A young Christian couple came for marriage counseling. When I asked them what brought them to counseling the husband volunteered to explain. He stated very forthrightly that he had repeatedly been unfaithful to his wife over their 8 years of marriage and she became aware of his last affair and confronted him about it in January. He admitted his infidelity and told her of the previous affairs, but he was unapologetic and unrepentant, so they separated and he moved into an apartment and left his wife in their home with their 3 children. Three months later she filed for divorce and he was still unrepentant until four days later. He suddenly realized the impact of his actions and how he was losing his children and family, and he fell to his knees and confessed his sin to the Lord, asking for forgiveness. He asked the Lord what He wanted him to know, and God told him to "go home."
The young man went to his wife and tearfully, humbly confessed his sins and asked for her forgiveness. She forgave him and invited him to come back home. They went to church on the following Sunday and he rededicated his life to the Lord. They sought counseling with a Christian marriage counselor but felt like it was unhelpful and was not dealing with their underlying issues. This is not surprising because marriage counseling is so difficult. A psychologist recently spoke at a mental health conference in Oklahoma and told the large audience, "I'm a terrible couples counselor! Every couple I have ever counseled has ended in divorce." A friend of this couple referred them to me and they called and set up this appointment.
In order to understand the underlying issues involved I asked permission to ask about his background. He stated that he was raised by his biological parents who fought a lot physically, and his mother was abusive to his father, with whom he was very close. His mother was very manipulative and angry, especially after her stepfather died when this young man was 12 years old, which led him in high school to drink, be rebellious and disruptive, and to use many girls. When he graduated from high school he went to college where he drank heavily and got into fights. He graduated and began working in a high-paying job.
After college he met his wife and they got married and began having children. Initially, they got along well but then he began to secretly have affairs while working out-of-town, and he began to verbally abuse his wife. Sometimes the fighting escalated and he physically abused her, but she tolerated it and they regularly attended church. After four years of marriage his father died and this was very difficult for him. He buried himself in his work and began having more affairs. I explained how underlying feelings of anger and grief can lead to sexual affairs in order to make the individual feel better, and I explained how the Lord could take those feelings from him. He was ready and willing to have the Lord take them from him.
I asked the young man which feeling was most painful, the anger at his mother or the grief over his father, and he said it was the grief. I explained that there were two steps to releasing his grief, first to make a list of what he missed about his father, and second to ask the Lord to take the grief and carry if for him. When I asked him what he missed about his father his eyes became red and he broke down in tears. His wife moved close to him and held his hand as he began tearfully sharing what he missed about his father. He missed talking to his father, hearing his voice, going hunting and fishing with him, going to ball games with him, his sense of humor, and many other things. He identified 15 things he missed about his father and then he prayed and told the Lord each item and asked Him to take his grief from him. Afterwards he said that "He loves me" and he felt peaceful.
However, he still felt some sadness about his father because he never got to meet their third child, he was treated so badly by his wife, he suffered from cancer, and because this couple had to ask him to leave their home due to his wife's intolerable behavior. He identified 7 reasons for his sadness and then he tearfully prayed and gave it all to the Lord. Immediately afterwards, he said that he felt "at peace" and his tears stopped.
We had been meeting for well over an hour but this man wanted to release his anger so I asked him what he resented about his mother. He resented her for her anger, her addiction, her blaming him for everything as a child, her moodiness, her saying hurtful things to him and his wife, and her her habitual lying. He identified 18 resentments and then he prayed and told the Lord each resentment, and asked the Lord to take his anger from him. I prayed and asked the Lord what He wanted this man to know. The only thought that came to him was "let it go." I asked him how he felt about his mother now, and he said he felt "peace." His anger was gone and he could think about her without any anger or hostility.
As we concluded our session, he looked very relaxed and calm. I asked him what he thought about this prayer process and he said, "It's amazing!" He and his wife were very encouraged and he left with a smile on his face. His wife said she wanted to meet with me to resolve her feelings. This couple has some more issues to resolve but they are well on their way to a new relationship with one another and with the Lord. What a wonderful thing it is to see the Lord save marriages that appear to be hopeless, and to set people free from their emotional bondage that was destroying their marriage!