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Christian Counseling - It Takes Two, But One Will Do

If "It takes two to tango," it would seem reasonable that it takes two to save a marriage. Ultimately that is true, but one must understand there is a timetable for change. There are many things one person can do to make a difference.

It is unfortunate that numerous people don't get help for their seriously troubled marriage because they believe no one can help if only one partner cares or is willing to change. In the short run this is false thinking. It is incumbent on the caring partner who sees a problem(s) to do whatever he or she reasonably can to change the direction of the relationship, and that beyond what the individual can envision alone. That person needs understanding and ideas from friends, family and those experienced in helping couples.

Individual counseling (one person) can bring about significant martial change, if it is strategically-based. This means one person enters treatment to learn about himself or herself, the other partner, underlying or unseen problems that influence the marriage, and how to develop ideas that lead to marital change. In my experience, about 80% of uninvolved partners are willing to enter counseling after his or her partner starts. One reason for the reluctant partners' willingness is their awareness of their partner's seriousness due to having entered counseling. Another is they see changes in their partner as the result of counseling.

One aspect of the counseling process is learning and applying the art of unconditional love. This love is not a weak, passive love, but one that decisively and caringly asserts relational boundaries. For example, the tough love partner protects his or her good feelings for the marriage by refusing to participate in any thing that undermines those feelings, such as the other's unrelenting accusations or an unwillingness to admit contributing to the problems. In those cases, the loving partner immediately ends any inappropriate criticizing talks by walking away, while waiting as long as it takes for an apology. This means no other discussions are to take place until the apology is made, save an emergency. Eventually, the couple will begin a conversation about apologizing, providing the reluctant partner wants to preserve the marriage.

Even if the partner wants to end the relationship, there may still be hope. If you have not see the Christian-based movie "Fireproof" starring Kirk Cameron and Erin Bethea, I suggest you rent it or buy it. If you did see it, you know from the movie's storyline that one person can begin to turn a marriage around. And we know from scripture that nothing is impossible with God when we commit our ways to Him.

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