By Terry Hoskins
Most premarital counseling that is available today has been watered down to nothing more than personality tests and communication techniques which is doing very little to prepare two sinners for becoming one until death do us part. My marriage is where it’s at today in spite of the premarital counseling we received not because of it. After careful study of God’s Word and working with many problematic marriages in counseling, the following comparison is what I have found to be true in revealing the real issues.
Marriage Woes from the World’s Perspective
This is where biblical counseling parts ways from other forms of counseling. Most marital therapy will focus on five areas including…..
1. Communication, where the couple will learn how to deal with conflict, and share their feelings with their spouse openly.
2. Needs based, counseling that says that couples are struggling because their spouse is not giving them what is needed for the marriage to be healthy. For example, the wife may say that her husband does not talk to her enough so she feels emotionally disconnected to him.
3. Unresolved issues of the past, may be called wounds, arrows in the heart, or daddy or mother holes.
4. Sexual intimacy issues, that are a reflection of the marriage.
5. Unrealistic expectations, towards one another.
Some of these issues play a role in marriage woes, but none of them are the root or the main causes. I would attest that making any of these issues the main issue will hinder true help in marriage because they are not the real problem at all! Plus, all these opinions above are just that opinions! Anyone who tells you these above issues are the main issue for your marriage has probably failed to consult with the Word of God.
God’s Word is the Christian’s foundation
Biblical counseling upholds God’s Word as the source for all counsel. God’s Word has the power to change marriages from the inside out. This is not because it is a magical book, but the fact the Bible is the Sword of the Holy Spirit which means it is the tool that God uses to change people for His glory. “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17, ESV)
Christian Marriage Issues are a by product of Heart Problems
God’s Word also diagnoses the problem of marriage, as Jesus says, “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” (Matthew 15:18-19, NIV) Jesus is saying that in general our biggest problem comes from our own hearts. What is inside of me is my struggle! In other words we are sinners dealing with other sinners. And marriage is two sinners becoming one! God’s Word says, “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” (Galatians 5:16, ESV) Inside the heart of a believer is a war raging where the Holy Spirit is battling the sinful nature. This battle is fought daily, in the words, thoughts, and actions of each individual. So both myself and my wife bring destructive thinking and behavior into the marriage because we both struggle with sin.
Good News–God is Sanctifying His Follower’s in Marriage through Grace
God knows sin is our biggest enemy in marriage and in all areas of life. That is why Christ had to die, to redeem His people from sin. John 3:16, says “for God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son…” God gave everything for His children, but He did this while we were still His enemies. (Ephesians 2:1-10) He sacrificed everything for us, and now we are supposed to have that same attitude in our marriages. God has freely shown us mercy as we freely show that same mercy to our spouse. God’s Word says, “husbands to love their wife as Christ loved the church.” (Ephesians 5:25) As God has loved us, we must learn to love our wives! That means when she is grumpy, when she is selfish, when she argumentative, God says, “love her.” God does not give us stipulations, He says ALWAYS love your wife. Why? Because God unconditionally loved US! Now we are free to love our spouse with a supernatural love that stops counting wrongs, and instead builds her up! May our marriages thrive on God’s unchanging and amazing grace!