Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

My Answer to What It Means to Have Faith in God

Most people in America believe in God although we don’t all agree on precisely what that means.  Some simply confess to accepting the existence of a “Higher Power” while others proclaim the God of the Bible is the one true God.  Jewish believers accept only the God of the Old Testament and Christian believers accept the God of the Old Testament as well as Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit as their triune God – or God in three persons. Other religions have their own spiritual book that describes yet another version of God.  If there is only one God, some of these points of view are wrong, or all of these people are seeing the same God from a different viewpoint. Read the rest of this entry »

Get the Best Church Management Software: What You Should Know Before Buying

Church management software enables staff members to perform their tasks more effectively. They are able to communicate much better by using a single common tool, and they help in controlling the costs that are related to managing a church. However, when considering new church management software, it’s still difficult to know what to expect.  The following are the three things you need to take into consideration: Read the rest of this entry »

The Reality of Qigong Exercises And Yoga

Many people around the world practices things like qigong exercises and yoga. Some do them as exercises, but more do them hoping to get supernatural power. While someone can easily lie to have extraordinary experiences when they did not, I can assure you that a good number of the reports of such happening are real. But before you try to know how to get more power, you should take a moment to learn about where these powers truly came from. Read the rest of this entry »

Does Marriage Counseling Work?

The short answer is “yes,” marriage counseling does work, but only when it is done well and both the husband and wife are willing to do the necessary work. While even a great marriage counselor cannot help an unwilling couple, it is also vital that a willing couple have a counselor who is capable of helping them.

This article will focus on mistakes that marriage therapists and counselors sometimes make. These will give troubled couples some ideas of what to look for and look out for in choosing their counselor.

Lack of Marriage Counseling Experience

One problem that some counselors have is that they are not specifically trained in doing couples counseling. The bulk of their training and work may come in the form of doing individual counseling. Counseling a single person is not necessarily the same as trying to help a couple work out their problems.

It is one thing to listen to an individual and help them to sort out their thoughts and feelings. It is quite another thing to assist a couple in resolving possibly serious conflicts that they have been unable to fix on their own for years. As complex as an individual may be, the complexity is greatly intensified when you’re dealing with the most intimate of relationships between two human beings.

A counselor who is helping one person may spend a lot of time merely listening and allowing the individual to come to conclusions largely for themselves as to what they should do to solve their personal problem. A marriage counselor must do much more than that.

As already mentioned, a couple with conflict problems has likely already tried to work out the issues on their own, but have failed. They had come to a counselor because they need direction, better communication skills, new insights and so forth. Having not received that from a generalist, they would go away from the counseling session disappointed to say the least.

One specific problem that sometimes happens is that either the husband or the wife gets picked on because they are unwilling to conform to the program of the counselor who stresses the individual over the couple. For example, a husband may have finally agreed to come to counseling because he is afraid his marriage is about to end. He has one purpose for coming to counseling and that is find answers to his marriage problems so he can save his marriage which is on the brink.

The counselor may have a propensity to want to delve into the man’s personality, feelings, and life’s history. Since the husband may have little interest in sharing that kind of information, the counselor and even his wife may decide that it means he is not really interested in saving the marriage. However, the truth is that he does want to save his marriage and wants to be told how.

Counselors who primarily do individual counseling may not be accustomed to handling the intense conflict between a husband and wife in the counseling office. It can be not only very uncomfortable for the counselor, but he does not know how to deal with it in a way that will help the couple. Instead, he is prone to fall back into the individual counseling style that he is most comfortable with. Therefore, he will tend to focus on just one of the persons in the counseling or may even go as far as suggesting that the husband and wife go for counseling separately.

Low Commitment to Marriage Permanence

Another problem that keeps marriage counseling from being successful is that many counselors take what they consider to be a neutral position regarding divorce. In other words, the counselor is not really committed in the first place to helping the couple do all that they can to continue the marriage.

It is rather more a matter of each person determining whether or not it is best for them to stay in the marriage. It is the old what’s in it for me mentality rather than focusing on the commitment to the marriage and to each other.

The problem with this approach is that the couple has likely already had their doubts about whether the marriage can make it or not. And, the propensity of the individual is to be selfish. In addition, the counselor will hear that in the counseling sessions. The husband will give his side of the story along with supporting evidence and the wife will do the same for her side.

If the counselor places the emphasis on the individual then really there is little hope for helping the marriage. While it is inevitable that some marriages will dissolve, especially in cases where there is abuse of some sort, a good counselor is going to focus on the marriage and strive to help the couple work through their issues successfully.

Labeling Persons as Troubled

Yet another damaging approach that accounts for some marriage counseling failures is to begin to label the husband and or wife with some psychological term. Doing so suggests that the person is broken and may be difficult to fix. It can cause that individual or their partner to feel like it is either an impossible situation, or just too much work.

The counselor may in fact suggest that the marriage relationship is not worth trying to repair. They may tell the couple that it was a mistake for them to get married in the first place and that they are so totally incompatible that it would be extremely difficult for them to have a happy marriage.

In speaking individually to a husband or a wife, they may pity them for what they are having to endure in the marriage and in essence give that person more reason to believe their marriage is unsalvageable. Of course, there are reasons why one person might have to leave another including abuse, but we are speaking here of a more general unhappiness that a spouse may currently be experiencing in the marriage. An ineffective marriage counselor picks up on and supports that unhappiness.

What may really be going on here is that the counselor feels unqualified and helpless to assist the couple. Rather than admitting that to himself and the couple, he may decide he is doing the right thing by even directly suggesting to the couple that they end the marriage.

What Should a Couple Do?

Does marriage counseling work? Not always. If a couple seeking marriage help is not aware of some of the pitfalls discussed above, they may wind up with a counselor who is unable to help them.

Husbands and wives seeking help for their marriages should learn to ask lots of questions of potential counselors. The couple should ask questions that relate to the points made in this article. They can ask about the counselors training and experience, as well as specifically how much they have of each of these in the area of marital therapy. They should ask questions to get insight into the counselor’s views of marriage and divorce along with their success rate in helping couples work out their problems.

Generally speaking, licensed Christian marriage counselors will take a high view of marriage and take the approach of supporting the best that they can the couple who wishes to save their marriage.

Another advantage of Christian counseling is that many of the larger churches have professional marriage counseling resources available to the community at reasonable costs. Often the counseling fees of therapists are prohibitive for many people and a church counseling center may offer the services of a professional therapist based on the couple’s income.

For couples who do not access to such services or are limited in some way from attaining face to face counseling help, there are also now online marriage counseling services that may be of value. Some of the same steps suggested above for finding quality help is encouraged.

Six Key Ingredients for Solving Problems in Christian Marriages

There are certain key ingredients to an effective plan to help Christian couples solve any marital problem. In this article, we will briefly introduce each of these ingredients. Beyond that, a couple may find it beneficial to spend time with a Christian marriage therapist.

First of all, the husband and wife need to respect the viewpoint of the other. Two people will not see everything just alike and that is okay. Couples need to be able to disagree with each other without being disagreeable. It is not a matter of complete agreement on all things but rather acceptance of the other person. Without such implicit acceptance, the couple can become involved in manipulations of each other and a battle for power in the relationship. This in turn creates feelings of frustration and even anger.

Number two, it is extremely helpful if a couple can quickly get to the real problem. This is an area where a Christian marriage counselor can be helpful – and it sometimes requires a number of sessions with a counselor before the real problem is identified. If the husband and / or wife focuses instead on related symptoms of the problem, then any resolution to the conflict will be delayed.

Three, Christian couples need to learn how to effectively communicate to each other what they are feeling. If done wrongly that expression of feelings can do more harm than good. It is very easy when a person is hurt to lash out and say angry hurtful things to their mate. This will cause their mate to react to the criticisms, accusations, or general angry comments in like manner.

The old advice is “it not what you say but how you say it” is good advice for how Christian husbands and wives should express their emotions to each other. Too often, couples began their statements to each other using the word “you.” And it may be even pointing a finger at the other person in an accusatory way.

It is better to begin a statement with the word “I” and simply express how one is feeling. In doing so, a person is still able to offer a complaint about something, but instead of immediately going into an attack against their partner, they tell them how that makes them feel. Said that way, the other person is less likely to react in a negative fashion.

Fourth, a Christian marriage in conflict needs to evaluate a number of possible solutions to the problem. Marriage counselors will sometimes suggest that the couple actually write down possible solutions on a piece of paper and then discuss each of them. Simply doing that can provide the couple with a level of confidence that there are ways to deal with the problem. This directs the minds of the couple toward solutions rather than continuing to rehash the problem.

Fifth, sufficient time must be given to dealing with the relationship problem. And not only enough time but also the work should be done at the best time. Trying to work out a problem at the end of a long work day for both the husband and wife is usually not the best time. When people are tired it is a lot easier to get into an argument. It is better to find a time when both are reasonably rested and have enough time to focus adequately on the conflict. If either the husband or the wife becomes overly emotional or has intense feelings of anger, it is best to halt the discussion and come back to it at a later time when things have calmed down.

You have heard the expression “I was so angry I could not think straight.” And that is literally true. When a person reaches a certain level of anger it is impossible for them to think straight. When couples are that angry, they will say and do things that they would not ordinarily do.

Lastly, couples need to be patient with themselves and each other. If there were a simple solution to every problem then there would be no problems. The truth is that relationships are complex and it takes time and commitment to continue to learn and grow in the relationship.

A mature couple will understand that and that will reduce their impatience with each other. The wise couple takes the viewpoint that while they have differences they are on the same side and are committed to making their marriage not only work but be a happy one.

If a married couple continues to be stuck in a relationship problem no matter what they do, it is advisable that they seek out a Christian counselor who specializes in marital problems.

If a couple is unable to find a local marriage counselor that is affordable, then there are some other options to consider. One is that there are a number of online Christian counselors who can provide e-mail and or phone assistance. Because the counselor does not have the overhead expenses of an office they are able to offer more affordable Christian counseling services.

If you prefer and believe it would be beneficial to have face-to-face marriage counseling, then don’t give up on finding someone who could help nearby who is in your price range. Many larger churches now have Christian counseling centers staffed with licensed marriage therapists. The fees for their counseling services are often based on a scale related to one’s income. Do some searching online or in your local Yellow Pages to see if there are some of these services in your local area.

Five Principles of Resolving Christian Marriage Issues

Sometimes the problems in a Christian marriage are so severe that the best thing that the couple can do is to seek out Christian counseling services. Other times, a couple may just need a few ideas to help them move things back in a positive direction. So often, couples continue to do the same thing that is not working over and over again because it is the only way they know.

But it is foolish to continue to do something if it is not working. As the TV personality Dr. Phil often asks, “And how is that working for you?” He already knows the answer – that it is not working well for them otherwise they would not be seeking help.

In this article, we will look at several thoughts on how Christian couples can successfully deal with their marriage conflicts. These things are not difficult to do but can make a big difference in one’s marriage.

One, marriages that last a long time and are happy to boot, are marriages where both the husband and wife are willing to make personal changes. It is true that we cannot change another person, and shouldn’t try to. But we can make adjustments in ourselves and this is a requirement to have a good marriage. Another word for this is adaptability. Said more simply, it is the ability to not only take in a marriage but also to give.

Couples can respond to a conflict in one of two ways. One way is to stubbornly insist on one’s own way which easily descends into anger and heated arguments. The other way, is to look outside of oneself and consider the interests of the other person. This approach can lead to compromise or in some cases even one partner giving in to the way of the other.

Of course, in a good marriage it is not the same person who is the one always giving in to the other. If a couple chooses to be adaptable they communicate respect to each other and both husband and wife will be more inclined to work out issues agreeably.

Second, do not try to squelch disagreements. All marriages have them and the good ones acknowledge that and deal with them appropriately. If either the husband or the wife pushes conflict down within it simply grows over time. It does not do away with the disagreement but only hides it temporarily. The danger is that repressed conflicts will grow into bitterness and resentment. Once it has reached that stage, it can be much more difficult to resolve the problems.

As an example, let’s say that a wife is trying to discuss a problem with her husband. But he simply does not want to deal with it and remains quiet. He thinks that by not talking about it further that the whole issue will simply go away. It won’t. It may anger his wife and she will continue to bring it up in the future trying to get some response from her husband. Eventually he is likely not to respond, but to react. And the reaction will be negative. He is frustrated and she is frustrated. They both may become angry and the whole thing easily degenerates into a fight.

There are other ways that couples may try to avoid conflict. Some will make a joke about it and refuse to become serious over what is truly bothersome to the other. One may avoid conflict by beginning to talk about something else or even walking out of the room. You can imagine how frustrating that would be to a husband or a wife who felt strongly that an issue needed to be dealt with. Good marriages are not marriages that never have any problems. They are marriages that recognize problems when they arise and deal with them as quickly as possible.

Third, while we have stressed the necessity of dealing with conflicts, it is essential to keep the focus on resolving the conflict rather than the conflict itself. Certainly, the issue at hand needs to be clearly understood but once it is, the couple’s efforts should center around coming up with workable solutions. Instead of attacking the problem, husbands and wives began attacking each other. They only see good in themselves and bad in their partner.

As they attack and counter attack everything begins to spiral downward. Here is some of what begins to take place. He accuses her of something and so she reacts by blaming him for something else. He asks a question that is hostile in nature and so she returns with a threat of some sort against him. He puts her down and so she calls him a name.

A couple must recognize if these tactics have entered into the conflict and turn away from them to focus on the problem. Each person should try to look more at how they contribute to the problem and what they can do to help fix it. The other approach will never solve the problem and in fact will make it much worse.

Fourth, avoid piling on past grievances on your partner during an argument. Some call this gunnysacking. A farmer uses a gunnysack or burlap bag to hold vegetables or other items. These sacks are large and deep. As we go through marriage, we can figuratively carry around a gunnysack and whenever our partner says something or does something that we interpret negatively, we place that in our gunnysack. Then when an argument comes about on most anything we reach into our gunnysack and start pulling out things from the past to pile on to her mate.

It is a weapon that is used to either try to win an argument or even to hurt the other person. If a mate is being gunnysacked against, it is difficult to respond to so many grievances that wants. And so, their reaction usually is to pull out their own gunnysack and use the same tactic. If not that, then it produces in them resentments that damages the relationship beyond the immediate problem.

Fifth, avoid passive aggressive behaviors. People who do this generally are those who have difficulty handling conflict directly. This is a sneaky way of trying to get one’s own way. Instead of an overt thing said or done, this is some indirect action in which the person can claim that they had no ill intent. For example, a wife may ask her husband to do something that he really doesn’t want to do. And while he agrees to do it, he in some way messes things up in the hope that she will not ask him to ever do it again. She might think that he messed up on purpose but he would deny it. You can see how this can create distrust in the relationship.

These are just a few principles that can help Christian marriages in handling inevitable conflicts. As mentioned in the beginning of the article, a couple may find that they need to seek additional Christian marriage counseling help.

Why Do Christian Marriages Have Conflicts?

It is not true that good Christian marriages never had any conflicts. The fact is every marriage has problems including those where the husband and wife are both Christians. Being a Christian does not inoculate one from the conflicts that all people have.

It is important that Christians recognize that because if they believe that they shouldn’t have the same problems as others have they might become discouraged and believe that they and their marriage is a failure.

Every relationship has conflicts. And that certainly is true of the marriage relationship sets it is the most intimate of all relationships. Christian couples do experience conflict. They get annoyed at each other. They argue with each other. But the difference between those marriages that thrive and those that struggle is that the successful marriages find a way to work through their problems. Some find the need to seek out free Christian counseling.

They do not allow their differences to become destructive and to be so hurtful toward each other that it is practically impossible for the relationship to recover. In an ironic way conflict can end up strengthening a relationship. Once a couple has resolved a conflict they often are more in love with each other than ever before. And they have a new found confidence that they will be able to resolve any difficulties that they may face in the years ahead.

It can be helpful to understand what the sources of conflict in a Christian marriage are. Interestingly, one of the chief causes of marital conflict is intimacy. The husband and wife spend more time with each other than they do with anyone else. That creates more opportunities for conflict. And because the couple is so used to each other it is easier for them to disagree with each other. Compare that poor example to how hard or easy it would be to disagree with your employer. You probably would not be so easily inclined to argue with your boss. But because you know your husband or wife so well there is not that same hesitancy.

Another reason that Christian husbands and wives get into arguments is because of basic differences between them. After all one is male and the other is female. That is enough difference right there to explain many marital disagreements. But beyond that individuals have different personalities and temperaments. Their family of origins are different. For example, the husband might come from a family that was very close to each other. The wife of the other hand might come from a family that was disengaged from each other. Those family experiences are what make people different and can lead to conflicts.

A third reason that conflict sometimes arises in a marriage is that one person tries to change the other. There was a great piece of advice given by a divorced woman. She would say to a groom, don’t marry her if you don’t love her the way she is. Or to the bride she would say don’t marry him if you don’t love him the way he is. People do change but that change usually comes from inside. And if someone else tries to change them, like their husband or wife, they can become resentful and angry. It suggest to them that their mate is not happy with them as they are which leads to sadness, which leads to hurt, which leads to anger, which leads to defensiveness, which leads to arguments.

A fourth thing that can cause arguments is fatigue. Tiredness is the underlying cause of many heated arguments. These are the stupid arguments that couples have. They may not seem stupid at the time but when they look back on them they realize how foolish and unnecessary they were. It is important for a couple to recognize the emotional and physical state that they are in. In doing so they may be able to avoid some potential trouble.

A final reason mentioned in this article that is a source of fights in a Christian marriage has to do with differing roles and expectations. Again this can relate to family of origin issues. What dad did and what mom did creates one’s expectation for what they will do and their partner will do in their marriage relationship. So if a husbands dad worked outside the home, mowed the grass, and took care of all the cars for instance. And his mother never worked outside the home but was happy to be a homemaker then he might expect his wife to do the same. But his wife’s growing up experience and what she’s all modeled in her mother might have been very different. It does not take a genius to see how such differing expectations and desires would lead to some intense discussions to say the least.

In today’s cultural climate there are probably more challenges to marriages and higher expectations of a marriage than their have ever been before. It is a good thing that coinciding with that today there are more marriage resources available to help couples than at any other time in history. You can even find Christian counseling help online. If the marriage problems are more serious and have been around for some time it would probably be best to seek out local Christian counseling services.

Christian Online Counseling

People are doing things online these days that only a few back would be thought a bit strange to say the least. One of those things is counseling. And there are those who are particularly looking for Christian online counseling.

Christian counseling itself is unique from counseling in general. Those seeking it believe in the Christian message and that its principles can give them help that they could get in no other way. And the Christian counselor believes much the same and draws on the Christian faith in giving the help seeking person directives for their lives.

This has been done on a face to face basis for generations but now with all the technology there other avenues being used including counseling by telephone, email and video conferences. It’s not for everybody and not for every kind of problem. There are serious problems that require more immediate and personal intervention. But there is a time and place for online Christian counseling.

In this article we’ll suggest advantages and disadvantages of using online counseling services.

First some advantages.

Some problems are embarrassing or for one reason or another hard for a person to open up and talk about in front of someone else. You do maintain a bit of anonymity through counseling online. You may find it easier to open up and say more than if you were physically present with a counselor.

Second, it is a time saver. One hindrance to people getting counseling help can be in just finding the time to go. You’ve got to drive to the counselor’s office and perhaps wait for your appointment. This can be very time consuming. Time that you could be using writing emails and going over them thinking carefully about what you want to say to express the problem you are having. And the writing of these emails themselves can be therapeutic and part of the growing/learning process.

A third benefit of this approach to counseling is that you may have more choices of counselors online than you do in your own home city. Especially in you live in a smaller town, you may not have many choices of local counselors. Nor do you want the gossip mill to begin that you are seeing a counselor.

But what about possible disadvantages? These are important and should be taken into consideration.

A good counselor is trained to take into consideration non-verbals from the counselee. Obviously this isn’t possible with communications over the Internet and even video interactions are not as good as being in the same room with another person. It may take more time then in the give and take in questions and answers to get to the bottom of things.

There is also the privacy issue. While protections and safeguards can be used I suppose there is no absolute guarantee that online communications could never become known to someone else. You might want to discuss this with any online counselor can you talk with. They should know some of the ins and outs of maintaining privacy.

And third, some problems just shouldn’t be handled online. They are serious enough and immediate enough that a person should seek local professional counseling help as soon as possible.

All said and done there is a place for Christian online counseling and it’s up to you to determine if it is the right thing for you do to.

Free Christian Counseling

If you are looking for free Christian counseling you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding it. And there is no shame in looking for help. Everyone, that is everyone needs help at some point in their life. As Scott Peck stated in the beginning of his book The Road Less Traveled, life is tough.

Fortunately, there are Christian people who recognize this and growing out of their compassion as Christians are eager to help.

Here are just some of the problems people look for Christian counseling services.

Divorce. While the divorce rate has declined some it is still high. And it affects people who never thought it would. It is one of the most difficult and painful things that a person can go through. When divorce can’t be prevented through free marriage counseling, the divorced may very well need counseling help to get through the transitions they must go through.

Pornography. This is an addiction that is taking over more and more lives. With the easy availability and anonymity of the internet, it is far too easy for people to become entrapped and it often ruins their lives and disrupts their families.

Personal bankruptcy. In these days of financial crises more people (and those who never thought it would happen to them) are dealing with the loss of jobs and sometimes their homes. These financial problems may be beyond a person’s control. Other times people bring financial ruin on themselves through poor money management. In that case, free Christian financial counseling could be helpful.

Grief. Losing a loved one can turn a person’s world upside down. People who are grieving often think they are going crazy and that their reactions are somehow abnormal. A good counselor can help the grieving person understand that grief is a process and what they are going through is normal and typical.

Failing health. A person may have been very healthy all their life and then suddenly find themselves facing a serious illness. Another person may be facing a chronic illness, one that simply is with them everyday of their life. If nothing else, counseling may allow such a person to talk about their feelings and that in itself can be helpful.

Depression. This may be related to some of the issues already outlined here. The tough things that happen in a person’s life can get them down to the point where they cannot function in a healthy way.

On and on the list could go but the point has been made. Everyone struggles with problems and sometimes need some outside help. Counseling with a licensed therapist may be needed but for some the cost is prohibitive.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you are looking for free christian counseling.

It is assumed that you are looking for a Christian counselor because you believe they believe some things that are vital to getting good help. You believe that they are helping you primarily because of their Christian commitment to help others. You believe that they have personal faith that will influence any directives that they are offer you. You believe that such a counselor would not suggest you do anything that was wrong or harmful to yourself or others.

You should realize that some Christian counselors are licensed therapists and other who may offer counseling help are not. So you should probably make a distinction between a Christian counselor therapist and just a Christian who offers counseling help. The later may have years of experience and some formal training however. Just be sure you know what you are looking for and what you get.

It will easier to get free help from a non-licensed therapist. Many ministers serve such a role or others in a local church that have heart for helping others. You could begin at your own church or if you don’t have one, or it is too small, you could ask around your friends and family members about any services at their church.

Many churches these days, especially the larger ones, do have licensed Christian therapists on staff. Some even have a entire counselor center with a number of counselors to choose from. Sometimes services may be free or at least on a sliding scale related to the counselee’s income level.

You should also know that not all Christian counselors will take the same approach. Some rely more heavily on Scripture in counseling while others may rely more on counseling theory and principles. A balance between the two would likely be best in many cases but again you just want to know which you are getting and that you comfortable with that approach.

Finally, while there are more and more online counseling services begin offered, including online Christian counseling, there are distinct advantages to doing it face to face. Some of the helping skills that a trained counselor has are related directly to being in the same space.

However, if that is not possible right now for whatever reason, don’t rule looking for help online. It could at least be a starting place from which if needed you could move onto to more direct and personal help. You may begin with free Christian phone counseling as a way of easing into to opening up on a difficult or embarrassing problem you are facing.

This is true as well for free premarital counseling. There are online marriage prep courses that you can use and let them help you identify key areas in your relationship so that when you go see a counselor you can focus on those issue.

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