Marriage Coaching

Last night I attended a fundraiser for MarriageTeam, a marriage-coaching ministry. As a lifelong bachelor no one is asking me for marriage advice, but this event was a chance to learn about a resource I can offer to friends. And they’re good.

This endorsement comes from what was shared at the event. A couple I’ve known over the years are leaders in a strong ministry in central Europe. As the keynote speakers they shared how connections with MarriageTeam coaches have been remarkably rewarding for their own team. More than they hoped for. They now use this coaching approach for training all their married staff and in offering consultations to others.

A key insight is that they coach rather than counsel. Picture the difference between helping an athlete train to win a competition over against counseling a failed athlete who is depressed and struggling. The coaching doesn’t address a sense of failure; instead it anticipates success. That may open a door for more couples to use it.

It helps to acknowledge that most marriages invite some coaching. Partly because couples often don’t have all the support they need—especially if their own families of origin don’t offer great models, or if the widespread selfishness in society today is still in play. So some wise conversation can be useful.

This might be as simple as coaching a couple to switch their language of “you”—that pushes a spouse to change—to “I”—that bears responsibility and suggests one’s own willingness to change. The biblical invitation to, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3) supports this.

The biggest lesson we all need to embrace is that the raw human desire for Individualism started with the Serpent’s invitation in Genesis 3 to “be like God.” And that violates God’s design, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:26-27).

This underlines the reality that we are essentially relational beings. And sin—our impulse to be individuals—spoils this. We can only love when we have another person to love. And God, who “is love,” is ready to pour out his love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). But that works best when we ask, “help!” God, alone, can transform selfish hearts by sharing the Spirit’s powerful bonding love with us—drawing us in a new direction.

All that to say, we all need the Spirit to be at work in us to shift hearts from “selfish ambition” to a living “humility” that makes relationships work. I for one welcome any and all coaching to that end, even as a bachelor! And it’s certain to be just as true for marriages everywhere.

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