Friday Counseling Issues: This and That

Potluck this morning.  It’s been a difficult couple of weeks in my office. Heartbreak, anger, confusion, and despair, along with a little joy, humor, and relief. So here are some general observations, probably some that I’ve said before somewhere else:

  1.  You don’t get to date others after you are married. Don’t.  Just. Don’t. Do. That.
  2.  I will never understand why anyone would pay me for counsel and then sit in my office and lie to me.  Never.
  3. Contrary to liberal–and Hollywood–representation, it is NOT “just sex.” Sex is one of the most important parts of marriage. It is called “intimacy” because, well, it’s intimate!  When you take that intimacy and spread it around to other partners, it is no longer intimate. The pain of unfaithfulness is awful.  It would be less painful if the straying partner had died. At least, that’s what my clients tell me.
  4. I’m beyond thankful for a 46-year marriage in which both of us have been completely faithful. It’s a beautiful thing.
  5. Divorce may solve one set of problems, but it creates a whole set of others. And if there are children, divorcing parents need to understand that the child’s whole world is rocked. A hurricane, earthquake, or tsunami can be no less devastating to a child than when MomandDad become Mom. Dad. No “and.”
  6. If you have been unfaithful but you want your marriage to work, then you’re going to have to suck it up, Buttercup. You were selfish, stupid, sinful, and did I say stupid? You exposed yourself and your wife to STD’s. You may even have created a baby with the other woman. You’re going to be doing some serious penance while your wife struggles to forgive you and the long, tedious process of rebuilding trust gets under way. Same goes if you are an unfaithful wife. Same rules apply. You’ve allowed a third person into your marriage, and three is definitely a crowd.
  7. Sometimes divorce is the only answer.  I get that.  I would never counsel anyone to stay with an abuser, or with someone who is serially unfaithful. There are circumstances in which it is just foolish to stay.
  8. Let’s change the subject.  Anxiety is just another word for fear.  Same thing. Only there’s no diagnostic code for fear. Instead, we call it anxiety or phobia, but it’s really just fear. It helps to be realistic.
  9. Anxiety drives depression.
  10. What you believe to be true drives how you feel and what you say and do.
  11. Depression can be helped a great deal by learning to identify what your feelings are leading you to accept as truth.
  12. Feelings change.  Feelings are not to be trusted, because they are fickle. Truth does not change. God is truth. He is not fickle. We are.
  13. Learn to tell yourself the truth. Get into the Word. Quit living on the basis of how you feel, and live instead on the basis of what you know to be true.
  14. Self-esteem is a crock. This is a concept that has taken over for common sense and made us the center of our thinking. No wonder we’re messed up.  If all you think about is how awful you are, then all you’re thinking about is yourself.  That is not humility. That is way too much self-esteem. The real problem, often, is that we don’t think other people think as highly of us as they should.
  15. God made you for Himself.  Colossians 1:16.  You are His workmanship. The Greek word there is poema, and could be translated as masterpiece, work of art. Ephesians 2:10.  You are a marvelous work of God, a walking, breathing miracle.  Psalm 139. God thinks about you, and wants only the best for you. Jeremiah 29:11-14.
  16. Self-forgiveness is also a crock.  It is nowhere in the Word of God. It is presumptuous to say, “I know God has forgiven me, but I just can’t forgive myself.”  Listen to me. How dare you assume that God’s forgiveness is insufficient?  That without your forgiving yourself, you’re not quite done yet? What you really need is to appropriate God’s forgiveness, and pray that you will know that it is enough.
  17. Having bipolar disorder does not give you a pass to act like an idiot. It does not give you permission to hurt people, to behave immorally, and then expect to be instantly forgiven and people just have to put up with it.  You make choices, just like all the rest of us. Yes, it can be harder for you.  I understand that, and I have great empathy for people who have bipolar mood swings. It’s an awful condition. But there IS help!  You MUST stay faithful to your meds. And you must be in the Word, in prayer. And you must be accountable to someone who loves you, and who isn’t afraid to speak truth to you.
  18. Tell the truth.
  19. Don’t do dumb, evil things that you then have to cover up with lies.
  20. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter; love God, and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing,  whether it be good, and whether it be right.” Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14
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14 thoughts on “Friday Counseling Issues: This and That

  1. Pingback: Friday Counseling Issues: This and That | kathleenbduncan

  2. My husband and I are 21 years into our marriage. We’ve made it through drug addiction, several affairs, and pornography. We’re still learning to love each other well. It’s a journey. Forgiveness is not a one-time event but a process. Without God, this marriage would be no more. But with God all things are possible. I love your nuggets of truth and the way you say them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, and congratulations! It’s a hard road, and forgiveness is indeed a process, except for God! When He forgives, He forgets, because He has an infinite forgetter 🙂 We, on the other hand seem to have infinite rememberers!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! I totally agree with your comments. Number two brings back memories working with taxpayers that have tried to pull fast ones to get out of paying their tax due. As self employed individuals, they will lie to their preparers and when audited, blame them for the additional tax. Even when it’s proven it was caused by various 1099’s they omitted to give their preparers for the year, it still wasn’t their fault. Just when I thought I’d heard it all, I was wrong, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

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