“Well, actually nothing. Miley Cyrus and her husband just separated. This is something we should grieve or ignore, not further publicize. I don’t need her to teach me anything.”

Ok. But think about this.

Divorce under any circumstances is painful—painful to God, painful to the couple, painful to everybody affected by it.

With enough troubles of our own, Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth separating less than a year into their own marriage need not be newsworthy to us. Not because our hearts don’t break anytime a marriage starts crumbling, but because it’s really none of our business.

But consider that it’s also news your kids are ingesting whether you want them to or not.

They may not particularly care about the separation. But they’re definitely influenced by the surrounding interviews, Instragram pics, and, in her case, lyrics—all dripping with worldview and teaching them a way to think about marriage.

Worldview is always something we need to take seriously. Because how we think and are taught to think about relationships precedes how we’ll act in them.

So while we don’t need to regurgitate every bit of poisoned cotton candy offered up by popular culture, some moments have value for the sake of our own thinking and the futures of our kids.

We certainly don’t need to judge this couple, but her own words and thinking are worth reflecting on—if for no other reason than to judge ourselves.

A lyric worth exploring

While talking about marriage and her new album in a recent interview, Cyrus offered great insight into the relational spirit of the age. She explained her approach to marriage in the context of a lyric.

“I have a new song, ‘Never Be Me,’ and the chorus says, ‘If you’re looking for faithful, that’ll never be me. If you’re looking for stable, that’ll never be me. If you’re looking for someone that’ll be all that you need, that’s never going to be me.”

Let’s take the message of this lyric seriously and think about it in the context of a marriage.

“Be all that you need?” We can probably pass on that. Not really possible in either direction. Though a desire to try becomes a nice gesture.

But faithfulness? Absolutely need it for marriage to work.

Stability—at least in the sense that I’m rooted and grounded and not going anywhere? Essential ingredient of marriage.

“Never Be Me” becomes a confession in advance that I’m committed to the exact opposite of what it takes to truly be married. (Or be a good parent. Or a good friend.) In marrying me, you’ll never get what your heart desires—which we’ll come back to shortly.

In another interview, her representative told the Associated Press that they decided a break was best while they focus on “themselves and careers.”

All of this amounts to a worldview, a perspective loaded with implications for how we enter a relationship. So let’s consider any marriage founded on these commitments:

  1. Committed to unfaithfulness
  2. Committed to instability
  3. Committed to not being all you need
  4. Committed to myself
  5. Committed to my career

Nothing to see here, folks, just move right along. Easy to critique, easy to discern a recipe for relational failure, right?

How could any marriage survive under the weight of these starting points? It can’t.  But while it’s always easier to dispassionately point them out in someone else’s relationship—especially after a break up—can we see them in our own?

How many of us enter marriage having already absorbed a worldview similar to this? It might hurt to think about it, but consider whether these statements have ever been true about your own approach to marriage:

  • We allow our hearts to develop unfaithful affairs and attachments: with people, with play, with possessions.
  • We’re more concerned with our spouse fulfilling our dreams for marriage than trying to fulfill theirs.
  • We allow work to shape our identity in ways that undermine our marital oneness.
  • We quietly embrace the instability that comes with knowing divorce is always an option.
  • We prioritize ourselves first and foremost.

Even starting marriage with three or four of these in place promises trouble.

Though we masterfully keep our faulty pre-married, self-centered commitments hidden as long as we can, they eventually seep through the cracks of our marriage.

If we’re honest, we might find in our own hearts many of the same active saboteurs that undo much more public marriages like this one.

Over time, our kids seeing these same “commitments” played out in their home becomes considerably more persuasive than anything going on in celebrity culture. So it’s worth reflecting on.

“Complex” and “modern” and “new”?

In another interview she gave months before the divorce, Cyrus revealed her belief in the distinctiveness of her approach to marriage.

“But my relationship is unique. And I don’t know that I would ever publicly allow people in there because it’s so complex, and modern, and new that I don’t think we’re in a place where people would get it,” she says. “I mean, do people really think that I’m at home in a (expletive) apron cooking dinner? I’m in a hetero relationship. But I still am very sexually attracted to women.”

Her self-interpretation regarding her take on relationships probably conjures a slew of words in your own mind.

But “modern”? Crassness, vulgarity, and sexual lewdness are hardly modern ideas. They originated in Genesis 3 and have been weaving themselves into the tapestry of human history ever since.

What she’s describing isn’t really “new,” as she says, is it? No way. It’s old as pre-flood dirt.

It’s Genesis old. It’s Abraham giving his wife to another man as a bribe old. It’s Potipher’s wife seducing Joseph old. It’s Old Testament kings with their harems old. It’s Jezebel old.

Hedonism isn’t complex either. It’s raw and untamed and rather simple. It childishly acts upon whatever feeling rises to the surface. It’s easy to understand. We experience it quite naturally.

Congratulating ourselves for throwing off restraint actually smells of something primeval. Rebellion toward tradition? Sexual experimentation and perversion? Redefining God’s order in the universe to suit ourselves? Been around forever.

Two-thousand year old Romans 1 explains why TMZ will always have plenty of fresh material.

Agape love, commitment, fidelity—those have always been radical words, unique, complex. To be experienced by humans, they require a spiritual transformation.

What she describes as unique really isn’t at all. But a transformed heart? That proves harder to find.

Indeed, if you see these positive traits in yourself or in those around you, remember: you didn’t start this way. God did a special work in your heart to bring these words to life.

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A quest for something more

So I wonder if Miley wasn’t all that radical in her approach to marriage. Really, in today’s climate perhaps the only radical aspect of their situation is that they got married in the first place.

That may be the most interesting question of all. In an age that celebrates avoiding anything that hinders our quest for self-fulfillment, why do we still intuitively believe marriage has something to offer?

Maybe that’s not so complicated either.

We do it because we crave something marriage inherently dangles in front of us—genuine intimacy and depth of relationship. We just don’t always do—or sometimes even understand—what it takes to bring them about in our marriage.

Many of us put a ton or work into preparing for our wedding day. But the best marriage ceremonies still only provide temporary, superficial intimacy, even for those tying the knot. The hard work of developing real intimacy is just beginning.

That’s why in the two minutes it takes for a couple to read their vows to one another, another nine couples filed for divorce somewhere around the country within the first five years of their own marriage.

Because real intimacy takes work. And a commitment to resist what comes natural so we can experience the supernatural.

The prospect of real intimacy

Contrary to the self-centered starting points marking so many—most?—marriages, real intimacy flows out of completely opposite commitments:

  1. Intimacy needs faithfulness and stability as foundations. (II Thessalonians 3:3)
  2. Intimacy requires trying to meet your spouse’s needs in a way no other human relationship will attempt. (Philippians 2:3,4)
  3. Intimacy demands a willingness to die to self, so that we might find greater selves. (John 15:12,13)
  4. Intimacy requires making a great marriage superior to making a great career.  (Ephesians 5:32)

We crave intimacy, but then readily welcome a near constant flow of imposters. Superficial physical or emotional hookups foster fake intimacy. Pornography produces fake intimacy. Romance novels offer fake intimacy.

Saying we’re married when we know in advance we’re going to give ourselves to other lovers is fake intimacy. Reciting vows, living together, but then investing energy only in the comfort and convenience of ourselves? Fake intimacy.

Living together and sharing a bed and other partners isn’t marriage—it’s an extended adolescent hookup.

Marriage with a hustler caveat—we’re married but I’m going to cheat on you if something better comes along or I just feel like it—undermines the possibility of intimacy from the outset.

That’s consumer-driven marriage. Tinsel-town relationship patterns that never really produce the intimacy our hearts crave.

Though it makes us squeamish to consider, the selfish inclination of our heart tends more toward what the prophet Ezekiel repeatedly called whoredom rather than faithfulness. The Bible argues that we are all tramps at our core and in dire need of soul-cleansing chastity.

Remember Hosea? His marriage to Gomer—“a wife of whoredom”—marks one time in history that God actually endorsed a marriage founded on infidelity and unfaithfulness.

Through Hosea and Gomer, God says to everyone then and now, “Stop giving yourself to false idols with your mind, heart, and body. Repent! Return to me and find the intimacy you crave.”

And that’s the hook. God reveals that in the midst of our “whoring” about with people and things and everything other than Him—even in the context of our own marriage—what we really desire is a substantive connection with Him.

His is an invitation to true intimacy, of being refreshed by real waters that quench real thirst. No more imposters. No more scrounging around dry cisterns. Just the real thing, found in Him, practiced and played out in relationship with our spouse.

It’s what Hosea and Gomer needed. It’s what their Israeli brothers and sisters needed. It’s what the pagans around them needed. It’s what you and I need. It’s what Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth need.

Real intimacy in our relationship with God.  Real intimacy in our relationship with our spouse.

Thanks but no thanks

So I need my kids to understand that what Miley says about marriage isn’t radical. There’s nothing particularly new about living selfishly or unfaithfully in the context of a relationship—it comes perfectly natural to us all.

Nor do we need to judge them or anyone else stumbling along in their quest for intimacy.

But for the sake of our families we need to at least say what used to be obvious. That choosing this path not only angers and sorrows God, but also harms your own self.

It makes a mockery of the concept of marriage. It does damage to the body and soul of anyone who chooses the same road.

And you won’t find true intimacy, which is what you’re after in the first place.

But a committed, faithful relationship will always be the most radical idea.  An idea whose seeds contain the possibility of growing into genuine intimacy. And one always worth pursuing even today.

Copyright © 2019 Ed Uszynski. All rights reserved.Miley Cyrus and her husband just separated

We had been through a winter, spring, and summer since my wife’s death. The kids and I were craving her cooking. It was fall, and that called for chili.

My convictions about chili run deep. The first rule is: no beans. The second: chili is best made with steak, not ground beef. On the matter of no beans there must be no compromise. The type of meat is a preference.

So, I double-checked the recipe and made sure to add the ingredients to my grocery list: onion, green pepper, garlic, beef bouillon …

You should know that my wife was a home economist. She never bought pre-cut stew meat. Instead, she always insisted on buying a roast and cutting it up herself in order to save money. Since I was doing this on my own now, I was tempted to buy the stew meat. But, no. I would do this the right way. Her way.

I could almost feel her

Once home from the store, I began the prep—chopping veggies, measuring seasonings, cutting up the steak …

And crying.

The pepper and onion sizzling in the pan created an olfactory sensation that went straight through my nose, dove into my memory, and stuck a landing in my heart. Suddenly, I was back to last fall. And she was there.

She was chopping the veggies and cutting the meat. Stirring the pot, smiling, and quietly singing. She did that when she was in the kitchen.

Cooking was sacred to her, doing something she loved for people she loved. The sounds and smells always pulled me out of my office and into the kitchen. I loved seeing her there.

But she wasn’t there anymore. The smells deceived me.

I shook it off and went back to work, cutting the steak into cubes and dropping them in the pan.

An ugly realization

Cutting the roast was harder than it should have been because the knife was dull. And that’s when the crying turned ugly. The early tears were sadness. But these were regret. I was lamenting a missed opportunity.

How many times had she asked me to sharpen those knives? And what would it have cost me to do it? A few minutes. A little effort. Not much at all.

But how much would it have meant to her?

It would have said: I hear you. I love you. I want to make your life a little easier. You planned the menu. You watched the budget. You clipped the coupons (digital coupons were not yet a thing) and made sure to hit the store on double-coupon day. You knew I loved your chili. You wanted to make me happy. To make us happy.

And all you asked of me was to sharpen the knives. I missed the opportunity. You didn’t nag. Just asked. Many times. And every time I intended to do it. I really meant to sharpen them. But I never did.

A missed opportunity.

And so I stood, the meat only partially cut because the knives were dull and my hand hurt. I’m sure hers had too.

Sharpening knives

Brothers, whatever your version of sharpening the knives is, please do it. Today. Sometimes it really is the little things that make the biggest difference.

Being faithful to your wife means more than “forsaking all others” or turning off the porn. It’s not just about what you don’t do, it’s also about what you do. And sometimes the little things are what you need to do most. “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much . . .” (Luke 16:10).

Do the little things for her, and keep doing them. Say thank you, hold her hand, look in her eyes when she talks, clear the table, open the door. Call her. Text her. Do the little things. Don’t call attention to them, just do them. Don’t miss a big opportunity to do a little thing.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Grissom. All rights reserved.

It happened again. That moment of realization. Ohhh, I know what she’s doing. She’s initiating. She desires me. My wife wants sex. But, uh—I’m not feelin’ it right now. So, no thanks?

You ever been there? Turning down the lady’s advances?

I’ll never forget the visceral disagreement I had in college. On the eve of my wedding, my mentor told me, “Justin, one day soon there will be a day when your wife wants sex, but you’ll be too tired. You’ll decline.” I’m thankful I don’t remember the specifics of my response. But it went something like, “You’re flat out wrong, you lesser man, you!”

Needless to say, on the fourth night of the honeymoon, I said, “Babe, I’m spent. Can we just, like, cuddle?”

Men, we’ve been told a narrative our entire lives that we are the lions. That our sex drive should be higher than our wives’. That we must initiate intimacy every time. That this is what it means to be a man.

Anything less? Anything else besides this? Well, are you even a man? These lies are loud in our heads.

Is declining her advances okay?

Now, let’s get something straight: to decline is just fine. Every once in a while, that is.

Marital sex is a language. It’s a conversation. It’s worship. Therefore, it must be regular. But nowhere in the Bible are we prescribed a number of times per week. The Bible doesn’t command us to say yes every time. There are days, even seasons, where sex just ain’t gonna happen. (Several weeks post-pregnancy, for example. And also as Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians, the mutual agreement to temporarily pause intercourse to pray, only to resume once done.)

But a pattern of saying no when your wife wants sex? Well, that becomes a problem. Here’s why. Think about it from her perspective.

Turning her down when your wife wants sex can cause…

1. Insecurity

My man keeps saying no. Does he even want me? Am I still attractive to him? Does he care? 

It’s easy to see the natural progression into fear.

2. Fear 

What’s wrong with me? Am I not beautiful to him? Does my body not stimulate him anymore? Is he receiving stimulation from somewhere else? Is he watching porn? What if there is … someone else?

Then, it tilts towards anger.

3. Anger 

Okay, so he has the energy to golf with friends this afternoon but not take care of me? Forget it. Not trying anymore. I’ve been with the kids all day, and I just want to feel like an adult! I love my kids. But I long to be touched in a non-annoying way. Did I marry a man or a boy?

Okay, so flash back to that moment of realization. She’s initiating and you’re not feelin’ it. Consider the situation from her perspective. Reread the last few paragraphs for help in this. Then, here are some ideas to think about.

Admit you might not be feelin’ it … but you’re still needin’ it

As mentioned, sex is integral to the health of the marriage.  The pleasure, the love, the closeness, the chemicals released in the brain, the spontaneous conversations during, the anticipation, the little winks in public afterwards. Our bodies were quite literally made for it.

It’s almost like … God created it for our joy. (Which, of course, he did!) Whoa.

Constant refusal of this is therefore unhealthy. Husband, you might not feel like you’re in the mood. Fair enough. Still, you need it. So does your wife.

Go ahead. Partake. Whew, the sacrifice.

Understand that your body is under her authority

Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians, “For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another…” (7:4-5).

It’s mutual, yes. Praise God for that. But, husbands, our focus is that she, in a sense, owns our body. We shouldn’t deprive her of it. My decision to have sex or not is filtered through if my wife wants sex as much as if I want sex.

Delight often follows duty

It’s a principle we all must learn. It applies to studying the Bible, rolling out of bed for church, and even sex with our wife. While in a perfect world we’d be delighted to make love every single time, it sometimes doesn’t work that way.

So, it often comes down to duty. It’s our duty to care for her in this way. What’s cool is that delight follows—or flows out of—duty.

Practically, you begin a half-hearted kiss with a semi-grumpy attitude. But a few this and thats later … there’s no place you’d rather be!

You are her storyteller

Whether you mean it or not, you’re weaving a story. You’re crafting her story, one in which she’s the main character. It’s likely the story of who she is that she tells herself inside her own head. But it’s this story that gets to the core of her heart.

Every time you refuse her sexual advances you’re (likely unintentionally) communicating some pretty awful things to her. Especially if it’s a pattern. Things that can spiral into insecurity, fear, and anger.

(Let me add that if you’re a man facing medical challenges in this area that is different than simply only wanting sex on your own schedule. But still you should openly talk with your wife about it and also to your doctor.)

Conversely, saying yes when your wife wants sex—even when you’d rather sleep, work out, finish a work project, scroll Instagram or whatever—communicates your high value of her. Your yes tells her she is worthy, beautiful, and yours. All of her.

Husband, it’s not a perfect world. It’s not a perfect marriage. We aren’t perfect lovers.  And we often don’t handle things in a Christ-like way.

But with a little perspective shift, a slight adjustment of belief, and a minor increase in action, our wives, in God’s grace, will flourish emotionally, spiritually, and physically. It might not be easy. But nothing glorious ever is.

Copyright © 2019 Justin Talbert. All rights reserved.

Justin Talbert serves as the Student Pastor at Christ Community Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. He received his MDiv from Covenant Theological Seminary. Justin and his wife May, have three Vikings-in-training: Soren, Aksel, and Isen. You can find him on Instagram: @justinltalbert. And he regularly blogs at getgroundedministries.com.

“You’re in your room for the rest of the summer!” My husband shouted to our five-year-old. “And you’re never coming out!” He slammed the door to the garage and shoved the car keys on the nearby hook.

It had all started as a regular, sunny Saturday. My husband suggested going to the pool for the afternoon. Our seven-year-old grabbed her towel and cover up. Our five-year-old flopped on the floor squealing something about the wrong pair of shoes.

And everyone came undone.

My husband had given the get-ready-for-the-pool directions, so I tried really hard to let him stay the parent in charge. But the louder the squeals, the harder and harder it got to not intervene with parenting advice and discipline directives.

Rookie mistake

You should know that our life changed a year ago. We moved across the country to be close to the medical care our daughter needs. Which meant my husband left his successful—yet demanding—dream career of high school coaching.

For the past 12 years, he spent most of his time instructing other people’s teenaged boys. He’s proficient in building a baseball program. Taking a team to regionals. Throwing his hat to argue the winning call. Teaching boys to become men. He is even the multi-named 5A Coach of the Year.

Consequently, until this past year, he hasn’t had a lot of experience in the kicking over shoes and puffy hair complaints from our two young girls.

Until this past year, our girls ate popcorn and played in the dirt behind the bleachers to cheer on their “Daddy Coach” at all the home games. Then I hurried them home to tuck them in at dusk, hours before Daddy was home from cleaning up the field.

But now, he is home with us on Saturdays. Now at bedtimes, he is reading the stories and saying the prayers. Now at dinnertime, he spoons veggies onto pink plastic plates and cuts meat into kid-sized bites.

So in the past year, my husband had a steep learning curve in getting acclimated to our home life. And I had a steep learning curve at letting him be involved, even though I’d always wanted him to be.

To put it bluntly, he wasn’t so sure he knew what to do in parenting our kids, simply because of lack of practice. And most days, I was sure his amateur hope in their cooperation was sorely overestimated.


Back to our sobbing five-year-old locked in her room for the summer. Our frustrated seven-year-old had goggles still perched on her head. My husband was across the living room, huffing that kids are hard and we never have fun and it always ends like this. I was trying to silence the “know-it-all” voice in my head and, instead, turn up the compassionate voice listening to my well-meaning husband discouraged over a tough parenting fail.

I had been there. Many, many times over the past seven years. This looked like his first rodeo. But I recognized the desire and the defeat in his eyes.

I wanted to fix it for our girls. I didn’t think what my husband had done was fair. Still, I didn’t think I should swoop in behind him to undermine his parental authority in our home.

I wanted to fix it for him, too. Give him the long list of ways I knew the girls would’ve responded differently from the first “grab your towels” request. Or ways he could’ve expected obedience starting at 8 a.m. Ways I’d proven it with our kids over the hours, days, years I’d spent parenting them. But I remembered I learned those from trial and error, too.

We all felt stuck when we’d set out for some fun.



Then he said it

In his resettled voice, he called everyone to the kitchen. Three sets of eyes stared at him, waiting. I could tell he was nervous. I’m sure the girls could, too.

“I’m sorry,” he finally said. “Mommy, I’m sorry. Annie, I’m sorry. Audrey, I’m sorry. I let my anger get to me.”

The stares continued because we weren’t expecting his admission.

“Just like I’ve been teaching you girls about repentance this week, sometimes Daddy has to admit he is wrong too. Then admit it to God, repent, and ask for forgiveness. So will you forgive me?”

The girls looked at me. I started nodding. Their little blonde heads followed.

“Is anyone still up for the pool? Can we start over and still have a fun afternoon together?”

Our girls didn’t need me to lead the nodding on that one.

Later that night as we cleaned up from dinner and brought the now-dried pool towels in from the patio chairs, I told my husband thank you. “What you did this afternoon changed our whole day. Thanks for saying what you said and doing what you did.”

His admission and apology definitely changed that Saturday for the four of us. But more than that, his humility and courage proved to both of us that he does in fact have the chops for this parenting stuff.

And I have to admit that while I might have logged more hours in the day-to-day duties, he just set the new standard for open communication, healthy confession, and apology in our home. That’s a great way to lead a family.

Copyright © 2019 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

Tracy Lane is a writer for FamilyLife. She is the author of numerous articles, coauthor of Passport2Identity, and guest on multiple FamilyLife Today broadcasts. Tracy and her husband Matt have two daughters. Follow her special needs motherhood journey at HeartForAnnie.wordpress.com. Find her on instagram @HeartForAnnie. 

I still have my original, marked-up copy of I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris. My mother gave it to me during my freshman year of high school. Inside, she left a handwritten note. Dated March 9, 2002: I pray that this book would shed some light on what it means to be godly as you begin this phase in your life.

I am among the generation that was shaped, both good and bad, by the teachings of author Joshua Harris. More than one million copies of I Kissed Dating Goodbye were sold after its original publication in 1997. As a college student, I read his follow-up book, Boy Meets Girl.

For me, it didn’t change many of the convictions I already had about dating. I just wasn’t the kind of person that was ever going to “date around” anyway. Harris’s books helped me believe God cares deeply about who we date and marry. And He desires for us to follow His will throughout the process.

So, reading about Harris’s self-described “falling away” from the faith in recent weeks has been quite unbelievable. In case you missed it, Harris announced on social media that he and wife Shannon are separating. And he has re-evaluated much of his belief system. In fact, he no longer identifies as a Christian.

The announcement felt personal—like it had come from a family member or close friend.

An apology

Maybe that’s because I actually had the chance to meet Harris a couple of years ago. It was a full-circle moment for me. Here was the man that had impacted so many young Christians my age. Now on an apology tour of sorts for the “damage” his view of dating and courtship had caused.

Around that time, he appeared in the documentary I Survived “I Kissed Dating Goodbye.” In the film, Harris appears with other young adults who say they were hurt by the idolization of virginity and the formulaic approach to a “happily ever after” prescribed in his book about courtship.

Instead of pushing young adults to pursue dating with purpose, many people said I Kissed Dating Goodbye led males to become passive. They were wary to pursue any girl without knowing for sure she was wife material. Lisa Anderson addressed this cultural moment on FamilyLife Today®.

When we met, I appreciated Harris’s kind spirit, humility, and willingness to admit where he went wrong with the books. Was everything he said wrong? No. But did it possibly change an entire generation of young Christians and their idea of biblical dating? Probably. At least he was willing to admit so.

What an absolutely wild thing to think Joshua Harris has now left the Christian faith completely. His view of relationships has made a total 180 if there ever was one.

As I grapple with these new revelations, there are a few sobering reminders I’m thinking through for myself and those around me.

We are all prone to wander

As the beloved hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” says,

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above

We are constantly at war with ourselves, our sin nature, and Satan himself. Satan wants nothing more than to blind us into no longer believing the truth.

What happened to Joshua Harris can happen to anyone. He’s just as human as the rest of us. We need to remember that before we rush to any judgment.

It takes a daily dying to ourselves and living for Christ to keep our hearts and minds from wandering. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV).

We need to regularly be in God’s Word

One of the most fundamental ways we learn about God, stay close to Him, and hear from Him is by reading the Bible. That cannot be overstated. Trust me, as a working mom of two, I can say there are going to be days when you just aren’t “in the mood” or don’t think you have the time to be in the Word of God.

I feel that more often than I would like to admit. But this is not something to mess around with. Our faith is at stake when we choose to mark time with God as optional.

I’m willing to bet you are less likely to leave the faith when you are hearing from God Himself daily.

“With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:10-11).

Pray for those around you

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Just like soldiers in war need prayer, so do our Christian brothers and sisters. We need to constantly be on guard and aware of ways Satan is working against those we love. Pray this simple prayer of protection over your spouse, your children, and everyone around you.

Lord, I want to thank You for my (husband/friend/child). I pray they would rest daily in the fact that they are Your child. May they stand firm in the faith. I pray against temptation in their lives. And I ask You to protect them from the spiritual war raging around them. Bind their heart to You, dear Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

God will never walk away from you

Though we ourselves are prone to wander, God never will. His Word says He will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). That’s what makes Him completely trustworthy. He will always be there for us.

And it is never too late to return to Him.

As I look at my copy of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, I see the other handwritten note. When we met, Joshua Harris wrote, “Audrey, so great meeting you! Thanks for your encouragement.”

I wish I could return the favor of encouragement right now. Because that’s what I believe Harris needs most.

All he’s heard for the last decade (or so) is how “damaging” his books and thought processes were. I have to wonder what that does to a person.

Now, he needs to be reassured of the good. Not only of the good that did come from his books, but most of all, of the good news of Jesus Christ.

That’s my prayer for Joshua Harris. That he finds the good again.

Copyright © 2019 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

We at FamilyLife do not usually comment on the fall of public figures, within Christian circles or the culture at large. However, because Josh Harris has appeared in several of our print and online resources, we are compelled to address his falling away from faith.

On July 17, Josh and his wife, Shannon, announced their divorce. Less than two weeks later, Josh posted on Instagram:

I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is “deconstruction,” the biblical phrase is “falling away.” By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.

Given what we know from his years of public ministry, and what he taught about how one becomes a Christian, we can only interpret this statement as a renunciation of faith. This is troubling, and while it would be wrong to make ourselves the judge of whether Josh is or ever truly was a believer, we cannot disregard what he is now saying. For one to proclaim the gospel and then later deny it is appalling and tragic.

But things like this don’t happen in a corner; many will feel the fallout—the Harris’s three children, their friends, their church, and the many people who have been affected through Josh’s teaching and writing. Compassion compels us to pray for them, that God will deliver them from hurt and protect them from following Josh into error.

Personally, when a Christian leader falls, regardless of the nature of their fall, I am driven to examine my own spiritual state, to “take heed lest [I] fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Their fall is my alarm. So, as I’m watching this painful story play out, I have to ask: Is my faith slipping in any way? Am I toying with any ideas, habits, or relationships that threaten to pull me from “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3)?

Even the mighty fall. To some, Josh Harris was mighty. He had great influence on their spiritual formation. I hope and pray they know that the Almighty still stands.

A few years ago, as I was walking to my car after church one Sunday morning, a lady stopped me. She was clearly distressed. “Someone broke into my car during church,” she said, “and my purse is gone!”

I took her back inside where she could sit down, gather her thoughts, and call the police. While she was on the phone, another lady who had overheard us came up to me and whispered, “Why would she leave her purse in her car?” And I thought, This isn’t a time to criticize, it’s a time to help.

I feel the same toward those who are in a crisis of faith.

I have no idea what has gone on in Josh Harris’s personal life and home life that brought him to this place. But I know this: It is not my place to judge him, and certainly not to condemn. Mine is to pray for him. His credibility has taken a hit, perhaps never to be regained. But he is still a man with an eternal soul. I long to see him come into—or back into—the fold.

Copyright © 2019 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

“Women who have never married or had children are among the happiest and healthiest,” a recent article on The Hill boldly stated. As a woman who hasn’t married and doesn’t have children, I wondered, Does single equal happy?

The article highlights the direction some have shifted in their view of singleness: “You see a single woman of 40, who has never had children,” the historical response has been, “‘Bless, that’s a shame, isn’t it? Maybe one day you’ll meet the right guy and that’ll change.’”

Yet, the article emphasizes an alternative response: “No, maybe she’ll meet the wrong guy and that’ll change … Maybe she’ll meet a guy who makes her less happy and healthy, and die sooner.”

It goes on to quote Oprah Winfrey who believes she will “never have regrets about not marrying her longtime beau.” Since she has a longtime beau, I hardly think Oprah wonders if single equals happy.

Does single equal happy?

After mulling it over a bit, I’ve discovered that this idea of singleness as a path to happiness accomplishes a number of things.

On the positive side, people are finally recognizing and supporting the idea that marriage might not be the be all, end all this side of heaven. This is a newer and not always popular idea some singles adopted.

Realistically, a spouse will never make any of us consistently happy. Even in healthy, thriving marriages. Humans fail each other. We’re just human.

According to the article, some women’s motivation to remain single and childless is rooted in their fear of unhappiness. If what they have going as a single is working for them, why risk marring it with additional demanding relationships? They feel they’ve answered the question: Does single equal happy? I’ve heard this narrative from a few friends who truly enjoy their single life and question if change is worth their while.

The honesty in this article, though, reveals a deeper reality all of us face: When it comes down to it, we are mostly concerned with our own happiness. Our idea of what will make us happy often serves as the real master of our lives.

But should it?

Happiness is king

As a single woman, I often catch myself thinking I will be happier once I’m married. In some aspects, I’m not wrong. For the most part, companionship, hands down, trumps loneliness.

On the other hand, I often overlook many perks to being single. I can’t complain about the freedom to control my schedule and purchase whatever groceries I want. Regardless, I have learned that perhaps my focus on happiness needs to be redirected.

The “pursuit of happiness” is in our blood. In Western cultures, many of us have the freedom to choose the direction of our lives. We have the option to choose what job to pursue, what school to attend, and what relationship status we prefer. Happiness is king.

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The problem with happiness

Maybe you’ve noticed “happiness” is not a theme in Scripture. God is not opposed to His creatures being happy—in fact, God cares deeply for His children (1 Peter 5:7). But happiness ultimately isn’t the point.

The point is to please God, not ourselves.

Jesus first introduced this counter-cultural view. After reminding His followers their needs would be taken care of, Jesus invited them to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:30-33).

Notice the order of His statement: first, seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness. Then all these things will be added to you. We can trust the Lord will supply our every need, yet we must first desire to make His name great in our lives. Because of this, any advice to make choices, relational or otherwise, based solely on happiness isn’t a reliable compass for our lives.

We must intentionally remember this. For instance, I am leading an internship program. On the back of our T-shirts, we’ve written, “My life is not my own.” Seeing our interns sport these words has kept them in the forefront of my mind. If I don’t keep the truth in my line of vision, whether through music, books, or visuals, it’s easy to sink back into happiness-is-king mode. It’s crucial to maintain my focus on God’s kingdom and not my own.

When happiness doesn’t work

But God is not a “Debbie Downer.” And He doesn’t want His children to be that either.  In the midst of living for His pleasure and not our own, we can find great joy.

Happiness is equivalent to pleasure, to feeling good, to wanting things to stay exactly as they are. It isn’t, however, something we can concoct at will.

Joy, on the other hand, is less associated with emotional pleasure, though not opposed to it. Joy has deeper roots than happiness, being tethered to unshakable truth. For instance, the knowledge that Jesus has rescued us from our sins gives us joy even in the midst of great suffering. Joy is something that has been secured for us.

The liberating truth about joy is that it is a choice. Despite the ugliness—or unhappiness—of your situation, you can always find joy because of the hope of the gospel.

That’s good news. Even when we try to control things like our relationship status, our number of children, or our dream career, our inability to dictate others and our circumstances keeps us from constant pleasure. Joy is always available; happiness is not.

Paul entreated the Christian church in Thessalonica to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Our interest in happiness is not altogether bad, but we misguide ourselves if we expect anything to continuously fuel our happiness: singleness, marriage, or anything else. Sorrow, pain, and loss are unavoidable because of the fallen world we live in.

If you find yourself wondering what will make you happy, consider asking the Lord first what would please Him. Comfort yourself with this truth: Even when you can’t find happiness, joy is always available.

Copyright © 2019 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

I crammed almost everything I ever owned into my car. And I drove off to a Christian college. I couldn’t wait to get there to start the next four years of my life.

Studying the Old and New Testament as course credits, attending chapel multiple times a week, and going to a local church, I thought I was thriving in my first two years of college. I had no idea I had fallen into a spiritual coma—where I became so desensitized to Christianity and to God that I had little to no relationship with Him.

Sure, I was committed to studying Scripture and volunteering in the children’s ministry at my local church. But my prayer life became solely about stress and grades. I rarely encouraged my friends to grow closer to Christ. And I sacrificed my daily quiet time to get more sleep.

For many parents, having their child attend a Christian university is a no brainer. But Christian college isn’t a guarantee students will keep the faith. Christian colleges pride themselves on creating safe, welcoming communities for students to thrive in. These institutions offer an array of courses, groups, and activities to encourage your son or daughter to grow in their faith.

However, to have a relationship with God that thrives, even at a Christian school, students must wake up their faith. And I’ve learned that doesn’t happen simply by immersion in a faith-based university setting.

If I could go back and talk with my freshman self, I would tell her:

Prioritize God in your schedule

Sure, a Christian college builds Christian activity into a student’s week with required worship services and activities. But sometimes those end up as the only moments a student intentionally spends with God. I am so guilty of letting my schedule dictate my priorities, worshiping the idol of busyness and sacrificing my spiritual health in the process.

One of my top goals for this coming year, my senior year, is to slow down to focus on God. Whether it be a morning devotional or a prayer walk around campus, I want to be more purposeful with the time God has given me.

A friend who worked in campus ministry stressed to me that the habits you set in the first two weeks of classes are the most important. This not only goes for extracurriculars and studying, but also for establishing consistent time with the Lord.

Parents can create spaces for their students to have one-on-one time with God before their children leave home. Having devotionals as a family and continuing those conversations while your child is at school strengthens your relationship with each other. It also reveals the values of your family, which your child can carry on to the next generation.

Move toward Christ, not self-actualization

I’ve often heard jokingly that college students are some of the most self-centered people in the world. With the popularity of the Enneagram, Myers-Briggs, and a host of other personality tests, the journey to self-esteem and purpose is often one 10-question quiz away.

And aren’t these four years supposed to be about finding yourself anyway?

While these tests show the uniqueness God has given each of us, there is a danger in settling for a personality label that emphasizes self-actualization over growing in the likeness of Christ. My obsession with perfecting myself quickly turns into bitterness and has left me disappointed over and over again.

Setting one’s mind on things above, on the glory of Christ, and our identity in Him, keeps us from finding our identity in grades, performance, or the opinions of others (Colossians 3:2-3). Parents can encourage their children through affirming their God-given value, rather than unachievable standards set by others.

Find a local church and stick with it

Before I started college, one piece of advice regularly stressed to me was the importance of the local church. But I was completely unprepared for the struggle of the search. With more than 40 churches to choose from in my town, I was quickly overwhelmed.

While I was thankful to find a place after a semester of church-hopping, I have friends that aren’t as lucky. Homesickness, a lack of diversity, an overloaded schedule, the fear of missing out on someplace better—all keep students from settling into a home church while away at school. It can be easy to lose hope that there’s a place for you.

The church I attend isn’t perfect, but it is a place where I find connection. In serving, I’ve found a place where I can connect with people of different ages and generations, adding perspective to my limited college worldview.

Parents can encourage their students through conversations on what to look for in a church. By serving in their own local gathering and encouraging their children to join them through the years, parents can instill seeds of using gifts to benefit the body of Christ.

Seek out Christ-centered friendships, not just Christian friends

I wish I would have been more intentional about cultivating friendships centered on Christ during my freshman year at a Christian college. After my first two years of school, I realized how rarely I prayed for my friends and their faith.

While I supported my friends’ growth in their self-image and their studies, I never encouraged them in growing to be like Christ. While praying for their families’ needs, it never crossed my mind to pray for radical experiences in their relationships with Christ.

This year, I want to have friendships where we remind each other of our value in Christ, as iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17). Although I desire to be there for my friends in tough times, God’s strength and comfort is what they need more than anything I could say or do.

Ultimately, I want to encourage my friends to run toward God and dig into His Word. Not just when things are going wrong. But as an everyday relationship with the One who made us.

Don’t be afraid to talk about the gospel

This may sound like a strange piece of advice for a Christian college student, but it’s actually the one I struggle with the most.

When conversations always include faith on some level, I find myself becoming numb to the joy and excitement of the truth. And especially when most, if not all, students are assumed to be Christian. The gospel can rarely be brought up.

I want to be more intentional about having more gospel conversations. And to not be afraid of coming across as over-the-top.

Just as you spend time doing what you care about, you also talk about what you love. If I say I love Christ, then how can my speech not reflect that? Whether it’s encouragement or evangelism, as one of my professors says, “Everyone needs to hear the gospel every day.”

For many students, there are only four short years between high school and the real world. God wants to use this time for more than just chapels and Bible classes.

He wants to radically change relationships, to cultivate passions for His glory, and to draw young adults closer to Him. Walking across the stage having a stronger relationship with Christ is worth so much more than a degree.

Copyright © 2019 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

It’s funny how a child’s question can send a gal into a tailspin. “Mom, why isn’t Dad coming to church?”

Immediately, you’re caught.

I need to communicate that what he’s doing isn’t fine … Should I be shielding him? Should I fake it, and pretend he’s just tired? … GAH. I feel like I’m on damage control for his decision.

The tentacles reach beyond church-going, right? There’s the devotional book you bought gathering dust on the nightstand. The prayers you wish he was initiating. The language he’s lobbing when angry.

How should you respond when your spouse is the spiritual un-hero?

Take inventory.

A pastor friend of mine—whose three brothers are also in ministry—confessed, “I encourage my congregation to do devotions as a family. But my dad didn’t do devotions with us.”

Discipleship was more of a lifestyle, he explained.

Before wringing your hands about how your spouse is failing the current status quo, prayerfully ask questions of yourself.

1. What’s my spouse doing right? 

Have I expressed my gratitude? (Hint: None of us is the sum of our weaknesses.)

2. What does Scripture actually say about discipleship? 

Family devotions, family worship, community group, nighttime prayers…are not actually in the Bible. Gathering together regularly is in the Bible. Being an active part of the body of Christ is in the Bible. Discipling our kids is in the Bible. But some of these are man-made creations toward those ends. They’re not the end itself.

3. When I’m honest, how much of this is my own image-management?

Can you identify with any of these thoughts? I feel so awkward when people ask me where he is.  Everyone else talks about all these things their husbands are doing spiritually, while my husband would sooner plunge a toilet. 

His failure feels like it’s welded on to me.

Understand his whys.

What do you understand about your husband’s reasoning? Is there alienation or anger when it comes to spiritual issues? Does he associate rejection or shame with church? When it comes to spiritually leading your family, could he be hauling a sense of failure or inadequacy?

Until you understand the underlying “disease,” so to speak, you could actually compound your spouse’s hurt or anger by addressing symptoms only.

“I really wanted to change spiritually, because she never let up on the nagging. Totally worked!” … Said no guy ever.

Creating a safe place for your spouse to get honest and heal—to be emotionally naked and unashamed—is critical.

Trust me: You want him to associate you with the solution for his pain. Not the problem. He will sense any underlying disrespect, manipulative agenda (“She’s really only doing this so she can get what she wants”), or reactionary impulses to what he’s not doing.

And he will shut down.

Transformation begins with listening to understand. (As in, not instructing.) It’s usually not overnight. (“Oh! You answered my questions about why God allowed my friend’s profound suffering. That was easy! Let’s get to church before worship starts!”)

Tip: Your husband will be 100% more likely to take ownership of “the solution” if he comes to the conclusion on his own. Walking with a spouse through deep questions can rattle our world. But this is what marriage, and courage, look like. “In sickness and in health” can mean a sickness of the soul, too.

Place your trust where trust belongs.

Often, our husbands’ behavior throws us for a loop because we’re afraid.

We fear what happens if he doesn’t step up. We fear for his own soul or spiritual maturity. We’re often a little embarrassed for him (and ourselves) because of the associated social failures.

We’re usually grieving loss, too: Of the hopes we had for our homes or marriages or kids. Of having an ally in the foxhole, a teammate in what matters.

Those are legitimate losses. And in that, we can cry out to God like so many women before us. We can take refuge: “You have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy” (Psalm 63:7).

Ultimately, our trust can’t be in our spouses or even in ourselves and our discipleship. Paul writes, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).

Our husbands are God’s. He is their Ultimate Discipler. He is not wringing his hands over your husband’s failure to step up.

Or our own.

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Help kids (and inquisitive friends) toward compassion.

It can be oh-so-easy to throw your spouse under the bus so your kids will get the message, I should go to church!

We might say something like, “Well, that’s Daddy’s decision. I don’t agree with it, but we can do the right thing anyway, right?” Or to a friend: “He makes his own decisions. He knows what he should do.”

But consider the alternative. “You know, Dad’s in a tough place right now. I think his heart might be hurting. I want him to come to church with us because I love having him there. Even more though, I want him to love God. And you don’t have to go to church to love God. You can love Him from anywhere! So let’s pray for Dad on the way to church, that he’ll know how much God loves him.”

It might just help them—and your friends—experience God’s compassion toward their own failures someday. Or their own lack of keeping up appearances. It could help them love the Church, rather than resent it.

It paints a robust image of a welcoming God, rather than as an angry parent, hands balled on hips.

Show him Jesus.

You may be your husband’s closest representation of God in his life. Is God bitter and disappointed, waiting for your husband to get his act together?

Or is He patient and at peace, arms wide open?

The first step to your husband witnessing Jesus starts right here, in how you meet him in his weakness. Remember, it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).

The lack of a spiritual hero can feel powerless at times. But do you sense the power a woman has to communicate the power of the Gospel toward her children when people are hurting, and may not “measure up”?

When others don’t perform—even those we yearn for—we can speak truth over our husbands, our kids. We don’t obey so we can be accepted by God.

We’re accepted 100% because of Jesus’ work. And that’s why we do these things: to seek Him.

Copyright © 2019 Janel Breitenstein. All rights reserved.

“My version of marriage counseling is drinking Jack Daniels, shooting some guns, and hanging out.” Meghan McCain recently drew ire on social media for her exchange on “The View.” She talked with Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang about marriage counseling.

McCain brushed off criticism, explaining that different people deal with things in different ways. But domestic abuse survivors challenged her perspective and urged her to disavow her comments.

I think McCain was really just caught up in the pressure of a live show. She probably didn’t think much about her words before she spoke them. That, combined with the know-it-alls on Twitter, created the perfect storm of controversy.

But the whole matter opens up the opportunity to look at what marriage counseling is all about.

As a longtime licensed marriage and family therapist, I agree with those who believe the pairing of alcohol and guns is a fool’s errand. And one that can result in devastating consequences.

It’s important to iterate that there is no such thing as a perfect marriage. Because there are no perfect people. Even on our best days, we each have our struggles.

Every one of us misreads signals. We fail to verbalize our thoughts and feelings accurately. We misjudge our partner’s capacity to have an honest conversation. These things are normal in all human relationships.

But when those things become more and more common, the stress on the marriage relationship becomes increasingly difficult to manage. That’s when a lot of couples consider seeking help. Except they’re usually afraid of some common misconceptions.

So let’s set those straight.

Marriage counseling isn’t a waste of time.

Most people spend more time and money maintaining their vehicles than their marriages. How many marriages could benefit from a regular checkup?

Many couples wait until their relationship has gone completely off the rails to even begin seeking help. It’s the equivalent of continuing to drive your car until the four flat tires are rolling on the rims.

Many marriages are in this unfortunate shape by the time they consult a counselor. But even in the most difficult situations, I look for opportunities to inject hope while being realistic about the challenges ahead.

Marriage counseling isn’t just an opportunity to create a paper trail for divorce proceedings.

Well, for some couples this is clearly the case. That always makes me sad. But thankfully, that’s not how most people approach counseling.

I know very few counselors who get excited about testifying in divorce court. We are trained to help individuals and couples work through issues, not navigate legal minefields. As a result, most of us make pretty lousy witnesses.

Marriage counseling isn’t just a bunch of psychobabble for couples.

Media reinforces this cynical viewpoint time and time again. I cringe at the way TV shows portray therapists—all in an effort to get a good laugh from the viewing audience.

Counselors go to school for years and practice under a high level of supervision before they can be licensed by the state counseling boards. Sure, we tend to focus on emotions more than other professions, but that’s the nature of the work at hand.

Marriage counseling isn’t just one spouse’s attempt to control the other.

It’s true that one spouse is almost always more invested in counseling than the other. Sometimes one spouse gives the other an ultimatum – essentially ‘agree to counseling, or the relationship is over.’ Most often the need to control is more general. That is it’s common to multiple facets of the relationship. And simply a symptom of the emotional distress.

So what is marriage counseling all about? No two situations are exactly alike, but here are four general tasks all counselors engage to some extent.

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Marriage counseling is about assessing the damage.

When a storm comes through town, things can get scary. The lights may go out. The wind might blow debris around. People may get hurt or killed. The damage may be minimal or quite extensive.

An early goal of marriage counseling is to help the couple assess their strengths and growth areas. Help evaluate trouble spots. Then we work through issues in a way that is healthy, respectful, and productive.

Whether the couple decides to push through the pain and fight for the relationship or go their separate ways is up to them to decide.

Competent counselors and therapists guide each spouse to express his or her own feelings in the emotionally safe confines of the counseling office. When I meet with couples, I like to get a good sense of the history of the relationship. How they met. The nature of the relationship before marriage. And the trouble spots and hot topics that are bringing them to seek professional help.

It is triage and crisis management.

Rarely is one person sufficient to manage a major crisis, whether a physical storm or an emotional one. Depending on the nature of the issues and their impact on each partner, referrals to a psychiatrist or other medical doctor may be warranted.

For example, it’s almost impossible for an individual to think clearly and communicate effectively while experiencing extreme anxiety or depression. Sometimes the ‘marriage work’ has to take a backseat to allow primary concerns to be appropriately addressed.

A team approach to crisis management allows for other helping professionals to speak into the situation. As an added benefit, the therapist’s own blind spots can be identified so that fuller progress can be made.

It is a place for rebuilding trust.

Trust is the foundation of all personal relationships. That’s even more true for intimate relationships like marriage.

I’ve never worked with a couple that didn’t struggle at some level with issues related to trust and accountability. It just goes with the territory. If the marriage is under stress due to emotional or sexual infidelity of one or both partners, then identifying the contributing factors becomes crucial.

Rebuilding trust is one of the most difficult and time-consuming processes a couple can experience. That’s because consistency across time and situations establishes trust. There are no shortcuts.

And in a day and age when it’s possible to hide secretive communication in all kinds of high-tech places, the battle is overwhelmingly uphill. Even the counselor is constantly weighing the trustworthiness of the clients. It’s a frustrating fact.

Counseling is a means to charting a way forward.

When a tornado damages a home, the owners meet with various parties to determine what to do. Contractors may be able to repair the damage, but sometimes insurance adjusters recommend starting completely over.

These are the kinds of decision points that couples in crisis invariably reach. Good therapists help couples see all the possibilities. Then the couple can make decisions that are consistent with their values, beliefs, commitment level, and mental, emotional, and spiritual resources.

I always remind my clients that marriage is a journey, not a destination. My wife and I have weathered our fair share of storms over 20+ years together. It hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows. But it has always been worth it.

From my own vantage point, marriage counseling is not about restoring the relationship. After all, what the couple had wasn’t really working all that well in most cases. Rather, marriage counseling is about rebuilding and creating something new, even better than what they had before.

When it’s time to seek help …

If you are struggling in your own marriage relationship, it might be time to seek help.  I’d urge you to begin intentionally investing in your relationship.

Sure, do the date nights together. But more than that, take advantage of marriage enrichment classes, seminars, books, and getaways. FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® is an experience thousands of couples—including my wife and me—have found extremely rewarding.

If it’s time for marital counseling, I encourage you  to research multiple options for counseling before settling on one. One of the most significant indicators of potential progress is the relationship between the couple and their therapist.

It’s important the couple sees that person not just as someone who is trained and educated, but also as someone who truly cares about them and their family. The connection cannot be overstated. Find someone who shares your values and beliefs about marriage, and who will be open and honest with you. No matter how difficult the truth is to hear.

I’m in this with you. Your marriage is worth fighting for.


Copyright © 2019 Garrick D. Conner. All rights reserved.

Garrick D. Conner is a licensed professional counselor, licensed marriage and family therapist, ordained minister, and freelance writer. He serves as discipleship pastor at Park Hill Baptist Church in North Little Rock, Arkansas. You can read more from him at garrickdconner.com. Find him on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.