Where Do You Go When You Need Help? With a Shannon Ethridge Giveaway!

'Pieta House Press Pack - Counselling and Support - Pieta House (10 of 28)' photo (c) 2010, Joe Houghton - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

You’re struggling in your marriage. Your husband uses porn. You feel like sex is somehow dirty, and you can’t get over that. You’re haunted by memories from your past.

Many of you, struggling with things like this, have emailed me and asked for help, and my heart just goes out to you. I know how difficult these sorts of things can be.

The problem is I’m not really equipped to help you all, because I only know one side of the story, and I’m not a licensed counselor.

Yet why do people email me? I think it’s because there aren’t a lot of other places to go, and they’re desperate. When things hurt in our marriage, who do we tell? Who do we reach out to? Who can help us?

I wrote a post a while back asking if you are a spouse or an enabler. Marriage should be a vehicle by which both parties grow and look more like Christ, not an excuse not to work on our problems. When we look at marriage like that–well, she can’t leave me because divorce is a sin, so she needs to learn to live with me like this (or he can’t leave me)–we do marriage a disservice, God a disservice, and ourselves a disservice. So I said there are times when you simply must get others involved, like a pastor, or a mentor couple.

I had a bit of push back from some pastors, though, saying that they really aren’t equipped to handle things like this. If a wife comes in saying, “my husband uses porn three hours a night, and I need some men he respects to sit down with him and tell him he needs to stop”, a pastor doesn’t necessarily feel like he can do that.

I do understand, although I think that if a church isn’t helpful for these types of things, when we really need the body, there’s a huge problem there with the way that we do church.

Yet I know many pastors aren’t trained in counseling, and so they don’t want to mess things up worse than they already are.

So what do you do?

Sometimes we actually need a counselor or a life coach to walk us through things.

My husband and I have seen a counselor twice. Once was early in our marriage, when sex was just plain difficult for me and we had a lot of misunderstandings and hurts to work through. The other time was shortly after our son died, when we just needed to keep close together and walk through some of that pain. Both times were short-term things; we weren’t in counseling forever, but just to go over some very specific things.

I think there’s a misunderstanding sometimes about counseling.

Counseling Doesn’t Mean We Endlessly Talk About our Childhoods

We picture lying on a couch, talking about how we feel about our fathers, or our mothers, or processing our earliest memories. There may be a time for that. But most counseling isn’t like that. Most counseling training today doesn’t focus so much on taking someone through all of their childhood, but instead focuses on processing the problems that are happening now and figuring out how to move forward. Sometimes that involves working through past issues, but when we went to see counselors, the understanding was that this was a short-term thing. We wouldn’t be going for years and years; we would simply be looking for strategies to grow close together again.

Counseling Doesn’t Mean You’re About to Get a Divorce

Neither time when we went were we in any danger of divorce. It’s not like we were going to a counselor because we thought we were going to split up. No, we simply wanted a great marriage, and we didn’t feel like that’s what we had, for various reasons. And so we went to make things better.

So where do you find a counselor or a life coach? Some large churches have counselors on staff, which is a huge blessing. If your church doesn’t, most counselors charge between $75-$125 an hour, which sounds like a lot, but remember that most counselors only see about three clients a day. It’s hard emotionally to handle much more than that. And a lot of the work they do is after the appointment–going over notes, praying, coming up with ideas and strategies. So they have to charge that to make a living.

Some counselors also do Skype calls, if you don’t have someone who lives in your area. That can be a real blessing.

When I spoke at Girl Talk last week, I said this very vehemently:

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having issues. Everybody has issues. It only becomes a problem if you refuse to work on your issues.

Some of us have issues we really do need to work on. We just need someone to bounce it off of. So if it’s possible to find $600 for six counseling sessions, that can be one of the best investments you can make. Or if it means you contact all the churches in your area and find out if any offer counseling, that’s what you need to do.

Life Coaching with Shannon Ethridge

Today I have a special giveaway from best selling author Shannon Ethridge, who has written a host of books, including the million seller Every Woman’s Battle. She also wrote the book Fantasy Fallacy, which I reviewed recently. Shannon does life coaching, which is slightly different from counseling. She helps people find strategies to move forward, rather than delving too much into the past. And she’s offered one hour of life coaching to a lucky winner! You can watch a quick video of Shannon describing what she does, and who would most benefit, here.

Shannon explains,

I am certified as a Christian Life Coach by the American Association of Christian Counselors (A.A.C.C.) www.aacc.net/, and hold a master’s degree in Counseling/Human Relations from Liberty University. My main purpose as a life coach is to provide a goal-oriented session designed to define where you are today and how I can help you get where you want to go in the future. I provide confidential coaching to women, couples, families, or teens in need of guidance for life’s struggles and challenges, especially in the areas of spiritual intimacy, sexual integrity, and sexual intimacy.

You can enter the giveaway below!

Even if you don’t win, though, I want to encourage you to seek help when you need it. Maybe you don’t right now. Maybe everything is going well, and the little problems you have can be dealt with through prayer together or prayer with a trusted friend. But there may be seasons in life when we do need to talk something through. That doesn’t mean you’re a failure, or that you’re not Christian, or that your marriage is doomed. It simply means that you are mature enough to realize that you need help, because God meant for you to have an abundant life. And that’s not what you’re experiencing right now.

I know for many people the price tag makes it out of reach. But pray about it. I honestly believe that in the long run, it’s cheaper to deal with issues than to let them fester.

There is nothing wrong with having issues. Everyone has issues. The problems come when we decide not to work on those issues.

So please, if God is prompting you–work on  your issues!

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  1. we went to counseling 5/6 times our first year of marriage. It was great. My husband just wanted to make sure we were off to a great start! It was different then the pre martial counseling before marriage. I highly recommend seeing an counselor the first year. He just helped us with so many little things that could have become big things if we hadn’t addressed them.

  2. I am always looking for ways to improve my marriage and I would love an hour of time from an expert! It would save me a lot of trial and error! :)

  3. I am a Christian therapist. It is always a huge hurdle to get over to make that first call with a therapist. It is actually the biggest step toward making a difference in your relationship.
    There is no magic in counseling just the willingness to do the work with a neutral party to make things better.
    Take it from a therapist we are nice people wanting to help.
    Frank Walker MFTI recently posted…What I Just learned in Elementary School.My Profile

  4. Heather P says:

    I have had a friend tell me a few times that I probably need to go to a marriage counselor, even if it is by myself. I see that there are issues that my husband and I need to work on. He doesn’t want to work on them and I do. So there you have it. Thanks for taking on hard issues!!

  5. My husband and I have been married for almost 30 years. Our children hold us together…there was a point where I left for six months, but returned because of my spiritual convictions and my teenaged children. About five years ago, my husband and I saw a faith-based counselor for about 4 or 5 sessions, which consisted mostly of various personality assessments. Once the real work began, my husband refused to go back. The therapist said that we were, according to those assessments, the most opposite, oddly matched couple he had ever worked with. We truly have nothing in common but the children, spend no time together, can’t work together on a project, make a decision together….out biorhythms and habits are opposite, and though our family does eat together we have two separate menus most of the time. We don’t share a bedroom or anything else. For years, I begged and cajoled to go to counseling, but he WILL NOT. We ‘get along’ because we don’t discuss anything of much importance. I put on the happiest face I can for the children but obviously we’re a bad example of marriage. It is a miserable existence and I would love a divorce, but not at the expense of my children. I would take a bullet for them, and I do, daily. I’ve read all the books, and now spend time in the Bible and occasionally re-read “Fierce Women” which is my favorite of the pile, for encouragement. Sheila and this blog has been an immense support and encouragement to me. However, I do pray that someday my husband will change his mind and go to counseling with me. I have a hard time envisioning our life together as empty-nesters.

  6. I’ve been to counseling several times at different periods in my life. And, my husband and I went to counseling together early in our marriage. Each of those times was extremely helpful to me then. Even now, when we’re walking through a particularly difficult time, many of the lessons I learned in counseling come back to mind and make things easier. Not that things are easy but with the things I’ve learned, I don’t fall apart but can keep doing what I need to do. These days with my husband laid off almost two years ago, with the unemployment running out, and still recovering from a devastating traffic accident last summer, it’s really hard. I wish we or even just me, could go and talk to someone. Preferably a counselor but with money running out so quickly that isn’t possible right now. It would be a blessing to be able to win this opportunity.

  7. I have only been married for 1 1/2 years. As many people say that first year of marriage is a doozy – the thing is… ours has been GREAT! Yeah – my husband lost his job, and yeah – i have had to work places that haven’t made me “happy” and oh yeah – we have our issues. The thing is it has been great because we have learned to work through our issues. We have seen counslers and spiritual therapists. We have read books and worked HARD to make sure we ahve had a marriage worth fighting for. I’m headed tonight even to a counsler because I know there are really tough thing that I need to overcome so that we can be even closer! I am a huge advocate for counseling!

  8. I think counseling is very important. There are things i struggle with or need advice on, but at the moment I do not have anyone I feel safe going to. I want someone who will not just take my side, but will give me sound, loving, truthful advice that is biblical. At the moment it is just prayer, which is the best thing, but verbal advice from an older woman/mentor would be wonderful too. I love reading your blog and appreciate it so very much. Thank you for all that you do.

  9. Thanks for linking to your “Are you a spouse or enabler?” post. I figured out recently that I had been enabling my husband for years to keep doing what he was doing and to keep NOT going what he didn’t want to do. I didn’t realize that it was doing him a disservice as well as doing me one.

    We’re getting involved in a really good church, so I hope that if he continues in the behavior he’s had for years then I can get a few good men involved. I hope that he starts hanging out with people that he can trust and that will help him.
    Jenny recently posted…we are blessings to one another after allMy Profile

  10. Jennifer says:

    I truly feel counseling is a good thing bc sometimes having someone no biased listen can help you see what God truly wants.

  11. My husband and I are lay marriage mentors at our church. We love Shannon’s writings, and I think it would be great to get help with some things that could be improved in our own marriage.

  12. I think everyone could benefit from counseling! Thanks for encouraging people to seek help!

  13. Lori Winslow says:

    My husband and I have been married six years. He was in the Navy for the first 4 and 1/2 years. With him being out to sea so much in the beginning of our marriage, I think our communication skills suffered. I think counseling would help us and especially me tremendously. I know everyone could use help and this is a fantastic opportunity!

  14. I have not had the privilege to be formally counseled, but I would love the opportunity to. Those I know who do are better for it. It’s usually a great experience.

  15. We are approaching our 10 year anniversary and are truly at one of the lowest points of our marriage. I believe we would truly benefit from someone simply showing us the tools to use for our most common problems.

  16. Barbara M. says:

    Get Godly counseling if you are a believer and if your spouse doesn’t want to go, you go and work on yourself. I’ve seen marriages repaired that looked beyond repair.

  17. We need this soooooooo bad. Praying for a win. Thank you so much for your blog, it helps me know I am not alone at times when I need it.

  18. First, counseling can help a marriage greatly. Second, please pick a good one…unfortunately there are just as many bad ones as there are any other profession…and the bad ones can do more damage than good. Third, ladies please don’t think your husband doesn’t love you because he won’t go to counseling with you. Men are smart, don’t get me wrong…but words and emotions we have them and they run just as deep and strong, but they don’t come nearly as easily to our lips…well they are as about as intimidating to a man as you stepping into a boxing ring with him. Would you do that? So don’t think his hestitancy is due to him not loving you.

  19. Counseling is a great! Hey, sometimes I need someone to talk to…and not my husband. In fact, sometimes he says to me, “Honey, please find someone you can talk to.”

    pinkscissorsdesign@ gmail .com

  20. I have and know many others who have as we’ll. the key is finding a Christian counselor who isn’t afraid to make u think.

  21. I went through some counseling after my husband’s affair and after he left me. It was very helpful to get an outsider’s perspective. She helped me to see what was not my fault and to see places where I had erred as well. She gave me concrete suggestions on things to do now and in the future – that’s probably what was the most helpful.
    Heather recently posted…Exciting Week!My Profile

  22. I think that counseling can definitely help. I’ve never had counseling but if it was more accessible I think I would have already.

  23. Such a great give away! I think this is one thing everyone can benefit from

  24. Glad to see this opportunity.

  25. I have been married for 4 years but last year I struggled in my marriage. My husband has Asperger’s syndrome and I was not coping very well because he got depressed easily which was draining for me (and him) and we had other problems too. I took my husband to our GP and told her we both needed help. She referred my husband to a psychologist and I joined all the sessions with him. It did wonders for our marriage. I was able to understand my husband better and I was able to share problems that arose in our lives which affected our relationship. My husband copes much better now and i am aware of some of his triggers. I know not everyone needs to go to a psychologist but I think any form of counseling and a willing open heart can do wonders for a marriage.

  26. We’ve been married for 30 years but I almost threw it away last year because I didn’t want to deal with issues from 35 years ago. It’s hard to make a first step to find a counselor but I’m glad I did. I’m also very thankful that our church has a great Christian counseler. He’s good but I like the idea of of coach to help to next phase of my journey.

  27. I have been to 3 counselors in the last 10 years–twice with my husband in marriage counseling. The first two didn’t work out. I feel it was because we didn’t seek out Christian counseling–just whatever our insurance paid for. The third time we asked our minister for help due to stress issues with a prodigal daughter. He directed us to a great Christian counseling group. During that time with those counselors, my husband’s porn addiction came to light. Thank God we were there–the wise counsel saved our marriage! I encourage everyone I know with marriage stresses to find someone you can talk to! It’s grown our marriage.

  28. Counseling is a good idea because you are working with a neutral party, and for marriage issues it is even better because it can be so hard to find someone to actually talk to about private or personal issues. There are few, if any, people in my life that I can trust to talk to about any of it. Even at church. This is sad but it is a fact. Unfortunately, we simply can’t afford anything at all in the way of counseling. So we work on things the best we know how. I must say, I am lucky to have a husband who believes strongly in working on our marriage, and I have no doubt he loves me. This, of course, does not mean we don’t have problems, and I would even label them serious problems. I would love to have some outside help. But I can live with almost anything because I know he loves me.

  29. Thank you so much for promoting marital counseling and coaching. You don’t have to be in crisis to go. In fact, gaining the relationship skills to keep you out of trouble in the first place is the best plan. Unfortunately, many don’t see it as an investment in their family’s future. Finding a good professional will pay for itself many times over in happiness and security.

  30. I’ve been thru a divorce and am remarried to a wonderful Christian man. I know that counselling from the beginning would have helped the marriage….

  31. I have never had any kind of counseling, but I know I have an area or two that I am in need of help with dealing with.

  32. Valorie says:

    So excited you’re doing this give-away! There seems to still be such a stigma about counselling. But do we look down on someone for going to the doctor for a check-up or because they need help? Do we feel awkward or strange about taking our car to the mechanic to check out that “weird rattling noise” or even just for a tune-up? So why not care for our inner life? Our relationships with just as much care??

Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. Any comment that espouses an anti-marriage philosophy (eg. porn, adultery, abuse and the like) will be deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are replying to another commenter, please be polite and don't assume you know everything about his or her situation. If you are constantly negative or a general troll, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Sheila Wray Gregoire owns the copyright to all comments and may publish them in whatever form she sees fit. She agrees to keep any publication of comments anonymous, even if you are not anonymous on this board.


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