Today’s post is written by guest blogger and author Karla Downing. Often women’s small groups include women whose husbands are not spiritual leaders and many do not even know Christ. Perhaps the marriage relationship is based on abuse and pain. Read Karla’s post here and consider the practical insight she provides to help us minister to these wives.
I still remember the conversation vividly. I finally risked sharing in a woman’s Bible study that I was in a difficult marriage and really struggling with the pain. The pastor’s wife responded with this: “Just make Jesus your husband. He can be everything to you.” I left feeling that I was wrong to even be bothered by the problems. If I was a good Christian then Jesus would be enough and I wouldn’t be so focused on what was going on. I didn’t share again with anyone in the church for over five years, although I did eventually find a secular support group that offered me real help for the dilemmas I was facing.
This shouldn’t be. When people reach out in the church, we should be able to respond to their pain in a way that communicates empathy and understanding as well as offering something helpful. James 2:15-16 (NIV) says, “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” In the case of women in difficult marriages, they need empathy, validation, and a referral to something tangible that will offer real help.
Churches can have any of the following to offer:
- Trained lay counselors
- Referrals to professional counselors in the area
- Women mentors who have been in difficult marriages
- Support groups for women in difficult marriages
- Twelve Step recovery programs at your church or other churches in the area (Celebrate Recovery)
- Secular recovery programs (Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, COSA)
- Books and websites that offer help
When you offer any of these with compassion and empathy, you show that you understand she has real problems and that you care. You do not have to be a counselor yourself or have the answers to her specific dilemma. You just have to recognize that she needs support because being a woman in a difficult marriage is a tough place to be in and it shouldn’t be made tougher because she is in a church that doesn’t recognize her need.
Karla Downing is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the author of 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages and the founder of ChangeMyRelationship.com. Karla offers practical tools based on biblical truths to Christians in difficult relationships. She also has a passion to teach ministry leaders how to reach out in more effective ways.
10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages, Karla Downing
Women Making a Difference in Marriage, Lana Packer