Marriage Counseling

Rough Draft of future content. 

It's important to learn the skills for successful marriage. When things are not well between a couple there are only a few choice. The couple could divorce, stay together and be miserable, or learn the skills necessary successful marriage. Rather than list the things that should not be done, let me list of things that can be done to improve any marriage.
Each of the couple should learn to say positive reinforcing and encouraging things to their spouse. This is even more helpful if it is done in front of the children, friends, and neighbors. We learn how to do fun things, especially those things you did when 1st married. Praise each other publicly.

Make big decisions as a team. Try to work cooperatively. Learning the skills to D escalate disagreements before they get to the points when things are said and done which make an indelible mark. Put effort into creating a total marriage make over. Try really hard to press the restart button and reboot the marriage. Don’t entrench yourself in a win loose competition.

Marriage Work

For restoration to occur through counseling, it’s not only God’s grace and the counselor’s knowledge, skills, and abilities, but the couples hard work. Both client’s hard work. When one of the couple or is unwilling to do the hard work toward restoration, the probabilities of divorce greatly increase. Retrovaille is an important part of restoration. It is a healing ministry of the Holy Catholic Church and has much power to heal.
People interested in the pursuit of holiness can spend a lot of time in practices to foster their holiness. Married people also practice the pursuit of holiness. Since we know we are to present ourselves as living sacrifices, and since we know that after the sacrament of marriage the two become one, those interested in holiness, best practice, is to present our marriage to God as a living sacrifice. Presenting the marriage to God reduces self interest and is more unitive. It is a good prayer to ask God to make you holy. It’s a different type of good prayer to ask God to make your marriage a holy and acceptable living sacrifice.

I’m not going to speak at length about separation. Just know there are two types of separation: separation as the precursor to divorce and separation as a strategy to reset the marriage. Sometimes separation to reset the marriage is exactly what God wants the couple to do. This is evidenced by their healing and restoration which didn’t occur prior to the separation. (Bad Separation)


The previous section explored intra psychic grief.  Intra psychic grief is grief exclusively within only one persons mind, will, emotions, spirituality, etc. This section focuses on grief from an inter psychic perspective. More specifically, griefs inter subjectivity between a couple. 

Even the best of marriages, those that are a match made in Heaven, have problems. When there is premeditated abortion, there is a very high probability that divorce is in their future. When they don’t divorce, the marriage becomes more like a skeleton marriage, an unfulfilled marriage, they sense the spark is missing. What is missing is the aborted child. Abortion plagues their relationship, sometimes indefinitely. Most married post abortive’s eventually realize that their abortion experience compromised their marriage because it had a terrible impact on their  emotional, physical and spiritual intimacy. All other sources of marital problems aside, when a couple is grieving an abortion loss, it often pounds a wedge between them.

Men and women have been socialized differently regarding grief.  When a young boy cries he might be hit and told, "Be a man." "Don't be a sissy.""Boys don't cry." So as the boy grows up he concludes that sharing his tears and his feelings are not in his best interest. He learned, it’s not wrong for women but it is wrong for men.  This may be unconscious but it rules his male thinking. Men don’t like talking about their grief because they feel embarrassed and ashamed.  His sense of manhood is compromised by crying, so in order to keep his own self respect he does not wish to share his feelings. Men possess the ability to outwardly contain their emotions and often cry in private. Even at a funeral men don’t usually cry. They talk about the deceased’s medical condition, their “legal will,” or how the deceased are in a better place etc., but never about their own personal feelings of loss, with the exception of, “We will miss him.”

The grieving processes between men and women will never be 100% calibrated.  St. Francis’ Prayer for Wisdom, colloquially known as the Serenity Prayer tasks us to accept that men and women grieve differently. Grief calibration can be likened to the,”Love languages.” It is important that the love language of each partner be known to the other.  When they don’t synchronize, havoc reigns.  For example, one of the spouses whose love language is acts of service, may not feel loved by their spouse who has a different way of showing love.  This being said, men grieve the way men grieve and women grieve the way women grieve. It’s not that since men don’t grieve like women that they are unable to grieve.  Likewise, women don’t grieve like men, it’s not that women don’t grieve. The two gender styles don’t match and each could have hurt feelings because they don’t understand or know each other’s heart. Men and women, each with their gender specific grief style, can learn to synchronize their different grieving styles. Ideally, this would bring a couple closer together. They can be the best support for each other by talking with each other about their aborted baby. This quells each other’s pain since sharing their grief is a form of intimacy.

Men usually process their grief through their cognition, and women through their affect. Women process grief by expressing feelings by talking, often with tears. Men prefer to “think through” rather than “talk.” Men also naturally grieve through activity. They start projects, jump into hobbies, exercise harder, put a cross on the side of the road, etcetera. 

Men can process grief faster than women. This complicates the wife’s grieving because it seems her husband is insensitive.  He may make statements like, “It’s been three months just get over it.” His unspoken subtext being, “Please stop hurting me by bringing it up.” His unconscious motivation is, using suppression, “out of sight out of mind.”  The wife feels hurt because she concludes he does not care about the aborted child. Problems arise when the wife wants to talk about her emotional pain but the husband tries to fix her grief instead of empathize. In many cases the wife feels isolated and ignored in her grief. Sometimes men don't want to talk to their spouse about their aborted child because they simply don't want to upset the mother. He naturally desires to be the rock that she leans on.  It’s an unconscious motivation, which he feels good about being that way. Even though it is hard for many men to talk about their grief, even to their wives, to do it for their wife’s sake, in patience and kindness, is showing her love.

Couples who had an abortion may never ever speak about their abortion for the rest of their lives. They may not disclose this secret to any living children. There is no direct abortion trauma in the children caused by the abortion except for the increased marital discord. Since post abortion trauma takes a toll on the parents they may act out and treat the children in ways that are different than if they did not have the abortion. Since the shame of abortion keeps the abortion a secret, even a new spouse may not ever find out. 

Post abortive men and women can drag a lot of post abortion trauma into a second marriage. The post abortive’s emotional baggage from a previous marriage can create damage in a second marriage. Non-post abortive spouses who know about their spouses abortion sometimes find it difficult to understand that their spouse did not get over it yet, that they are still suffering, and this impacts their present relationship. Spouses who have not personally experienced an abortion don’t fully understand how their spouses abortion trauma can effect their own marriage. Because the spouse doesn’t understand  the ramifications of abortion’s trauma they may wonder what they are doing wrong. For example, the new husband did not get her pregnant or contribute to her getting the abortion, but her abortion trauma reaps havoc in his marriage. Another example, sometimes the abortion trauma prevents the wife from engaging more deeply than superficial intimacy. Another example, someone may unknowingly marry a post abortive depressed person. They don’t see their depressed spouse’s challenging behaviors as being from a psychiatric disorder. They perceive their spouse as being mean to them. Very often when the depressed spouse gets on an antidepressant many of their marriage problems go away.

For some reason it doesn’t cross either spouses mind to grant mutual forgiveness. Forgiveness will set both free from all types of stinking thinking as well as prevent additional problems. This is easily resolved with communication. What is it that prevents them from asking their spouse for forgiveness?  Often the pain of the loss makes them just want to be alone. That becomes tricky when married. 

When the over demanding family member will not put effort into improving it comes down to the healthier family member to cope. Discernment requires the wisdom to know the difference between what one can change and what one can’t change. If the healthy family member correctly discerns that the pathological family member will not change, best practice, beg God for a miracle. Bring it to the spouse once or twice.  If they don’t change, refer it to God, don’t be a nag.

When a spouse puts an inordinate amount of effort into helping their spouse, inordinate meaning beyond God’s will regarding effort, it can bleed their soul dry. Burnout to the 10 millionth power. This is why in the divine office several times a year it says in order to take care of other souls you must first take care of your own soul. This is not selfishness, this is the word of God.

Many post-abortive people report they experience a lot of healing through the unconditional love from their family members especially their spouses. 

During marriage counseling a counselor would assess if any marriage problems are directly attributable to an abortion. 

Remember the person is not the problem, the person’s problem is the problem. You are not married to the problem but to the person. It will be a much happier marriage if the problem could be expelled from the family system. This way it wouldn’t be a threesome. It would reduce from being you, your spouse, and the pathology to a simple husband-and-wife dynamic

How does the death of the aborted baby fit into a family that has other living children. There are many different ways. Sometimes the woman never tells her husband that she had an abortion with a different man or she aborted his child.

In a healthy family system it is normal to help each other. Dysfunctional family systems are different. Often the more we help someone, the number of units of help per day increase in frequency, intensity, and duration. This can reach the level of pathology. The person needing help can become dependent on that help which puts the helper under increasingly difficult pressures. This often goes unnoticed because it happens little by little over a long time.

Sustaining this unsustainable family system requires a lot of grace. Clearly, the accommodation of family system pathology must be halted and reversed.  When an individual in the family has problems there is a spread of dysfunctional effect into other family members.

I was at a marriage seminar and Fr. Apostole told the following story. He was on an airplane with another monk. It was a big airplane. The type with two seats on the left, three seats on the right and about forty rows. He, the other monk and a woman sat together. He wasn’t paying attention to the woman as she was working on her computer and he was engaged in conversation with his brother monk. When the flight attendant came by and asked what they would like to eat the woman responded saying she didn’t want to eat anything. The flight attendant, being friendly, asked, “are you sure you don’t want anything?” The woman said, “No, I’m fasting.” This caught Fr. Apostole’s attention and he began talking with her. He asked what she was fasting for and she responded, “I’m fasting for the destruction of Christian marriages.” What are the odds of two monks and a witch sitting together on an airplane? It seems to me that since the devil roams around like a lion looking for someone he could devour, that Christian marriages, as compared with Buddhist, Muslim, etc., marriages are a more tasty morsel. What this means to the struggling married couple that to some degree, they are under spiritual attack. On the surface they may think their spouse is the problem, but they must not be blind to the spiritual attacks, so as not so as not to be caught off guard. Knowing the nature of spiritual attacks is the beginning of defense.

Helpful One Liners

Couples With Mutual Allegations
Learn to Take Responsibility for Their Own Part and Stop Blaming the Other
Love is Patient, Kind etc Standard for Marriage

State of Emnity and Reactivity

Turn Gaze Within

There are some predictors of divorce: no premarital counseling, unrealistic expectations, ignorance of the other persons personality and behaviors, and when you’re trying to change the other person.

So many people going to a marriage thinking that they can once married change the other person. This is not the case. The object is to look inward toward yourself not outward toward the other person. It is hard enough to change ourselves. We often try and fail. So, if we can’t change ourselves how can we change our stops?

In the 12 step programs they have a term called, “working your program.” This means that you’re following the program and doing the hard work. Now when two people in a a be a get married they are still supposed to keep on there program. It is a common phenomenon in a a, and not a good thing, when one of the spouses begins to work the other spouse’s program. This is a taboo thing to do a a councils against working someone else’s program. It really just means you get into someone else’s business and you take the focus off yourself which is where it ought to be directed
living together: generally there is a commitment problem and more abuse and infidelity.

Generally women went together to secure a man for marriage. While a man lives to get the benefits of marriage without commitment. An argument could be made that he doesn’t really love you until he buys a rain and before God and family marries.
A woman with strong self-esteem would probably think that she is to valuable and that she is not giving herself to any man who is unwilling to marry. That he should move out for marriage.

Another criteria a predictor of divorce is constant criticism .

making women’s cure isn’t made by money that men put things in front of her she knows where her man’s heart is. Turning your heart to her makes her feel secure. Men shut down because wife is critical, judgmental, not respectful, and sometimes talks to others.

Women need her husband to be open. A woman trust a sacrificial man man trusts and honoring woman woman can’t because she doesn’t want to go first.

For success will marriage he God first, then each other the most important issue in a marriage is a personal relationship with God.
You are giving everything to ministry, I am second. Don’t blame me on the altar of your success. You may say your spouse is first of where are you giving your time and energy. 

Objectifying women: a man could say he is pursuing his wife but it’s really just only to satisfy his sexual needs. It’s not being loved for the whole entire being. It’s like using the wife as a tool. I have heard many women say that when we are having sex we are not making love and really all he is doing is masturbating inside me. Basically she believes she is being used.

Counseling can save the marriage, but he can help the couple work through the contamination of an affair.

Tell them you not going to save the marriage, but you are going to help them work through the old marriage that became contaminated by the affair. Working through it is important to whether they stay married or not. Working through the marriage is important because as you are going to be in each other’s presence in the future. The goal is to stay focused on the target which is to work through the trauma of the infidelity. Another goal would be to get them talking about their marriage and less about the affair.

The betrayed spouse has the right to know anything and everything they want to know, there are no restrictions.

Everything the betrayed spouse knows he will have to forgive. Will also have to work on healing visual images. The spouse who have the affair can’t pay for this. There is no way to pay for adultery or betrayal. When couples can’t recover from adultery it usually comes from one of two sources: personal history in complete forgiveness. The perpetrator should take some time and list everything that he wants forgiveness for. Only does one chance to do this. Be thorough.

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