Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Don't let church ruin your marriage

Published:Saturday | October 14, 2017 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston

It is a fact that church consumes the time of a lot of Christian couples. There are some persons (women especially) in relationships, who are on almost every committee in the church and as such find themselves having very little time for the home.

Pastors need to be more active in counselling couples on issues that will pop up in marriage. Counseling events that deal with marriage and the family are commendable, but need to be better embraced by the Church and held on a regular basis for married members.

Family and Religion reached out to Dr Maloney Hunter, psychologist and director/mentor of Sisters United in Prayer, Healing Empowerment and Restoration (SUPHER), who stated that every church should host a marriage support/seminar group or forum.

"Marriage is a covenant agreement in which a man and a woman are legally and spiritually joined together as husband and wife. And Genesis 2:24-25 establishes the four elements in God's perfect order for marriages," she said.

Separation, bonding, oneness and intimacy are the elements and for her, if church leaders go back to basics and review these four elements, stability can be maintained.

Hunter said the church can also organise counseling teams for those who fall outside these four elements and offer professional advice and remind these couples of God's purpose for Marriage.

Hunter pointed out that a lot of couples enter the marriage without any prior counselling and only seek help after there is a breakdown and things are out of control.

The key to saving some of these marriages is to encourage church leaders to partner with other churches that are seasoned in this area with professional Christian counsellors, she said.

The biggest threat in Christendom right now to marriages, she said, is females in ministry who are burnt out, overworked, stressed out and under paid.

"Most females run around five days per week to support prayer meeting, Bible study, choir practice, youth meeting, and the list goes on. Most of these activities are held once per night. Therefore, one will find themselves out every night of the week and no consideration is given to family life," she shared.

This Hunter said, will lead to children suffering as their parents are rarely home.

"Most mothers work a normal 9 a.m - 5p.m job then rush home to leave for church. Whatever happened to preparing a good evening meal? When the pastor is a male you have the issue with the 'first lady' who has to support her husband and needs to be in church all the time. When the pastor is a female the husband often feels left out because of the attention given to the female pastor," she said.

For active church couples, some might be reluctant to reveal that their marriage may be on the rocks because of embarrassment or other reasons. Hunter said many are just pretending that all is well, and that is why it is important to host open forums to discuss issues rather than getting too personal with individuals.

But if given the opportunity she said pastors should encourage them to confide in a trustworthy person or a Christian counsellor for professional help.

"No one enjoys being embarrassed, so quite often in my church the pastor comes up with a general question pertaining to marriage and then hosts a forum, inviting the couples and teaching on the subject. One that comes to mind is 'Communication in a Marriage' this is a hot topic," she shared.

Hunter said that couples can strike a balance between ministry and their personal lives. They just need to remember that they are both committed to each other as well as their ministry.

"Therefore, both are important but balance is needed. Every quarter, plan a vacation or time away from ministry to keep the communication in the marriage. Take an annual vacation. It cannot be all year-round church, church and church. Do things together outside of church with your family," she said.