Strategy For Couple Counseling Through Church Ministry

Couple Counseling
Couple Counseling

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Strategy For Couple Counseling Through Church Ministry

Not a single marriage unit is devoid of conflict. This is because every couple comprise of two clearly different people, with different backgrounds, experiences, personalities and emotional dispositions. In spite of the compatibility between a husband and wife, these two distinct individuals will always have fairly different viewpoints which will create tension and even conflict in the marriage union (Solomon, 2008). Some of the core sources of conflict in marriage include careers, in-laws, money, sex, children and a host of other marital related issues.

When marital conflicts are left unsettled they could cripple a relationship and even lead to divorce or separation. Many couples do not have acumen for proper communication, hence they are not able to articulate their problems and this could be a major setback when it comes to conflict resolution in a marriage unit (Egan, 2006).

The major difference between couples living in marital bliss and the loveless couple is not found in whether they have conflict or not, it’s found in whether they care for each other and they are able to articulate and resolve their problems. The objective of this paper is to uncover the root of the problems between the partners in this conflicted couple for the purposes of providing a ministry plan for resolving their problems.

Couple Counseling

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Case Study: Strengths And Weaknesses Of The Couple

Strengths Of The Couple:

According to the information educed from the facilitator’s report concerning Walter and Pam, key elements concerning this couple come out prominently. Foremost, the couple has a potential to live and work out their issues together because they have a lot in common, some of the strengths they share create a backdrop for a strong affectionate love relationship.

Notably, every marriage has got its pressures, the question is not how to avoid tensions in a relationship but how to broach them when they come (Clinebell, 2008).The reason why tensions should not be allowed to escalate particularly in this couple is because they could lead to isolation and later abandonment, thus Walter and Pam must be taught how to act when conflict occurs.  

Walter and Pam have demonstrated the ability to manage their finances; in this area they have demonstrated adeptness because they scored above average. The couple is able to plan and budget their money together, this is a plus for the couple because they are able to avoid unnecessary tensions arising from impulse buying and unmet family needs. Planning together enables them to have common financial goals thus they are able to invest wisely and plan for the future (Ron, 2012).

Planning together also eliminates suspicion which could arise when each partner is managing their own funds. The word of God states that God commands blessing where there is unity. It therefore goes without saying that as the couple plan their finances together and execute their plans in unison God is going to bless them and expand their territories in the area of finances.

Couple Counseling

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Remaining in accord in a marriage scenario has been difficult since Adam and Eve, this is because two distinct individuals with their own goals must enmesh and hope to experience oneness as God intended. Unfortunately, human beings are selfish and each craves his own independence. The prophet Isaiah portrayed the human egocentric problem many years ago: “All of us like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). Every human being is selfish and intuitively looks out for number one, this directly leads to conflict.

It’s imperative to find out the areas where couples have similarity in order to build a ground for unity and harmonious marriage relationship. For example, Walter and Pam watch their health closely, they are both active and adhere to the rules of good nutrition. This is a positive attribute as it will enable the family to work out on their lifestyles to make sure that they age gracefully, this also minimizes their doctor visits and ensures that they will raise healthy children.

Pam and Walter have a knack for solving problems amongst other parties and even their own children, this strength enables them to create an amiable home environment where their children can feel secure since all their emotional needs are met. Moreover, the couple is able to create time to spend with their children and understand their social and emotional needs. By taking care of their children they provide a safe space for growth to make sure that their children are not trailed by psychological and mental disorders later in life.

When children are in good health, couples are able to forge ahead and achieve their goals in life. This marriage offers Walter and Pam a tremendous opportunity to overcome selfishness, as they give out their time and support for others and their children they are able to move attention from the self thus becoming a better couple. The answer for ending selfishness in a marriage is elaborated in the teachings of Jesus who taught us that instead of wanting to be first, we must be willing to be last; instead of being served we should serve. Jesus would wish for each person to love their spouse in the same measure as they love themselves. God’s plan for couples is to give up, give in and give all in order to honor His name.  

Couple Counseling

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In this couple there is another attribute of the man (Walter) which serves as a bridge for solving many unresolved issues in the marriage. Walter has the ability to forgive easily and let go when hurt by his spouse or others. Human beings will try to love and protect each other no matter how hard they try, at one point they will fail and failure will hurt the other party (Navidian & Bahari, 2014). The definitive relief for hurt is the calming salve of forgiveness (Steele & Plenty, 2015).

This couple therefore has the key for maintaining an open and intimate love relationship since Walter is able to ask and grant forgiveness quickly. As Pam works out her relationship with God, she will also find the grace to forgive others easily. Jesus taught his disciples that said, “For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:14–15). This instruction clearly teaches all the God fearing couples to be forgivers.  

The forgiveness of God entails giving up resentment and the human desire to punish willingly (Kennedy, 2008). It’s an act of sacrifice freely letting the offending party off the hook. As a follower of Christ, an individual should not do this under coercion, screaming or objection rather one should do it with a gentle spirit and love Paul argued the church of Ephesus to be kind to one another tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ had forgiven them (Ephesians 4:32).

As Walter demonstrates his ability to willing forgive and let go of an offence, Pam will be able to comprehend its significance and gradually learn to forgive easily as its an healing balm to every heartache.

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Couple Counseling

The couple is also blessed because they adhere to Christian teaching and therefore have there spiritual beliefs etched in supreme God. This is an area of unity, it mean that the couple can fellowship and even present their problems to God in one accord through prayers. By following into the teachings of the word of God they can grow together and learn how to love, please and respect one another. Paul admonished the Philippians;

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:1-4.

Followers of Christ must conquer selfishness so that they do not give the devil a foothold in their marriage. Being a God fearing couple, Walter and Pam will be taught by the Lord how to be selfless considering others better themselves. In this kind of scenario there will be no room for name calling, violence or criticism. Once humility takes root in a marriage, there is room for forgiveness understanding and operating in harmony. The couple in this case study has a major strength in that they are able to handle transitions.

Transition is likely to bring strain and stress the family as a whole. Owing to their resilience, this couple is able to avoid anger disrespect and demands during any transitions in their family (Mack, 2010). In order to enhance more growth in this area, the couple should be taught how to find solutions to their problems without hurting each other’s feelings. The interest of every spouse should be given a consideration so that any arising conflict can be resolved amicably.  

Couple Counseling

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Weaknesses Of The Couple:

The major root of conflict in a marriage is owing to the fact that opposites attract, so people tend to married by people with varied personalities who bring, strength spice and difference in their lives(Milne,2006) ). For example, the extroverted people are attracted by the introverts; the docile people also tend to go for the hyper active types. It’s a strange phenomenon but mainly that is how people get paired in marriages and the difference in their personalities inevitably brings about conflict because of varied reasoning and perceptions.

After being married for awhile due to the varied temperaments, the attractions amongst couples may become repellents. This could lead to mean remarks, unnecessary arguments and misunderstanding when handling finances (Egan, 2006). Often, couples find their disparities so wide that they don’t understand why God put them together. You may find that your backgrounds and your personalities are so different that you wonder how and why God placed you together in the first place.

The key to resolving any tensions in a marriage is foremost understanding and accepting the differences amongst the couple in order to resolve them (Backus, 2005). Just like Adam accepted Eve, God’s gift, each one is to accept their spouse. God in his wisdom and mercy gives every individual a spouse who completes them in a very special way.  In the given case of Walter and Pam, Walter is more reserved and does not know how to handle friends and family; Pam on the other hand is more amiable and opens up their home for the relatives and friends.

Although she means well, this exuberant character does not go well with Walter and he often feels like strangers are enclosing on their space. In order to work out on this weakness, Pam must be considerate and minimize the innumerable visits from others, as she orients Walter to her world she could try and visit her friends rather than her friends visiting her frequently. Slowly, as Walter learns and accepts her perception and attachment to friends he will be able to create a room for her to entertain friends and visitors.

Couple Counseling

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This couple also experiences another problem in the area of sexual satisfaction. This is a problem commonly found amongst young couples especially when the children are young.  Often women place a lot of time, energy and attachment to the children to the point that they neglect their own husbands (Steele& Plenty, 2015). Often, men suffer silently and this could have an emotional toll on the couple. Romantic love cannot blossom unless the emotional needs of every partner are met.

The facilitator should help Pam and Walter to make a commitment to create and maintain romantic love, identify habits that destroy romance in their relationship and overcome those habits and finally identify the most important emotional needs of every partner (Milne, 2006). Once emotional needs of every partner are met, romance blossoms and this creates way for sexual satisfaction. The frequency and quality of sexual relationship that the couple will have will depend on the level of their emotional satisfaction,

Walter should set aside quality time to talk and enjoy the company of his wife. He must often help her with household chores to create time for their intimacy and he should be gentle, caring and understanding. Women crave more affection; they value gifts and like to spend time with their men talking (American Psychological Association, 2012). Walter should create room for all these to create ease and affection in their marriage. On the other hand Pam should respect and support her husband, give him space and make sure that she has reserved time for just the two of them.

Couple Counseling

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Romance in a love relationship must b cultivated and nurtured to make sure that it does not die away. Each partner in the relationship must identify and communicate their emotional needs, when making love women like to be touched and adored. Men also like watching the physique of their women during love making; it’s therefore the duty of Pam to stay attractive and sexy for her husband. Sexual satisfaction is not automatic it comes as a result of hard work, the couple must plan and deliberately take the necessary measures to make sure that they give each other maximum satisfaction. Consulting, a marriage counselor could help the couple voice out their needs and how they would like those needs to be met.

In the area of leisure activities, Walter is a bit closed up. Often, they don’t to find a common ground on what is best for their leisure activities. Pam is a very extroverted individual who values fun and pleasure so she does not have a problem with the family leisure activities. Often, because Walter is not very talkative Pam does not understand some of his attributes, she does not like how he spent his leisure and some of the habits that he shows.

This area brings in friction because the couple has not agreed on what is suitable for the family in general and how each individual can spent his/her leisure time. In order to resolve the conflict in this area, each partner is supposed to set aside his/anger or bitterness and keep the relationship current. The couple must resolve to remain in solid fellowship with each other and the children no matter their differences this will ensure that they are not isolated because of their differences. 

           Lack of proper communication has been a great impediment to this couple; this challenge hinders the couple from resolving their day to day conflicts. The quality of the family communication is low and hinders ease in flow of information which could escalate into misunderstanding.  This couple can be terrific even in the face of the various conflicts and stresses, the goal of goal of re-establishing and sustaining love in marriage is important than conflict resolution. When a couple is bonded through love and understanding conflict resolution becomes a lot easy, when there is love proper procedures for resolving conflict are instituted minimizing chances of misunderstanding. 

Couple Counseling

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Notably, Pam has weaknesses when it comes to managing her personal stress, when she encounters a stressful situation she doesn’t have the ability to internalize her stress she allows it to trickle to others even affecting the children. The best way to handle personal stress is foremost, identifying the cause of stress and then working out to eliminate all the factors leading to stress.

Moreover, it’s very prudish to talk to someone about the stressful situation as this helps a person to organize her thoughts. Therefore, Pam should come up with a strategy on the proper procedure to follow any time she is going through a stressful situation to avoid impacting the family members negatively

Strategy For Counseling And Supporting The Couple Through Church Ministry.

In order to counsel the couple in this case study effectively the ministry will devise an effective plan of action to help meet the objective of stabilizing this couple together and ensure that they attain social and emotional stability. This couple comprise of two individuals, each has got his own experiences, background and personality. Owing to some unacceptable habits and interesting idiosyncrasies they may not fit together easily. Each partner has got his expectations to be met plus trials and tribulations in life which the couple must overcome; all these factors inevitably breed a ground for conflict.

Step (i) The Couple Must Know And Accept Their Differences

Pam and Walter were brought up in different environments and they were taught varied habits, values and traditions. Pam is an extrovert while Walter is an introvert, while Pam likes to party with friends and relatives Walter would rather have his space. All these are differences between the couple that must be understood and accepted. The couple must work out to find an area of compromise to avoid straining each other.  

From the personality profile its apparent that Walter scores below average on most of the traits, for instance in regard to social change and emotional stability he scores below average. Pam on the other hand records higher scores above average (Risse, 2012). These results imply that both parties are different with varied personalities, its imperative for the two partners to know their differences in order to minimize areas of friction in their relationship (Collins, 2007). They must be encouraged to have a free communication through which they will be able to share their emotions and perceptions and reduce unnecessary conflict.

Couple Counseling

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Step (ii) Defeating Selfishness

All the differences between this couple are magnified because they feed the selfish and sinful nature of human beings. As good Christians the couple should be taught how to put the interest of the others first. The couple must be taught how to give up their own will for the will of the other. By giving up their will to Christ and continuously seeking to please the Lord, the couple will be able to resolve their conflicts and live amicably.

Romans 12:18 states “If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” According to this scripture, in order to live peacefully, the couple must pursue peace, this means taking the initiative to resolve a difficult conflict instead of waiting for the other offending party to take the first step.

Step (iii) Loving Confrontation

  • The couple will be taught the art of confronting each other with grace and tactfulness a skill which requires patience, wisdom and a lot of humility. Here are some of the tips on how this confrontation can be done.
  • The words used during the confrontation should not hurt they should bring healing and wholeness to the relationship to avoid isolating the confronted partner.
  • The attitude should be right, the message conveyed should be clear, I love you and respects you and I want you to respect me too.
  • This confrontation should be done at the right time in the right place to avoid disrespect and misundersnidng.
  • When communicating its imperative to listen to each other and ask questions for any clarifications.
  • During confrontation just voice one issue at a time, this is not time for raising many complains its time to express an area of concern.
  • Focus on the problem, but not the person, avoid name calling and belittling each other.

Step (iv) Forgiving Each Other

Often, couples will fail and this will lead to conflict, when one partner wrongs the other he should be brave enough to ask for forgiveness quickly. The couple should not let their differences escalate into a misundersnding. As sooner as a couple apologizes, the strains and tensions are minimized or finished.

Couple Counseling

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Step (v) Returning a Blessing for an Insult

1Peter 3:8-9 says, “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.” Many couples have become experts in pointing out what is not right always. Some castigate their partners on their looks, their friends, their cooking style and many more. This way they don’t have a better way to relate to each other.

Returning a blessing for an insult means stepping aside and refusing to retaliate even when your partner wrongs you. This is possible through God’s help and the humility taught by the Holy Spirit. This also means doing well like speaking kind and gentle words; keep your tongue from evil and avoiding deceitful words. A pat on the shoulder and a gentle hug and all these little deeds of affection come along way to minimize tension and bring peace for the married couple. God’s purpose in all the marriage conflicts is to test the faith of His children. Once the faith is tested it produces endurance and glory to God.  

References

American Psychological Association. (2012). Publication Manual of the American Psychological  Association. 6th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Backus, W. (2005). Telling the Truth to Troubled People. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House.Baker, S.(2011) School Counselor’s Handbook: a Guide for Professional Growth and Development. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Benner, D, (2007).  Christian Counseling and Psychotherapy. Baker Book House.

Clinebell, H. (2008) Basic Types of Pastoral Care & Counseling: Resources for the Ministry of Healing and Growth. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

Collins, G(2007). Christian Counseling: a Comprehensive Guide. Waco, TX: Word Books.

Egan, G. (2006)  The Skilled Helper: a Systematic Approach to Effective Helping. 3rd ed. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing.

Ivey A.E., (2003).Intentional Interviewing and Counseling. Fifth Edition. Thompson, Brook.

Kennedy, E. (2008) On Becoming a Counselor: a Basic Guide for Non-professional Counselors. New York: Seabury Press.

Mack, W.(2010) A.  A Homework Manual for Biblical Living. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing.

Milne B. (2006) Know the Truth. Second Edition. Inter-Varsity Press.

Navidian, A., & Bahari, F. (2014). The impact of mixed, hope and forgiveness-focused marital     counselling on interpersonal cognitive distortions of couples filing for divorce. Journal of Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing,21(7), 658-666. doi:10.1111/jpm.12058

Risse, J. (2012). Facilitator report. Life Innovations. Inc. Retrieved from:https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6VIRa5GRvEca3BFS3RfbnMxMGs/view

Ron, D. (2012). Dating and the Single Parent: are you ready to Date? Talking with your Kids, Avoiding a Big Mistake, Finding Lasting Love. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers.

Ronald, E. (1991). Strengthening Marital Intimacy. Kearney, NE: Baker Book House Company.

Steele, G. A., & Plenty, D. (2015). Supervisor–Subordinate Communication Competence and  Job and Communication Satisfaction. Journal of Business Communication52(3), 294

The King James Bible

Ron, Deal L. (2012). Dating and the Single Parent: are you ready to Date? Talking with your Kids, Avoiding a Big Mistake, Finding Lasting Love. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers.

Ronald, H. E., (1991). Strengthening Marital Intimacy. Kearney, NE: Baker Book House Company.

Solomon, C. (2008) Handbook to Happiness: a Guide to Victorious Living  and Effective Counseling. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Couple Counseling

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