Do Codependent Relationships Exist in the Church?

Codependents are people that come to the rescue time and time again. This could look like saving a drug-addicted child from his toxic choices or entering into a caretaking relationship despite the cost. Maybe it sounds good in writing, but codependency creates unhealthy relationship patterns.

The term “codependency” has been around for decades and traditionally refers to the adjustment that a family member would make in their life to accommodate the addict’s dependency on substances.

Codependents are magnetically drawn to people who are constantly in crisis. They find purpose in pouring themselves out through extreme self-sacrifice, neglecting their well being to serve others.

Codependent Relationships in the Church

Codependents will go to great lengths to be the hero. When codependents place other people’s welfare before their own, they can lose touch with their own needs and identity.

Getting lost in service to another sounds like what an obedient Christ follower should do, but even Jesus gave us a different example. If Jesus recognized and implemented boundaries in his ministry, what makes today’s Christians think they should operate differently?

He went around healing the sick, giving sight to the blind and preaching about the Kingdom. The needs that would need to be met were unending, yet he gave us a perfect example. Luke 5:15-16 tells us, “Yet the news about him spread all the more so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Even in his days of serving the needs of a community, he didn’t lose sight of the need to spend time in prayer and solitude.

Relying on the Holy Spirit instead of the Flesh

A codependent is addicted to control as much as an addict is addicted to a substance. Codependents interfere with the growth of addicts by not allowing them to face consequences. The codependent person’s emotional state is influenced by how well the other person listens to their advice.

The Bible provides a principle that can’t be avoided, “A man reaps what he sows.” It’s hard for a man to reap what he sows when another person is constantly rescuing him from negative outcomes.

A good way to gauge if you are helping people in a constructive way is to ask the question, “Am I trying to be their bread (strength) or just trying to show them where to get some?” A good follow-up question might be, “Now that I have shown them, are they taking steps to feed themselves or are they depending on me?”

Every Christian is responsible for working out their own salvation. We may want people to follow our advice, heed our instructions and avoid painful situations, but growth is hindered when a person relies on someone else for all the answers and not on God. What happens when that man is removed?

If that person wasn’t clinging to God, his world will crumble. Christians must learn to seek God’s direction in prayer and search Scripture for answers. This creates a mature, strong Christian that doesn’t rely on being fed by man to be alive in Christ.

In church, it’s easy for young followers to become enamored with more mature followers. To prevent any type of codependent relationship from forming, lend a listening ear and instead of giving answers you can ask questions like, “How does this passage of Scripture speak to you?”

The goal of a healthy spiritual relationship in the church is to encourage, empower and equip each other to constantly grow in Christ. Codependent relationships can rob people from experiences that they need to go through to learn how to depend on God.

Motives of the Codependent

We live in a fallen world. One result of living in a fallen world is growing up in broken homes. All families have some form of dysfunction, meaning not all our love needs are being met when we are adolescents.

Individuals who are more prone to codependent relationships are often looking for a reliable way to gain a sense of value that was lacking during childhood.

Often, the church environment creates the perfect place to prove your worth. The more you serve, the more visibility and recognition that’s given. Codependents thrive when they know they are needed and praised for always being present.

Only the codependent truly knows if they are doing good deeds out of the overflow of God’s love in their heart or secretly wanting to secure a feeling of worthiness from those around them. Performance-based love can become completely ingrained in a codependent person to the point that when she experiences “unearned” love it feels almost foreign and uncomfortable.

Interdependency is the answer

Codependent relationships run counter to true abiding in God’s unconditional love. It is an effort to control what others think or feel about us through rigorous engagement in socially acceptable “church” behaviors. Creating a church culture of interdependency begins by taking our focus off ourselves and placing our focus on Jesus.

Jesus often asked his followers and crowds questions. He pushed them to use their minds to think for themselves. The people left empowered instead of Jesus dictating their next move. When we try to make other people like “God” in our life it has devastating effects.

Being helpful is natural. Serving is the hallmark of a Christ follower. Even Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. He humbled himself to the point of death on a cross. But a Christian must constantly point back to God, not to herself. People must put their hope in Jesus.

The one person who never fails forgets or breaks His promises. Putting our hope in anything or anyone else will only end in disappointment and dismay. Interdependency in the church means we help each other daily to deepen our dependence on God and strengthen the church body as a result.


“Seesaw Crossing”, Courtesy of Rachaelvorrhees,;CC BY 2.0 License; “Help,” courtesy of Cristian Newman,, CC0 License; “Face-off”, Courtesy of Silvia and Frank,; CC0 License; “Lean on me,” courtesy of Rosie Ann,, CC0 License

4 Common Myths about Sexless Marriage

People in a sexless marriage often think their marriages are doomed. Even if your sex life has gone cold, it doesn’t mean your marriage is heading downhill. Sex plays a major role in marriage, but fulfillment in marriage can occur even on days it doesn’t happen. Usually, these seasons in marriage are only temporary.

Myths about Sexless Marriage

Here are four myths worth debunking when it comes to sexless marriage.

Myth 1: One spouse is cheating

There are many factors that can contribute to a sexless marriage. Sexual trauma could cause a pause in sexual activity, family stress or sheer exhaustion are all contributing factors to a drop in desire. If one partner isn’t interested in sex, that doesn’t necessarily point to infidelity.

It’s important to look at all the causes that are contributing to a lack of sex in marriage. If the husband is burdened by work stress and the wife is fatigued from chasing after kids all day, the probability of passionate sex in the bedroom plummets. Life is busy and marriages often get placed on the backburner.

Myth 2: Once the romance is gone it can’t be rekindled

After years of sex, it’s normal to view sex as more monotonous than thrilling. If the novelty has worn out sexual boredom can be defeated by introducing a new level of excitement.

This might make one of the partners uncomfortable and want to retreat back toward their comfort zone. Exploring different options to spice things up can fan the flame until it’s blazing again.

Another way to rekindle the romance is to first examine yourself and look for the ways you contribute to the relationship problems. This is an uncomfortable part of getting romance back, but it’s necessary for maturation in a marriage. Sometimes it’s as easy as learning to listen to your spouse again.

If you stopped listening attentively to your spouse, take the time to engage in genuine, deep conversation. Plan a special date night or do something spontaneous to stoke the fire. Hope is not lost forever and romance can be rekindled by giving a little extra care and attention to each other.

Myth 3: Married couples are less likely to have sex

Many people say sex ends once marriage begins, but that isn’t the case. The intense chemical euphoria at the beginning of a relationship can cause younger couples to have more sex.

But it’s the married couples that have more varied sex than single people. Not only that, but married people express a deeper level of commitment toward each other.
Myth 4: You can’t make yourself feel desire

Desiring your partner does not mean just desiring sex, per se. Desire usually begins before sex happens. When desire is lacking in a relationship it’s not usually because chemistry has disappeared.

Usually, there are problems in the relationship that haven’t been resolved and prevent desire from growing. It’s similar to when a friend does something to irritate you and in your mind, you think, “I don’t like you right now.”

These momentary thoughts might push you away from your friend in the short term, but does that mean you’ve lost all capacity to ever like him? No, you only need to figure out what underlying irritations might be keeping those desires from making an appearance again.

It’s not only relationship problems that cause a lack of desire but everyday stressors that disrupt the feelings. You might absolutely adore your spouse, but every other thing that demands your attention chips away at the desire that once was.

Christian Counseling for Sexual Dysfunction

If you, or your spouse, are struggling with desire in your marriage, make an appointment with a professional Christian marriage counselor. God designed sex to be a source of intimacy between spouses.

Discussing any obstacles you are facing will help bring freedom back into your marriage. A Christian counselor is ready to help you rediscover the pleasure of sexual satisfaction within marriage.


“Bridge Walk,” courtesy of mana2014,, CC0 Public Domain License; “Under the Covers,” courtesy of Prinz Peter,, CC0 Public Domain License; “Indie Cuddles”, Courtesy of Toa Heftiba,; CC0 License; “Still in Your Arms,” courtesy of Toa Heftiba,, Public Domain

7 Reasons for Professional Premarital Counseling

You probably remember how it felt when you first fell in love with your spouse. It was an unforgettable state of mind and heart. The whole world and everything in it seemed changed for the better. Every good thing was a reminder of them. You drifted off to sleep with a smile on your face, and your first thought upon awakening was looking forward to the next time the two of you could meet.

When you made eye contact and they smiled at you, your heart felt like clay in their hands. Everything they said and every time they laughed, you were captivated.

While speaking about them to someone else, you would trip over your words. You thought they were practically perfect, and you wanted them to think you were, too.

You would rather spend time together than sleep, even if it meant you’d be miserable at work the next day. Your companionship seemed to meet all of your needs. The sense of satisfaction in being together was overwhelming.

This quote from Dr. Seuss may summarize your state of mind at that time: “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

Now it is five years later, and you’re married to that same person. You’ve seen the ups and downs of your relationship over time, and you’ve learned that sustaining a beautiful marriage requires a deeper commitment than those thrilling feelings of falling in love. The stage of intense infatuation can’t be maintained indefinitely, and when those initial emotions started to dwindle, differences between us began to surface.

This doesn’t mean that falling in love is a bad or false experience. It’s the natural response to the beginning of a good relationship. This stage can provide the “spark” that motivates us to continue to grow in intimacy with our spouse.

Our goal should be to fan this spark into a flame that lasts for a lifetime. In Gary Chapman’s book Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married, he writes, “Being in love is not an adequate foundation for building a successful marriage.”

The Benefits of Christian Premarital Counseling

If you’re engaged and still in this season of infatuation, consider the help that a Christian counselor can provide for looking at the big picture of your relationship. You can work to build your marriage on the foundation of Jesus Christ. As Solomon declares, “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

Meeting with a Christian counselor before you get married can help you consider the sacred nature of the union you’re about to enter into. It’s vital for both partners to grow in their individual and joint commitment to Christ as they prepare to enter the marriage relationship.

Even if both of you are mature believers, you will find it difficult at times to show the patience, sacrificial love, and other Christian graces that enable a marriage to thrive. You can’t sustain your marriage without His help.

Making this investment in your future marriage can help you grow in emotional and spiritual intimacy as you prepare for your life together, and consider what to work on to build a strong foundation for your relationship.

7 Reasons Why Premarital Counseling Should be the Norm

Here are seven reasons why engaged couples should strongly consider premarital counseling:

1. Premarital counseling is an opportunity to learn to love each other more.

Whenever I ask an engaged couple their reason for getting married, their typical response is, “Because we love each other!” What they mean by “love” is generally an element of their relationship they want to protect and preserve in its current state.

Their experience of being in love motivates them to make it last indefinitely, so they are getting married to sustain their bond. Even the phrase “we fell in love” connotes something that happened by chance, implying that the romance in a love relationship is derived from its quality of being irresistible. However, this is a problematic perspective for two reasons.

First, this perspective makes love seem like a feeling or a possession instead of an action. Because it is simply a state of consciousness, there’s no compelling urge to work hard at loving one’s partner.

The second problem is that love viewed in this way is out of one’s control. So not only did you fall into love, but it’s possible that one day you might fall out of love. If you’re subject to emotional whims in this way, you might not see the necessity to intentionally nurture your commitment to your spouse.

In premarital counseling, you’ll have a chance to learn how to put your feelings of love into action, and to be intentional about expressing love to your partner.

The act of getting married doesn’t preserve romantic feelings in a vacuum. You’ll still need to be committed to working on your relationship, your commitment, and your intimacy. The wedding is the starting point, not the finish line.

John Mayer reminds us:

“Love ain’t a drug
despite what you’ve heard
Yeah love ain’t a thing
Love is a verb.”

2. Marriage lasts far longer than a wedding.

When a couple gets engaged, much of their focus shifts to preparing for the wedding day, but often there’s not as much attention paid to preparing for marriage itself. This is a shame, because the wedding lasts only for a day, and is merely a symbol of the reality of marriage.

Our cultural priorities appear out of whack when we compare the breakdown of marriage and the family to the extravagance of weddings.

On a global scale, the wedding industry is worth $300 billion, and over $55 billion of that is spent in the United States alone. Even if you’re trying to plan a frugal wedding, you’ve probably realized how overpriced everything is, from flowers to decorations to attire. lists the average price for a 2016 U.S. wedding at $26,720. This huge expense is coupled with the time, stress, and energy involved in planning one’s “dream wedding,” adding up to a monumental amount of expense and trouble centered around this one day.

Getting married is truly a significant event worthy of celebration, and it’s not wrong to want to have a wedding to remember. But it’s important not to neglect the more vital aspect of your commitment: the lifetime you’re preparing to spend together.

This is where premarital counseling can be of great assistance, in helping you to prepare for the marriage itself. It does require an investment of time and money, but this will pay dividends when the honeymoon is over and you wake up to spend the rest of your life together.

A wedding lasts for a day, but a marriage for a lifetime.

3. Love is blind.

You’ve probably this cliche before, and it has an element of truth. Romantic love tends to blind us to our partner’s faults.

This isn’t altogether a bad thing. It’s good that we can be focused on the other person’s strengths, spotlight their good qualities, and gloss over their shortcomings.

Maybe you’ve had a conversation in which a friend waxes rhapsodic about the person they’re in love with, and you’ve privately thought that your friend was naive and that it was impossible for anyone to be so perfect.

However, this is a perspective many couples who’ve been married for awhile could benefit from. One tool I like to use with married couples is to ask them to describe one another’s positive characteristics in as detailed a way as they can.

It’s wise to be cautious about looking through rose-colored glasses before marriage. Making an error in judgment in choosing who to marry will affect your entire life. Rushing into marriage based on feelings of infatuation does not honor the sacredness of this union the way God designed it.

In the gospels, we see Jesus calling us to count the cost before we follow Him. In the same way, we should consider what marriage will demand of us before we take our vows. This doesn’t mean changing your mind out of fear and deciding never to get married; it means holding the institution of marriage in high regard and taking our future vows seriously.

In Christian counseling, you’ll have a place to discuss common challenges married couples face, preparing you to handle them in the best way possible. You’ll also have an opportunity to discuss each other’s faults in a safe environment, and commit to loving one another regardless, instead of believing that your partner is perfect.

The role of a Christian counselor could be compared to that of an optometrist; people can already see, but the Christian counselor wants to help them see better.

4. You need to prepare for conflict.

Some engaged couples can’t even consider the possibility that they might face conflict one day. Of course, they inevitably do, and then they wonder if they made a mistake in who they married. But no matter who we are, we will have disagreements now and then, and this is normal. The important part is how we handle conflicts when they arise.

As Gary Chapman writes, “Large or small, all conflicts have the potential of destroying an evening, a week, a month, or a lifetime. On the other hand, conflicts have the potential of teaching us how to love, support, and encourage each other. This is by far the better road to travel. The difference is how you process the conflicts.”

In premarital counseling, you can learn to accept the fact that conflict is inevitable, and prepare for it by planning how you’ll respond. Therapists work to help you listen to each other with empathy and seek to understand, instead of assuming the other person has bad motives.

If you don’t prepare for conflict, you risk being torn apart by it. Counseling is one helpful way to learn to grow through conflict and become more (rather than less) intimate as a result.

5. You need a financial plan.

You may have heard that money is one of the top subjects to cause arguments in marriage. Statistics prove that this is true. Talking about finances can seem prosaic and unromantic, but it’s a vital part of preparing for marriage.

It’s important for couples to set aside the idea of individualistic ownership of money, and to view all resources as joint property. Becoming one flesh applies to every area of life, including bank accounts.

In Christian counseling, you can discuss your plans for budgeting, spending, and saving. This will prepare you for a well-stewarded financial future and will help protect the peace in your relationship.

6. You had different parents and different upbringings.

What we saw in our parents as we grew up tends to set the norm for us as to how we think marriage should be. Maybe your parents had a loving commitment to one another, or maybe they argued a lot and were verbally abusive. Whatever the situation, it’s likely that you subconsciously internalized it as being normal.

This obviously carries into one’s future marriage relationship, even in ways you may not have expected. A wife might act the same way she saw her mother act while assuming that her husband will behave in a similar way that her father did. But meanwhile, her husband might have seen his father act in a completely different way, and this influences how he behaves in his own marriage.

Taking the time to work through these issues before the wedding can prevent disastrous misunderstandings afterward. Your counselor can work through your upbringings with you and discuss how they influenced your expectations for marriage.

7. God honors marriages that bring glory to Him.

It’s crucial to remember that marriage is an institution created by God Himself, and we need His blessing in order to thrive in it. It is a high calling and a difficult one, but if we are called to be married, God will enable us to obey Him in it.

If you and your partner are walking with God, you can be confident that he will provide everything you need to sustain your marriage. You might recall the famous “love passage” in 1 Corinthians 13, where Paul outlines what true love looks like when it’s lived out perfectly.

Sometimes we can feel that this standard is unattainable and not even worth trying for, but we can rely on God’s power to love beyond what we can do in our human strength.

A Christian counselor desires to see you thrive in your marriage and depend on God’s strength to do so. If your heart is to glorify Him, you can cultivate a heart of humility and servant love that desires to serve Him first and foremost. Marriage can be a channel through which you and your spouse experience the blessing of His love.

If you are engaged, please don’t neglect to prepare for marriage with focus and intention. Contact a Christian counselor to help you work through both the positive and negative components of your relationship, and prepare to enter marriage from a place of truth and strength.

Paul’s prayer for the first-century church is also applicable to marriage: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other ” (1 Thessalonians 3:12).


“Stand by Me,” courtesy of Alysa Bajenaru,, Public Domain License; “Twirl Me,” courtesy of Clarisse Meyer,, CC0 License; “In love,” courtesy of Valerie Everett, Flickr Creative Commons 2.0, CC0 License; “Married Fight,” courtesy of Gratisography,, CC0 License

Is Teen Counseling the Secret to Your Family’s Happiness?

Raising teens is not an easy task!

From crying toddlers to knee-scraped kids, suddenly they are asking for the car keys or trying to worm their way around missing the family dinner to hang out with friends. At times, you may feel like you are living with a stranger as their preferences may change on a monthly basis.

Or perhaps your teen is dealing with something more difficult. Instead of clear dreams, their future has become cloudier and full of doubt; instead of new friends at school, they have “enemies” in class; instead of broken toys, it is now a broken heart.

Fear not! While it is a tough task, you are not alone and you are not completely helpless. There are steps to help you help your teen. Consider the option of teen counseling as a way to help your son or daughter get professional help to work through whatever issues he or she may be facing.

What Does it Mean to be a Teen?

The standard definition of a teen for many years was someone between the ages of 13 to 19 years old – derived from the “teen” at the end of the number. But as the years have gone by, this range seems to have expanded in both directions.

Because of technology, particularly the internet and TV, younger children have begun to act like teenagers, copying the styles, mimicking the behavior, and generally trying to be older than their bodies suggest.

At the other end, the teenage years have grown to include the early 20’s. Due to financial constraints, many of these young adults still depend on their parents for the basics. And mentally, some still consider themselves teens, hence the term “tweens”, since they haven’t accepted the responsibility yet of being an adult.

Physically, teenagers are metamorphosing from a child to an adult. Voices are changing, hair is growing everywhere, muscles are strengthening, and curves are forming. At this time, they have become more conscious of their looks – either out of vanity, worry about acceptance, or both.

From another standpoint, teenagers have a distinct culture with rules and modes of interaction that differ greatly from kids and adults. Kids idolize them while adults think they are strange.

Moreover, though they are asked to behave like adults, they are also expected to respect parental and school authority like children. In this stage, they are beginning to define who they are, but family and societal expectations may put stress on that definition, causing them anxiety and doubt.

At the core of it all, teenagers are in the midst of discovering who they are on the outside, on the inside, and within their community.

Dealing with your Teen’s Problems

Because of all the complexities, these are delicate years for your child as they face issues that may help them grow or possibly scar them for life. Here are some ways to help:

1. Acknowledge the differences; Take note of the similarities

Today’s world is vastly different from before. Technology has made the world smaller. People have easy, unfiltered access to the beliefs, cultures, histories, and lives of people anywhere on the globe with the tap of their finger.

One can quickly connect with family, friends and new acquaintances from the comfort of home. And if the money is there, faster and more available transport can take people to the other side of the world in less than a day.

Furthermore, life now is less private than before. The allure of social media has people willingly sharing their beliefs, emotions, thoughts, and even actions for the world to see. And sometimes, even if we do NOT want such to be shared, camera phones and the social media of accounts of others may still subject our lives to public scrutiny.

Hence, it is no wonder why children seem to be “maturing” faster than before. They see what others are doing and envy their lives. They want to grow up and see the world NOW and not later on.

These changes, however, have also made things more confusing for them. They are comparing themselves to the ideals that mainstream media and social media are portraying and there is no one to tell them otherwise. So aside from envy, there is a lot more insecurity and doubt.

However, not everything is so different if we can just recall our personal past. Even before, being a teenager was a challenge. It was exciting yet frightening to experience the bodily changes.

Teens were as “cruel” in the past as they are now, ostracizing one another for being different. Conflict with parents was also there, regardless of how more hands-on our parents were before than we are now. And still, we had our own doubts about who we were and what we wanted to be, just like teens do now.

So we can help them now by revealing our personal struggles in the past and what we did to overcome them. This includes sharing the things we wanted to hear back then from our loved ones and why we might not have heard them.

2. Communicate with them

While technology has allowed us to get in touch a lot faster than before, it does not mean that such communication is authentic, especially when dealing with our complex teens.

Knowing where they are, who they are with, or their current emotional state online is still NOT the same as speaking to them directly about how they are inside. In fact, sometimes what is relayed to us through these devices might not exactly be what they are feeling because they know the world is watching them.

Sadly, many parents hesitate to take that step to bridge the communication gap. First, there is fear of either being rejected by our teens or driving them further away. Second, we might feel it is a waste of time and that eventually, they will just outgrow the stage in the same way we did in the past.

But if this is our mindset, then we are leaving our teens vulnerable to those who may give them wrong advice and possibly wrong emotional care. Just like us, most teens DO want to have true communication with their parents, they just don’t know how.

Rather than avoiding the issue, parents need to show them how. Start communicating but without expecting much in return. You cannot expect them to respond positively right away if your relationship is already strained.

It might seem awkward at times since only you are doing the talking, but know in your heart that they are listening. The hope, however, is that as you do share how you feel and who you are, your teen will eventually open up. Then the healing may begin.

But be careful not to reverse roles where your teen ends up being your personal therapist as you unload all your problems and fears. If that occurs, you might end up driving them further away as it is not the job of the child to fix their parents’ problems. Always check your personal motives for sharing and consider whether what you share is meant for the kids or someone else.

3. Be consistent

It is easy to say but quite difficult to do, yet it is something that people, especially teens, expect. Trust is built when the person we are dealing with is consistent in their actions and promises. In business, for example, we would not want to partner with someone who fails to deliver on time, provides shoddy services or products, or reneges on a deal. The same of course occurs in personal relationships.

As parents, we are to provide them boundaries to follow and to uphold them as necessary. We ought to be role models as well so that we can properly walk the talk. If we can do so, our teens will see the importance of it all.

But human as we are, it can be difficult at times. We too are burdened with issues of our own at work, at home, and even internally. Every time we say “yes” and then change our minds, we break their trust. Every time we increase their punishment arbitrarily based on our ever-changing mood, we break their trust again. Eventually, they will simply ignore us or rebel if we cannot be consistent.

4. Know their friends

When problems arise, teens often turn to their friends first as they believe their friends understand them more than their family. As parents, we may want this to change but if we just recall our own past experiences, we will realize that it is just part of the process of growing up and letting go.

However, to have some peace of mind, it is important to know their friends. This may be achieved by opening up your home so that you can get to know them better.

If this is not possible, then at least try to strike up a conversation every time you see them – just be careful not to be too intrusive nor share any embarrassing stories about your own teen. And in today’s times, befriending them on social media may also help to know them more.

If successful, you will find out what kind of advice and emotional support they are receiving. Additionally, it helps to know which of their friends is trustworthy and which to be wary of.

While you cannot force your teen to just drop their friend, if you have had good communication, you have been consistent, and you know the other friends well, then your teen may listen to you on important issues such as avoiding the wrong crowd.

5. Get some support

Despite all of the above, sometimes the problems might just be too much to handle. Severe depression, outright rebellion, illegal activities or addictions are things that most parents cannot solve on their own. In such a situation, professional support such as teen counseling is needed.

Teenagers are often able to open up more and respond to adults that are not their relatives. When coming from the mouth of another, teens feel that the advice has been validated by someone impartial to the situation.

Aside from individual teen counseling, family counseling also helps to clear the air between all parties involved. Hidden issues can be discussed in a neutral area with an educated arbitrator to guide everyone along. In this way, the problems have a better chance of being solved permanently.

Raising a teenager is a challenge but one that does not have to end in heartaches for all. Follow the tips and know that you are not the only one having difficulties. It will be hard at first but stick with it, knowing that it is for the benefit of your family.

Yet should you feel that you need more support, there is no shame in reaching out for help. It is better to address the situation quickly and properly before things become even worse. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for teen counseling. It might just make all the difference.

“Her own girl”, Courtesy of Ian Dooley,, CC0 License; “Cyber”, Courtesy of Freestocks-org,, CC0 License; “Mother and Daughter,” Courtesy of Mario Campello,, (CC BY 2.0); “Teens Having Fun,” courtesy of Pedro Ribeiro Simões, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0)

Keys to Chemical Dependency Recovery

If you have chosen to read this article, there is a good chance that you or a loved one are struggling with the impact of chemical dependency. Maybe the content of this article can give you some hope and insight and guide you in the direction of the helping options available for lasting chemical dependency recovery for you or your loved one.

When speaking of someone that struggles with addiction, it is important to use ‘person first’ language when defining this individual. Rather than referring to these individuals as “addicts” or “alcoholics”, defining them as those “struggling with addiction”, or “struggling with alcoholism” is more appropriate in highlighting the behavior associated with the struggles that they face.

This reflects the humanity of the person, regardless of what situation they are going through, and can help them to understand that their struggle does not need to define them as a person. There is always room for change and growth.

Although some clients will refer to themselves as an “addict” or “alcoholic”, this is entirely up to them. Sometimes this allows them to take ownership of their behavior and put in the work that is required for them to change it.

Different Perspectives

Many counselors today are trained to assess and rehabilitate clients using the “systems” perspective. This includes evaluating and assessing clients with respect to how their families, jobs, schools, culture, and biology affects them. Without detailed knowledge of the context, it is hard to effectively inspire change in a client’s life.

Chemical Dependency Professionals (CDP) operate as “first responders” when it comes to chemical dependency. The client’s pattern of using is considered so that effective coping skills may be developed alongside the client to combat drug use.

CDP’s usually have a large load of clients (often more than 100) and only consult with them on a monthly basis. This can be problematic as they often do not have the time to explore the underlying issues that led to the client’s drug use.

There are some CDP’s that recognize this lapse in care and will refer their clients to other agencies that are able to focus attention on these root issues. This can help the client to be more involved in their recovery.

After the extended use of drugs, quitting can produce major withdrawal symptoms which can represent a significant obstacle. While methadone can be effective for reducing the cravings and dulling the withdrawal symptoms without getting clients high, going off methadone can produce the same types of withdrawal symptoms. Because of this, clients occasionally choose to take it regularly for a very long time and gradually taper off over a period of years.

What is Chemical Dependency?

Chemical dependency is often used casually, so it is easy to become desensitized to its serious nature. It is common to distinguish between alcoholism and substance abuse disorders, and while different drugs have a different biochemical makeup, there is a high degree of similarity between drug use and other types of chemical dependency.

In many ways, alcoholism is just like other addictions. Regardless of the type of addiction, each has developed from underlying issues of pain combined with an environment that is capable of handling it. Although we said that alcohol is like other drugs, it does stand out in one respect, and that is that it is easy to obtain.It is legal to purchase and sell alcohol to the general population.

Therefore, it is “legal” for an individual to have issues with alcohol abuse. This ease of access is different from other drugs that require undercover use to avoid run-ins with the law, which can be a major barrier to receiving treatment.

There are a number of opinions about what chemical dependency is. A popular understanding of chemical dependency regards substances such as heroin (that has an extremely high addiction probability from just one use) as having some sort of chemical “hook.”

Then there are those that view dependency as an issue that essentially moral. Many churches today view addiction as something that can be controlled through spiritual and theological intervention, and oneness with a higher power that will grant them the strength to avoid such abuse as they reform their lifestyle to reflect this higher power’s moral commandments.

Finally, there is the view that those who struggle with addiction possess an “addictive personality.” But what are the facts?

What we do know, is addictions that run in families are developed in a biological and/or an environmental context, making an individual from that family more likely to struggle with the addiction as well. This genetic predisposition and/or cultural atmosphere seems to pass on the addictive tendency from generation to generation.

The fact that most drugs possess a withdrawal component once use is ceased also gives credence to the idea that biological components play a part in the use of drugs. From a Biblical perspective, it would appear that Christ commands us to “not be drunk with wine,” because that would be a wasteful (and thus sinful) use of our bodies which are to be “filled with the Spirit” instead. But the theory of chemical “hooks” seems to be obsolete.

The next section is a summarization of a TED Talk delivered by Johann Hari, called “Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong”. Hari suggests that the theory of chemical hooks came from a lab experiment in which rats were offered regular water or heroin-laced water. In this experiment, the rats most often chose heroin water and were unable to refuse it. This led scientists to conclude that rats were then “hooked” on the heroin drug.

In a different experiment, however, with identical variables, the rats were not isolated in cages throughout the experiment and were provided with living quarters among a community of rats where the environment was lively and stimulating. When provided with this type of living environment, rats rarely chose to drink from the heroin water.

Although this experiment cannot be conducted on humans, there are pseudo-experiments that reinforce this concept of drug addiction. In the Vietnam war, there was an epidemic of heroin use among soldiers. The fear was that once these soldiers returned home, they would struggle with heroin addiction. However, once the environment changed, and they were able to return to their native country, most were able to give up heroin use.

This behavior conflicts with the chemical hooks theory. When in a restricted environment, heroin use seems to be a good option to someone that has used in the past. However, as individuals change their environment, and begin to live happier and more fulfilling lives, there isn’t a felt need for such short-term fixes.

How does this implication effect our view of addition? Addiction should be viewed as a multifaceted problem. One of the key elements that is overlooked by many is the impact of the social environment. It is important to improve the addict’s social environment. Building their support system, finding and securing employment or a volunteer position to constructively use their time, will ultimately bring fulfillment.

Clients want to have a life that is worth remaining sober for. Regardless of the desire or need for change, if an individual’s surroundings do not provide meaning or fulfillment, it will remain difficult for them to want to stop using drugs. This applies to drug use, as well as to other forms of addiction.

Many of the things that we talk about being addicted to (such as our video games, drugs, phones, porn, food, etc.) boil down to fundamental discontentment. Therapy can dig deeper into the underlying issues experienced by an individual that leads them to addiction, and help find ways to eliminate the stimulus that is used as a coping mechanism for these issues.

The goals that should be set for those struggling with addiction include: 1) getting sober, and 2) staying sober. Although these goals can look like an insurmountable task for the individual, it is important to begin by reducing the use of the addictive substance and then formulate baby steps toward developing a more positive social environment.

We are social creatures because God made us that way, and lasting chemical dependency recovery  will need impactful positive relationships. Seek out a chemical dependency counselor to help.

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Essential Premarital Counseling Questions to Ask Before Marriage

The Bible recognizes the importance of marriage. In the Bible, it is the first human relationship described. In the New Testament, Jesus, our Lord and Savior, affirmed marriage as one man and one woman becoming one flesh. Christ’s married followers were encouraged to love their spouses as they love themselves and to submit to one another out of reverence to him.


Knowing this, it is important that everyone who enters into this sacred union is aware of what they are getting into. It is an exciting step but one with many responsibilities.

Essential Premarital Counseling Questions

This article presents some vital premarital counseling questions to answer before making that lifelong commitment.

Such premarital counseling questions are often raised in session to ensure that the engaged couple is truly prepared for life together. Before tackling such questions, consider reading the accompanying Scriptures to prepare you spiritually for discernment.

Has God Called You to Marriage?

(1 Corinthians 7:17)

Marriage life is not meant for everybody. In marriage, personal privileges may be lost, responsibilities are multiplied, and there is an increase in personal and relational boundaries.

Given these, have you sensed the calling to this life-long vow? Are you willing and able to become one with your partner – physically, emotionally, and spiritually? Can you sacrifice personal habits and preferences for his or her sake? Is your view of your future together something positive?

Are the Two of You Truly Compatible?

(Genesis 2:24-25)

Life together under one roof is very different to just seeing one another a few days a week. It is during marriage that the “real” self is fully revealed as the good and bad sides are seen daily.

Do your personalities really complement one another? Are you able to laugh together and at one another? Do you feel secure in fully revealing your inner self – the good and bad, the hopes and fears – to your partner? Are you attracted to one another physically? Do you feel fully accepted by your partner? Do you fully accept him or her? What makes you say that life together will be better than life apart?

What Past Baggage are You Both Bringing In?

(Exodus 20:5-6)

Who we are now has been affected by what has happened to us in the past. Emotional setbacks and disappointments, personal tragedies, vices and other habits can take a toll on us. If such things have not been properly dealt with through authentic repentance and emotional and spiritual healing, it is possible for them to return to haunt us.

To what degree are you still affected by your past failures, losses, fears and unrealized dreams? Does your partner know of these past struggles and how they affect you now? Are you aware of your partner’s past setbacks, worries, and tragedies? Have these been overcome or is he or she still trapped in the past? How well do you know your partner’s family background?

How is Your Communication?

(James 1:19-20 and Ephesians 4:26)

In a healthy relationship, communication is very important as people cannot read minds. When communication is clear, conflicts can be resolved and goals can be attained. Without such, then much suffering and hurt may take place.

Do you communicate regularly and openly? Can you easily understand one another? Are you both able to open up or is only one of you doing the talking? Are conflicts and misunderstandings dealt with immediately and in a positive manner?

Do You Complement Each Other Spiritually?

(2 Corinthians 6:14)

Friends and even relatives can have very similar likes and dislikes. But such similarities do not always pertain to how they view the Eternal. Married couples must be spiritually compatible lest they become drawn apart by conflicting spiritual views.

How does your partner affect your personal relationship with God? Do you encourage one another to love Jesus more than you did before? Are your spiritual beliefs and ways of worship the same or are there distinct differences? Does your partner inspire you to become a better person? Do you regularly pray together?

Are Your Beliefs About Money the Same?

(1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17)

Though money should never be the be-all and end-all, it is still an important part of human life and it may be used to bless the family and those around us. This is why money matters ought to be clear before this life of shared togetherness begins.

Are your ideas of about the importance of money the same? Do you have similar financial principles and practices (e.g. tithing, saving, investments)? Who is expected to earn and who is expected to manage the funds? Is it ok to have personal accounts? Can you afford married life with or without kids?

Do Those Closest to You Agree With Your Decision?

(Ephesians 4:15)

It is true that love is a personal choice. No one can force you to love another. But it is also true that love can be blind. When we are experiencing happy moments together, it is possible that we turn a blind eye to habits and actions that would normally alarm us.

Do your friends and family affirm this commitment? Is there anyone who believes that you or your beloved are not yet ready for that next step? Is there someone (other than your ex-flame) who thinks that the two of you are not compatible? What are their reasons for saying so?

Are You Both Emotionally Ready for Marriage?

(Galatians 5:22-23)

Society today likes to designate milestones for people so sometimes people rush into things to avoid being labeled as “behind” or “unsuccessful”. Emotional maturity, however, is not the same for everybody. It cannot be rushed.

Are you both able to take responsibility for yourselves or is there a sense of dependency? Can you both handle your emotions in a healthy way? Do you trust one another? What addictions are present in your current relationship? Are you seeking help with such addictions? What makes you believe you are both ready for marriage?

Be Better Prepared for that Next Step Through Christian Counseling

Contrary to the world’s current beliefs, marriage is not something that should be taken lightly. There are many dire consequences that may occur when people jump into it without proper thought and guidance.

If you and your partner are seeking honest answers to the abovementioned questions, then Christian counseling can help. A professional Christian counselor can help you decide whether you are both ready or if there are some spiritual and emotional steps to take before committing for a lifetime.

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Effective Methods to Treat Symptoms of Codependency

Author Charles L. Whitfield states in his book, Codependence: Healing the Human Condition, that codependence is a “disease of lost selfhood.” When people try to become what others want them to be, they lose their personal identity and goals. It is this handing over of personal responsibility for themselves to somebody else that causes them to be defined as codependent.

This inability to feel complete as themselves requires codependents to find completeness elsewhere. Whitfield describes it as an “addiction” since people are looking outside themselves to find fulfillment and happiness, similar to other addictions like alcohol, drug, or sexual addiction.

Other sources define codependence as a dysfunctional relationship where one person may be supporting another’s addiction (e.g. alcohol, drugs, gambling) or undesirable traits such as immaturity, irresponsibility, poor mental health, or even underachievement.

Alarmingly, studies have shown that codependence can be passed from generation to generation as the ability to relate to one another is learned in the family. For example, it is quite common in families struggling with an addiction, such as alcoholism, for one of the members to deny the problem and instead sacrifice him or herself for the addicted relative, especially if the addicted one is a parent.

This self-sacrificing member becomes more attuned to the needs of the addicted relative and eventually begins to define themselves according to the requirement of the situation.

So rather than becoming who they would like to be, they change their habits and plans according to the relative’s needs. It may seem like a noble sacrifice, but in many cases, it is not. The result may be an adult who has difficulty expressing emotions and one who is not in touch with who they truly are.

The Symptoms of Codependency

There are many symptoms of codependency. In the books Codependent No more and Facing Codependence, author Pia Mellody lists several signs to watch out for.


Codependents usually feel afraid and wounded which leads to frequent anger. They tend to live with people of the same sentiments creating a vicious cycle. Codependents frequently cry, become depressed, overreact, easily get sick, and are prone to unhealthy temper outbursts. They try to punish people for making them feel angry.


Codependents have a driving need to take care of others. They want to help solve the other person’s problem by making things right, easing their feelings, or guiding their thoughts or actions.

So they are much more comfortable around people with needs yet feel quite uneasy when people try to help them instead. Codependents are often overburdened with demands from others but willingly forego their personal plans to be of assistance. Boredom often sets in for them when there is no crisis to prevent or problem to fix.


Codependents like to be in control since they have experienced difficulties with people who were out of control (e.g. a violent alcoholic parent or an incessant gambler who lost the family’s money). Control is maintained through manipulation, threats, seeming helplessness, or by guilt. In the end, however, the codependent may feel manipulated and controlled as well.


Codependents often pretend that everything is manageable, that the situation is not as terrible as others may believe. Such people often depend upon prescriptive tranquilizers or other such drugs to help them. They may also enmesh themselves in work to stay busy; spend compulsively for a temporary happy feeling; or overeat to make themselves feel satisfied. They may wonder why they feel crazy at times.


Codependents cannot find internal peace and search for it outside themselves since they often feel incapable of self-care. Many believe that they cannot be truly appreciated or properly loved by others. Some stay in abusive relationships because they believe it is the best that they can ever receive.

Lack of trust

Codependents do not trust themselves nor do they trust others. Sadly, they believe that God has abandoned them, possibly in favor of someone else.

Low self-worth

Codependents do not respect themselves. They believe they are not worthy or that they are not good enough. They usually blame themselves and believe that the good things in life are meant for other people. Though they also long for praise, when they do receive it they reject it, believing that they do not deserve it.


Codependents are worrywarts. They are anxious about the problems of others, focusing all their attention and abilities on somebody else’s concerns.

Poor communicators

Codependents rarely know how to communicate well. Instead, they may intimidate, beg, or blame other people. They usually hide the truth and their feelings and have difficulty saying “no.” Gossip is something they may do as well as it is about other people and not themselves.


Codependents are inflexible and controlled. They are usually embarrassed to be their real selves for fear of the judgment of others.

Sex problems

Codependents believe sex equates to love. So even if they do not wish it, they will engage in it just to feel loved by their partner or to make their partner feel loved. When they are upset with their partner and wish to withdraw, they often abstain from sex and may even be disgusted by the idea of it. Thus, sex becomes a tool for them – something they do, but do not necessarily always enjoy.

Weak boundaries

Codependents have a hard time establishing healthy relationship boundaries. Others regularly violate their boundaries since they cannot say “no”. Though they may make such rules more flexible to tolerate the needs of others, this may also cause them to become angry or intolerant.

Codependency is unhealthy, especially if the home or work environment is particularly harmful. Physical sickness, mental disorders, broken relationships, dangerous addictions, and even suicidal tendencies may eventually.

If you believe that you or someone you care about has been described in this article, then it is important to seek help. A licensed mental health counselor can help overcome the situation before it is too late.

“Yet More Balance” Courtesy of Murray Barnes,; CC BY 2.0 License; “Angry Man,” courtesy of,, CC0 Public Domain License; “Face-off”, Courtesy of Silvia and Frank,; CC0 License; “Worry”, Courtesy of Maria Victoria Heredia Reyes,, CC0 License

Christian Marriage Counseling to Save Your Marriage

So, God has led you to seek Christian values that can help pull your marriage back from the brink or even help someone you know to save theirs. Hopefully, God will use these tips to help restore your marriage and bring about much good.

Four Useful Tips that Could Save Your Marriage

These tips are based on professional experience and will hopefully encourage couples to work toward strong, healthy marriages that can go the distance. To that end, there are applicable principles from God’s word that can guide couples to a more fulfilling marriage.

The tips in this post are a blend of Christian principles and counseling practices that can make a real difference to couples seeking long-term happiness and seeking to avoid the detrimental effects of divorce.

Tip #1: Recognize that love is a decision

New relationships are full of strong feelings when they first begin. The Greeks referred to this kind of love as “Eros.” Physical attraction in addition to personal qualities creates the fantasy of romantic love. Fantasy is a specific word used here to emphasize the fact that in the early days of a relationship it is doubtful whether you really know someone.

Harville Hendrix, author of Getting the Love You Want, hypothesizes that people are attracted to those who have the sort of visible qualities that match the kind of person who will meet their unmet needs for love.

He also points out that individuals also select a spouse with qualities that contrast with objects of love from their personal lives, such as parents. In theory, spouses seek to obtain love from a person who feels familiar but who does not give all of the love that they need.

Hendrix suggests that this attraction is developed in the unconscious and acts as a sort of drive to seek the wholeness that one shared in their mother’s womb. As love develops the romantic qualities tend to dim. As an individual concludes that, realistically, their spouse is incapable of always meeting all of their needs, this romantic mode tends to shift to one that of frustration, jeopardizing the relationship.

The Greeks also had a name for love that is selfless: “agape” (agápē). This kind of love gives regardless of whether it is reciprocated or not. The Bible speaks extensively about this type of love. Matthew 16:18 tells the story of how Jesus changed Peter’s name to “Rock” long before it ever suited him. Jesus knew what sort of man he would become after Jesus’ death on the cross.

This model should be applied to your marriage, that of sacrificial love with a forward-looking view of your spouse’s true potential as a response to your love for them. Your spouse can experience the short-term effects that criticizing and demanding change in them can bring.

However, these short-lived efforts to force change do not coincide with the love that is needed to withstand the struggles in marriages today. A more realistic goal would be to take the time to seriously consider your spouse’s personal weaknesses and then make sacrificial investments of your time and energy to make them feel the confidence that comes from being loved despite those weaknesses.

Even though you sometimes may feel that your spouse may not deserve it, it is imperative that you continue to remember how God blesses everyone with such agape love daily. This marital investment proves more fruitful to marriage success. All it takes is a strong commitment to sacrificially loving your spouse.

Tip #2: Get your desires under control

John Gottman, a well-known couples counselor, explains how marriages fall apart via a description of what he refers to as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

The common thread running between these poisons of marriage is that they objectivize marital problems for the person who is suffering from the issue.

In chapter 4, verses 1-4 James promotes a much more subjective view of solving conflict in relationships. James understands that at the root of all relational conflict lies a frustrated desire stemming from people not seeking God’s guidance to fulfill this desire.

This passage is full of practical wisdom! From a couple’s perspective, most conflicts are a result of each partner saying what they really need or want to see change. This verse encourages couples to seek God’s guidance through prayer and Bible study before it ever reaches their spouse’s ears.

This removes the shaming and blaming out of conflicts and spouses focus more on using God’s word, examining their own desires in faith that God will lead them to negotiations that are beneficial to both parties (Psalm 37:4). Ultimately, God becomes the agent of change in marriages, as opposed to the worldly thoughts and actions of His servants.

When a wife speaks to her husband in a harsh way, for example, he will feel that she does not disrespect him. His first thought, according to the James 4 passage, should be, “Am I trusting God to fulfill my desire for respect?” One should seek guidance through prayer or Bible study to learn from cases where God displayed love to mankind despite their disrespect to Him.

The unresolved desire for respect in marriages may surface when one is insecure. However, God has an answer for this. Matthew 20:26 relates Jesus’ teaching that “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.”

This passage speaks volumes about what actions are needed to solve this desire dilemma. Keeping in mind the qualities of a humble servant in the middle of marriage conflicts can lead to more fruitful resolutions.

To align one’s desires with God’s, you have to read your Bible and look for teaching that shows how God wants you to relate to your desires.

Tip #3: Marriage first, but only after God

Marriage is an ordinance that God has given to His servants to sanctify them in this life. North Point Community Church pastor, Andy Stanley, commented on relationships in his recent sermon, “Pack Your Bags: Now And Then” explaining sleeping around before marriage is a lousy idea.

Unselfishly honoring and committing to one person lays the foundation for a successful marriage. Many today believe that one must live together in a sexual relationship with someone before deciding if enough compatibility exists to get married. True intimacy begins with a committed marriage relationship, rather than self-interest.

Proverbs 5:15 says, “Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well.” Marriage is to be a sacred institution. As one commentator remarks: “Solomon urges his disciples to follow after purity in the married life; he pictures in vivid terms the delights which it affords as compared with the pleasures of sin.”

Life is full of things that occupy our time and attention such as work, entertainment, children, etc. It is easy to place other things before our marriage relationship.

There are a lot of couples with unresolved conflicts over unmet needs, for example, where one partner is too focused on the kids and the other one is a workaholic. It is only after the kids become adults, and leave the home, that the couple may come to realize that neglect of each other’s needs has degraded the intimacy of the relationship.

How does one go about putting their marriage first? Here a few practices that are tried and true:

  • Pray with and for each other regularly.
  • Let each other know what you are learning in your walk with God.
  • Deliver more encouragement than criticism.
  • Find ways to build your spouse’s confidence where they are insecure.
  • Talk daily. Get out on dates regularly.
  • Read books about marriage
  • Find something to do for which you have a mutual interest.
  • Never commit adultery (either physical or emotional)

Finally, if you believe that you are not making progress, consider seeking professional help.

Tip #4: Let the change start with you

Relational demands can lead to reciprocal behaviors in marriage that begin to display a pattern as time goes on. Although this establishment of patterns is intended to keep a healthy balance in the marriage, some patterns can end up causing dysfunction in the relationship. Where a husband is totally focused on himself, for example, his wife may be left without any avenue for expressing her thoughts and emotions to him.

While her husband considers her dutiful with regard to sex and doesn’t request much in the way of deep emotional bonding, balance will continue to exist in the relationship. Over time, however, dysfunctions in the relationship will begin to surface as the wife struggles with finding happiness with an emotionally distant husband.

Dysfunction can manifest in a number of ways, such as eating to excess, too much focus on the kids, adultery, anger issues, depression, or even pursuing divorce. At that point, the question then becomes one of how to change dysfunctional patterns that have accumulated in the marriage.

Identifying your role in causing the dysfunction is the first step toward bringing about change. Because patterns of family behavior tend to be cyclical, initial efforts by one spouse to bring about change will likely meet stiff resistance.

However, if one spouse can work diligently to change the things that are their fault and interrupt this cycle with personal change, their partner will naturally undergo personal change as well. This cycle is then redirected to a new balance point in the marriage.

So in the example listed above, the wife may begin trying to express her desires for romance in the relationship. She may suggest a boundary such as, “I feel more like being romantic with you when you have invested time and energy into talking and spending time with me.”

Stung, the husband might protest, “But all you want to do is talk about everything in minute detail. Nothing I do is sufficient.” The wife might then reply, “I get that this may be difficult, but if you want me to be as interested in romance as you are, then I expect you to work hard at improving our communication.”

Should the wife use this style of open communication and remain firm, her husband will ultimately have to make a choice either to increase emotional communication with his wife, or remain the same, and subject his marriage to possible pitfalls.

1 Corinthians 7:3 is a verse that is often misinterpreted by one or both of a marriage. In it, Paul warns husbands and wives not to withhold sex from each other. Frequently taken out of context in this verse is the additional expectation of commitment to mutual spiritual growth. What this verse does not teach is that making insensitive demands on each other is okay.

How Christian Marriage Counseling Can Help Save Your Marriage

Even though these tips may sound simple, one should not draw the conclusion that fixing problems in your marriage will be easy. The tips mentioned above should be viewed as general principles that will take time and a lot of practice to apply to your particular marriage. Some individuals come into marriages with the baggage of a complicated life history and variety of dynamics. Often struggle with patterns of dysfunction that they have built up over long periods of time.

Proverbs 15:22 reads, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed.” Having an outsider to diffuse potentially tense situations and give insight into how the patterns of dysfunction work can be a big help on your road to marital health. Bringing Biblical principles to bear by means of Christian marriage counseling can help married couples experience stronger romantic love.


Gottman, John. 1994. Why Marriages Succeed or Fail.
Hendrix, Harville. 2001. Getting the Love You Want.

“In Love,” courtesy of ambroochizafar,, CC0 Public Domain License; “Love on a Bench,” Courtesy of mrhayata,, CreativeCommons (CC BY-SA 2.0); “God-Centered”, Courtesy of Naassom Azevedo,; CC0 License; “Trouble”, Courtesy of Nathan Dumlao,; CC0 License

Parenting Tips for the Frustrated Parent

Unlike adults who are usually able to communicate what they feel, young children often react differently especially when they wish to express their negative feelings. Instead of talking in a calm manner, they may instead pout, argue or even fight. Rather than saying “I’m hungry” or “This is bothering me,” they yell or throw a tantrum instead.

It can really be frustrating to be at home hoping for a quiet evening, yet the kids are constantly misbehaving, quarreling with each other, or answering back at you in an inappropriate way. As a parent, you may be wondering why the children cannot follow simple commands or why they intentionally seem to be ignoring your rules.

While it may seem natural to blame the kids for their hard-headedness, sometimes it is the incorrect or inconsistent way that we have communicated the do’s and don’ts which is causing them to behave the way they do. Fortunately, this can be changed.

Helpful, Therapeutic Parenting Tips

When dealing with children (and even adults!), there are three very important things to remember: unconditional positive regard, faith in the person’s potential to change, and empathy. If these are not factored in there will be a lot of difficulty in creating positive change.

When interacting with their children, parents must convey unconditional positive regard. What this means is that parents must be able to listen to the positive and negative experiences of the children without branding them as “good” or “bad”.

If this can be done, then the children will feel safe when sharing their feelings and experiences. If not, the kids may hold back from telling the entire truth, preventing change from occurring.

Next, parents must remember that their children have the potential to change while they are still young and there is still time to transform. If parents remember this, there will be less pressure on parents to “make the kids understand and learn now.”

Remembering this potential to change will also encourage a positive partnership with the children so that they may grow and transform at the proper pace. Without this, parents will really feel the stress of not having well-behaved kids and this, in turn, will affect them as there will be a sense of disappointment emanating from the parents.

Lastly, parents need to empathize with their kids and NOT ignore their feelings. If children feel that importance is given to what they are going through, they will feel valued and seen. Without this, they may feel unloved and may harbor resentment towards their parents.

The Proper Way to Set Limits for the Kids

The method to follow is from the ACT model of Garry Landreth, a leading specialist in play therapy. The three parts of this model are: Acknowledge the child’s feelings, Communicate the limit, and Target the alternatives. Here, however, there is an additional final step for Consequences.

1. Acknowledge the child’s feelings

Here you reflect to your son or daughter what you believe they are feeling or thinking to create a connection with them. Do this by attuning yourself to your child’s words, body language and facial expressions. If done properly, your child will feel that you really understand what they are going through. This also connects their emotions to their actions or behavior which is a crucial step to change.

For example:

  • “I know you are angry at your dad and me. You want to throw your toys at us.”
  • “I know you are mad about not finishing your TV show. You want to turn off the TV now.”

2. Communicate the limit

But though their feelings have been acknowledged, it is important that they know they cannot cross a certain boundary. The parents are not telling their child it is not okay to be angry or upset. Instead, they are saying that despite the negative feelings, they are not allowed to behave in the wrong manner.

For example:

  • … “But you cannot just throw toys at people, especially your mom and dad.”
  • … “But you cannot just turn the TV off if mom and dad are watching something.”

3. Target Alternatives

Once the harmful behavior has been stated, an alternative must be given to redirect the child’s anger or frustration. The child’s desire to lash out is a natural feeling, even for adults, but the child must learn that the feeling must and can be expressed in a responsible way.

For example:

  • … “You can hit your pillow instead.”
  • … “You can yell in your room instead.”

While choices are part of the method, setting limits is more than just that. At an early age, if the child knows that there are choices available, the child will begin to differentiate between acting on impulse and opting for proper behavior. This allows them to control their actions in the future.

Additionally, when the child is able to learn the differences, there is less burden on the parents to always control their child’s behavior in social situations. The parent is essentially thinking and communicating that their child has the potential to understand and change their behavior, provided the parents are patient and consistent in what is taught and what is expected.

4. The Consequences

A final step involves consequences as most children may not always follow right away. Should the child choose to cross the boundary despite the acknowledged feelings, the communicated limit, and a provided alternative; then a consequence may be given.

For example:

  • … “Since you chose to throw your toys, you cannot play with them this afternoon.”
  • … “Since you turned off the TV, you will not be allowed to watch cartoons after dinner.”

Though it may seem awkward at first, as time goes by, this method of communicating the appropriate behavior and resulting consequences will become more natural, especially when the parent sees the effects on their child’s behavior.

Many parents have used this method on their kids and have seen amazing results. Not only does it allow children to face and overcome difficult emotions and behaviors, it also allows parents to view their children in a more positive light, knowing that their children can change.

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What is the Most Effective Treatment for Eating Disorders?

For many people, it is difficult to imagine how others suffer from eating disorders. The idea of throwing up a delicious meal or trying to maintain an almost skeletal-like frame seems absurd to them.

Yet for those who do suffer from such disorders, it is a very serious reality that it is not about food or about entering the modeling world, rather it is about problems with control. This article will discuss this issue since many truly suffer from this, often in secret, and need help.

Causes Behind the Problem

The primary cause for most stems from control. Some feel that they lack control in certain areas of their life. The root causes of such are psychological such as low self-esteem, perfectionism, or difficulties controlling the emotions. Since they are not able to overcome these, they instead try to consciously control something else like their food intake.

For others, the control problem comes from elements in their environment such as peer pressure, bullying, family concerns or abuse. The world around them is chaotic and problematic so they try to establish some sense of control by controlling how they eat.

To a lesser extent, the disorder may manifest in reaction to stress at work or in the classroom, especially in the case of binge eating where people may seek their comfort food when they feel bombarded with problems.

Additionally, biological problems may also cause eating disorders to develop. Abnormal levels of body chemicals connected to sleep, stress, appetite or mood may also cause a person to overeat or undereat.

Unfortunately, eating disorders often run in the family. If a parent has an issue with overeating or undereating, it is oftentimes passed on to the children since they usually model what they see.

So Just How Bad is it?

According to the Washington State Department of Health ( Mental Health-Eating Disorders, August 27, 2016):

“Approximately 1% of adolescent girls in the United States develop anorexia nervosa and 2-5% of adolescent girls develop bulimia. Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents in the United States. The prevalence of eating disorders in males is much smaller than females but an estimated 19-30% of anorexia cases diagnosed in older adolescents are male.”

For the adult population in the US, eating disorders affect one million males and ten million females across the country. Moreover, four out of ten people know of someone who has experienced an eating disorder or they have personally undergone such a struggle themselves.

The following are the estimates of eating disorders over men and women’s lifetimes.

For men … For women …

● 0.3% will battle anorexia ● 0.9% will deal with anorexia

● 0.5% will deal with bulimia ● 5% will struggle against bulimia

● 0.2% will struggle with binge eating ● 5% will battle binge eating

(National Institute of Mental Health,, Eating Disorders, August 27, 2016).

Perhaps for those who are not plagued by this, the statistics are meaningless. But for those affected by them, whether personally or because of people they know, the numbers are disturbing.

These Disorders are an Addiction

When people think of the word “addiction”, shopping, sex, drugs, or alcohol abuse come readily to mind. But eating disorders are also an addiction.

Binge eating can easily be identified as an addiction as sufferers may crave food in times of stress the same way a person may crave alcohol or cigarettes when stressed. Yet one’s obsession with having a particular body size is also an addiction since sufferers do what they do (e.g. vomiting up food or undereating) to achieve their goal.

Treatment for Eating Disorders

Just like the other addictions out there, it is very difficult to overcome an eating disorder alone. Treatment for eating disorders is necessary, lest something even worse (e.g. health complications, other addictions, severe depression, or suicide) happens to the sufferer.

Usually a team of specialists – counselor, dietician, and psychiatrist (if medication is involved) – is needed to overcome the problem. Individual and family counseling are highly encouraged to help both the sufferer and their family deal with the issue.

The sufferer must face the root cause of their addiction in order to overcome it. However, family members must also acknowledge their own feelings (e.g. shame, guilt, anger, regret) about having a loved one who is suffering from this, and they must learn what they need to do to help in the recovery.

Group counseling with other sufferers helps the person realize that they are not the only one battling such disorders. Insights are often gained in these groups leading to faster recovery.

Many times this support may be done on an outpatient basis via regular appointments with counselors and the medical team. In extreme cases, however, inpatient care at a facility may be needed with such care lasting anywhere from a few months up to a year.

Other Helpful Activities

In addition to the professional support, there are other things that may be done to speed up recovery.

1) Meditation or yoga may help relax the mind and body.

2) Exercise, which should be at least 30 minutes a day, three times a week, keeps the body healthy and may take the thoughts off of binge eating. Just be careful that the sufferer does not overdo it as excessive exercise may be connected to obsession over bodyweight.

3) Proper diet, as instructed by the dieticians, can get the body back on track.

4) Appointments with a specialist for connected disorders will help overcome problems like anxiety, alcohol or drug addictions, depression or other issues.

5) Hobbies like reading, art projects, music and other creative activities can refocus the mind on something positive to help boost self-esteem and self-love.

6) Helping others at this time of healing can also boost recovery. Most people usually feel more thankful for life and their blessings when they are able to assist others in need.

Prayer and Bible Reading

A very important activity to help overcome eating disorders is to spend time in prayer and Bible reading. Prayer allows us to communicate and connect with God. When this is done, a person feels less alone and less helpless, knowing that God the Almighty is there. It is only God who truly sees how beautiful and special we all are so it is His love that we should all seek.

But prayer must be paired with knowing more about God through His Word. It is difficult to trust someone we do not know so it is important to know more about God by meditating on Scripture. Aside from bringing us closer to Him, God’s Word will inspire sufferers in their struggle against their eating disorders.

The following, for example, are some Bible verses specifically for such disorders:

Don’t you know that your body is a temple that belongs to the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit, whom you received from God, lives in you. You don’t belong to yourselves. You were bought for a price. So bring glory to God in the way you use your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. – Proverbs 31:30

The Lord is near all who call out to Him, all who call out to Him with integrity. – Psalm 145:18

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayers and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Seek Christian Counseling

While counselors are available in many institutes, a Christian counselor is able to integrate treatment for eating disorders with Scripture and prayer. In this way, both the sufferer and their family are able to seek God together to gain spiritual peace and wisdom to surmount the eating disorder at hand. Furthermore, even after the disorder has been overcome, the benefit of knowing God more intimately helps in whatever happens afterward.

If you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, seek help soon before things worsen. Remember, God always has the best in mind for us.

The only temptations that you have are the same temptations that all people have. But you can trust God. He will not let you be tempted more than you can bear. But when you are tempted, God will also give you a way to escape that temptation. Then you will be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

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