No relationship has more influence on our adult life than our love relationship with our spouse. Marriage can be a source of intense pleasure or unbearable pain. Our relationship with our spouse can build us up, encourage us, and help us grow, or it can demean, tear down, and destroy. Our goal in marriage counseling is to set couples free from a destructive kind of marriage and to help them to experience the true wonder and joy marriage was meant to be.
The Real Basis of Marriage
So many couples think that marriage is all about personal happiness. Duke University Ethics professor Stanley Hauerwas writes:
“Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become “whole” and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person.
We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary challenge of marriage is learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.”
Our aim in marriage must be higher than personal happiness. We must aim at the glory of God and the good of our spouse. But that is such a high goal. It seems unattainable for hurting persons who feel like there is no hope. But our hope is not in ourselves or our spouses but in the gospel. Pastor and author Tim Keller writes,
“The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the Gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The Gospel is—we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared to believe, and at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. This is the only kind of relationship that will really transform us. Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws.
Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace.The hard times of marriage drive us to experience more of this transforming love of God. But a good marriage will also be a place where we experience more of this kind of transforming love at a human level” (Excerpt from The Meaning of Marriage).
So How Can Biblical Hope Help?
At Biblical Hope we will do more than simply help you to argue well or to speak your spouse’s love language, although both of these things are helpful. We will pray for you and help you to connect with God so that you have the resources to love your spouse for better or for worse and to be the friend and lover that your spouse longs to have and to hold.
Biblical Hope Counseling
1820 East Ray Road
Chandler, AZ 85225
(In the business plaza off of Ray Rd just west of Cooper Rd)