Today, Brandon and Tonia discussed the role counseling played in their marriage. For Tonia, it was a breath of fresh air—a safe place to let out all of her emotions. When Brandon saw how it was helping her, he began to realize that it wasn’t just for people who couldn’t fix things themselves, nor was it spouse-bashing. Instead, going to counseling as a couple became a place where he could really listen to her needs and see that they did need help. In the end, he believes he would have spent less time floundering had they gone to counseling sooner.
Brandon and Tonia talked mostly about attending counseling together as a couple, but at various points they also pursued it individually. By now you hopefully have seen how you both need healing—from the betrayal trauma and the ongoing porn use. Although counseling is not a quick fix, even just a few sessions with a good counselor or therapist can help identify and heal wounds—and if you have unaddressed trauma from your childhoods, counseling is essential for full, lasting healing.
If you’ve never sought counseling before, you may want to start by visiting the American Association for Sex Addiction Therapy (https://bit.ly/3yfDyug) or the International Institute for Trauma & Addiction Professionals (https://bit.ly/3OCYcd6). Or you may want to find a Catholic Therapist at https://www.catholictherapists.com/. (It’s worth noting here that we work with many therapists and counselors who recommend Covenant Eyes as an important tool. You have nothing to lose by giving it a try with this free 30-day trial: https://rb.gy/gb9zkn)
You may also be considering Biblical Counseling, pastoral counseling, or other similar ministries, usually offered for free at local churches. These ministries are helpful for pointing people to Jesus for their hope and satisfaction, but they often don’t have the specialized training required to address deeply rooted trauma and woundedness. Because of their lack of specialized knowledge, they can also sometimes misapply verses about submission or marriage to focus on the wife’s response without ever addressing the husband’s sin, or they insist that if she changes something about herself, he’ll give up porn naturally—myths we have already disproven. In other words, consider the depth of your woundedness, then decide whether you need someone who specializes in trauma or sexual addiction, or whether a more general approach is sufficient.
1) What burdens or emotions are you each trying to hold in?
2) If you have already attended counseling sessions, how did they go? If not, what is holding you back?
3) Read John 5:1-14. In her book No Stones, Marnie Ferree points out that Jesus asks an interesting question of a man who had been paralyzed for probably over half his life: “Do you want to be well?” Sometimes we’re actually comfortable in our addictions and our bitterness and we’re scared of seeking healing. Ask yourselves: Do you want to be well? Are you willing to do whatever it takes?
After this, a Jewish festival took place, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. By the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there is a pool, called Bethesda in Aramaic, which has five colonnades. Within these lay a large number of the disabled—blind, lame, and paralyzed.
One man was there who had been disabled for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and realized he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the disabled man answered, “I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, someone goes down ahead of me.”
“Get up,” Jesus told him, “pick up your mat and walk.” Instantly the man got well, picked up his mat, and started to walk.
Now that day was the Sabbath, and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “This is the Sabbath. The law prohibits you from picking up your mat.”
He replied, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”
“Who is this man who told you, ‘Pick up your mat and walk’?” they asked. But the man who was healed did not know who it was, because Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
After this, Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well. Do not sin anymore, so that something worse doesn’t happen to you.”