Q. My wife and I have some problems in our relationship which we need
I’ve joined a church and have found new purpose and meaning to life. My wife believes in God but she doesn’t understand my new found faith. We’ve had a few arguments over this. I’m hoping and praying we will grow together spiritually. We want to talk with a Christian counselor. We can’t afford to pay much for counseling but we don’t want to talk to a minister. Who could we talk to about these problems? What do you suggest?
A. The problems you raise are important ones. Many of us need or want counseling in relation to our spiritual questions and our spiritual growth. We feel a yearning toward God and an interest in deepening our faith. We also want to be able to share our faith with those closest to us.
Many of us also know we need individual or marital counseling yet we want to see a therapist who shares our faith. Talking with a therapist who has a similar world view is especially important if you want to explore spiritual issues. To do otherwise is like trying to communicate in two different languages. Some of the meaning might be understood but much would be lost in the translation.
This does not mean that a Christian counselor would impose their own views on clients. As with secular therapists, the treatment is guided by the client’s needs and wishes. However, in any therapy the counselor does have a bias. Our beliefs and opinions are transmitted often without any words.
Your experience with AA and your faith journey that resulted from this is a testimony to the value of that program in helping alcoholics recover. Often after sobriety is established there is need for marital counseling. Prior to that, problems were avoided or drowned in alcohol. You will need to learn to stay out of arguments with your wife - especially about spiritual issues. Arguments don’t solve anything. If you can’t control your feelings postpone talking with your wife until you are calm.
Use mirroring when you do talk. Mirroring involves repeating back a summary of what you heard her say before you give your opinion. She will listen to you when she feels you understand and respect her opinions. What you do speaks louder than what you say so live your new faith.
A professional counselor will help you address the issues you have raised. You will be free to explore your problems at your pace and according to your own needs. The counselor will not solve the problems for you but will help you find solutions that fit you both. In talking with the counselor you will come to a better understanding of each other and of your relationship.
To find a Christian counselor ask a pastor or call Christian counseling centers listed in your phone book. It is essential that you find a counselor who has a Christian worldview. There are also low cost Christian programs that can be very helpful for marriages including The Third Option, A Weekend to Remember and Marriage Encounter.
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you.” Proverbs 3:3