How Can I Ever Forgive? And Why Should I Anyhow?

“I’ll never forgive you for what you did to me!” Have you ever screamed that at someone or had it shrieked at you? Even now replaying the incident in your mind will send anger coursing through your veins. The scene is vivid and unforgivable. It should have never happened. The abuse. The affair. The betrayal. The loss.

I agree. It should have never happened.

Every week I hear stories of what should have never been. I work with clients sorting through the incomprehensible, the ridiculous, and the unbelievable in their lives. Trying to find sense and hope for broken dreams and shattered lives. Often in these early conversations, the topic of forgiveness is brought up by a client or their spouse. “I know I should forgive but it just hurts too badly. I don’t think I can ever do it.”


What about forgiveness? Where does it fit among the chaos of a shattered life?

It’s not the first thing on my mind as a therapist.First, I believe the story must be told and the heart tended to. What happened? Who did what to whom? The betrayed must have a full picture of the affair, the abuse or the loss so they can understand the magnitude of what it is that they are being asked to forgive. Forgive and forget is not an option. It doesn’t happen in the real world.  After weeks or months of grieving often the injured party wonders about forgiveness and then we begin the sincere conversation of what forgiveness really entails.

Often the pain of a situation is so intense that individuals will only be able to think, “Please stop the pain. I’ll do whatever it takes to make it stop.”  In their avoidance of pain, they blindly grant forgiveness before the offense is thoroughly uncovered and confessed. When this happens the process of healing is often short-circuited or even completely derailed. Bitterness and rage surface again when new details are uncovered.

What is forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a choice, a deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment, anger or revenge toward another who has harmed you. It is not a one-time event but rather a process lived out over time. Forgiveness is giving up your “right” to hurt the other person back.  You might make a decision to forgive but still struggle for some time with feelings of unforgiveness. This is normal and to be expected. Feelings do not heal quickly.


  • Is for you, NOT the person who hurt you
  • Has the power to set you free to move on with your life
  • Can often only be accomplished with God’s help
  • Sets you free from being the judge and jury and places that responsibility in the correct hands—Gods’
  • Brings a sense of freedom (eventually)!
  • Is often difficult to grant and takes months or years to live out
  • Is based on the amount we have been forgiven by God
  • Is something we need from others
  • Is what we need to grant to others at times

Myths about forgiveness

  • Forgive and forget
    • A grievous wrong done to you will never be forgotten but with forgiveness and time the pain of the memory will be less.
  • If I forgive I have to stay in relationship with . . . (my spouse, child, boss, abuser)
    • Forgiveness is NOT the same as reconciliation. No one should EVER stay in an abusive relationship.
    • Often new boundaries need to be set. (i.e. not welcome in your house or blocked on social media )
  • They will get off the hook for what they did. I need to be sure they are punished.
    • It may appear for a time that they got away with hurting you but ask yourself, who am I really hurting by replaying these situations every day in my head?
    • God says he will take vengeance for the wrongs done to me and I imagine he can do a better job than me. (Romans 12)
    • Forgiveness is an act of trusting God and His word as it is filled with speaking of His bringing justice.

What does the Bible say about forgiveness?

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matt 18:21-35)

Peter who was often quick-tempered and talked without thinking asked Jesus, “How many times do I have to forgive someone who wrongs me?” Jesus answered, “Seventy times seven.” I am sure Peter was taken back by that answer in which Jesus really indicated there was no limit to forgiveness.

In this parable, the King starts going through his books to see who owes him money. He realizes this guy owes him millions of dollars and calls in him to find out how he is going to pay it.

The man asks for mercy and tells him, “I promise I will pay you.” To which the King decides to release or FORGIVE the debt. He no longer owes anything! Wow…that was a great day! (I’d love to just have my mortgage forgiven!)

Then the very same man goes out and finds one of his fellow servants who owes him a few thousand dollars and demands the money.  The man begs for mercy and says, “I promise I will pay you.” Instead of granting mercy as had just been granted to him the man throws his fellow servant in jail until he can pay it all back. WOW!! Shocking!

Of course, the other servants are angered and tell the King, at which point the King calls the man back in and reinstates his debt. Why did Jesus tell this story?

Lessons learned from the Parable

We need to have a full accounting of what is owed us or what we owe another. The King looked at the books before rendering a decision.

For example, after an affair has been disclosed or discovered, the injured party has the right to know appropriate details about the affair. Whom was it with? Was it sexualized? Is it ongoing? Etc. A mediated disclosure usually helps the process to go smoother for everyone involved.

As we have been forgiven “millions” we should forgive our “fellow servants” (friends, family, spouse) their “thousands”.

The Scripture is clear that we must forgive to truly be forgiven. (Matthew 6:14-15, Ephesians 4:32) That being said, if someone is pressuring you to forgive “because the Bible says you should” they probably still have their own repentance work to do. Someone who is truly sorry for the pain they have caused will give you space to grieve and struggle with the pain of the situation before demanding that you forgive them.

Forgiveness is a necessary part of the healing process but must be put in its proper place after the story is told and the heart is tended to. Forgiveness will flow out of a restored heart but never can be demanded before a person is ready.

christian marriage therapyLooking for help? Join the 3,000+ families who have found the help they need by trusting the counselors of MyCounselor.Online. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $50-$155 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here for Christian Marriage Counseling 




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Broken Promises – What to do about an affair.

affair pic
Broken Promises:

What to Do When You Find That Your Spouse Has Had an Affair

It could be your worst nightmare to wake up one day and discover the love of your life had or is having an affair.  Your spouse having an affair might be something you saw coming.  For others it is a bomb dropped out of the blue.  Regardless of how you found out about the affair, it is PAINFUL.  To know your husband or wife was potentially touching, kissing, holding hands with, saying I love you to, or having sex with another person is devastating.  You may obsess over the details of what might have happened and at the same time not want to know any of the details at all.  It is possible you do not want to know what happened because knowing the details would make it even more painful. Or maybe you can’t stop thinking about what he or she did.  You might spend hours or even days checking phone records, Facebook messages, emails, credit card statements, text messages, etc to find out what happened.  These feelings, thoughts, and behaviors are so common.  To be betrayed in this way is devastating, so devastating you may not know where to start to pick up the pieces of your marriage or if you should even try.

Here are some of the common phrases I have heard from men and women who have discovered their partner had an affair:

  • How could this happen?
  • Was I not good enough sexually? Am I not attractive enough? Am I not romantic enough? Am I not skinny enough? Am I not witty enough?  Am I just boring?
  • What do I do now? Do I get a divorce? Separate? Work it out?
  • Who do I talk to about this? If anyone knew they would judge me or us?
  • This will ruin our reputation of being the “it” couple everyone views us as
  • What really happened?  Did they have sex? How often did they have sex? Where did they have sex? What positions? What was he or she wearing? Did they have sex with them the same day they had sex with me?
  • Does my spouse have an STD? Do I have an STD now?
  • What else has my spouse been lying about?
  • I need to find the person whom my spouse had the affair with and talk to them.  Maybe it will help me.

Couples who have experienced this type of pain have often shared the above statements with me and in desperation do not know where to start or where to turn to get help.  Affair recovery is challenging and therefore the following are some fundamental truths I have come to understand are essential for those who have been hurt by an affair to understand, so that they can heal in a HEALTHY way:

Healing Takes Time and Energy

Once you discover your spouse’s affair occurred you will mostly likely experience emotions many people experience when a traumatic event occurs.  These symptoms mirror what many people know as post-traumatic stress disorder.  It is common you will experience distressing recollections of finding out about the affair or images of what could have happened during the affair. This may be accompanied by distressing dreams about your spouse and the affair partner.  There may be times when you actually physically feel like or act like the events leading up to the affair or the discovery of the affair are happening in the present.  Also, you may experience intense psychological distress when exposed to objects and places that resemble aspects of your spouse’s affair.  These symptoms may scare or confuse both you and your spouse and may have an even more of a negative impact on your marriage or the situation.  These feelings and experiences are NORMAL in situations where affairs have occurred, but can make you feel alone and hopeless.  These types of flashbacks and symptoms require therapeutic assistance and care.

Wanting to move on quickly or sweep what happened under the rug in the name of forgiveness or not dwelling on it is unhealthy.  It is important to allow yourself to feel what has happened and to process through your pain over time.  Learning how to process through this pain may require help from a professional.

Imagine being shot in the chest on purpose by someone you love.  Would you expect the next day that you would be able to get up and walk around? Would you think that you could wake up the next morning and just let that person know it is okay they loaded a gun and shot you in the chest?  In the same way we cannot just “get over” an affair after someone has hurt our heart.  It will take time to nurse your own wound, as well as, it will take time to heal the relationship with the person who hurt you.  You have to allow it time to heal properly, so you can truly heal.  “Moving on” by putting it out of your mind and trying to forget about it is not a means of cleaning the wound.  It is similar to putting duck tape over a wound.  If you were to do this with a gunshot wound you would experience internal bleeding, infection, and possibly death.  Similarly, if you just glaze over your pain and do not allow yourself to deal with it you will end up hurting yourself more and possibly experiencing the death of the marriage.

Your pain will come out in angry outburst at work or at your children.  You may grow a silent bitterness towards your spouse if you decide to stay together that will continue to grow each year if it goes unchecked.  You may hurt yourself physically or have self-hating thoughts.  We must not avoid pain because in the end we will suffer more.  We must be willing to deal with the pain temporarily, so that we can heal and move forward. 


You Have Time To Make A Decision

Also, it is important to understand that making a quick decision during this time about staying together or getting a divorce may not be useful either.  Just like someone who has been shot in the chest will have a hard time making big decisions it is the same way for someone who has just learned that their spouse had an affair.  You will need to take time to assess the situation when you have healed in order to make a decision you feel good about.  It is important to take time to gain an understanding of what happened.  When you learn your spouse has just had an affair you may feel as though everyone is looking at you to see what decision you will make next.  You may feel like you are on some sort of timer to make a decision about your relationship today or tomorrow.  This is a FALSE sense of urgency.  You may have friends say to stick it out with your spouse or to leave him or her.  You may have your kids in mind and thinking about what they would want you to do. All of these factors make it difficult to make a decision.  Instead of being impulsive, take some time to think about the decision you want to make.  Allow yourself to hurt feel the pain, and process through it. After that begin to decide what you want to do.  Consult with people you trust who are not biased and seek professional help.


There is Right Way To Heal

Similar to cleaning out a gunshot wound there is a PROCESS FOR HEALING when an affair occurs during a marriage.  Putting duck tape over the wound may make the blood stop from oozing out of your for a few minutes, but will not heal the wound.  In the same way there is a process for helping couples and individuals to navigate through after effects of an affair, so that they can move on and have healthy, functional, and fulfilling lives moving forward.  Millions of people have experienced affairs.  Fortunately because of this, there are materials and trained professionals out there to help couples to navigate through the pain of affairs. You may feel as though you can make it through by yourself, but there is a better and more effective way to move past the pain.  Seeking professional help to assist you personally or to help you and spouse navigate through the pain may be essential in helping to heal.  A trained therapist will help you to recover from the affair and will help you to navigate through the trauma. They will help you to understand what happened and why.  Lastly, it will help you to make decisions where to go and what to do during each stage of recovery.  We have therapists in our office who specialize in affair recovery and can to help you navigate through this tough time in your marriage.

Your marriage matters to God and because of that it matters to me.   You do not have to walk alone through affair recovery and if you need help it is available to you.

Click here to make an appointment with someone who can help.

Resources: Helping couples get past the affair a clinician’s guide Baucom, Donald H., and Douglas K. Snyder. Guilford Press; 2009.


christian marriage therapyLooking for help? Join the 3,000+ families who have found the help they need by trusting the counselors of MyCounselor.Online. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $50-$155 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here for Christian Marriage Counseling

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Child-Centered Parenting, Peer Pressure, & Family Identity

child-centered parentingWhat is child-centered parenting?

Child-centered parenting occurs when the majority of activities within the house revolve around the children. It is a common phenomenon with marital consequences. Instead of children being welcome members to the family, they are the center of the family. Those beautiful children with dimples and cute smiles come between the two most important members of the family unit, the husband and wife. A solid husband and wife relationship creates security in the hearts of the children. The opposite is also true, fighting and friction between parents creates insecurity and fear of divorce in children.

Where does child-centered parenting come from?

Well-meaning parents swallow the cultural lie that children need to be “well-rounded”. To achieve the goal of “well-roundedness” parents sign their children up for every available activity: T-ball, dance, little league, swimming lessons, karate, writing lessons, riding lessons, taekwondo, music lessons, soccer, golf, etc.

It exhausts parents physically and financially. The possible children’s events today are endless (until you run out of money). So the big question—are activities BAD? Absolutely not. It is good for children to learn to swim, swing a bat, play an instrument and play cooperatively with others. So what is the problem then?

The Major Problems

Child-centered parenting breaks down the family unit. The parents become nothing more than taxis running their children from event to event often splitting up to attend separate events. Two more problems flow from this:

The Loss of the Marriage Relationship

Experts tell us that “empty-nest” is the time of the highest divorce rate in America. Why? I believe one cause is child-centered parenting. Parents become enamored with their children’s success in a variety of arenas and take little to no time for themselves or each other. Finding themselves alone after the last child has gone to college; spouses don’t even know what to say to each other. When the nights stretch endlessly without a child’s game to attend or a play to applaud, husbands and wives watch TV during dinner and wonder who it is they are sitting in the room with.

If you are married and reading this article, when is the last time you took your spouse on a planned date? If it’s more than two weeks ago, you might be curious about why. As a marriage therapist, I often hear a variety of reasons for spouses not dating such as lack of money, time, and similar interests? Just wondering if those reasons stopped you BEFORE marriage? Ouch!

The Loss of Family Identity

What is family identity? It is the proud feeling that “we” are a unit. We love and support one another. We have fun together. We play games. We work hard. We as parents train and pass on our values to our children. It is during all of these “we” times that family identity is built. A wise person once said, “Peer pressure is only as strong as family identity is weak.” Family identity is essential to protecting your children from the pressure to be involved in activities outside of your family’s value system.

Family identity cannot be built without TIME. School-age children are away from their home 40+ hours per week. During this time, another person(s) is placing their values in your children. Then if you add 2 – 3 nights of sports, music or dance, one might wonder where you will find the time to train your children in your values or honestly just have fun with them. Home school parents are NOT exempt just because having your kids are in your home all day makes it even easier to be child-centered and not prioritize your spouse or marriage! (Just ask me, I lived it!)

Signs of child-centered parenting:
  • Infrequent or no dating by parents
  • Exhausted parents and anxious children
  • Little conversation about anything except the children’s events
  • Parents’ conversations are often and usually interrupted by children
  • Husband or wife would rather spend time with the children than their spouse
  • Needs of spouse are less important than the needs of the child
  • One or both spouses receive their emotional support from the kids instead of the spouse
  • Difficulty getting normal chores finished around the house

IF CHILD-CENTERED PARENTING sounds AWFUL–What is the answer?

The answer is SIMPLE but NOT easy.  Adjust your beliefs; adjust your actions.

Adjust your beliefs:

Although the marriage relationship is more work, your relationship with your spouse is more rewarding than your relationship with your children. OK…I can hear some of you laughing out loud right now and saying, “You certainly don’t know my spouse!”

Well…if it is not more rewarding right now maybe it is because your spouse is last on your list. [PAUSE AND BE CURIOUS] Could it be that there is never money left after the children’s events for dates, special gifts, cards, and other items that show that you care? Or you are just too exhausted at the end of the kid’s events for a great sexual encounter?

Adjust your actions:

  • Call your spouse right now and ask them out on a date. [PAUSE] Seriously, do NOT read any further before making that call.
  • Spend the first 15 minutes after work with your spouse asking about their day. Train the children not to interrupt. Find special activities for the children during this important time.
  • Scale the children’s activities back for the next season to one extra-curricular activity per child.
  • Tell your children that your spouse is more important than them because you are planning to be married WAY after the children have moved out!
  • At all times, honor your spouse in speech and action but especially IN FRONT of your children.

My desire is that your family love and honor one another. If you have any trouble adjusting your beliefs or actions, come for a season of family or marriage counseling. I would be honored to help your family have amazing relationships!

christian marriage therapyLooking for help? Join the 3,000+ families who have found the help they need by trusting the counselors of MyCounselor.Online. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $50-$155 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here for Christian Marriage Counseling

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How Fear Makes You Selfish


Couple Fighting

We live in a day and age where if you have a good reason for what you are doing, especially if it involves your own hurt or fear, it’s okay.  The sensitive thing for others to do is to try to really understand where you are coming from.  If they do, what you have done will make sense and not be harmful.  If they don’t make efforts to “understand” you or don’t agree with your actions, they are judgmental.

In practice, operating this way in relationship is like swinging a sledge hammer at the people around you and then being upset when they complain about you hurting them.  After all, if you weren’t so afraid, you wouldn’t need to swing a hammer at them to begin with.  It’s called lashing out from the victim position, and it’s a prime example of selfishness driven by fear in relationship.  Let’s take a look at an example of a couple dealing with this problem.

Setting: Marital therapy session. Jim and Sarah have come to counseling to sort through a variety of relational issues.  Today, Jim has come in really upset. He doesn’t believe Sarah is making the relationship a priority and it is consuming his thoughts.

Jim:  I am only upset because she is not spending enough time with me and the kids.  I mean, I am her husband, we are supposed to have a relationship!

Therapist: Okay Jim, sounds like you are really bothered by this.  Why don’t you tell me about what happened that got you thinking about this problem.

Jim:  It’s not what happened, it’s what keeps happening!  Sarah does what Sarah wants to do, that’s it!  She doesn’t think of me or our children.  I have sought help from trusted friends and our pastor to see if I am out of line, and they all agree she is hurting the relationship.

Sarah (As Jim talks, she sits quietly, not making eye contact.  She looks sad and like she does not agree, but doesn’t dare challenge him.  After all, last time she took that chance, he made her pay by lecturing her about it for an hour and then not talking to her for the next 3 days.  The kids kept asking her what was wrong with dad.)

Therapist:  Jim, I really want to be able to understand where you are at, but when you speak in generalities it’s hard to do that.  Could you tell me about a specific time recently where this has occurred?

Jim: Sure, that’s easy.  About three months ago, she was talking to some of her girlfriends at church about our marriage.  Sarah calls it getting support, but I call it gossip.  She tells them about problems we are having and makes me look like a bad guy!

Sarah; (speaks up for the first time): I told them we were having issues, not you specifically.  I told them I knew I was a part of what wasn’t working.

Jim: (continues talking as if he has not heard Sarah):  With these women knowing about our stuff, I feel judged all the time.  I told Sarah how badly this hurts me, but she simply doesn’t care!

Therapist: Jim I am curious how you know what your wife is feeling? Can you read her mind?

Jim (annoyed ): It’s obvious.  She isn’t changing.

Therapist: What is it she is supposed to change?

Jim:  I told her I want us to associate with a different group of friends.  We go to a large church and there are a lot of great people to connect with.  It shouldn’t be an issue for her to set some healthy boundaries with those women and move on.  It is time she decided whether her husband is a priority or these friends! (Jim ends his statement triumphantly, sounding like a man who has made a definitive argument, invulnerable to challenge).

Therapist: Jim, I wonder, do you think Sarah feels cared for right now?

Jim: (taken aback by the question): What?

Therapist: Do you think Sarah feels like you care about her right now?

Jim: I love her, she knows that.

Therapist: That wasn’t my question, Jim.  I am not asking you if you love her.  I am asking if you think she feels cared for right now.

Jim: I guess so . . .  I mean I hope so.

Therapist: Sarah, I am curious if, while Jim has been talking, if you have felt cared for?

Sarah: (Tears forming in her eyes): No, no. . .

Therapist: Jim, that sounds like a real problem to me.

Jim: Well, you asked me what is bothering me, and I told you.  I guess I should just keep it to myself.

Therapist: No, Jim, that sounds like a terrible option.  Instead, I think we need to define this problem better.  What are you afraid of in this situation?  What ultimately causes you discomfort?

Jim: Well, two things I guess.  First, I am afraid of what others will think of me.  Those women probably look down on me and I just can’t stand the thought of that.  Second, my wife is choosing her friends over me.

Therapist: I like that you have identified your fear of how others will think of you.  However, that second statement about your wife choosing her friends over you, I am not sure that’s true.  It’s the story you are telling yourself about what is going on.

Jim: Then what am I afraid of?

Therapist: Jim, I don’t want to disrespect you by assuming I can read your mind, so I will just give my best guess.  I think you might be fearful of what others would know about you because you have shame about yourself.  To deal with this, you try and control very carefully what others know about you and Sarah broke the rules.

Jim: What rules?

Therapist: She is not supposed to tell others things you do not want them to know.  Unfortunately, she has and you have to do damage control.  To help you not feel your own fear and discomfort, you want her to distance herself from her friends.  She doesn’t want to do that, so you set it up as a choice between you or them.  It plays into your hand because she can either choose you and leave her friends or be a wife who is not really committed to her marriage and family.

Jim: Wow.  That sounds really bad.

Therapist: Yes.  Does it sound crazy or far fetched?

Jim: (looking a bit sheepish): No, not really.

Therapist: How would you describe what you are doing?

Jim: It’s really manipulative & selfish.

Therapist: Bingo.

Was that painful to read?  Every time I sit with a couple like this, my heart hurts for the “Sarah” in the room.  It’s critical the fear of the partner be exposed, along with his selfish means of dealing with it.  My experience is sinful behavior often has roots in people’s fear. It’s why people feel justified in what they are saying and doing to their spouse. After all, if others understood what they have to deal with, what they are doing to their spouse will be seen as reasonable.

It isn’t.  It never is.  We must all learn to keep close watch on our own fears, turning them over to the Lord regularly. Failure to do this makes sin attractive, as it offers a corrupt solution to our problem. The sin response is to focus on our fear and the intentions we have, while ignoring the other person’s heart.

In other words, people spend all their time explaining and justifying their destructive actions while never acknowledging the impact on others of what they are doing. It’s especially devastating in the context of a marriage or family. We are all faced with the problem of fear and have a choice about what we will do with itChoose well.

If you or someone you know is struggling with fear, there is help. At The Relationship Center, we have skilled counselors experienced in helping.

christian marriage therapyLooking for help? Join the 3,000+ families who have found the help they need by trusting the counselors of MyCounselor.Online. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $50-$155 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here for Christian Marriage Counseling
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How to Forgive Your Husband

forgiveFor if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your heavenly Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:14-15, New American Standard Bible).

Forgiveness is imperative in relationship with others. Not only will you need to forgive others, you will also need to ask forgiveness of others. Marriage is the one relationship in your life that has the greatest potential for growth. With this great potential for growth, there is also a possibility for hurt. Therefore, forgiveness is an essential part of the marital relationship, but as we all know, it is easier said than done. So, how does a wife work toward true forgiveness of her husband?

Recall the Hurt

Some of you reading this may ask, “Why do I need to recall the hurt? I already know how he has hurt me.” Recalling the hurt is not simply remembering what happened to cause the pain.  For some of you, there may be many instances where you have been hurt by your husband. With so many hurtful events, it may seem overwhelming to forgive him. Therefore, it is easier to identify specific events where you felt hurt (Worthington, 2003).

For example, on many occasions your husband has not supported your agreed upon parenting styles in front of his mother. While there are many times this has happened, it is important to visualize a specific, or more than one specific, example to this hurt. One specific example might be last Christmas, where your husband gave into your son’s tantrum.  In thinking about this example, you would remember the time you and your husband spent discussing that you would no longer give into your three year old’s temper tantrums. When your son has a tantrum, he is sent to time out. You both agreed upon this. Then, on Christmas morning when your son throws himself on the ground because he has to wait to open presents, your husband allows your son to open his presents because your mother-in-law insists that her grandchild means no harm.

Another aspect of recalling the hurt involves identifying and releasing the emotions you felt during the hurt (Worthington, 2003). You may have felt or still feel helpless, anger, fear, sadness, or betrayal (Worthington, 2003). This is not an exhaustive list, so there may be many more emotions you likely experienced when you were hurt. It is imperative to acknowledge these emotions and have a healthy outlet for releasing them:

  • Writing about them in a private journal
  • Doing crafts
  • Punching a pillow or punching bag
  • Talking with a trusted friend


Empathize…you may be thinking, “There is no way I am empathizing with him! He cannot understand my side, so why I should I empathize with him?” To empathize with your husband does not mean you are condoning what he did. The refusal of empathy is a form of revenge and the protection it offers is only an illusion. Empathy does not make us vulnerable; it helps us exercise wisdom. Empathy is about understanding. To understand does not make someone vulnerable. You only become vulnerable when you give up your ability to make your own decisions.

The purpose of this step is to help you understand what he was thinking and to take him out of the “villain” role. The act of putting your husband in the villain role involves removing or discarding evidence that supports why he acted the way he did.  When you see your husband as a villain, he cannot do anything right. When we put someone in a villain role we put ourselves in the victim role (Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzler, 2012).  Genuinely ask yourself, are you truly a victim here? In most situations, the answer is no.

In order to have empathy with your husband, it may be helpful to write an apology letter as if you were your husband (Worthington, 2003). You would write the letter as if it were your husband explaining why he hurt you and asking for an apology.

Let’s go back to the example listed earlier about your husband not supporting you in front of his mother. If you think about the situation from your husband’s perspective, he may not have supported you because he wanted to please his mom. He may have been trying to live up to the standards that his mom has for him. While this does not make his actions right or justify them, it does give understanding, which is the purpose of this exercise.

It is important to note, this is just your opinion of his side of the story. It does not have to be correct; the importance of this step is to understand how the situation looks different compared to your own point of view.

Altruistic Gift of Forgiveness

Can you think of a time when someone forgave you? What about a time when you did not ask for forgiveness or feel you deserved it? When you think of times you have been forgiven, you probably feel grateful and relieved (Worthington, 2003). It can be helpful to think of forgiveness as a gift you give to your husband whether you feel he deserves it or not. Another word we can use is grace. Think about the grace given daily by our heavenly Father. We do not deserve it, but we are so thankful for this grace.

Three parts are important to giving the gift of forgiveness: guilt, gratitude, and gift (Worthington, 2003, pp. 121-122).

  1. Remember the guilt you experienced when you felt you had wronged someone and needed their forgiveness.
  2. When that person gave you forgiveness you did not deserve, can you remember the gratitude you felt (Worthington, 2003)?
  3. It may have felt like an incredible gift of which you did not deserve, also known as grace.

Commit Publicly To Forgive

You know when you make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, go to the gym, or start a diet, and within a week you are back to your old ways? Many times, you find that these resolutions are more successful when you tell someone about it who can support you. With forgiveness, it is necessary to tell your husband or write a certificate of forgiveness in order to commit to the forgiveness (Worthington, 2003). Expressing forgiveness in an outward way will help you hold on to your forgiveness, we will talk about this in the next section.

Publically committing to forgive does not mean that you have to forget or ignore the emotions that went along with the hurt. It means you have let that hurtful action go, and you will no longer hold the hurtful action over your husband’s head. It is giving up your desire or right to hurt back. Forgiveness is about you, not him or his response. Forgiveness is not trust.

Hold on to Forgiveness

You may question yourself on how you know if you really have forgiven your husband. Or how do you not allow other hurts to cloud your forgiveness of your husband? It is important to hold on to forgiveness in order not to allow grievances from the past to continue to control your relationship with your husband. The act of holding onto forgiveness is also important in remembering to give your husband grace for his mistakes. Five ways to hold on to forgiveness include (Worthington, 2003, p. 149):

  1. The emotions that you experience from remembering the hurt does not mean you have not forgiven.
  2. Do not let negative emotions control you.
  3. Tell yourself that you have forgiven your husband.
  4. If you spoke to a trusted friend, it may be helpful to ask for support.
  5. Review the journaling or certificate of forgiveness you created.

The five steps above are part of the REACH model of forgiveness developed by Christian psychologist Everett Worthington (Worthington, 2003).

If you or someone you know is struggling with forgiveness, please contact The Relationship Center. We have professional counselors who can help.


Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2012). Master my stories: How to stay in dialogue when you’re angry, scared, or hurt. In Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when the stakes are high (pp. 103-130). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Worthington, E. L. (2003). Forgiving and reconciling: Bridges to wholeness and Hope. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

christian marriage therapyLooking for help? Join the 3,000+ families who have found the help they need by trusting the counselors of MyCounselor.Online. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $50-$155 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here for Christian Marriage Counseling
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Husbands, Love Your Wife

loveWant to know how to love your wife? I’ll show you how. It’s not as hard as you might think. The number one thing you need to know is…LISTEN TO HER!

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:25-33

In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hates their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of His body.  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.  However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Husbands, Love Your Wife. . . Listen to Her!

The number one way, time and time again, women say they need to feel loved is by being listened to.  Women who feel unheard also feel unloved, and not loving your wife isn’t an option.  Let’s face it, as men, we come hard wired to view communication in a very utilitarian way.  Guys talk when they have something to say, and usually the something to be said is part of accomplishing a specific task.

John calls his friend to ask him if he has a specific tool for a home improvement project and to see whether or not he has any pointers.  The two men exchange information quickly and efficiently.  Then the call is over.  If John doesn’t call his friend for a few weeks, the man does not wonder if John no longer cares about him.  Instead, if asked about the lack of communication, these men would simply remind the questioner there was nothing needing to be said.

In fact, there is an unwritten code among guys, if another man calls me, saying he was just thinking about me and wanted to talk, I am allowed to punch him in the face.

Not so with our wives.  She needs closeness in relationship with us and feels distant when we have not connected verbally.  Obeying the command of Scripture to love your wife requires men to learn to listen.  You will never lead your home if you cannot listen.  In fact, a huge amount of the stress and hardship I see in my office every week could be prevented if men could master a few simple listening skills:

1st– Body Language Basics:

Men, you communicate your affection and attention with your physical presentation.  It doesn’t matter how many times you tell your wife you are listening if your body language says you aren’t.

How NOT to Listen1. Turn to face her, not just your head – although that is a good start – but the rest of your body as well. When you are into something: watching football, working on a project, or playing a video game, your body is turned towards the activity, reflecting your focus. Do the same for her.

2. Look her in the eyes. The number one complaint I hear as a therapist from women is, “He won’t look me in the eye.” When I say look her in the eye, don’t stare at her, unblinking. Look at her naturally, expressing your intent and desire to hear her.  If she doesn’t have your eyes, you don’t have her heart.

3. Keep your arms open, not crossed or closed.  This communicates being receptive to what she is telling you.

2nd– Think Crock Pot, Not Microwave:

We are all busy and have a lot on our plates.  There are far more demands on your time than you can meet.  What this means, is you are going to have to intentionally schedule time to talk with your wife.  This time needs to be more than the five minutes before you fall asleep after another busy day or the commercial breaks during the big game.

When husbands don’t take time, they engage in what we call attempting to microwave relationship.  They are hoping to accomplish creating a deep and fulfilling relationship with their wife in the time it takes to microwave popcorn.  What is even more interesting is their upset when their wife calls them out on it.  Husbands will spin her astute observations into an attack, telling her she is critical and doesn’t appreciate his efforts.

When guys do this in my office, I call them on it “It’s not her fault for noticing you are being a bonehead, you married an intelligent woman.”  Take time with your wife, showing her she is important.  Doing so will communicate your love and allow listening to be possible.

Men resist me on this one, saying they are too busy or it’s unrealistic. However, I have never had a man who tries it ever tell me they regretted the decision.  Trust me, taking time to listen to your wife is the most efficient, time effective way to deal with and prevent problems. 

3rd– Say Something, Stupid!

If you have managed the first two, let’s up the ante still further.  Now it’s time to add to the conversation, actively letting her know you are listening and interested in what she is saying.  We are going to use two simple techniques her:.

  1. Check in with her by putting what she is saying in your words, giving it back to her, and asking if you are hearing this correctly.  Use a simple phrase like, “Is that what I hear you saying,” or “Is that what you mean?”  You are showing your interest in both what she is saying and your intent on hearing it correctly.  This is different than sitting quietly, staring at her, hoping she is happy.  I listen to people professionally and check in with people this way all the time.  Why? Because I can’t read minds, but I can ask questions.
  2. Make statements letting her know you care about what she is telling you.  It’s one thing for her to tell you about a problem, it is quite another for her to know you care deeply.  Here are some suggestions, “Thank you for sharing that,”  “What you are feeling really matters to me”, or “I appreciate the chance to hear your heart.”   WARNING: never say the words “I understand.”  Your job is to help your wife feel listened to.  If she comes to the conclusion you understand, that is fine, it’s her call, don’t make that jump yourself.

4th– Listening Does Not Require You to Agree With Her:

Let’s take an unnecessary burden off of your shoulders.  You can do all of the above without agreeing with your wife.  How is that possible?  Everything mentioned above is for the purpose of actively listening to your wife.  Hearing her and caring about where she is, is simply that, hearing and caring.  You are loving her if you do.  It does not mean you have to agree with her perspective, thoughts, or decisions.  Don’t worry about your listening being a form of agreement.  It isn’t.

God placed the mantel of leading the home squarely on your shoulders.  Leading your wife means loving your wife.  Loving her requires you listen to her.  Single men, if you don’t want this responsibility, don’t get married or be in a relationship.  Married men and men who want to be in relationship, practice the things listed above.   They are not genetically inherited, they are learned.


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When we, as women, hear the phrase, “wives, submit”, we cringe. We, in our women empowerment movement, twitch and our skin crawls at the idea of ‘submitting’ to someone else – especially when that someone else is supposed to be our partner!

We are strong, we are capable, we are able to accomplish whatever it may be that is before us. We don’t need to submit to our spouse. This whole idea of submission is so outdated. Past tense. “Old Testament” if you will.
We are, if nothing else, a team. EqualsPrecisely.Wives, Submit
Girls, that is EXACTLY what God had in mind when he created us. To be a part of a team with our spouse. That is God’s heart for our marriages. Within that system, God has called us women to godly submission to our husbands, just as God has called husbands to love their wives.

What Submission is not:

Let’s get this out of the way real quick.
Submitting to your spouse is NOT:

  • Allowing him to lord over you like an untamed dictator.
  • Having your strings pulled by your spouse for compliance.
  • The idea of submission is not to every man – your spouse only.
  • Does not and should not produce lop-sided relationships.
  • A dig nor is it a blow to your integrity.

What Submission is:

Conceding to the idea of your husband being a leader in the home

What?!? Didn’t we just establish that this was not going to be the case? Hang on, ladies. This is different than your husband being the boss over you. This is allowing your husband to lead the home as God leads him. If you think about it, it’s a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. This shows up typically in major decisions for the family:

  • Large purchases
  • Family decisions
  • Job decisions
  • Family concerns

Wives, you should still absolutely be a part of the discussions!! Your voice matters and it is valid. Remember though, just because you go through this, doesn’t mean you two will always agree. Coming to the same conclusion is not the goal here. But learning to trust your husband beyond what you can see is the idea of submission. This speaks loud volumes of love to your husband. It says “I trust you enough to support you in this decision in leading our family.” It’s exactly what Jesus wants us to do with him.

Submission builds confidence

When we submit to our husband, confidence is built. It’s built in our spouse when he sees how we trust him. We become more confident in our marriage as it becomes a place of trust and safety. We become more confident in our relationship with Jesus as He is ultimately the one we submit to and by submitting to our spouse, we are indeed, submitting to our God.

We become more confident in ourselves as we look to submit and serve our spouse. Confident in our ability to not only survive but thrive in an environment where we are not completely in control but instead relinquishing leadership to our spouse.

Submission builds trust

When we are committed to submitting to our husbands, it speaks loud volumes that we trust him. We are trusting him to make the best decision for our marriage and our family. Remember though, submission does not demand perfection.

Just because we are trusting our husbands to make the best decisions, doesn’t mean he’ll never make a mistake. He’s not God. He’s only human. And when we continue to submit to him, to trust our spouse, our lives yell, “I trust you have our best interest in mind!” This leaves our husbands with confidence to try again.

Submission creates an environment of security for children

When we willingly and joyfully submit to our husbands, we show our children in word and in deed that it’s ok to trust daddy. That dad’s best intentions are for the well-being of our family. A standard is created for them to carry into their own relationship someday. One in which the girls will look for a leader in a spouse and the boys will be a leader in their home.

The idea of ‘submitting’ to our spouse is scary. The very word make most cringe. It is scary to trust someone else. To trust that they have the best intentions for our family. Sometimes it doesn’t always feel this way – but that’s ok. We are not called by God to demand perfection from our spouse.

We are called to trust our spouse’s leadership with an understanding that he’s human and will make mistakes. Love him by being gracious and finding the best in the situation. Hopefully it can be something that you’ll both laugh at in the future!

For further growth in this area, check out Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend and Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs.

christian marriage therapyLooking for help? Join the 3,000+ families who have found the help they need by trusting the counselors of MyCounselor.Online. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $50-$155 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here for Christian Marriage Counseling

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Overcoming Sexual Barriers in Marriage

Sexual BarriersWhat does a couple do when the bedroom has lost its sizzle? They do what some of you reading this article just did…GOOGLE… “Why isn’t my sex life working?” or some similar topic. I imagine you are reading this article because you or your partner is disappointed about the sexual aspect of your marriage.

Sex is not turning out like your friends, TV, the movies, or even a previous relationship predicted.

What now?

There are three categories of sexual problems: physical, relational, and a combination of the two.

Examples of physical issues:

  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Female Sexual Pain
  • Loss of desire

Examples of relational issues:

  • One partner having/had an affair and the other cannot think about resuming sexually
  • Sexual aversion due to an abusive situation either currently or from the past
  • Relationship conflict that damages safety and respect

Combination issues (more likely):

  • A young couple cannot have intercourse on their wedding night because of a small vaginal opening resulting in sex being linked with pain. Sexual aversion then develops for one or both partners because the pain during sex is not pleasant.
  • Low desire may be triggered at any stage of marital life for a variety of reasons. However, if the lines of communication are not open about sex, the higher desire spouse feels rejected leading to demand for more sex or withdrawal from the relationship—either approach leading to less intimacy.

Sexuality is one of the most openly discussed topics on TV and the news and yet I find that most couples cannot even say the words penis, vagina, and orgasm as it relates to their personal sex life without it becoming a threatening, scary conversation. A sexual conversation needs to be held fully clothed when you are ready to try it!

Treatment for overcoming sexual barriers in marriage depends on the length of time the problem has existed and the severity of the after-effects on the relationship. Treatment differs between the 70 year-old loving couple who wants to resume sexual intercourse after the narrowing of the vaginal walls and the couple who blames each other for sexual issues and threatens divorce if their partner doesn’t get it together sexually.

Normally a couple struggling with sexual intimacy must put the issue “on hold” for a season, quit blaming each other, learn to communicate, care for their own heart effectively, and eventually learn to love their spouse again.

Often instead of learning to love, spouses try two less effective ways of change:

  1. They try to change their spouse. This is not effective for obvious reasons. No one likes the feeling of being judged or controlled and no one can actually change another human being except him or herself.
  2. They try to serve their spouse more. “If I were just more loving, he/she would change.” On the surface, it appears a better option. However, when the loving actions are not reciprocated, it often leads to bitterness and resentment—neither of which provide a great foundation for awesome sexuality. There are more effective ways to increase sexual intimacy.


Instead of the above options, couples need to commit to working on the problem together as a team. Effective teamwork starts with clear communication. Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson is a great book for learning how to have difficult conversations effectively. Another option might be The DNA of Relationships by Gary Smalley which contains an effective communication tool called Heart Talk.

However, just reading books will not change anything; you must take the concepts and practice them. This is where a good marriage therapist and a group of trusted friends would be a great asset.


Once the relationship is stable and there are no threats of divorce, affairs, and when the name calling stops, the relationship will truly be a safe place.  After gaining relational stability, then it is time to look at each person’s individual sexual history. Perhaps there are beliefs or events from your personal past keeping you stuck in an ongoing cycle of hurts and disappointment in the bedroom.

A great resource for exploring beliefs around sexuality is The Sexual Healing Journey by Wendy Malz. If there is sexual abuse in your background (which is defined as any time someone made you feel uncomfortable in an unwanted sexual manner) you made need to get some professional help to heal.


Lastly, it is time to look at the couples’ sexual relationship. Making time for sexual conversation and activity is critical. The number one reason women do not have intercourse more often is because of fatigue. You cannot heal a broken sexual relationship without time (or any relationship issues for that matter!)

Many factors lead to married people feeling like roommates instead of passionate lovers. Among the ones, I hear the most are busyness, child-centered parenting, negative beliefs about sex, past abuse, and TV/electronics in the bedroom. Honestly, I think a ban on all cell phone, tablet and TV use after 9 PM would lead to an increase in sexual frequency. (OK, I will get off my soapbox now!)

As a licensed professional counselor specializing in marriage and sex therapy, my goal is to help couples connect in a deep, satisfying way both relationally and sexually. I wish you the best in your efforts to reconnect! Email me and let me know how you are doing – I care!

christian marriage therapyLooking for help? Join the 3,000+ families who have found the help they need by trusting the counselors of MyCounselor.Online. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $50-$155 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here for Christian Marriage Counseling

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Let’s Talk About Sex: Part I

Let’s Talk About Sex

And How Our Views About It Impact Our Lives

Part One

Lets talk about sexPhoto taken by Moyan Brenn

The following few blog posts I write I am going to discuss and talk about the different ways in which we view sex today. I will address where some of our misconceptions draw from and how they radically impact the way we think and act. Then in my last post we will highlight and discuss the ways that God designed for us think about sex.

Taking some time to think about, how you think about the word, S-E-X is way more important to do than you could ever imagine. It is imperative that we understand where our views of sex come from, so that we can obliterate and destroy the LIES that pervade our minds and hearts today.

Satan’s desire is for us to be held captive by his warped teachings about sex, so that we may never see or understand or be able to enjoy what God’s design was for it to begin with! In this post we are going to discuss where one of our largest misconceptions can come from:


You probably did not think this would be my first answer, but it is very true that sometimes God’s kingdom unintentionally inhibits how we view sex. This is because there is frequently not any discussion about sex outside of the  SEX IS SINFUL” concept in or at church.

This is true amongst married people, but even more, true amongst single people. There is most commonly no healthy dialogue about what sex is and what God intended it for. In hopes to prevent people from behaving in out of marriage sexual behavior the mainstream thought is that unless it is discussed in a negative light it should not be discussed at all. In the book, “Restoring the Pleasure” by Clifford & Joyce Penner state,

Regardless of religious orientation, the religiously inhibited falsely connect sexual pleasure with sin. Because of this false connection, the believer has difficulty enjoying sexual feelings, even though they occur within the sanctified married relationship,” (41-42).

The Penner’s highlight in their book how the lack of talk about sex in the church and what God intended it for has dramatically impacted the way people who are currently married who are supposed to be having sex, view it.

Some couples I have done therapy with and others I have worked with personally in my ministry experience frequently have these common complaints:

1.) That they have no sexual desire anymore.

This is common with those who prior to becoming a Christian experienced strong sexual desire and promiscuously acted out.

They complain that once they became Christians and then got married that they did not experience the same sexual desire or excitement they felt prior to becoming a Christian. They train their minds to associate sex being bad.

2.) That sex seems boring, dirty, sinful, and disgusting.

This is common amongst those who grew up going to church. When sex was talked about it was highlighted as being all of the above. There was not any discussion about what sex was and what it was for in God’s eyes. It was the taboo subject in church that no on talked about. Therefore, once these men or women got married their desire and drive was not there because of these negative thoughts about sex.

These common complaints highlight how sometimes the religious rigidity of our world inhibits us from being able to talk about and view sex in the way God designed it to be. SEX IS GOOD, in the confines of the right context. If we are going to talk about sex we should be doing it in the church. The world will teach our children and us about sex if we are not willing to talk about it.

How Can We Talk & Think About Sex in a Godly Manner?

In general: Take some time to think about how your views of sex from church impact your view of sex today?

-Keep a journal and jot down thoughts you have about sex and where they came from. Sometimes becoming aware of where our thoughts originate from is the first step in preventing those thoughts from ruling our minds.

If you are single: Separate temptation from sin.

The sexual desire or feelings you have were designed by God and are good. The Penners’ write, “Learning to accept sexual feelings while making decisions that control sexual actions is an important task…that if successfully mastered, leads to the adult guilt free unrepressed sexual expression in marriage” (p. 71).

The desire and the temptation is not sin. Jesus was tempted and he was not considered dirty, nasty, or sinful for being tempted and neither are you. Learning how to reframe your thinking is important.

Also, talking to people about how you are feeling and thinking, who are mature and can lead you back to Christ and his thoughts about this topic, can help.

If you are married: take some time to read through Song of Solomon.

We can learn about sex from so many things, but God specifically outlined the heart he wants us to have towards sex in his Word. When you read through the Song of Solomon take some time to focus specifically on how the Beloved viewed her husband and how her husband viewed her. Focus on the heart they had towards each other and about sex.

The best tool we have to fight against Satan is God’s Word. It is our offensive tool in battle and can crush and demolish the ways we once thought about sex.

If You Are a Parent: talk about it with your kids.

If you do not talk about it they will learn it from the kids at school or on the school bus. You can start talking about sex before even using the word sex! There are some age appropriate talks to begin having with your children at the age of three about sexuality, body parts, etc. that can help them to have a healthy frame of mind about sex and about their body parts.

There are many books out there on these topics as well to help you to know when and how to discuss these things with your kids.

These are only a FEW of the many ways in which we can truly understand how God desires for us to think about sex. If you are feeling conflicted about this topic and feel trapped or do not know who to talk to about this, always know that there is help available.

This topic in general can be shameful and embarrassing to discuss, but is not something you should feel like you have to keep to yourself. Follow this link to schedule an appointment to talk to someone here at The Relationship Center.

Reference: Penner, C.L. & Penner J.J.  (1993) .  Restoring the Pleasure.  USA: W Publishing Group

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How to Keep Your Sanity as a Pastor’s Wife!

As a pastor’s wife (and now missionary) for heart care for a pastor's wife25+ years, I am finally learning the keys to maintaining my emotional health. Yes, you heard me right . . . myself.  I have tried to keep the pastor (my husband), his kids, the deacons, their kids, and pretty much
everyone else in the church happy at times. If you are already a pro at taking care of your own heart, pass this article on to another friend, but if not, maybe something in here will help you.

As a counselor, I have found an excellent process that leads to emotional wellness when I am triggered and I give it to EVERY client because no one “makes it through childhood unscathed.”  While not all your craziness can be blamed on your mom (I already told my kids I would pay for their therapy!), at some point everyone has been wounded by another human being. It is inevitable. These wounds create buttons that get bumped into by those around us. I hear women say, “Well, if my husband would just _____ . . . then I would be OK.” I am proposing that you can be OK whether or not your husband does _____.

Your heart—Your responsibility. This article contains five steps for caring for your heart. An excellent team of therapists at The National Institute of Marriage developed these steps. Let’s get started!

You have dinner almost on the table and your husband calls to say he will not be home again because of an “emergency” with a church member. As you feel the steam rising from your ears – stop. Take space and work through the following steps in a quiet place with your journal. I have clients take a picture of the steps and keep it on their phone for use at all times (in traffic, in Wal-Mart, with children).

1. Become Aware of My Feelings (not usually too hard!)

  • What is going on physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, relationally?
  • Identify my feelings. Be curious rather than judging them. A judged heart will immediately shut down whereas curious attitude promotes openness.
  • “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” James 1:19

2. Accept My Own Feelings

“My husband makes me so angry!” Really?
You just gave him power over your emotional wellness – You can choose to be angry or not.
  • Own your thoughts, feelings, actions, and beliefs, through personal responsibility:
    • I am responsible for my own Thoughts, Feelings, Actions, or Beliefs.
    • I am not responsible for another’s Thoughts, Feelings, Actions, or Beliefs.
    • In relationships, I recognize I contribute a positive or negative influence, but I cannot control or determine another’s Thoughts, Feelings, Actions, or Beliefs.
  • Accept the job to exercise personal care.
  • “Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23

3. Allow God to Enter

  • Pray.
  • What does God say to me about His comfort, His truth, His conviction, my value and my worth?
  • What is the TRUTH?
  • “God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

4. Attend to My Thoughts

  • Are there negative messages/beliefs I might be feeling from my past?
  • Did I do anything to contribute to my feelings?
  • Could I possibly have misunderstood? Am I mind reading?
  • “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” James 4:1
  • “Above all else, guard your heart, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23

5. Act in Integrity

  • Will my response create safety within me?
  • Will my response create safety for my relationship?
  • How does God want me to respond?
  • Maintain and respond with integrity.
  • “If it is possible, as far as it depends upon you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

If you need help learning to care for your heart and respond in integrity instead of reacting, please give me a call.

For a printer friendly PDF version of this article, please click here: How to Keep Your Sanity as a Pastor’s Wife


christian marriage therapyLooking for help? Join the 3,000+ families who have found the help they need by trusting the counselors of MyCounselor.Online. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $50-$155 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here for Christian Marriage Counseling

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