People come for Christian counseling for a variety of reasons. During the initial session, I try to assess several factors, but one thing I am looking for is desperation. If it’s there, great! If I do not sense much urgency or desperation, then my ability to help someone becomes more difficult. It’s hardest when a couple needs marriage counseling but one partner’s “want-to” has gone AWOL.
I love to see someone come into my office because they want to be there. One of my first questions is what has happened to make them seek professional help. When I hear, “my wife (or husband) thinks I have a problem,” my heart sinks because the path ahead will be rocky.
Some will give an affirmative answer to the question of wanting help, but there is little or no passion behind it.
I always get around to asking what their specific issues are and the conversation might quickly devolve to detailing what is wrong with the other person in their life. Again, that is a disheartening response.
The bottom line is this: it is extremely difficult to reach someone in counseling or deliverance who is not willing to co-operate and become engaged in the process.
What can you do if this is where you are with your partner?
There are (at least) three viable options at that point:
- Eliminate any enabling behavior and have proper personal boundaries in place.
People need to reach a pain threshold before they are willing to do what is necessary to see change. Another common term is to “hit the bottom” but many relatives are surprised at how low a loved one can fall! Are you willing to released your loved one over to the Lord, purpose to have peace, and commit to maintain proper boundaries.Even though a couple becomes one flesh, there are important personal boundaries that need to be in place between husbands and wives. (If this concept is new to you, explore Cloud and Townsends’ “Boundaries” series of books). When you commit to this path, your faith will surely be tested and you must persevere through this trial to see results (James 1:2-4 ). When you have proper boundaries in place, you will be able to say, “No!” without guilt or condemnation.
- Go into warfare with Mathhew 16:17. Ephesians 6:12 reminds that our struggle is not against flesh and blood but spiritual forces of evil. Believers have the power and authority to bind up demon spirits in people and loose the Holy Spirit upon them. This activity represents faith in action, and you should engage consistently, repetitively and without doubt (James 1:6). You will see your loved ones reach that point of brokenness if you do not grow weary!
- Commit 100% to fulfilling your role. I have seen many marriages begin to revive when the willing partner unilaterally purposes to fulfill his or her role regardless of the other’s response. Ephesians 6:33 says that husbands are to love their wives and wives are to respect their husbands. It is a challenge purposefully to commit to doing this in obedience to the Word of the Lord in spite of the natural circumstances. I recommend Eggerich’s “Love & Respect” book to every couple that comes into my office. It contains biblical, proven, effective strategies and tactics to wall this out.
- Get help yourself. God knows your circumstances, your hurt, pain, anger and frustration. You may need encouragement and validation. You may need help learning how to walk the two options out in your personal life. Learning how to set, implement and maintain proper boundaries is not a natural skill for most people. If you are a neophyte in the realm of spiritual warfare, you may need some practical assistance. If faith is only a noun for you, you may need guidance on how to turn it into a lifestyle that pleases God!
If you need marriage counseling and your partner is unwilling, the situation can look hopeless. You are not helpless and making the right choices along the journey and co-operating with the Lord can lead to positive results. Are you willing to take the steps?
Have you tried one or more of these and seen fruit? What other measures have yielded good results for you? Please let us know so we can share them with others.