In this assignment, Terry wanted to sidestep the mudslinging that often goes on in the counseling sessions. He assigned each participant to write at least five things he or she had done to mess up the marriage and how their actions had caused the problems they were facing. This is a powerful exercise because, in my experience, by the time couples approach a preacher or elder for help in their marriage, they aren’t looking to change themselves but to change their spouse.
I think I’m going to take a new approach when someone asks me to counsel them in their troubled marriage. I’m going to refuse to take part in that. Instead, what I’ll offer is opportunity to sit down with anyone and simply discuss what the Bible says about how they should be acting in their marriage and perhaps laying out some plans to actually accomplish those personal goals.
Here is the point. I have come to realize that God didn’t include the passages on marriage to teach me how to tell Marita how to act in our marriage. Rather, He included those passages to teach me how to act in my marriage. God didn’t write the Bible to teach me how to fix all the problems everyone else has. Rather, He is teaching me how to rely on Him so He can fix my problems.
II Timothy 2:15 says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (ESV). It doesn’t say, “Do your best to present your spouse to God as one approved…” It says to present yourself.
I understand our responsibilities to restore sinners and confront error. However, first and foremost we have the Bible so we can work on ourselves, not others. Frankly, I think this is a truly practical approach. The reality is a marriage counselor can’t fix your spouse. You can’t fix your spouse. In fact, you can’t fix your marriage. You can, however, work on you. You can surrender yourself to God, surrender your marriage to God and just work on doing things His way. Maybe your spouse will never reciprocate, but you will still be right with God. And, in truth, you will be making your marriage better.
So, if you’re praying that God do something in your marriage, approach things differently and say, “Don’t fix my marriage, fix me.”