3 Christian Marriage Counseling Tips To Help Your Marriage Succeed (As Written By A Therapist)

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Are you feeling disappointed in your marriage and in love? Thinking about what Christian marriage counseling may do for your relationship?

All couples face conflict. Whether you find a professional counselor through your local church or outside of it, you're already taking the first steps to find true love and connection.

It’s possible to feel peaceful in your Christian marriage, knowing the Lord can meet both of you where you are.

Then, when you get out of the way and stop trying to do the Holy Spirit’s job, you are free to love.

But, first, you must change how you think about your relationship.

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Here are 3 Christian marriage counseling tips that will change your marriage for the better.

1. Husbands have free will.

Remember these thoughts:

"I can’t control my husband."

"Adults get to do what adults want to do."

"I am responsible for how I show up."

When you think that your husband should be different, you'll only feel disappointed. Husbands’ emotional reactions or lack of responses are not about you, but them.

Shift your energy from thinking about how he's showing up to how you're behaving — it's very empowering.

When you get out of the middle of his model — his thoughts, feelings, and actions — removing your expectations and demands, you free yourself to grow and love.

No longer are you fighting for something to be what it isn’t.

When you try on these new thoughts, your confidence will increase as disappointment and frustration diminish.

But, what if you still think, "It’s better to deal with things on my own," leading to feelings of loneliness and isolation?

2. You have all that you need already.

Remember these thoughts:

"I am loved perfectly."

"I am never lacking."

"The Lord has assigned me my portion and my cup, my lot is secure in Him." (Psalms 16:5).

This thought helps you reorient your focus, experiencing God as your foundation, based on what the Bible teaches you.

So, when you turn toward the Lord as your secure base, remembering that your identity is in being His daughter, you know that you're deeply loved and cared for.

If you struggle with these core beliefs, this is where the work begins. Until you believe that you have a secure base, you will always have anxiety moving beyond yourself and into a Christian marriage.

When you reorient your core to the secure base of Christ within you as a good Christian, you can turn more towards your husband. You can make bids to connect, share your thoughts and feelings, and then care about your husband's.

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3. It's good to turn towards each other.

Remember these thoughts:

"My thoughts and feelings matter and so do his."

"We are on the same team."

"I am here to love."

You don’t exist as separate entities but are part of the same body where Christ is the head. In healthy Christian relationships, couples build one another up and encourage each other.

Making space for someone else challenges your flesh and requires you to lean into the spirit humbly.

Christian couples undergoing spiritual marriage counseling will have to make some changes. 

Accepting someones’ free will does not imply that you turn away and deal with things independently.

It doesn't mean that you're left wanting or found lacking. It doesn't mean that you dismiss your thoughts and feelings. It doesn’t mean that you don’t care about your husband’s inner and outer world.

You care differently.

You stop getting mad and stop making demands. You stop internalizing hurt, only for it to seep out in unintentional ways.

Instead, share honestly, ask calmly, and make bids to connect even if you might be rejected.

In letting go, you are free to care more, not less. There is space for both of you. No longer burdened by what you can't control, you are free to show up and relate adult to adult.

Friend to friend. Lover to lover.

You want to detach yourself from believing you know how someone else should show up, but that doesn't mean you throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Coming together over your differences as a Christian married couple is the place where you find intimacy and growth.

Wherever your husband is now is acceptable. 

As you relinquish the belief that you know how his journey should go, you can cheer him on and trust Him to the Lord. As you get your eyes off what he is doing wrong, you can work on being the woman God has called you to be.

Accepting this doesn’t mean you have to stuff your desires and feelings.

Validate them. Own them. Share them without blaming. Make requests without demanding. Ask from a place of having as you operate from the secure place where Christ is your foundation.

When you move from judge, parent, and instructor, you shift to lover, partner, and prayer warrior.

Undergoing Christian couples counseling with your husband, you walk the same road, even as you run your own races.

May your hearts not grow cold, but stay tender and open. Release your desires to the Lord. He will show you how to let go and not give up.

There's nothing for you to protect yourself from when the Lord is your light, salvation, and defender. He holds you and your husband in the palm of His hand and he is there ready to renew your mind.

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Jill M. Lillard, MA LPC, is a Gottman Certified Couples Therapist and Life Coach who helps Christian women step into powerful and exciting lives no matter what their circumstances. Get your free mini-course, The 4 Things You Must Do To Become The Happiest Wife, at The Happiest Lives.