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Christian marriage counseling is any form of marriage counseling received by a couple from a counseling professional trained in Biblical principles of marriage. Counseling of this nature may take place at any point during marriage or may be obtained prior to marriage as part of the Sacrament of Marriage as set forth by the Catholic church. Typically, Christian marriage counseling differs from secular traditional forms of marriage counseling in that marriage is discussed as it relates to Biblical principles as opposed to secular view points.
The purpose of Christian marriage counseling is twofold. The first exists as a form of pre-marital counseling that a couple participates in for the purpose of being married. A minister or priest may discuss particular issues with the couple, including their personal statements of faith as well as the basic religious principles that apply to marriage. Depending on the church, this form of pre-marital counseling, sometimes called a pre-marital consultation, may be required in order for the ceremony to be performed in the church. Other churches have less strict rules and may offer the service only as requested by the couple.
In addition to pre-marriage counseling, Christian marriage counseling for the purpose of resolving marital problems is an option available to couples. The principles of Christian marriage counseling are mostly based on Biblical beliefs and the counselor’s interpretations of what the Bible says about marriage. These common beliefs are steeped in the traditional sense of marriage as defined between a man and a woman. Though some people feel the views may be antiquated, those couples who are interested in the role God plays in their marriage and their lives will often opt for this type of counseling over its secular counterpart.
Conversely, some Christian churches take a more modern view of marriage and equip their counselors with interpretations of the Bible that apply to modern-day life. In some views, the Biblical principles of marriage state that the man is the head of the house and is to be honored and obeyed, while others apply Bible principles that hinge on marital equality in a partnership before God. Some of the basic principles that apply across the board include monogamy, trust and prayer. Infidelity is viewed as a sin by the Christian definition.
For those couples who practice and observe the Christian religion, Christian marriage counseling is important because it deals with issues pertaining to marriage as well as their Christian faith. It can be easier to get to the heart of matters when couples of faith engage in counseling that takes their faith into consideration. However, it is possible to find Christian marriage counselors outside of the church. There are plenty of counselors who are licensed by the state in which they practice, but who have studied the Christian religion and even observe the Christian faith themselves.
If more secular marriage counselors would just emphasize the role of forgiveness in relationships, they would have more successes than failures. Christian counselors stress forgiveness and being kind to each other.
My cousin and her husband had a volatile marriage for a long time. Both are stubborn and apt to dig up old bones to throw at each other. They went to counseling, but it wasn't until they saw a Christian counselor, who broke their behavior down according to Biblical teaching that they saw any improvement. Suddenly, they saw their behavior was downright unchristian. They were faced with the truth that being married to each other didn't give them the right to treat each other like garbage. Seeing a Christian counselor was a real turning point for the better in their marriage.
It's kind of interesting how some concepts in Christian marriage counseling are way ahead of their secular counterparts. For instance, couples who are having trouble in their sexual relationship may be urged by a Christian counselor to be open and honest about their sexual needs, how they're not being met, etc.
Maybe 10 years ago, a secular counselor might have suggested the couple watch pornographic movies to spice up their sex lives and get them "in the mood." Now, even secular therapists are saying watching porn is a bad idea because it promotes unrealistic sexual and body type ideals and can be addictive. Christian counselors would have never recommended it to start with. So there you are.
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