By Drs. Bev and Tom Rodgers
Christian Counseling is different because in addition to using evidence-based models, tools and techniques it also incorporates the client’s relationship with Jesus Christ and how that relationship can be healed by experiencing His Love and Grace in their lives. This is what the Soul Healing Love Model does. People come to us with wounds from childhood or past relationships or marriages which we call Soul Wounds and we help them apply the Soul Healing Love of God to heal those wounds. With this healing they can then be instruments to help heal their spouses as God’s love spills out of them and over on to their spouse.
Betty and Barney (not their real names) came to Rodgers Christian Counseling for marriage counseling and attended one of our Couples Intensives. They had been to three other counselors before us who didn’t focus on the spiritual aspect of their relationship. The word Spiritual can have many meanings in this day and age and what we mean by that is focusing on each person’s personal, vibrant real relationship with the Lord. This couple was in the deep end of the ocean in their relationship and needed both marital counseling tools as well as spiritual grounding.
They shared about the wounds of their past as we carefully and prayerfully helped them understand how these wounds from the past affected their marriage today. They were stunned at how their past was still controlling them as we explained how the brain works in dealing with trauma from the past. (For more details see our book Soul Healing Love: Turning Relationships That Hurt Into Relationships That Heal). Often in Couples Intensives we share our own stories of our soul wounds and healing. This one was no different and our couple could relate. Both had wounds in childhood similar to ours that made them feel as if they were not important to their parents and somehow inferior or inadequate.
We say in our work that “blame is not our game”. In other words we do not want to blame our parents. In fact, we are parents ourselves and know that we all “fall short of the glory of God.” We don’t want to blame we just want to understand why we do the dysfunctional things we do in our relationships. Both Betty and Barney were reminded in the Couples Intensive how much the Lord loved them and this helped ground them spiritually. They also learned that much of what they thought about each other was pure assumption and they were in a power struggle that neither could win.
In the Soul Healing Love Model we define a Power Struggle as a relationship in which there is an underlying tension which is characterized by fear that breaks down communication and leads to assumption. In the power struggle we always assume the worst and project that onto your partner. This couple practically lit up when we shared this. They realized that they had been in a power struggle since the birth of their first child and that they saw only the bad in each other. Dr. John Gottman, marriage researcher and author, calls this “negative sentiment override”. This couple were indeed experiencing this and were able with our guidance and knowledge of Scripture to see the good in each other and change their paradigm of their relationship.
The Bible says in Phillipians,” What so ever thing are pure, holy and beautiful, think on these things.” Both Betty and Barney realized that because of past hurt they were only thinking of the negative and
not the positive things in their relationship. The Couples Intensive helped them refocus on what was good and help them move back to those loving behaviors that they had early in their marriage.
We often say that when couples meet that Romance is a Noun. They have a Romance. But as we journey in marriage Romance should become a verb as we do romance. This means that couples should consciously, intentionally Romance each other by doing caring, loving behaviors that tell their spouse that they care. First you have to clean out the hurt “cob webs” that have stopped you from romancing in the first place. This is what Christian Marriage Counseling can do. It helps couples move from a hurting place to a healing place by utilizing Scripture and Spiritual healing in the process.
We helped both Betty and Barney realize that God loved them and he would heal their souls and help them allow that to heal each other. Soul Healing Love has healed hundreds of couples by applying those same truths to their lives and relationships.
It is nothing short of miracle to see a couple move from hopelessness and despair to healing and restoration with the help the Holy Spirit of God. We are so grateful to be used of God in the Christian Counseling process.