For most issues, especially when guided by the Spirit of God, couples can and do find solutions themselves.
However God expects believers to reach out to each other in the church for help (Gal 6:2). In 1Cor 14:12 Scripture suggests that the gifts given to members of the church, like counseling, are intended to be used to build up other members of the church.
However, problems still occur because “Blindspots” exist for couples just as they do for individuals. Blindspots are those places we cannot see without help of people external to our situation.
One of the benefits good counselors provide is that external perspective for couples feeling stuck from looking at a problem so long it has become a blind-spot for the
The Anonymous programs (e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous) make heavy use of the Serenity Prayer (Shapiro, 2014):
God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The Courage to change the things I can,
And the Wisdom to know the difference.
A good counselor can help couples see if they are trying to change things that can’t be changed, or have fallen into a pattern of accepting things that need changing.
This way couples may not have to live with an issue because they believe it to be a character-flaw, when it is in actuality a learned habit (meaning that the behavior can be un-learned). Conversely a good counselor can help couples distinguish character traits from “behaviors” so that harmony in the home can happen in learning ways to accept the things that cannot be changed.
Pathway to Freedom
It is important to find a counselor who will not only help you name the problem and define it, but also identify alternative approaches and behaviors in resolving it. Sometimes men will not move forward, and their wives will believe “they just don’t care,” or “He just doesn’t want to” do what it takes to make the relationship successful.” This in-action is NOT always indicative of a character issue. Many times when men do not know how to proceed, they will simply stop and refuse to move forward in order to prevent mistakes from making the situation worse; a behavior Julie and John Gottman call “flooding.” (Gottman, 2013).
When this happens it is important to remember that this situation is similar to large home appliances. The fact that an air conditioner cools an entire house, but not a specific room, does not mean the problem is a character (design) flaw of the air conditioner. It means something needs to be done. Couples need to resist the urge to “just live with it” rather than call a specialist who can tell them what is happening and how to move forward. Just living with the problem does not make it go away. It actually helps the problem get worse and deeper.
If you aren’t sure if the problem you are wrestling with is adjustable or demands acceptance; or if you don’t know how to accept the unchangeable, get help! Or, come in and let us help you figure it out.
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Gottman, J. (2013) Presentation notes from "When Clients Shutdown: Process and Treatment." Gottman Summit. Seattle, Washington. July 12-13, 2013.
Shapiro, F.R., (April 28, 2014) Who Wrote the Serenity Prayer?, The Chronicle Review.
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