Written by Debra Marshall, LAMFT
- Do you consider yourself to be a conservative Christian?
- Are your values and beliefs that of WELS or MLCS Lutheran, or similar?
- Are you looking to repair a troubled marriage?
- Does it feel like you are going or growing in separate ways in your marriage?
- Do you feel misunderstood or under-appreciated while trying to communicate with your spouse?
- Are you afraid to talk to your spouse because bringing up a touchy subject results in an outburst of anger or complete silence and a refusal to speak?
- Has trust been broken through an affair or some other way?
Are you questioning your marriage vows?
- Do you struggle with wanting to stay married especially when you have been wronged, or hurt deeply?
If you are wondering if there is a solution to these questions, I am here to help. You are not alone….many other Christian marriages have experienced difficult problems. We live in a complex and troublesome world and behind the turmoil, you may be experiencing the adversary (Satan) who seeks to cause your marriage further trouble. Let us together hold fast to the faith we have in God.
It is my passion to help restore marriages that God has joined together though many times there are misinterpretations, conflict, mistrust, lack of really understanding your spouse. I look to walk you through the healing of your wounds, restore hope in Christ, and for you to learn to love and as necessary forgive each other as He does. As a Christian counselor, I believe that a couple “committed” to saving their marriage can work through any difficulty and will look to have a better, stronger, happier and much more fulfilling marriage than ever before.
We have seen many clients who have struggled in their marriage to the point they want to see change even it means separating from each other. The pain is so great that it has become unbearable. They don’t want to divorce, but they certainly don’t want to be in pain or at odds with each other. So what do they do? Where do they go? They’ve read their Bible, prayed, sought help from other trusted people, and yet they still find themselves continuing in the same painful and difficult habits of conflict and mistrust, lacking conflict resolution. So, let’s take a look at the significance of relationships, what makes them so difficult, signs of problems in the marriage, and questions you may have.
Relationships are a significant part of everyone’s life
Couples seek therapy because they have become stuck. When couples disagree they may respond in dysfunctional ways. They may fall into the trap of blaming each other and fail to compromise or apologize. As a result, less warmth and closeness are experienced. Relationships may begin well, but life situations cause changes to happen. We all come from different backgrounds, have had many different experiences, have unique personalities, and see the world through our own individual perspectives. Some couples are going through stressful or even traumatic times. They may be dealing with unique personal challenges, such as loss of employment, loss of a family member, changes in health, and the list goes on.
When experiencing problems in a marriage, which might involve broken trust and include what feels like a lack of love or disrespect, it is easy to get focused on how hurt one feels. Proving he or she is right and the other is wrong becomes a part of many conversations. As a trained counselor, I can help you as a couple understand each other’s perspective, experiences, and feelings by slowing things down and allowing each partner time to process his/her thoughts and emotions.
We are all part of a greater network of relationships…we are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, workers and co-workers, neighbors and friends; and so the connections go in our network. Some relationships are more of an acquaintance in nature while others are more intimate. When it comes to a conservative Christian marriage, we know what we are taught as the “two become one” and yet there’s evidence of friction or even isolation in the marriage. Being intimate may seem a bit too personal or overwhelming or it may indicate a strong need that is lacking between the partners. Working through the difficulties in the marriage seeks to improve the relationship, resolve conflicts, improve communication, and bring unity as two becoming one.
What makes marriage so difficult?
Solomon wrote, “As iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another”. There is friction which leads to heat which may lead to sparks. There is a lot of work in marriage. We all come from different backgrounds, have had many contrasting experiences, have unique personalities, see the world through individual perspectives, have had stressful or even traumatic times, distinctive personal challenges, and the list goes on. Through all of these multifaceted differences, somehow a relationship is established. As a couple attempts to get to know each other, they will have some disagreements, things they don’t see eye-to-eye on. Many times couples don’t understand how to communicate effectively. The dysfunctional stuff pops up and ineffective habits are generated many times out of old wounds.
Signs of relationships problems
There are many signs that problems exist with couples. Some are subtle and unspoken while others are clear and defined. A few of these signs include:
- Conflict in how the family money is handled
- Criticism (like pointing out flaws, not meeting certain expectations)
- Threats to the relationship (such as leaving, withholding sexual relations, “stonewalling”, physical threats)
- Domestic violence (such as intense pushing, slapping, hitting, kicking, punching)
- Emotional abuse or “mind” games (such as name calling, sarcastic joking, “gaslighting”)
- Not enjoying time together (such as an unspoken tension)
- Seeing family and friends separately or not at all
- Partners need for sexual intimacy differ and thus not met at all or met infrequently
- A previous relationship that carried pain or trauma with it and now affects the present
- Your partner is viewing a lot of pornography
- Your partner had an affair
- Your partner is consistently asking you about your whereabouts, who you are meeting with and why.
When experiencing these relationship problems, which generally may involve broken trust, lack of love or disrespect, it is easy to get focused on how hurt one feels. On proving he or she is right and the other is wrong. A trained counselor can help you as a couple sort out these relational issues, learn new ways of approaching each other, and work toward resolving these problems together.
Questions you may have
Will our conservative values and beliefs be understood and respected? Yes. As a conservative Christian and counselor, I have been taught these values and beliefs for many, many years and am open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those I serve in counseling.
Can a marriage like ours really be restored? The answer is “yes” with the right attitude, commitment, and giving selves the time to understand and work through the issues and underlining cause. Restoration has choices and the will and determination to be honest before God and each other knowing that His love and forgiveness is part of your restoration process.
How long will this counseling take? Goals will be set, and the process differs with each couple. The first few sessions are needed to validate and understand the problem/problems we are addressing. When the desired goals that you as the couple bring to therapy are solved, concluding our counseling will be discussed.
Are we going to have to do any homework? Yes, you will need to practice new skills learned in therapy. Sometimes homework assignments, such as journaling can help one process pain/hurt. We will discuss your homework in our time together.
How will we know when we are done with counseling? Through the process of addressing your concerns and reaching toward your goals and practicing new skills you learn in therapy, you will begin to see, know and realize new patterns and attitudes emerging in your relationship. As in past counseling experiences, each couple is different in their unique relationships and thus complications may and do arise. Generally, couple’s therapy may take anywhere from 6-10 sessions and at times shorter or longer. This will be discussed along the way in your therapy.
As a marriage and family therapist, I have a strong desire for counseling couples looking to restore their marriages. God has joined the two, and many times there are conflicts, misinterpretations, mistrust, which can be fixed through a better understanding of your spouse. When troubling issues develop in the marriage, one may feel an extreme amount of hurt, stress, or anger. I seek to walk you through your pain/hurt to bring healing of your wounds. Many times couples/families do not understand how to communicate effectively. The dysfunctional stuff pops up, and ineffective habits are fueled. Through all of the multifaceted differences somehow relationships can continue even with the difficulties when not seeing eye-to-eye. As a Christian counselor, I believe that couples “committed” to save their marriage can work through “any” difficulty. A strong commitment to saving your marriage can open the door to having a better, stronger, happier and much more fulfilling marriage than ever before!
I draw from various therapeutic models while I consider each of your perspectives from your own stories in order to bring you together. I will listen to your unique stories to understand your reality. Then, we will have a collaborative conversation that explores the things you find essential. The problem will be voiced, and strengths and resources will be discovered. We will work through your relationship together.
Feel free to give me a call at 520-490-0098 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions or to schedule a consultation/appointment.