10 Reasons Christian couples should NOT see marriage counselors

Reasons not to see a marriage counselor? I know it sounds crazy by our modern understanding of marriage. If marriage is a partnership of equals and in any partnership there will be disagreements why would counseling ever not be a good idea?

In an article from GotQuestions.com (http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-marriage-counseling.html) they list these 10 reasons that Christian couples should seek marriage counseling:

1. Inability to resolve conflict in a healthy way.
2. One partner dominating the relationship so that the needs of the other are not met.
3. Inability to compromise.
4. Either partner stepping outside the marriage to “fix” the problems.
5. Breakdown in communication.
6. Confusion about the roles of each spouse in the marriage.
7. Pornography.
8. Deceit.
9. Disagreement about parenting styles.
10. Addictions.

These are actually NOT reasons for a Christian couple to seek marriage counseling. But to understand why these are not reasons to seek couples counseling we first need to understand four principles regarding Biblical marriage.

Four Biblical principles that should be considered before marriage counseling is pursued

The first principle of Biblical Marriage

The wife is to submit to her husband as her head in everything(Ephesians 5:23-24)

The second principle of Biblical Marriage

The wife is to reverence her husband as her master (Ephesians 5:33 & I Peter 3:5-6)

The third principle of Biblical Marriage

A husband is to love his wife as Christ loves his Church and as he loves his own body (Ephesians 5:25-31 & 33)

The fourth principle of Biblical Marriage

A husband is to know and honor his wife (I Peter 3:7)

So as we can clearly see from the Scriptures – marriage as God designed it is not a partnership of equals but it is instead a patriarchy (male lead hierarchy).

Some people might ask – why are the first two principles referring to women submitting to and reverencing their husbands?

I address a woman’s obligation to submit to and reverence her husband first because in the Bible God always addresses those under authority to obey and respect their authority first. Then God addresses those in authority and their treatment of those under their authority. So these principles are actually in the Biblical order that God addresses husbands and wives.

Biblical Principles regarding counseling

In my guide “When should a Christian couple seek a marriage counselor?” I discuss from a Biblical perspective the pros and cons of modern marriage counseling.

In that guide I discuss that while the Bible exhorts us to seek wise counsel, it also tells us that it unwise to allow ourselves to either hear counsel that undermines God’s law and his design of marriage or even if that counsel is wise if it is given in the wrong venue then it can still be wrong.

We need make sure that both WHAT counsel we receive and HOW we receive are right.

For instance there are things that a man needs to learn from another man in private about how to properly treat his wife and children. But it would be inappropriate in most cases for a man to be being corrected by another man in front of his wife and children. It undermines his Biblical authority over them, even if the advice is Biblically based. One of the few cases where it would be ok for a man to be corrected and stopped in front his wife and children is if he were physically abusing them.

See my post “When should a Christian couple seek a marriage counselor?” for more guidelines on when Christian couples should actually seek counseling and how they should seek it in various scenarios.

Now we will apply these Biblical principles about marriage and counsel to GotQuestions.com’s list.

Application of Biblical principles regarding marriage and counseling to GotQuestions.com’s 10 reasons for marriage counseling

“1. Inability to resolve conflict in a healthy way.”

Ok if this has to do with physical abuse by either spouse then I would agree the counseling needs to be sought and in some cases the civil authorities may need to be involved.   But often this issue of resolving conflict in a “healthy way” refers to couples yelling at one another.

A husband should not be yelling at his wife all the time, while there may be some cause for husband to raise his voice to his wife if she acting in a rebellious way. But even if a husband does yell at his wife more than he should – this is not something for a marriage counselor to solve. This is not something where a wife gets to run to a counselor and say “he yells at me too much”. He is her authority, she is to reverence him, obey him and serve him as his wife despite his flaws. This does not mean she cannot bring her concerns to him gently – but there is no cause for a third party in the form of a marriage counselor to come in and undermine his spiritual authority.

“2. One partner dominating the relationship so that the needs of the other are not met.”

Ok let’s be honest – they are prettying much targeting men with this “dominating the relationship” comment.

But first what does “dominate” mean?

These are some definitions of “dominate” as given by Webster’s online dictionary:

“rule or control”

“to exert the supreme determining or guiding influence on”

“to have or exert mastery, control, or preeminence”

“to occupy a more elevated or superior position”

Did we not just see in the Scriptures that the husband is the wife’s head and she is to regard him as her master in all things? Is the husband not to occupy the superior position in marriage if he is to follow God’s design and model for marriage?

So a man “dominating” this marriage in this regard is not only not wrong, but it commanded by God.

But if by dominating that means he is selfish and cares nothing about meeting his wife’s needs that God has commanded him to do then this is indeed a problem.

God defines what a wife’s needs are and how a husband must meet them. He must provide food, clothing, shelter and sex to his wife. He must know her (talk to her and spend time with her) and honor her position as his wife. But how he goes about these tasks is at HIS discretion. It is not the place of the wife to seek out a marriage counselor for her husband’s failures in these types of things.

“3. Inability to compromise.”

What compromise? The husband is to be the decider and the wife is to be the follower. A husband is to hear his wife’s concerns about various issues but ultimately the decisions are his to make whether it be in what church they attend, financial areas, what they teach their children regarding morality and the disciplining of the children and other areas of their marriage.

“4. Either partner stepping outside the marriage to “fix” the problems.”

If this is referring to a wife bad mouthing her husband or husband bad mouthing his wife to others then yes this is wrong – but again this is something that can and should be handled by the couple themselves.

“5. Breakdown in communication.”

Yes couples need to talk (I Peter 3:7 husbands need to know their wives, and Titus 2:4 wives are to show affection for their husbands).

Let’s first tackle the silent husband. If the husband is not talking to his wife this usually is for one of two reasons. The first has to do with her behavior regarding issues such as sexual neglect, neglect of her home, neglect of her children or disrespectful speech or behavior. The second reasons husbands may be silent is simply a selfish neglect toward their wife.

In either case a husband does not have the right to give his wife the silent treatment but neither does his wife have the right to seek out a marriage counselor in order to “tell on him” for his neglect. She needs to work within the marriage to find ways to encourage him to talk to her and to continue loving him, respecting him and submitting to him despite his neglect in this area.

But what about the silent wife? A wife giving her husband the silent treatment is more than just neglect to her duty to be affectionate toward him. It is an act of rebellion. It does not call for marriage counseling. It calls for Biblical discipline by her husband.

“6. Confusion about the roles of each spouse in the marriage.”

What confusion? The Bible is clear – the husband is the head of the wife and the wife is to submit to her husband in everything. The husband is to lead, provide and protect and the wife is to be the keeper of his home and bear and care for his children. No confusion, no counseling needed. Only an acceptance of the four Biblical principles of marriage that I outlined is required.

“7. Pornography.”

Again let’s not kid ourselves – this targeted at men. Your husband looking at a picture of a naked woman may be offensive to you but again what Biblical right do you have to go and “tell” on your husband to a counselor (or anybody else for that matter)? Is he accountable to you or is he accountable to God?

“8. Deceit.”

If a wife hides things from her husband say in regard to spending or is secretly undermining his directions for the children this is a sin against his authority as she is accountable to him. But he should not take her to marriage counselor over this, but rather he should exercise Biblical discipline toward her (e.g. cut up her credit cards).

If a husband hides things from his wife we must really look at what he is hiding. If he is hiding an affair or the fact that he is a drug dealer then these extreme situations would warrant a wife seeking outside help from his authorities in the church or civil government depending on what it was. But other than these big ticket items if he is hiding spending or hiding other things from her – HE is not accountable to her. He is her authority, she is not his.

“9. Disagreement about parenting styles.”

Yes husband and wives are going to disagree about parenting styles. The husband should hear his wife and truly consider her position. But at the end of the discussion it is ultimately his decision as to what parenting style will be applied. The Bible does not allow for a wife to drag her husband to a marriage counselor to convince him that her style is the better one to use.

“10. Addictions.”

A drug addiction or alcohol addiction may be a reason for a wife to seek help from her husband’s authorities as these can directly affect the safety of her and her children. A gambling addiction may be a reason to seek outside help IF this addiction is causing the family not to have food or shelter which a husband is required to provide.

But other than these types of addictions if a husband is say “addicted” his job, to watching sports, watching regular movies, watching porn on his computer or playing video games it is not the place of a wife to seek outside help for these things for her husband. Remember she is not responsible for him and his behavior. Only those things which can cause a real danger to the family or are cause for Biblical divorce would allow a wife to seek outside help.

Conclusion

As we can see in most cases except for extreme conditions none of these 10 reasons for seeking couples counseling would be Biblically valid when we apply the four principles of Biblical marriage to these situations.

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Why doesn’t my husband love me anymore?

Many women ask this question “Why doesn’t my husband love me anymore?” sometime after they get married. But you will never get the answers you seek until you first understand that you are asking the wrong question.

The question you are really asking is “Why doesn’t my husband show me affection anymore?”

You may be scratching your head now – maybe you are thinking something like “Affection and love are the same thing! – if you love someone you are affectionate towards them!”

But that is not actually true. There are many ways that a person can love someone and many ways that a person can show love toward someone.

The four types of Biblical love

Storge Love is the instinctual family love that a parent has for a child, a child has for a parent and a sibling has for their other siblings. You don’t choose to love your blood – it is hardwired into you by God.  Now that does not mean you are always fond of your blood, but deep down you love them and will do things for them because they are your blood.

Agape Love is a love based in choice.  It is when we choose to love someone not because of instinct or because of feelings that this person by their actions or their attributes generate in us.  We agape love someone because we have made a commitment to perform certain acts of love toward this person.

Phileo Love is a love based in friendship or affection depending on its context.

In the sense that it is commanded toward our brothers and sisters in Christ along with agape love it is a call to be friendly and kind toward our brethren.

But there is a second sense of phileo that is a conditional type of love.  Affection comes from this type of phileo love and it is feelings of affection in response to the actions or attributes of the person who is the object of affection.

Phileo love can actually be joined with family love – philostorgos to indicate a special fondness for a family member in response to the attributes or actions of that family member.

Eros Love is really a specific sexual type of phileo love and in Greek literature outside the Bible phileo love and eros love would be used interchangeably to talk about the feelings between two lovers.  It is a sexual love that is in direct response to sexual attraction.  While eros love is never mentioned in the New Testament, it is fully demonstrated throughout the entire book of the Song of Solomon.

The difference between Agape love and Phileo love demonstrated in God’s love

“For God so loved [agape] the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16 (KJV)

Before the foundation of the world God unconditionally committed to love his future creation in mankind.  He knew that man would fall into sin and need a savior and he planned to send his Son as the sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.  This is a demonstration of God’s agape love – his love based on his choice and in his will, not in his emotion.

But God’s phileo love (his affectionate love)is a love that is in direct response to our love and actions toward him.

“For the Father himself loveth[Phileo] you, because ye have loved[Phileo] me, and have believed that I came out from God.” – John 16:27 (KJV)

So we see here in John 16:27 that God the Father’s affectionate love toward his disciples was in response to their affection for Christ and the actions of belief toward him.

So it is absolutely Biblically correct to say that in one way God loves all mankind (agape) but in another way his love is only in response to our loving acts toward him (phileo).

Another way of stating this Biblical truth about love is that God loves all people but he is not affectionate toward all people because not everyone acts in love toward him.

So as a woman if you want your husband to be more affectionate or are wondering why he is not as affectionate as he once was you must first accept this simple truth:

The affectionate type of love you are seeking from your husband is a feelings based and conditional love that is directly in response to your actions toward him.

So the next question you might ask is “What did I do toward him before when he used to be affectionate toward me?”

Measuring WHY your husband shows affection now against WHY he did in the early relationship phase is a mistake

Often women try to look back at the conditions of their relationship when they were dating, engaged and or perhaps newlyweds.

“I didn’t have to do a thing to get his affection when we were dating.  He said affectionate things to me all the time.  He did affectionate things for me all the time. He loved me just for being me.”  – This or something like it is what you might be thinking.

Yes when you were dating, engaged or perhaps even newlyweds he made all these grand gestures and statements of affection for you.  He may have seemed to worship the very ground you walked on and you did not have to do a thing to get this affection – it seemed like unconditional love.

But this was not agape unconditional love as much as you want to believe it was.  It was phileo love – feelings based love.

Ladies since we know that phileo love in the context of a romantic relationship between a man and woman is a responsive love – what was your husband responding to? What generated his phileo love for you and the corresponding acts of affection that came with it?

For most men the initial spark of his phileo love was probably based in his eros love(a type of phileo love) when he initially saw you and was sexually attracted to you.

So literally you did not have to do a thing for him to fall in phileo love with you at first sight!

Then after he got to know you, liked your personality and he found things in common with you then his phileo love for you grew in anticipation of a future permanent relationship. Again you may have done little to nothing to fuel this love. It was simply your attributes (physical and personality) and the possibility of a future permanent relationship that fueled is his feelings of affection for you.

But these conditions no longer exist.

Whether you have been married 6 months, 6 years or 16 years you may never be able to get your husband to show you the kind of affection he did in your early relationship simply based on your physical attributes and your personality.

Measuring HOW your husband shows affection now against HOW he did in the early relationship phase is also a mistake

Not only do many women falsely measure the conditions for WHY their husband showed them affection in their early relationship but the next big mistake is in comparing HOW he showed affection in the newness phase of their relationship.

How your husband showed you affection in the early days of your relationship cannot be the measure by which you judge his affection after your relationship moved out of that newness phase.  In most relationships that was temporary insanity on the part of the man. Does the phrase “I am crazy for you!” ring any bells?

Many women live their whole lives in the past – longing for the days when their husbands first met them and adored them and lavished all kinds of affection on them. Basically they are living and longing for something that was temporary. Women also do this even with their bodies living in the past of what their body used to look like and never coming to an acceptance of the natural aging process.

As a woman you will never find happiness and contentment in your marriage until you accept that as relationships mature and as your body matures things change.

In fact is its because of this longing for the past that some women get drastic cosmetic surgeries as they age and they divorce their husbands longing for the thrills of adoration and affection they experienced during their early relationship with their husband.

But you know what they find? Not long after they are married again to a new man the affection and feelings of the relationship when it was brand new go away. This is one of the main reasons that almost 70 percent of divorces today are filed by women.  They continually seeking a type of affection that is temporary and does not last.

Your husband may still have phileo love for you but you don’t recognize it

The truth is that most men when they move out of the newness phase of a relationship and regain their sanity go back to normal male operations. Men are not as naturally affectionate as women are. Even the way that men show affection is often very different than women.

While many men verbally communicate their feelings of affection during the newness phase of a relationship this is NOT the norm of how men operate.

While women primarily communicate their feelings with words, men on the other hand primarily communicate their feelings with actions. This is something that for most women does not compute – but it is a fact.  The rare women who come to accept this fact in many cases end up having happier marriages and they typically don’t have the unmet expectations that other women do.

Let me just stop here and say I am not saying it is right for a man to never tell his wife that he loves her.  Men need to do that. Men need to tell their wives and children that they love them on a regular basis.  It takes intentionality and it takes men coming out of their comfort zone, but it needs to happen.

Ok back to you ladies. So perhaps your husband was showing you affection through his actions and you did not notice it.  Maybe it was those times he saw you were overwhelmed and went and did a couple loads of laundry.  Maybe it was when he stepped in the kitchen and did the dishes.  Maybe it was that night he came home from work and saw that you were overwhelmed and took you and the kids out to dinner.  There are so many things like this that men do each and every day that in their minds are acts of affection toward their wives but these things go unnoticed by many women.

He only touches me when he wants sex!

Most men are typically not physically affectionate unless they want sex.  It is hardwired into men. Are there exceptions where men are more emotional and/or touchy without it turning into sex? Yes.  But these men are rare.

For most men the equation goes like this:

Physical affection = Time to have sex

I realize as a woman you might hate this.  Many women complain about this. Some wives eventually figure out this equation and stop giving their husband physical affection because they know where it will lead (and this is very wrong by the way).

“Why can’t he touch me or I touch him without it every time having to turn into us having to have sex? I feel so used.” – This is a thought that may have crossed your mind as it has the minds of millions of women before you.

Let me try and convey this truth in a way that will make sense to you as a woman.

For you verbal communication, emotional connection and words of affection may or may NOT lead to you having a desire to have sex with your husband.  Sometimes it will, sometimes it won’t.  Sometimes you just want to talk, cuddle up and then go to sleep together – no sex is needed.

But imagine on one of those occasions where your husband was talking with you and you were emotionally connecting with him and then that caused you to have a strong a desire to have sex with him. He massages your neck and shoulders which just turns you on more.  Then he just stops and moves on to something else or if you are in bed he kisses you goodnight and rolls over and goes to sleep.  How frustrated would you be at that point with your desire burning red hot?

Now take that feeling of frustration and realize that for a lot of men EVERY time there is any kind of physical affection (hugs, cuddling, kissing, you sit on his lap…etc.) he is instantly turned on and ready to go. What happens for you on occasion and takes time to build happens to him in EVERY intimate touch between the two of you.

In fact you may have done nothing at all and not even touched him but just from him having a sexual thought he might be hot for you so he comes over and starts touching you.

In either case, whether you initiated the physical affection or he did asking men to separate physical affection with their wife from sex is a very difficult thing for a man to do- it feels unnatural to a man to separate these two things when it comes to his wife.

I am not saying it is impossible for a man not to have sex with his wife every time they have an intimate touch or embrace.  Many men practice restraint in this way all the time. I am not even saying that men should not practice a little restraint in this area. But the key phrase is “a little”. A married man most of the time should be able to act on his desires to have sex with his wife.  If that is every day, or every other day then so be it.

And on those occasions when your husband does show you affection without going for sex as women you need to realize how much your husband is sacrificing when he does this. He is literally resisting every fiber of his being telling him to have sex. And no it is NOT selfishness on his part – it is by the design of God.

“Well just because it is hard for men to do, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t do it!”

There are a great deal of people (even men who beat themselves up for the approval of women) that think men just need to be “civilized” and “reprogrammed”. Men need to be “more verbal and vulnerable with their emotions like women and they need to tone down the physical side of their sexual natures and embrace a more emotional sexual nature like that of a woman”. In short – men just need to be more like women and we would have better marriages.

There are a lot of marriage books, even Christian marriage books that are teaching this today.  Very few will come right out and say men need to be more like women in their approach to relationships, but most of them simply reword this and do it in a more subtle way.  But make no mistake this false teaching is being heavily propagated in marriage counseling books and sessions across America.

To that every man in this world should say “BOLGANA”! Especially Christian men who know that God created men and women with distinct and very different natures for his purposes and his design.

No my friends – what is called for is not for men to become more like women, but rather what God calls for is for us to UNDERSTAND and ACCEPT the differences in our male and female natures.

So if you realize that your husband does in fact show you signs of affection you were not seeing as signs of affection then this is what you must do. You must learn to accept the way he now shows you affection rather than longing for the days when your relationship was new and he was in crazy mode. People who are stuck in the past can never move forward.

But what if there are truly are no signs of affection that you can see? How do you go about creating the conditions that might lead to rekindling his affection for you?

5 Changes you can make that might rekindle your husband’s phileo love for you

You used to be able to win your husband’s affection based on your good looks and personality alone.  Basically you had do next nothing to get his affection but breathe and be his girlfriend.  But once a relationship moves past the new phase your actions toward him now become the basis for his phileo love for you rather than your physical attributes and personality alone.

Respect your husband

Do you find yourself constantly questioning and fighting with your husband? Do you speak disrespectfully to him especially in front of others? Do you find yourself criticizing him and telling him where you think he fails or could do better on a regular basis?  All of these behaviors can make a man feel disrespected and will definitely kill his phileo love and affection toward you.

If you have body acceptance issues – deal with them

Many women whether it is just a year or so, or several years after marriage begin to have body acceptance issues.  They may gain some weight before or after having children.  They may develop lose skin or cellulite.  They long for the days when they had smooth skin over 100 percent of their body and no rolls and no defects.

But let me tell you a secret ladies – most men do NOT care about these imperfections in their wife’s bodies.  That is why a famous song says that a man loves his woman’s “perfect imperfections”.  If you have body acceptance issues this will greatly affect every area of your marriage.  It will affect the next three things we will address regarding how you dress, how you undress and how you give your body to your husband.

Those next areas we will discuss are absolutely critical to instilling genuine affection in your husband toward you.

How you dress matters

As I said many times previously your physical attributes will not win his affection on their own.  However that does not mean they are not still a vital part of generating phileo love in your husband. Are you wearing sweats and big tee shirts all the time? Get clothes that flatter your figure. Get your hair done and if you need makeup then put it on. Dress to impress your husband!

How you undress matters

Has your lingerie been collecting dust for months or even years? Get it out, wash it and put it on for your man. Women don’t realize how important lingerie is to most men – when you present your body to your husband in lingerie it is like holding up a sign that says “I am yours”.

How you give your husband your body matters

Even if you don’t sexually deny your husband – are you enthusiastic about sex with him? Do you find yourself swatting his hands away on a regular basis? Do you have all kinds of restricted areas on your body? Like “you can touch here, but not there”. Do you make your husband have sex in the dark?

Putting all kinds of restrictions on how, where and when your husband can touch and see your body is a sure fire way to kill your husband’s phileo love and affection for you.

Ladies let me say one last thing here on freely and willingly giving your body to your husband which is a requirement by God (I Corinthians 7:4) of both men and women in a marriage. This is going to be a blunt statement but it must be said.

Just spreading your legs does not fulfill the requirement to give your husband your body.

Your entire body, from head to toe belongs to your husband.  That means if your husband wants to touch your butt he can touch your butt. If he wants to come up behind you in the kitchen and cup your breasts in his hands that is his right given to him by God. It is not right for you to limit sexual activity with your husband to his penis and your vagina.  I warned you that I was going to be blunt – and I was!

Now should men exercise sensitivity in this area toward their wives? Absolutely! Men should be sensitive to things like time and place.  A man cupping his wife’s breasts in the kitchen may be ok when no one is around but he should not be grabbing her breasts when they have company.  Also men should take into account that there are certain times of the month where areas of a woman’s body may be more sensitive. When trying out new sexual things in the bedroom this should also be approached with sensitivity and gentleness.

If you as a wife need to move your husbands hands away for legitimate reasons – this should always be done in gentleness and with kind words to him that let him know your body still belongs to him, but this is just not the time and place.

Conclusion

Maybe your husband loves you dearly but he is simply not showing it in ways he did when you were first dating.  If he never tells you he loves you then maybe gently and respectfully approach this with him.  Don’t condemn him, and acknowledge that you know how hard it is for him as a man to verbally express his feelings – but you need to hear those magic words “I love you” and so will your kids.  Maybe he never compliments you what you cook or what you wear and you need to hear that.  Just gently let him know that little compliments will go a long way in making you feel loved.

But if your husband does tell you that he loves and does give you compliments but you want grander acts and words of affection because you are living in the past when you were first dated then it might be you that needs to make a change and accept how you husband shows you affection now verses how he showed you affection then.

Perhaps you realize that yes you are getting zero signs of affection from him and you are not doing those 5 things I mentioned earlier to generate affectionate love in your husband. If you are not then you need to get on it.

It’s may take some hard mental changes for you to do those 5 things.  But in the end it will be worth it when reap the affection that you have sown in your husband’s heart by doing these things.

“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” – II Corinthians 9:6 (KJV)