There are many Christian counselors, pastors, friends, family members and godly mentoring wives who do great GOOD, who help to point hurting women and men to Christ and to His Word and who help people walk through difficult trials. These are the people who help people to primarily look at their own lives and their walk with God and help them evaluate anything God may want them to work on, encouraging them to trust God to work in their spouse’s lives as they focus on their obedience to God and their walk with Christ. I would like to encourage women to seek out godly mentoring wives or female Christian biblical counselors if at all possible.
There are also many counselors and friends, even some Christian ones, who do irreparable harm and who undermine people’s marriages and give unbiblical, ungodly advice. A wife shares her story and warning in today’s post. I appreciate her willingness to share so very much! This is a really important topic – one I have seen come up countless times.
I personally didn’t have a counselor or godly mentor on my journey. It was just me, God, the Bible, about 30 books on godly femininity and being a godly wife and a bunch of college ruled notebooks. I spent a good 2-4 hours per day most days for 2.5 years reading, praying, searching, studying, begging God to teach me, begging God to change me, asking God to remove the worldly ideas I had absorbed and give me His wisdom. I did have the advantage that I had a solid Bible background. So I was able to evaluate the books I was reading in light of the Bible to weigh what was being said, rejecting things that were not biblical. Not everything that every Christian writer says is biblical! We are each responsible to carefully weigh whatever anyone says against Scripture. It takes the Spirit’s power and wisdom to do that properly, not my own human wisdom.
God, His Word, His Spirit’s power and our faith in Him are the real keys on this journey.
A WIFE’S STORY (the same wife who shared in the post last week about the idol of happiness):
When my husband said he wanted out of our marriage, but would stay while I “got help and fixed myself”, I looked for a counselor that specialized in family issues and someone who had a base of Christian faith. He told me that he had helped many relationships that were in the same place. I felt safe opening up and sharing with him. He had some suggestions that seemed very good and practical…..except every single one of his suggestions backfired.
My husband refused to go with me, but went solo once to explain his side of things and his frustrations. I went twice a week for six months and I noticed that my husband would get extremely touchy and easily agitated on my therapy nights. I would try one of my therapist’s suggestions and my husband would blow up and tell me that I was not a psychologist and I was not going to control him with my “cult techniques” that I learned from my therapist.
I would relay this to my therapist and he would get very angry with my husband.
- He then started to blame my husband for all that was wrong in the relationship.
- He would bash my husband and call him derogatory names in our sessions.
- He kept telling me that I deserved better. That became the theme of our sessions.
- He would tell me how wonderful I was and how I was doing all the work in this relationship and that I was probably always going to have to do that.
- He would compare his marriage to mine and tell me how respectful and kind and loving he was to his wife in the same situations I was facing with my husband. He told me that’s how “normal,” healthy couples are and that I was never going to have that with my husband.
The last few sessions became all about him pressuring me to leave my husband. He told me that if I stayed with my husband, I was dooming myself to an unhappy, unfulfilled existence and that I was selling myself short if I stayed and put up with it.
Notice a theme? Every session was all about feeding the monster of SELF….the very thing that had brought my relationship to the breaking point. :-/
I left the last session in tears.
- He had told me there was no hope.
- That I was doing everything right, but my husband was a lost cause.
I called my mom and she joined me in prayer. It’s too long to go into, but she did some spiritual warfare on my behalf and my eyes were opened to what had been going on in those sessions and why it was having the opposite effect…..because my SELF could not die while it was still being fed so heartily. (From Peacefulwife – PRAISE GOD for this godly mom!!!!!!)
I shared the experience with two close friends, who have been my prayer champions and encouragers along this journey. They told me that they both (independent of each other) felt strongly in their spirits that I should not go back to this counselor. My mom confirmed it when she said God had spoken the same thing to her. I never went back…..and I was afraid to tell my husband, because he was only going to stay while I “got help”….but he was relieved.
I had to give it all to God and trust Him to show me what I needed to change.
I started listening to sermons on my way to and from work…..praying with my mom or my friends when I wasn’t doing that…..and slowly, God began to reveal the problems and sins that were inside me. There were a TON of them. As I gave those things to God, He would start to heal them. Some of the things were healed almost instantly…..some took longer…..some are still in the process of being healed. As God heals those ugly things inside of me, I am noticing a healing in my marriage and I thank God every day for this. He has done SO MUCH healing. There is still A LOT of healing that needs to happen.
The process of God bringing things to the surface to be healed is very painful, but it is worth it.
Sorry for the long story, but I am very passionate about this. Counselors are trained a certain way. I do believe they can be helpful in many different circumstances and situations. If the problem is a spiritual/sin issue, (some counselors may) make things worse because of they way they are trained. I would encourage everyone to get a spiritual mentor and and check what the counselor tells you with God’s word. God will speak to you if you earnestly seek Him. He may tell you to do things that don’t make logical sense, but they will be exactly what you needed to do for healing. God sees the whole picture….the past, the present, the future. He made us and our spouses. He knows the deep hurts, the buried fears, the reasons we do the things that hurt the ones we love. Always, always pray about what your counselor tells you and make sure it is supported by what God says in His word.
1. Here are some things I would want to see from a godly, biblical counselor or mentor for a wife – someone who…
- upholds the covenant of marriage and respects it deeply
- does not consider divorce to be an option
- wants to help a wife focus on what she can control – herself – and her walk with Christ
- shows respect for a wife’s husband and does not speak disrespectfully about him to her
- does not tell a wife what her husband should do
- is able to be impartial and willing to ask questions to better understand the husband’s side of things, too – there are always two sides to the story
- encourages a wife to seek God with all her heart, to feast on Scripture and to pray fervently in faith for God’s will and His healing – not for her will
- is willing to address any sin in the wife’s life gently but firmly and who is strong and courageous enough to give life giving rebukes when necessary
- can help a wife identify idols or sin in her heart, pride, self-righteousness, unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, gossip, slander, hatred, etc…
- will love a wife with the very love of God and stand with her compassionately, praying with her and walking beside her when things are hard and painful
- encourages a wife to find all of her peace, joy, acceptance, purpose, identity, hope, faith and strength in Christ, not in her husband or her marriage or any worldly thing
- can help explain the biblical concepts of respect, submission, I Peter 3:1-6, godly femininity and godly marriage and who is living these things out herself in real life
- can point a wife to valuable resources if a wife is truly in danger or a husband is involved in serious sin or abuse
- can recognize when things are too dangerous for a wife and/or children to stay in a home and help them get somewhere safe quickly
- seeks to honor Scripture and to use Scripture to give godly counsel
Ideally, husbands would also receive godly, biblical counseling from a male mentor or pastor or counselor, as well, who would do these same kinds of things for him. But even if a wife is seeking God alone for healing in her marriage, God’s power is able to change and heal!
If a couple is being counseled together, I believe it is best for them to have a male counselor (or, even better, a godly mentoring or counseling couple) – because of Scripture’s admonition that women are not to have authority over men in the church. If a wife is being counseled separately, I believe it is generally wise for her to have a godly, experienced, wise, female counselor (as described in Titus 2:3-5). I want us to be cautious about being alone with men talking about marriage problems and deep emotional and spiritual struggles. That can easily be a recipe for infidelity. Please check out this pastor’s guest post “Pastors Are Human, Too“
2. Here are some things I want to see in wives who are receiving counseling or who are having problems in their marriages…
- You must be willing to put in time daily (unless providentially hindered, of course) with God for your own Bible study and fervent prayer, seeking to abide in Christ and to be filled with His Spirit. This is your power source – If you are not plugged in, a counselor cannot possibly begin to help you. You won’t have the strength to do the things God asks you to do.
- You must be willing to believe that the Bible is the absolute truth of God and His wisdom and that all ungodliness and worldliness has to go and you must be willing to toss out everything you think you know about marriage, being a woman, God and living as Christian and build your life on Christ and His Word alone.
- You must be willing to focus on asking God to change you, not your husband. This is ALL about you and Jesus.
- In time, as you are able to check your motives and be sure you are praying from pure, not selfish, motives – you can start asking for more specific things in your husband’s life in line with God’s will (please check my response to PrayingLikeHannah in the comments about this one and, “Praying for Our Husbands So That God Will Hear” and “Praying with Respect” may be helpful).
- You must be willing to want to learn to find all of your contentment in Christ alone and to completely submit to Him as LORD of ALL in your life – even if you don’t know how right now, you must be willing to want to do this.
- You must be willing to stay in this thing for the long haul, realizing it is a lifelong journey, not a quick or instantaneous process to become a godly wife.
- You must be willing to do the hard, painful work yourself. A mentor/counselor can point you to Christ, but he/she cannot change anyone or open anyone’s eyes. Only God can do that. And a counselor cannot do the actual wrestling with God for you. That will be for you and God to hash through together privately.
- You must be willing to accept that your husband may not ever change. If you want to do this journey with Jesus – your prayer has got to be “Change me, bless my husband.” There are no guarantees here that your husband will change. But if you are willing to seek God with all your heart, I CAN guarantee you that He will radically change YOU! 🙂 And that is the whole point!
- You must be willing to accept biblical truths and be willing to repent of any sin in your own life. If you refuse to repent of sin, a counselor cannot help you. You will be stuck. If you hold on to pride, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, gossip, lust, greed, idolatry, envy, materialism, worldliness, etc… you cannot have the full power of God’s Spirit flooding your life and you won’t have the power to be the wife God commands you to be. Every trace of sin has to go. Will we stumble? Yes. At times. Then we confess our sin to God, repent and ask Him to empower us to live and walk in obedience again. God can give us the power to walk in victory over sin as we allow His Spirit to flood our hearts and allow Him to regenerate our souls.