When you’re a pastor of a congregation, your duty in that role is to not only serve as the orator of God, but also as a community leader. In my job as pastor of the church I like to get to know as many of my members as possible. Given the small size of my congregation, this task is possible. I come across the lost and the saved, the good and the wicked, as well as the ones with love and hate in their hearts. Those who I find to be the most intriguing to speak with are the married couples. Having the opportunity to counsel married couples have allowed me to work as the liaison in which men and women need to keep their relationships on track. In meeting these couples I am always inundated with questions ranging from how do we make our marriage work to how did your marriage stay together so long?
How do I make my spouse happy to what should I do if I have fallen out of love with my spouse? So many questions arise from not only the young newlyweds, but also from those who have been married for years. I became intrigued with counseling married couples ever since the sinful seven. You might be wondering, who or what is the sinful seven? The sinful seven are a group of men and women I spoke to during a couples retreat. They were seven couples faced with issues in their marriage that put their marriage in jeopardy of ending. What was quite interesting, is that each couples dealt with a separate sin that was disastrous to their relationship.
Case in point the, man whose wife wanted him to lose weight. He would come home from work and each night, sit in front of the television with a plate of food. This man would eat to the point of passing out, sometimes even eating the leftovers that his wife wanted to consume for herself the next day at work. His poor eating habits had caused him to take a on a series of health related issues as well as a strain on their sex life. He had developed an inability to focus at work, and even children were ashamed to be seen in public with him in public. Overindulgence of food, drinks, or wealth can is seen in biblical scripture as one who is a glutton.
For those of you who are not familiar with the bible, gluttony is a sin. A sin in which someone must eat to the point of withholding, usually food, from others they care about or don’t know. They must consume in order to harbor from the needy, only caring about their well-being. Gluttons are very selfish, and in the case of this married couple, his health suffered. He couldn’t understand what he was doing wrong. His children and wife were both taken care of; had a great job, nice house, abided by the laws; so how am I a sinner.
As I counseled them, I told the man, abiding by the laws of the land is not enough. If you love your family as much as you say you do, you wouldn’t allow your overindulgence to interfere. The fact that your health has deteriorated shows not only a lack of self-importance, but a lack of responsibility to your family. We all love to eat, but anything that is done in
access will always negatively affect ones’ life. After much consideration, the couple and I agreed to a strict diet for the husband. Since then, he has lost quite a bit of the weight and his health has made a tremendous turnaround. Even the children are more reluctant to go in public with him. As far as their sex life, he and she are expecting their third child.
My second couple is the wife with too much yearning and wanting to be someone she’s not based off of others’ achievements; the bible calls it envy. Envy, this lack of ones’ own abilities and superior achievements due to the desire to want to be or have something someone else has. The husband was a fine young man, highly educated, with an exceptional career. He worked night and day, not because he couldn’t afford the essentials his family needed, but from the envy of his wife toward others. She would see someone with something she didn’t have, and it became a competition from that point on. This person drove two luxury vehicles, so she wanted three. The couple’s house cost five hundred thousand dollars, yet she wanted the house for one million dollars, so it would compete with the others in the neighborhood.
The advice I gave to the both of them is simple; who are you trying to impress. Before that I wanted to know about the wife’s childhood, and where she came from. You find that people who envy others, either grew up in an environment that was poor and their friends had things. The other is that they grew up well-off and their household was based around what everyone else had that they didn’t have. The wife was the first, she grew up in a really poor household. Her father died when she was a young age, and her mother struggled to raise her and her siblings. Meanwhile the wife went to school with students who always wore the nicest clothes, drove best cars, and lived in extravagant homes.
That can be a tough life for a child who has to watch everyone from the other side of the fence. It can make a kid grow to develop a lot of self-esteem issues or even resent their own parents from witnessing such a divide. Now, I’m not agreeing with the idea of having self-esteem issues from someone having something you don’t have, nor am I implying it’s alright to have a vendetta against your parents either. It’s just difficult and confusing to a child, who can’t understand why they have to struggle so hard, and their friends don’t have to do so. In my explanation, we envy people based off the outer. We don’t know their lives behind closed doors. What is picture perfect in our
eyes, could be another person’s hell internally.The more I spoke to the wife, she feared losing her husband because of the way she behaves in the marriage. They were expecting their first child together, and raising a child in an environment in which both, or in this case one of the parents delves in excessive envy. Children are smart, they will grow to learn how to pin their parents against each other once they understand one of them has a weakness. After the counseling session, the wife has since then learned to except and be happy with the life her and her husband have carved out for themselves. Not only that, but she has given birth to their first child, and is expecting a second child.
Then there was my third married couple, how could I forget this one. A wife whose husband had an affinity for, let’s say the opposite sex. It didn’t matter who she was, young or old, tall or short, slim or curvy, married or single. He had to observe any woman that crossed his path. It could be the female neighbor, a co-worker no the job, even a member of his wife’s family hinted at him flirting. When we met, he kind of shrugged his shoulders and said, “Hey, I can’t help it, I’m a man aint I.” Yes, you have to right to look and observe whomever you please, but when you’re married it comes to point where it becomes quite disrespectful.
As I’m speaking to him regarding his actions, I noticed something his wife was doing as he is talking. She had this movement with her hands every time he would speak, where she appeared to be covering up her stomach. I even stopped speaking to him, as I asked her what was wrong. At first glance, I thought it was stomach cramps, until further observation. It was a movement across her bell that I have seen before, but did not want to address. So, in order to figure out why she cradled her stomach so much, I introduced a series of questions. The first being, how did you two first?
Before she could answer the husband stated that it was in college during Spring Break. He went on to explain how beautiful she looked in her bikini she wearing, so he had to introduce himself. In trying to get the wife to answer the second question, I asked, when did you two firs fall in love? He once again interrupted before she could answer, stating that it was at a really nice restaurant. He remembered it well because of this amazing evening gown she was wearing. The third question was, what made you two decide to get married? He, for the third time interjected, stating that he was so lucky to waking up next to such a beautiful woman every day. Then, my attention shifted to her, as she began rubbing her stomach once again.
She didn’t speak up, until I asked her about the things she enjoyed before marriage and children. That’s when her husband kind of rolled his eyes and turned in the opposite direction. The wife spoke up and stated that before they got married and had children she was into gymnastics and yoga. The responsibility of parenting and birth of her three children had drastically altered her body. Immediately, there was no time for the gym, and no gym meant no exercise, no exercise meant weight gain, and weight gain meant lack of interest. Finally, I had solved the issue in this relationship. Her husband lusted for the bodies for other women after the altered appearance of his wife. He, for not one second, tried encouraging his wife, nor did he try to help her lose the weight.
So now, what she thought was the love of her life, is actually the real weight holding her back from progressing. His lust for other women because of his lack of interest in his wife’s appearance, had caused a major rift in the marriage. I explained to him that his actions for a single guy in his early twenties might be understood. But, he wasn’t a college co-ed anymore, he was an adult man, in his thirties with a wife and three kids. His disdain for his wife not only could effect her, but he doesn’t want his children seeing their mother treated in that manner. Since our conversation, he has been more supportive of his wife. Not only that, but her confidence has been restored and she has begun to attend her yoga classes once again. Her and her husband sent me a photo of them vacationing at a resort with their children, I feel they’re going to make it just fine together.
I would like to now introduce you to the fourth couple. The hardworking husband with a wife whose only mission in life is to be held up on a pedestal by her own self self-confidence and personal status. We call this in the religious environment pride or this extreme sense of hubris and self-reflection. The wife was a former model in catalogue magazines who made quite a living off her physical appearance. As the husband and wife approached their middle aged years, the wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. The chemotherapy forced her to lose her hair, as well as losing one of her breast to the disease. After the cancer went into remission, she began to cover her body in public. She would wear veils to cover her face and head, even fully padding her shirts, as to cover up the fact that she had lost one of her breast.
I am an old man, and through the grace of God, I have never had any debilitating illnesses. I don’t know the feeling up losing something that defines who I am as a man. Women who are stricken with this disease are heartbroken when they are told they will lose their hair or even the loss of one or both of their breast. But, when you’re a woman who has made your living off of the way you look, as in this case, adjusting can be quite that much more difficult. The wife in this case was so prideful, she went as far as burning photos and magazines with her likenesses on the front cover. Her pride had caused her husband to feel afflicted and disconnect with her children.
My advice to the wife was difficult, because like I said, I have never been in her situation before. I did tell her it was best to focus on the people whom have stood by her through all her problems. If her husband married her while she was modeling, and fought with her through the sickness, that is something to be proud about in and up itself. It showed that the people wholove the most are there when you are down just as much as when are up. Since our counseling, she is a lot more motivated. Her excessive pride in how she use to look in the past has taken more of a backseat to what she is grateful to have today
Now, now, where should I start with regards to the next husband and wife? Well, in a nutshell, the husband was lazy. When I say lazy, I don’t mean lazy like he would leave his shorts on the floor and wouldn’t pick them up lazy. I mean lack of drive and desire to succeed laziness. You may ask, what would make a woman marry a man has no desire or will to succeed. The only thing that comes to my mind when meeting this man was sloth. That’s right sloth, or the lack of foresight to care about ones’ surroundings due to the carelessness in ones’ emotions or spirit.
The husband was very productive when they first met. He was one of the hardest working people his wife had ever met. This is what made her realize he was the man that would be her husband. His irresponsibility came about soon after he lost his job. At first it was fine because the wife understood his plight at the time. Then what was one day unemployed, turn to weeks, then months. Not only that, but he had not made an effort to even look for a job eventually. This put a real strain on the marriage, with the wife carrying the full weight of the family. It came to a point where she felt, if he wasn’t going to be contributing in any shape or form.
When I spoke to the husband he told me that he had been working since he were a teenager. Losing his job not only meant a setback to his family, but also the first time in life he had been unemployed. He felt useless to his wife and kids, and what was temporary became permanent. My advice to him was that he should not allow his accomplishments in his past dictate the future of his life. We made a deal that every day he is to wake up before his wife in the morning, and come home at least by the time she gets off of work. In this time, he is to look for a job, whether it be part-time of full time work. He is to find something, until he can fully contribute to his family. Well, I am happy to say that since that time he has not only found a new
full time job, but has had to become the breadwinner since his wife was laid off her job. He has since told me that it feels good to be able to take care of your family instead of the one being taken care of. I hope the wife gets back on her feet, I’m sure everything will work itself out.
This sixth couple was my most difficult marriage of the others. This is because the husband and the wife both, had dual responsibility in the marriage going downhill. The people who they felt were suffering the most were their two children. You see, the both had demanding careers, but wanted more and more. As a matter of fact the wanting for more became to excessive that they had to hire a nanny to care for their children whilethey both worked. This ultimately caused a strain on the relationship between the parents and the children. The nanny received the respect that the parents should have been getting and the kids started to resent the both of them.
This greed, or pursuit for wealth and status for which a person has no boundaries was affecting their family. For the bible says, “For what shall a man profit the whole world and lose his soul.” I ponder in my mind of why anyone feels that they must go to such great lengths to attain money and power. What is use of having all this money and power in the world, and yet you have no one to share it with at the end of the day? They were both operating under the impression that only if we supply our children with a big home and fancy trinkets we could purchase their affection. There’s just one problem, kids don’t care about your money and how much power you have; it means nothing to them.
The nanny received such praise because she was the one in their lives. She taught them how to ride their bicycles, read them bedtime stories, and kissed them goodnight. Their parents paid for expensive vacations, but even on vacation both the husband and wife were both far too busy to focus on their children. So as I stood before both of them, I say, is worth it. Is it worth it to lose a connection with the only people in your lives that truly care about you the most? You can’t work a job forever; so whose going to be there for you once the work stops? Are your children going to be there for you through those elderly years? When you look back on life you are going to resent yourselves when all you’ve ever done was pursue power. Power that once you die no one will remember because it will go transferred to someone else.
The more I spoke to the husband and wife, the more they felt what I was saying made sense. No parent wants to feel like they are neglecting their children; at least one who is responsible. In the end, the man and woman decided to cut back on their work. They even were able to spend more time developing a relationship with their children instead of them growing up with the nanny as their caregiver. They both sent me thank you letter with a nice contribution to the church. I say thank you to both of them and keep up the good work.
Now my last married couple came to me with a problem that I find all too common in marriages. The husband felt is wife had been having an extramarital affair behind his back. The wife said that she wasn’t, but often thought about it, in order to gain his attention. She wanted him to feel the wrath of her frustration. Now there is a word I understand wrath, which brings us to the last sinful couple. Wrath in the bible is the reaction one has in the form of anger toward someone else as a means of retaliation. The wife held feelings of anger toward her husband for neglecting her in the marriage. She wanted him to feel the same pain she feels when he does not pay attention to her.
The husband stated that he wants to spend more time with his wife, but some minor financial setbacks I the household has caused him to work a lot more. He didn’t know why she couldn’t understand his passion to help feed and clothed his family. Before the two were married, it was your typical boy meets girl relationship. They would go everywhere together, do everything together, and see everything together. Once the married went into full swing and children were part of the equation, more time went into the family and less into the both of them. Her scorn for him not showing her enough attention came in the form of her yearning for attention elsewhere.
I have never condoned cheating before in my life, nor will I start now. If you feel that spouse is not giving you what you want and need most, there should always be a conversation about Most people say, well I did that, then when you ask about the sit-down, they never really had a physical sit-down. We expect our spouses to just know what we want, and at times that is feasible. On the other hand, this non-communication can prove to be disastrous to a marriage. In my advice to the both of them I encouraged them to create a specific time slot. This would be the time slot for husband and wife time. They are to make this promise and stay true to this promise. Only an emergency can disrupt the pack that they have set forth. My advice stuck with them and since our meeting, they sent me a letter telling me how well their marriage has panned-out since our talk. He has been paying more attention to her, and they even discussed having another child. I say good luck to them, and God speed ahead.
So as you can see, the life of a pastor is not only standing before a congregation giving Sunday service, but providing guidance to those who need it most. Marriage is important to me because I feel that children need that stable relationship which will serve as a template for when they decide to date and marry in their own lives. Since the Sinful Seven, I have met couples with a host of other issues, some from the seven I counseled, to new causes for concern. Whatever the case may be, I am more than happy to be of assistance to my parishioners and their families.