How God Uses Marriage to Heal You

How God Uses Marriage to Heal You

God uses marriage to heal you. It’s one of the most important and effective tools He uses to bring you the healing and transformation you need.

If you’re in a miserable or dysfunctional marriage that may seem completely contradictory. How can I experience healing when my spouse is emotionally unavailable, won’t communicate, continues to cause me pain, refuses to understand me, and withholds intimacy? I need healing FROM my marriage!

You’re right; you married a sinner. You married someone who doesn’t meet your needs and keeps wounding you over and over again.

But your spouse married a sinner too – YOU. You don’t meet their needs and you keep wounding your spouse over and over again too.

Didn’t God know marriage would cause so much pain? Couldn’t He have created us without these needs and desires?

Yes, He could have. But without marriage we would be deprived of one of God’s most effective tools through which we experience our need of Him as well as His healing and transformation. Some of His best miracles only happen in the impossible environment of marriage.

(Note: Trauma, abuse, and violence is always wrong. If you are in an abusive marriage, get help right away.)

Here are some of the most important ways in which God uses marriage to heal:

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How to Experience Permanent Freedom

How to Experience Permanent Freedom

Wouldn’t it be nice to live completely free – permanently? Imagine how it would feel to not have to expend energy fighting against fear, or anger, or lust. Think what your life would be like if the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, goodness, faith, etc. – was your default mode of responding to people and circumstances. There’s a permanent freedom God has promised that can begin now.

Sometimes I think back to the years I was so dysfunctional. But the truth is, I have to work hard to remember. The sting is gone – permanently. As I walked with God out of that prison in my mind I learned a way to live that has brought permanent freedom. Who I am on the inside is different. My default way of responding to even the worst of circumstances is not the same. I’m not vulnerable in the ways I was. I’m not holding on by my fingernails, desperately praying I won’t fall apart again. It’s just not there any longer.

I say that humbly and gratefully. I am still a sinner saved by grace. I am still dependent moment by moment on God’s presence through His Holy Spirit. But I have absolutely no fear that a negative circumstance, attack from the enemy, or some toxic person will wreck my peace and spiritual joy.

My experience of permanent freedom has lasted 20 years. Do I feel pain? Yes. Must I make a daily choice to live in that freedom? Yes.

But this I know; “Once I was blind. Now I see!”  (See John 9:25)

Wouldn’t you love to stop wrestling with the same sins year after year? I think God sometimes pleads, sometimes shouts, “You don’t have to live like this!” You can come to the place where:

  • The desire for cigarettes or alcohol is gone
  • Someone irritates you and you feel no internal anger
  • A horrible circumstance happens and you respond calmly without angst
  • Your default response to a real need is not how little can you give, but how much
  • Your mind forgets the pathway to pornography or illicit sex

Don’t get me wrong. We live in a sinful messed-up world, and will until Jesus returns. We will never be “good enough” on our own. We will be forever dependent on the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus and the sustaining power of His Holy Spirit.

But we don’t have to be slaves to sin any longer!

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Pornography and your Christian Marriage

Pornography and your Christian Marriage

If the gospel is good for anything it must have an answer to the worst problems humans face. As believers we know that intellectually, but the body of Christ frequently hides from some of the really bad stuff. Pornography and your Christian marriage may seem like things that should not be said in the same sentence. But in 21st century culture it’s something we must acknowledge, and find God’s answer for.

I hear from people every week who struggle with this. I hear from the small-church pastor who feels he has no one to help him out of his addiction to pornography, the godly wife who just found out her husband has been watching porn for years, the young Christian woman who weeps in shame over her continued failure to stop engaging in internet pornography.

Although statistically more men than women get hooked by sexually-charged images and videos, pornography is an equal-opportunity destroyer. Men and women, married and single, Christian and unbeliever, young and old – it affects them all. Our sexualized society spends multi-billions of dollars on this. It starts young; your ten-year-old (or younger) can watch it on their cell-phone while riding the bus to school. (That’s a whole article – or book – in itself!)

Dr Juli Slattery, psychologist, author, and media professional, has stated that she no longer asks couples whether pornography is an issue for them; she asks what role pornography is playing in their relationship.

So what is a Christian to do? Refusing to address pornography is putting your head in the sand, especially if you’re married or contemplating marriage. But as with all human brokenness God has an answer – if you’re addicted, if your spouse is addicted, or if you want to proactively protect your marriage.

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Avoid these 8 Mistakes in Communicating with your Spouse

Avoid these 8 Mistakes in Communicating with your Spouse

“Honey, we need to talk.” How does that work out for you? Do you end up in a screaming match? Does one of you clam up and walk away? Do you say things you later regret?

It’s a rare person indeed who goes into marriage knowing how to communicate in a healthy way. We asked couples where they wanted help in their relationship, and communication was clearly the Number One issue. Communication is a learned skill, and avoiding these mistakes in communicating with your spouse will get you a lot closer to the goals you’re after.

Doing your homework before trying to communicate will help prevent some of these mistakes. But here are some specific land mines to watch out for when it’s time for “Honey, we need to talk.”

8 Mistakes to Avoid

1. Reacting out of Emotional Volatility

Beginning a conversation when you’re ready to boil over with anger, frustration, sarcasm, or desperation is almost certain to elicit defensiveness in your spouse. The walls between you will only become thicker.

Learn to own your own emotions; no one, not even your spouse, can make you feel any certain way. Discover healthy ways to deal with your feelings that don’t involve taking it out on your spouse. Cry with a friend. Go for a run. Spend some time in prayer. Let your emotional temperature cool off before trying to work toward a solution with your spouse.

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Why Marriage is Hard

Why Marriage is Hard

Sometime after the preacher pronounces you man and wife the unwelcome truth hits you; marriage is hard!

That realization may come within hours or it may take months, but every marriage encounters real and big problems. Just today someone told me, “Dr. Carol, tell people the truth – how hard marriage really is!” I don’t know any statistics, but I would guess that for most couples some major problem has ambushed them by the time they return from the honeymoon.

It’s no wonder that for the past couple years there are, for the first time, more unmarried adults than married adults in the US and other developed countries. It’s well known from other research that, in general, successfully married people live healthier, longer, and happier. But that’s not enough to convince many to take on the enormous challenges marriage presents.

Ask almost any married couple and they will tell you the problems are real: communication, intimacy, conflict, differing expectations, money, parenting, and more.

These and other visible problems, however, are just the surface issues. As helpful as pre-marriage instruction, date-night advice, and much of the marriage help out there may be, it only deals with the symptoms. And just like with physical symptoms, problems will continue until and unless the underlying diagnosis is made and treated.

The Troubled Marriage Diagnosis

Perhaps 90% of those who write to me about their troubled marriage say something like, “My spouse is doing these things wrong, and I can’t get them to change.” The spouse writing to me is filled with misery, frustration, loneliness, or anger, and they can’t see any way out.

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