Ephesians 5:15-33

The model of the ideal marriage:

     1) Mutual love and respect, mutual submission

     2) Authority rest on the husband

     3) Wives are to submit, as to Christ

     4) Husbands are to love sacrificialy (to the point of death?)

     5) Paul does not make one's own action contingent on the actions of the other

     6) Husbands should be dedicated to their wives' best (intellectually, education, character, health, emotional well-being)

Question: What is the nature of husband's authority?

     • This is the key question in regards to Christian marriage counseling

     • The second key question is what does it mean to submit. Essentially I see no difference between man loving their wives and wives submitting to husbands. They  both come after the statement: "Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ."

Divorce: Matt. 5,31-32

Jesus only allows for divorce when there has been adultery/perversity.

Proposition: Most troubled marriages are some variation of a lack of faith in the principles listed above.


     • Most marriages end in the first 5 years

     • Marriages that begin young are at higher risk of divorce

     • Marriages that begin with living together are at a higher risk for divorce

     • Children whose parents divorced are at a higher risk for divorce

     • Marriages in which drug or alcohol abuse is a factor are at greater risk for failure

     • Marriages when a member has a history of sex abuse are at risk

     • Best predictors for success: same values; pre-martial abstinence from sex, long      courtship

Marriage counseling

     • Most people marry at the same developmental level (psychological organization is at a similar place)

     • It is somewhat true that opposites attract: emotionally expressive person with an emotionally reserved person.

     • People tend to marry mates similar to their parents - in character and organization, not necessarily in expressive style

     • The most commonly reported marriage problems: Child raising techniques



     • When people remarry, they will likely pick a similar mate.

Marriage Counseling Theory: A series of paradoxes

     • The client is the couple, not either individual = the therapist works to remain neutral or balanced.

     • Individual growth is a must for both participants

     • Both the husband and wife will seek to get the counselor our of his/her neutral position

     • Usually, one or the other spouse will be the power player in the marriage and growth of the marriage will require giving up power for sake of the marriage

     • Usually both will have an equal contribution to the marriage problems though one will almost always appear worse. This makes it difficult to maintain a neutral stance.

     • Transference is usually at work in martial problems. However it is more difficult to spot, and more difficult to make use of because it is not aimed at the therapists.

     • Issues of separation and individualism are almost always at work: these surface when one's mate begins to grow and the other one resists the change

     • Marriage Counseling only begins to work when both members look inward and  examine themselves and stop blaming the other or making excuses based on the other's behavior.

Marriage Counseling Goals:

     • Individualization with improved intimacy

     • Improved communication

     • Improved self-understanding

     • Decreased conflict

     • Balance of power in the relationship

     • Improved care taking

     • Self- lessness

     • Assistance with developmental transitions

     • Decreased enmoshment or codependency

     • Decreased isolation or disconnection

     • Honest communication: no triangulation

     • Improved sexual intimacy

     • Resolution of or decreased transference

     • Increased mutual affection

Marriage Counseling Techniques

     • Joining: making both members comfortable with the therapist

     • Communications training

            - "I feel" statements

            - listening skills

            - giving adequate feed back to each other

            - non-sexual touch

     • Physical manipulation of seating

     • Act as an interpreter between partners

     • Educate on issues of sexuality

     • Recapturing courtship = retelling of the story

     • Homework

     • Restructure time / make life changes

     • Prayer / prescribed prayer           

     • Anger management and assertiveness training

     • Teach couples to fight fair

     • Contain  excess stress / emotion

     • Give hope

     • Build up the individuals

     • Educate on child rearing techniques

     • Redirect communication from the therapist to the other spouse

Marriage Counseling Pitfalls

     • Being put in the position of keeping secrets

     • When one spouse has a hidden agenda

     • Siding with one spouse or the other

     • Mixing individual with marriage counseling

            - not always wrong

            - difficult to go back to martial after doing individual

            - problems with confidentiality

     • Getting drawn into an argument

     • Trial separation

     • Own spouse isn't invested in counseling

     • Marriage problems that "spill over" into the greater church family

     • Character disorders = not enough ego to go around

     • Codependency

     • The risk of change: Individual growth at the expense of martial intimacy

- notes from Dr.M. Dobbs Counceling class