Mark: Since I’ve been down in my back, I’ve been enjoying a Netflix series called “Longmire.” One of the episodes I recently watched was about post military service PTSD. One of the characters made this insightful statement, “When there’s shrapnel in the soldier’s body, they want the doctor to fix it immediately. But issues of the head and the heart they want to fix themselves.”
Jill: I recently read some statistics about something similar as it applies to marriage. Research shows that when there is pain in our chest, most people seek help within 1 week. When there is pain in our marriage, most of us wait 6 years to seek help.
Mark: Most of us underestimate when we need to ask for help with our marriage. We tell ourselves that it’s not that big of an issue. We blame our partner…if he/she would change, then things would be fine. We tell ourselves that only weak people need to ask for help. While we’re doing all that rationalizing, we’re often closing our heart to our spouse and moving away from them one centimeter at a time. We’re drifting apart and we don’t even realize it.
Jill: The reality is that we all need help at times for our heart and our head. This truth and action is truly what saved our marriage. We found that we were truly incapable of fixing ourselves. In fact God has made us to need community. He has made us to need one another. It is within community that we find the help we need.
Mark: In my family growing up, my step-dad joked about counselors and the pursuit of them as DUMB. Out of desperation I decided to seek counseling help anyway and I found that our counselor helped unpack my corrupted and distorted heart and mind. He helped me to not only hear Jill but to also find clarity in my own thoughts and feelings, and to be able to communicate them to Jill.
Jill: We are truly indebted to our counselor and the healing he brought. Of course, we did the hard work of digging, changing, and healing, but he led us well.
Mark: To seek help is to be willing to humble ourselves and “go to school” on our upbringing and life experiences that have imprinted our heart with fears, expectations, assumptions, and lies. Once we understand what makes us tick and what makes our spouse tick, we begin to look at why we tick each other off and how to sync our heads and our hearts. We replace lies with truth. Fear with courage. Expectations and assumptions are replaced with healthy communication.
Jill: One of the best ways to find a counselor is to ask for referrals from a pastor or a friend who’s sought counseling. If that’s not an option, pick up the phone and make an appointment with a counselor you can find in your area. When you look for a counselor this is what you’re looking for:
(1) Someone to hear your story, unravel it, and lead you to a healthy, principle-driven direction (preferably biblical principles),
(2) someone who expects to work themselves out of a job,
(3) someone who will give you resources and assignments to work on outside of your counseling appointment, because the other six days and twenty-three hours matter greatly in the process of marital change.
Mark: If you meet with someone for a couple of sessions and you aren’t comfortable or don’t feel like he or she is asking good questions, don’t hesitate to go to a different counselor. Counseling draws you out and helps you gain insight into how your experiences have shaped you, good or bad. Good counselors will then assist you in discovering new ways of thinking and behaving in order to have healthy, successful relationships.
Jill: When we talk about marriage counseling, most of us think about couples counseling, but there is incredible value in seeking out individual counseling as well. A marriage is made up of two broken people. If we can better understand the “junk in the trunk” we brought into marriage, it can make a huge difference in learning to relate to our loved ones in new, secure, emotionally healthy ways.
Mark: Whatever you do, don’t wait 6 years…your marriage is entirely too important.
What about you? Do you need to seek help for yourself or as a couple? What’s a next step you can take to find that help?
PS…Looking for an encouraging podcast today? Jill recently visited with Dr. Jen Riday about learning to be more compassionate with your family. You can find it here: https://www.jenriday.com/38-how-to-be-more-compassionate-with-your-family-jill-savage/
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