An abundance of Christian marriage advice can be found in the Holy Bible. Because marriage is an institution ordained by God, the best information for couples can be found in His Word. The Creator designed wedlock as a lifelong union between one man and one woman for the purpose of raising up a godly seed. "And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth" (Malachi 2:15). Ideally, when husbands and wives submit themselves to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, monogamous relationships can be free from strife, confusion, and infidelity. Portions of the Bible offer instruction that is far superior to secular text because they are words of wisdom inspired by the Holy Ghost to guide partners toward perfection. Before paying hundreds of dollars to a secular therapist, born again believers would do well to search the scriptures and utilize sound Christian marriage advice that produces positive results.
The Books of Genesis, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Malachi, I Corinthians, Ephesians, and I Peter all include Christian marriage advice that will help couples, whether in crisis or not, deal with every marital situation known to man. Genesis, the Book of beginnings, gives believers an account not only of the beginning of mankind, but also the beginning of marriage as a holy institution. By searching through scriptures, believers can gain a whole new perspective on the sanctity of holy matrimony. Genesis clearly illustrates the Creator's purpose for marriage as reiterated in Malachi 2:15 "...that He might seek a godly seed."
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways" (James 1:5-8). Couples in crisis can also seek the wisdom of God for marital problems in the Book of Proverbs. Written by King Solomon, this book is replete with priceless nuggets of practical truth that help men and women make wise decisions or avoid negative relationship issues. Some passages deal with unruly wives, while others offer Christian marriage advice for men who may face temptation from would-be mistresses. God is keenly aware of any marital problem couples may face; and He has provided the ultimate handbook to help work through them.
Once couples begin to overcome marital conflict, the Song of Solomon offers Christian marriage advice on intimacy. The Song of Solomon is actually a love story narrated by a young suitor and his lover who personify Christ and the Body of Christ, or His Bride. They long to become one, to make love in the privacy of the bridal chamber. After a lengthy absence, the bride yearns for her beloved and intently awaits his arrival from a long journey. Just as Solomon's lover awaited his return, so does the Church universal wait patiently for the Second Coming of Christ. Today's Christian couples need not be ashamed of marital intimacy, for it was ordained by God. Often, partners allow the busyness and cares of life to rob them of the opportunity for lovemaking, which is quite different from just having sex. Simply reading passages from the Song of Solomon and following Christian marriage advice between the pages of the Bible can help partners refocus the attention on building an intimate, pleasurable and impenetrable bond. Taking long walks along the beach, scheduling a weekend retreat for two, or planning a quiet evening at home are activities that can rekindle the flame or add passion to a lackluster love life.
Christian marriage advice can also be found in the 5th chapter of Ephesians. Husbands and wives can discover their God-given roles in making the marriage a success. Just as Christ gave Himself sacrificially for the Body of Christ, or His Bride; so is it the husband's role to sacrificially give himself to the wife as a protector and provider. A wife then reverences and honors the man as head of household. Women who seek Christian marriage advice on being homemakers or exemplifying godly character should read I Peter, chapter 3. I Peter 3:1-7 contains advises women on the proper way to adorn themselves as women of God, while admonishing husbands to entreat wives in love:
"Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered" (I Peter 3:1-7).
Christian Marriage CounselingUnlike secular therapies, Christian marriage counseling is Christ-centered and employs biblical principles to help couples reconcile differences. Churches, religious organizations, and private practices offer programs to aid couples experiencing marital conflict. It is no secret that marriage is under attack among believers and non-believers. Statistics indicate that nearly half of new marriages among non-Christians and 25% of Christian unions will end in divorce before reaching the 10th anniversary. Clearly, the role of Christian marriage counseling is an important one if the sanctity of holy wedlock is to be preserved. But when conflicts arise between believers, an answer can always be found in the Word of God. Husbands and wives who have given their lives to God through accepting Jesus Christ as Lord should be able to hearken and obey the Word of God, but that is not always the case. Sometimes, marital conflicts can obscure the right way of God and lead believers down the dark path of divorce. Professional, yet Christ-centered counseling can bring couples back from the abyss of separation and marital dissolution. "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety" (Proverbs 11:14).
Methods of Christian marriage counseling may initially include one-on-one sessions with each spouse to gain insight on how problematic issues are individually perceived. Husbands and wives in crises will not have the same perspective; but it is the job of a skilled therapist who not only applies practical theory but biblically-based doctrine to help couples come to a meeting of the minds. "Can two walk together except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3). The basis of marital harmony requires two walking together in agreement; and when counselors can get participants to feel the same, think the same, believe the same and hope for the same things, half the battle for a failing marriage is won. Couples may inevitably realize that "divorcing," or separating themselves from the hectic pace of every day living to attend a marriage retreat, workshop or seminar; rather than divorcing each other might just be the beginning of reconciliation. Many couples find that Christian marriage counseling is the catalyst to rekindle the flame of flawed marriage.
Other options for Christian marriage counseling may include two- or three-day retreats that allow couples an opportunity to reconnect with God and one another. A large part of a biblically-based retreat will focus on prayer, which is talking to God. As couples learn how to commune in prayer, they may experience spiritual renewal--sometimes the missing link in failed marriages. The more each spouse experiences not only a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but also an intimate spiritual relationship, the more apt they are to allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide into all truth--even the truth about their marriage. Personal spiritual renewal enables husbands and wives to see one another with the eyes of God. Faultfinding, bitterness, resentment and unresolved anger dissipate when believers can look beyond the outer exterior of a loved one and see the Christ within. "But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves, for charity shall cover the multitude of sins" (I Peter 4:7-8). Drawing closer to God also gives spouses greater insight into their own frailties and character flaws, and reveals areas where improvements can be made.
Intensive Christian marriage counseling sessions are another option for troubled married couples on the brink of divorce. Unlike group meetings or encounters attended by five to ten couples at once, intensive sessions may be reserved for spouses to work exclusively with one therapist over the course of three to five days. While the cost for individualized attention may be considerably higher than attending a weekend marriage group encounter, the opportunity to rescue the marital relationship is well worth it. A more intensive curriculum might include Bible-based instruction and counseling, combined with prayer, meditation, journaling, role-playing, and couples exercises designed to help Christian spouses reconcile differences the biblical way.
Before enrolling in a Christian marriage counseling program, husbands and wives should surf the Internet for local or long distance offerings. An online search enables couples to compare programs and costs and determine which one best suits their situation. An organizational website may also offer testimonials from former attendees or blogs that give unbiased opinions on program offerings and their success. In an uncertain economy, cost is a major consideration. Couples on a budget may consider an affordable church-based program or workshop before investing in a more expensive venue. Husbands and wives facing dire marital issues may consider scheduling an intensive Christian counseling program to make every effort to reconcile in spite of the cost.
In the final analysis, Christian marriage counseling in any format is only as successful as the participants make it. Professional therapists, biblically-based instruction, intensive prayer, spiritual renewal, and couples exercises are only vehicles to facilitate reconciliation. But, the determining factor in mending marital breaches is the willingness of husbands and wives to allow the Holy Spirit to remove offenses, heal broken hearts, and renew closed minds. Spouses must be willing to forgive, forget and go on; forging past transgressions, wounded emotions, and trusting God to enable each of them to love again and to love unconditionally for the sake of holy matrimony. "Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love" (I John 4:7-8). As Christian couples strive to come into agreement and renew their vows to love, cherish, honor, and even obey, Spirit-led reconciliation is highly possible.