Do We Need Counseling? (Part II)
By Garrick Conner
If marriage were a car, yesterday’s devotional signaled a need to keep an eye under the hood. The issues we discuss today are more like your engine light blinking red: Get it into the shop (i.e., counselor’s office) ASAP.
1. Trust issues/infidelity
Trust is foundational. Does your spouse keep secrets from you? Are they jealous? Sneaky with social media? Have they cheated? Do they feel the need to control?
“Infidelity can be a sign of character issues such as selfishness, untrustworthiness, and lack of self-control that need to be addressed in order for it not to repeat,” explains counselor Paula Butterfield. “It can also be an indication of … avoidance and escaping as part of attachment and intimacy issues.”
2. Spiritual differences
I’ve counseled many people through the years who falsely assumed they could love their partner into becoming faithful or religious.
I cannot be any clearer: physical, emotional, or sexual abuse warrants an immediate need for help. The offending person promises it won’t happen again—until it does.
If you stay with an abusive spouse, you risk your safety and well-being, perhaps your life. You risk the safety and well-being of children and pets.
If you have any doubt about whether your situation is abusive, err on the side of caution. Get help.
Reach out to a pastor, counselor, abuse shelter, friend, lawyer, even the police.
But take action. Don’t stop until you find someone who listens and wants to help.
4. Addiction and mental health problems
“It’s just a little pot.” “I only drink to relax.” “Lots of people take Xanax.” “Porn doesn’t hurt anybody.”
Truth: God wants us to care for our bodies. That includes not abusing drugs: illegal, prescription, alcohol.
Addictions and compulsive behaviors present a wearisome whack-a-mole untamed by willpower, prayer, and promises to change.
The same can be said for mental-health issues. We’ll all likely experience some sort of mental-health problem during our lifetime. But serious or chronic mental illness requires much attention and can cause much pain.
Please. Get honest about struggles. Seek real, long-lasting help sooner rather than later.
The good stuff: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
Action points: When you’re honest, what stands out as the biggest “red flags” in your marriage—possibly areas you’ve been ignoring, rationalizing, or minimizing? Ask someone to hold you accountable for getting help—and perhaps call a counselor.
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