We seem to live in a culture where if you tell others you’re scheduling a meeting with someone to discuss your marriage, they take it as a bad thing. Our culture tells us we must have everything all together. We can do everything that needs to be done all by ourselves. Nobody should ask for help…ever. Those who do ask for help are weak, or one may think their marriage is in rags.
But continually discussing the subject of marriage with experienced couples, or even professionals can be a very good thing. You can do all you want and work as hard as you want on your marriage, but every once in a while a face-to-face conversation with a professional may be the one-thing, or the one “ah-ha” moment where you both realize something and decide what steps to take for your marriage to get even stronger.
Perhaps you believe your marriage is going well – and maybe it is. That’s great! But are there any areas, any at all that could be doing even better? Or perhaps you believe your marriage isn’t going well, but the thought of asking for help is shameful. You just don’t want to admit you may need it. Whichever category you may fall into, here are a few thoughts to consider:
1) Everybody’s marriage can continue to get better
We’ve known couples whose marriages looked great from the outside. But that’s the thing, we only had an outside view. Inside their marriage was full of chaos. Some of those couples ended their marriages after just a few short years. Some ended their marriage after 30, or even 50 years! How does this happen? It happens because they were never willing to talk with others about how their marriage could improve.
We’ve also known couples whose marriages looked great from the inside. While tough seasons came and went, the marriage bond stayed strong. What was the key? Most of them would confess that they sought out advice from more experienced couples. They met with other married couples who had weathered every possible storm, and learned everything they could from them. Those short 1-2 hour conversations were encouragement enough for them to focus more energy on parts of their marriage that were being neglected.
2) Professional counseling isn’t a bad thing
It’s true that there are a number of counselors who just want to earn a buck. If you asked them to meet with you, they’d probably meet with you every week until you stopped showing up. Instead of falling for a professional like this, consider taking Kevin Leman’s advice as he outline’s it in “Sheet Music”. Find a counselor who is willing to meet with you no more than 3 times. Allow them to ask you tough questions, and be committed to answering them openly and honestly. After just 2-3 sessions, they should be able to pinpoint various areas in your marriage that you and your spouse can agree to work on.
Books, blogs, and other resources are great (we know, we write one!). But talking with a couple who has much more experience in marriage, or a counselor, or even a pastor to discuss how your marriage could continue to improve is often a step worth taking. And there should never be feelings of guilt or shame when desiring to improve your marriage.
Find a couple who has at least 10, if not 20-30 years more experience than you and schedule a dinner together. Who knows, you may just discover they have a piece of wisdom you’ve never picked up on before. And it may be the one piece of advice that you’re able to pass on to others years later.