glory, he will work on you and sanctify you. Don’t lose hope.
A Final Encouragement
Whatever it is that is holding you back from going to counseling—whether it be fear, shame, doubt, or bitterness—it is time to put that off and deal with the issues at hand. Don’t continue to smother them. Don’t allow your marriage to suffer any longer. Talk to someone, be truthful, be vulnerable, pray, and do it all to the glory of God.
Written for Strength & Song by Lara d’Entremont: wife, mama, writer.