Fourth, call to accountability by establishing consequences. When skilled interventionists meet with an addict, such as an alcoholic, they present her with consequences if she refuses to get help. Consequences may come from family members, employers, church leaders, and others who either hold influence with the addict or have something she wants or needs. The principle is to motivate the addict to do something to salvage her life by establishing clearly that if she continues her current behavior she will lose things that matter to her. The same principle works in helping marriages. For example, some churches will remove members from their fellowship who divorce without what the church considers Biblical cause. Some parents communicate their love for their grown child, but clearly indicate that if he leaves his wife for another, they will not accept the new wife into their home. Within legal limits, a few Christian employers will terminate employees who leave their spouse for another, or who refuse to seek help before divorcing. If you think any of these sound extreme, remember that the purpose is not to punish but to deter the person from divorcing without first seeking valid assistance in hopes of healing their marriages. It is not mean or cruel to try to rescue. Actually, it is much crueler in the long term not to try to rescue.

Fifth, if your friends salvage their marriage and learn to love again, lead them to help other marriages in trouble. No one is more effective in helping marriages than those who have struggled through marriage problems themselves. After you help a couple get the assistance they need to heal their own relationship, boldly ask them to use their experience in two ways. First, to tell their story whenever appropriate to married couples who are not in trouble. As they tell their story, they will lead some couples who secretly are in trouble to talk about their problems. They will help others order their lives and marriages in ways that will prevent them from having major problems later. Second, to tell their story to married couples who are in trouble, and then to stay in contact with that couple in order to become the wise friend who leads them to the help they need. It is selfish, in my opinion, to find healing and not share that healing with others in ways that helps heal them.

If you wish us to assist you in getting a couple to the help they need, please call us toll free at 866-903-0990 or email us at

Joe Beam founded Beam Research Center, an organization that provides marriage help to hurting couples strengthen or save their marriage. Follow him on Facebook here.

Publication date: May 31, 2013