Ten (10) Indicators of Successful Marital Counseling after Serious Sin and Destruction
Author: Leslie Vernick
Category: Counseling, Marriage
When a couple comes to a counselor or pastor for help after serious and repetitive sin, how do we measure progress? Often we see a couple for months without ever defining clear goals or defining what needs to change. Below are ten indicators that I use that help me know that a couple is healing.
1. The past is now the past. Sometimes the couple comes to counseling not wanting to talk about the past because they are anxious to move toward healing and restoration. But true healing can’t take place if you don’t face it, own it, repent from it, grieve it and forgive it.
The past must be explored in depth because otherwise it’s likely to repeat itself in the present and future, despite someone’s promises that it won’t. So the counseling must explore why did it happen? What needs to change so it won’t happen in again? The past is only the past when enough time has passed that we see it is not repeating itself in any way in the present.
2. Both people in the marriage can now freely bring up hot topics or difficult feelings in their marriage relationship with safety. There is no shaming, no retaliating, no minimizing or blaming.
3. Both people are open, and willing to learn how to be a better spouse and build a healthier relationship. They feel free to disagree with one another and there is a teachable attitude on both of their parts.
4. Time outs as well as other boundaries are honored and respected outside the counseling hour. If one or the other had a hard time communicating effectively, they would wait until things cooled down or they would reach out for further help from their counselor.
5. Both partners now take mutual responsibility for the maintenance and repair of the relationship and other family responsibilities.
6. Power and responsibility would be shared. There is a double standard where the rules that apply to one person in the marriage don’t apply to the other.
7. Trust is being rebuilt in the here and now. It is seen as precious and safeguarded.
8. If there is a slip, or a repeat of past history or other serious sin, or even a reminder of it, the person responsible would acknowledge it and take corrective action, whether that means apologize and make amends, or get back into counseling in order to stop a further downward spiral of the marital progress.
9. A person’s feelings would inform him or her, not control him or her. Self-awareness, self-reflection, self-control and self-correction would be part of their daily habits.
10. They have invited several close friends or family into their lives to help them grow and keep them accountable.
Posted on March 9, 2015