When should Christian couples seek out marriage counseling? Are there reasons NOT to go to couples counseling? A lot of Christians today while believing there are many reasons TO attend couples counseling often reject the truth that there are many reasons NOT to go to couples counseling.
Individual counseling verses Couples counseling
Today there are two primary types marriage counseling. Most of the time counselors will strongly encourage couples counseling where the husband and wife sit together and talk about the issues they have with one another in front of a counselor. The couple will then hear the counselor’s perspective on their problems and how he thinks they can solve them.
Sometimes though when one of the spouses refuses to participate the counselor will reluctantly agree to do individual counseling with the spouse who is willing to seek counsel for their marriage.
Seeking counsel is Biblically wise
“A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels” – Proverbs 1:5 (KJV)
A wise person will realize they do not know everything and they will seek out wise people with strong Biblical foundations to offer them counsel.
A wise man will avoid unbiblical counseling and unbiblical counseling situations
“1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” – Psalm 1:1-2 (KJV)
When it comes to counseling there is unwise counsel and unwise counseling situations.
Unwise counsel would be counsel that deviates from the law of God and in regards to marriage counsel it is counseling that undermines or contradicts the Biblical design of marriage roles.
Unwise counseling situations could occur even when Biblically sound advice is being given. The right advice could be given in the wrong venue.
While it is wise to seek godly counsel based on the law of God – it is equally UNWISE for a Christian husband or wife to allow themselves to be in a counseling situation that undermines Biblical principles of marriage.
How modern marriage counseling often does more harm than good to marriage
As we have previously said, it is good to seek wise counsel but the truth is that most marriage counseling today does more harm to marriages than good. I realize this may come as a great offense to those who have made their career in the marriage counseling business, but this is the truth that stands before us.
Unfortunately from its very inception the modern marriage counseling movement even in Christian circles has done more to undermine the Biblical marriage model than to build it up.
Most marriage counseling (including Christian marriage counseling) approaches problems in a marriage from the unbiblical perspective that marriage is not a patriarchy, but rather a partnership of equals. It also approaches marriage from a very emotional and feminine point of view rather than the duty based view of marriage that the Bible presents.
The two most damaging aspects of modern marriage counseling
Modern marriage counseling enables wives to go around their husband’s authority
Wives have a Biblical duty to reverence and obey their husbands. In many ways the institution of modern marriage counseling gives wives the ability to “tell on their husbands”. A husband may make unwise financial decisions and many other decisions that his wife disagrees with. Instead of submitting to his decisions even though she feels they are unwise marriage counseling gives her a way to “set her husband straight”. In this way marriage counseling completely undermines the Spiritual leadership of the husband over his wife.
Our society is encouraging this kind of rebellion against authority not only in the home but in other areas as well.
Consider the fact that school teachers in times past were not be questioned – but now in most schools every time a student has a disagreement or feels they have been mistreated for the slightest of causes they can have the teacher brought into the principal’s office with their parents and questioned.
Even in the area of employment employers used to be the master of their domain – but now we encourage employees to question their manager’s decisions and treatment of them even and for the smallest of reasons employees can file grievances against their employers.
Our sin nature which is spurned on by the Devil himself hates authority. It despises authority.
Marriage counseling in this way allows and even encourages a wife to feel free to complain about her husband’s decisions and his treatment of her whenever she likes.
This leads to women not only questioning their husbands and criticizing them at the counselor’s office, but it continues long after leaving the counselors office in the home. Then as the children witness their mother’s rebellious ways toward their father they feel emboldened to rebel themselves against both their mother and their father.
Modern marriage counseling enables men to abdicate their duty to discipline their wives
Husbands have a Biblical duty to lead, teach and discipline their wives. Modern marriage counseling offers husbands a way out of this difficult task and lets them wrongly pass this role that God has assigned to them to a marriage counselor.
While there are some Biblical reasons a husband should seek out couples counseling that we will talk about later, most of the time the reasons that husbands seek out couples counseling are for unbiblical reasons.
In this way men bare some culpability in the havoc the marriage counseling often brings on marriages. They cooperated and agreed to go to counseling for wrong reasons or they themselves set up the appointment because they did not have the courage to discipline their wife and were seeking a marriage counselor to do what they should have done themselves.
Three Biblical Reasons why a husband and wife should seek couples counseling from a Biblical counselor
While most of the reasons today that couples seek marriage counseling are often for unbiblical reasons, this is not to say that there are not good and Biblical reasons for a husband and wife to seek out a Biblical counselor.
When a couple are engaged to be married it is good to seek counsel with their Pastor so that he can interview both of them to make sure they both understand and agree upon the Biblical roles of a husband and a wife.
When a spouse has sex outside of marriage
When a wife commits adultery or a husband is a whoremonger then a husband or wife should seek Biblical counsel to understand what God would have them to do.
When there is physical abuse
If there is a case of true physical abuse of one spouse against the other (or abuse of the children by one spouse) then they may need to inform the civil authorities if it is severe and they should also seek out a wise Biblical counselor.
Other reasons that a husband should seek out counseling for his marriage
To confirm his decisions in regard to his relationship with his wife
A wise husband and father will seek out individual counseling when he has doubts about his financial decisions, his parenting decisions and his treatment of his wife or any other disagreements his wife may have with him. He should seek out the counsel of wise men who will give him Biblical rather than worldly and emotional advice on all these matters. These individual counseling sessions if done with man who is Biblically grounded may very well give the husband a different perspective that might change his mind on an issue.
To use the counselor as a “witness” to behavior by his wife that is Biblical grounds for divorce
A husband should seek out a counselor as a “witness” to behavior by his wife that may be grounds for Biblical divorce. After this “witness” has tried to Biblically rebuke his wife then he will need to take her to the Pastor of his Church before exercising his right to divorce her on Biblical grounds.
Other reasons that a wife should seek counseling for her marriage
To seek counsel on being a godly wife
The Bible says that “aged women” should teach “young women” (Titus 2:3-4) how to be good wives and mothers. It is a wise woman who seeks the counsel of older and spiritually grounded women in how to be a good wife and mother. Also when a wife is having issues with her husband’s treatment of her as well as disagreements with his decisions in various areas an elder woman in the Lord can help her to continue loving, respecting and submitting to her husband in “a gentle and quite spirit” (I Peter 3:1-6) despite his character defects and wrong decisions and perhaps even his sinful behavior. Like the husband who seeks individual counseling from godly men, this woman who seeks the godly counsel of elder women in the Lord should keep her mind open to the fact that she may be wrong in her views toward the decisions and behavior of her husband.
To use the counselor as a “witness” to behavior by her husband that is Biblical grounds for divorce
A wife should seek out a counselor as a “witness” to behavior by her husband that may be grounds for Biblical divorce. After this “witness” has tried to Biblically rebuke her husband then she will need to take him to the Pastor of her Church before exercising her right to divorce him on Biblical grounds.
Christian husbands are not always right in their decisions or treatment of their wives and children. Husbands should seek out Biblical individual counsel from godly men to make sure their decisions are wise and their treatment of their wives are fair and just.
Christian wives are not always right in their disagreements with their husbands or treatment of their husbands and children. Wives should seek out Biblical individual counsel from godly women to make sure that they are reverencing, submitting to and loving their husbands in a right way. Even if a wife after Biblical counsel determines that her husband may be making wrong decisions or engaging in sinful behavior, unless this behavior is grounds for Biblical divorce she must give her husband over to the Lord and continue in her duties to him as his wife.