Sunday, January 8, 2017
Why I Don't Do Marriage Counseling
I’m not one that does a lot of marriage counseling. If somebody asks me for advice or has a question about marriage, I’ll give them an answer, or if they ask for prayer, I’ll pray for them. That said, I don’t really do marriage counseling in the traditional sense. It’s really a no-win situation for a pastor to get involved in the intricacies of someone else’s marriage.
Most marriage problems can be solved by applying simple, biblical principles, but people aren’t always seeking real solutions. Oftentimes people just want to vent and air their dirty laundry, but I don’t need to know all the sordid details about what people are doing wrong to tell them how to do things right. When someone tells me they are having marital problems, I try to just cut to the chase and offer them biblical advice. I tell them to do X, Y, and Z, and don't come back and talk to me about it again until they have done those things.
When a couple meets with their pastor and takes turns trying to make each other look bad, it can result in a lot of embarrassment and make things worse. A good counselor will avoid taking sides and give advice to both parties, but each spouse is still probably keeping score, trying to determine whose side the counselor is taking.
Each person will try to prove his or her case, and let’s face it, usually both parties are at least partly to blame. When the pastor seems to come down harder on one spouse, that person might be tempted to exaggerate the other person’s faults to try to save face. After all that mud-slinging, both spouses might walk away feeling more animosity toward each other. Not only that, but someone might become angry with the pastor and leave the church. Bad-mouthing your spouse to the pastor just isn’t edifying to anyone.
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29
I don’t need to know every mistake that has been made in your marriage in order to help you. I would rather cut the counseling session short and just tell you how to do things right. In fact, I’d rather skip the counseling session completely and just give the advice to the entire church at one time.
I have preached many sermons on marriage, and I encourage you to listen to all of them if you are struggling in your relationship. Instead of listening to a sermon with your spouse’s faults in mind, focus more on what you can change about yourself.
Here is a sermon on “Marriage Advice.”