Counseling

In the past I wrote about the 9-week marriage class I lead at our church and the breakout group questions. Once we had the men came up with their top 3 fears about being part of the class or participating in marriage counseling. It was a good question for them because EVERY SINGLE ONE of them had been brought to the class by his wife. Clearly it was important to the women.

So we asked the women: what are your top 3 hopes or desires from attending a marriage class?

Any guess as to what they said?

~ We hope this class helps us improve marital communication. This is the perennial issue in marriages. Everyone wants to communicate better. Everyone wants to communicate more. Our society has perpetuated the myth that talking more equals a stronger relationship. It’s simply not true. If a husband and a wife talk more and more yet the way they talk to each other is demeaning and belittling then the communication is going to damage the relationship – not improve it. So we don’t want more communication. We want BETTER communication.

When it comes to communication and prayer even Jesus wants better instead of more. Don’t babble on and on. Instead, simply talk to God in a natural way. Praise him. Thank him. Tell him what you need. Seek his will. Badda bing, badda boom.

Kinda makes all guys feel good to hear Jesus say, “Better, not more.” I’ve heard people give statistics about women needing to speak 20,000 words a day and men only 10,000 (I don’t remember the exact number, but it was ridiculously lopsided). I’m not so sure that’s a valid stat. Men, if we did our part to make communication BETTER then women wouldn’t have to try to compensate with MORE. As couples, let’s take steps to improve the quality of marital communication.

~ We hope this class helps us resolve conflict better. Resolving conflict is a two way street. Fortunately, it’s something we CAN get better at through practice and hard work. I always begin conflict resolution by looking at what Jesus said. If someone wrongs you, take it privately to the person and talk it out calmly. If the other person repents, then bring in a neutral party who can help evaluate. Then if it still doesn’t resolve escalate by adding others.

While Jesus’ words are not specifically geared towards married couples there is a principle we can learn. When we are hurt by someone the best course of action is to handle it personally and calmly with the person face to face. The goal is not to make the other person feel bad. The goal is always to restore relationship and repair the bond between people. This is especially important in marriages. Rather than talking to your buddies or girlfriends about what your spouse did; instead of taking it out on her or mistreating him, approach your partner calmly and lovingly to discuss the offense. Remember that the goal is always restoration and relationship repair. If we could learn to do this then our conflict resolution would be a lot healthier!

~ We hope this class helps strengthen the marriage bond. I hope and pray that this is a goal for all married couples no matter how long you’ve been married. There is always room to grow; always room to improve. Marriage cannot be passive. Things don’t get good by chance. It requires hard work to make relationships flourish. Keep at it. Make communication better. Make conflict resolution better. Read books. Seek a good pastor or counselor. But keep working at it.

God designed us to thrive in relationships – particularly the intimacy of the marriage relationship. Fight for it. Hold on to it. Work at it however you can. Men, last time I told the women that it was their job to help alleviate our fears of marriage counseling. Now it’s our turn. It is our job to help make their hopes a reality. You cannot sit on your butt and hope your marriage turns out ok. As a husband you need to do your part to improve communication and conflict resolution. Don’t settle for “okay” – work for THRIVING!

Ladies, how about you? What else would you hope to get out of marriage counseling or a marriage class?