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'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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