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Way Worth the Investment by Holly Eaton


Plato said, "The better we know ourselves, the better our relationship." Apparently, most Americans don't know themselves or their spouses very well. Our culture's approach to marriage and divorce is distorted. God's design is for a man and woman to become exclusively one flesh, to gradually transform and thrive in their union for a lifetime, enjoying God and each other in a glorious, God-centric triangle of increasing love and intimacy. That includes laughing, learning, facing trials and temptations -- and growing closer from it all. When spouses allow God to use the good, the bad, the ugly, as well as the exquisite, delightful, and hilarious to help them both become more like Christ, over time, they become increasingly more deeply united.

If you're approaching major surgery, and the doctor says that you have only a 52% chance of survival, followed by the likelihood of being disabled, how would you feel? That's pretty daunting. But what if she followed with this: "If you'll do a painless (often fun) preliminary protocol, your chances of survival will increase by 31%, plus there's an additional bonus of a much healthier, more satisfying future." Wouldn't that be a no-brainer? So what's the protocol for improving your chances of a vigorous, life-long marriage? Statistics show that it's good pre-marriage and marriage counseling, especially when faith-based.

PTLB believes that relationships are the most important thing in the human experience, and we are poised to do everything we possibly can to cooperate with God on your behalf, to help you improve your relationships with God and one another. That includes marriage and pre-marriage counseling.

According to Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, despite the staggering divorce rate, 82% of people between 18 and 30 plan on being married for life.

I was one of those statistics, devoted to God and utterly opposed to divorce. I was also a love and relationship addict. I began casually dating at age 12 and progressed from one boyfriend to the next, never giving myself time to mature as an individual. I depended on boys to make me feel adequate, never trusting any wise adult enough to be completely honest about my insecurities. In retrospect, I could have avoided so much pain had I been honest with a godly, trained counselor who could help facilitate self-understanding and personal healing. Instead, I was married at 21 to a guy who seemed to be a Christian. He pursued seminary and a career in ministry. There were secrets I knew about him and about myself that rightly concerned me, but I discussed those red flags with no one. If we had taken an assessment like the one I use with my clients, called SYMBIS (Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts), we would have made wiser choices. But our naivety, ignorance, and pride had us believing that we were more mature and healthy than we were. (The brain isn't fully developed until age 25.) We were unaware that we needed more time and preparation. Perhaps we could have avoided the devastating betrayal and divorce that took place 20-25 years later. We had amazing potential. God had so much more for us and our children, who are still deeply affected.

Another thing the Parrotts found in their research was that:

  • 76% of married couples say they wish they had pre-marriage education

  • 86% of Americans over 18 say all couples considering marriage should get pre-marriage education.

  • Couples who do not receive pre-marriage education are more likely to see their problems as atypical and unsolvable.

  • 41% of divorced couples say lack of pre-marriage preparation contributed to their divorce.

Pre-marriage counseling works because couples gain the knowledge they need before they settle into destructive patterns that often lead to divorce. In fact, couples are 31% less likely to get divorced if they get some sort of pre-marriage training. And couples who participate in pre-marriage programs experience a 30% increase in marital success and fulfillment over those who do not participate. (© Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott SYMBIS.com)

What about couples who are already married? Like the vehicles we drive, getting regular marriage "tune-ups" go a long way toward preventing a break-down. We know that God desires nothing less than the absolute BEST for us and our families. He never tells us to do something for which he won't provide the resources. And when we submit our will (despite our feelings) and obey Him, He blesses us. In fact, He loves to over-redeem whatever the enemy (the "father of lies," whose job description is: "kill, steal, destroy") puts in place to obliterate us, our marriages, and our families. We all must intentionally work at cooperating with God in order to avoid inadvertently cooperating with the enemy.

So, please, be pro-active! Come ask for help, whether for assessments, on-going tune-ups, or a major overhaul. It is worth the investment. You can contact me at holly.eaton@ptlb.com, or call 612-239-4178 for an appointment in Rocklin, CA.

God bless us, everyone!

Holly Eaton

P.S. Please consider supporting our counseling ministry here at Principles To Live By. To donate, click HERE. All gifts are tax-deductible and will be used to offset counseling costs for people who need it but can't necessarily afford it. Thank you!

Want more of Life Is Relationships? Click here to read past issues!

Will You Help Meet a

Counseling Need?

Dear friends, many of my clients live on Social Security or otherwise cannot afford the suggested donation amount of $135 for each 80-90 minute session. PTLB is in dire need of tax-deductible donations toward the counseling scholarship fund of Holly Eaton. Please consider making a monthly tax-deductible donation to the PTLB counseling scholarship fund at www.ptlb.com/hollyeaton. If you prefer, you can mail a check to PTLB, P.O. Box 214, Roseville, CA 95661, specifying "Holly Eaton" in the memo. Thank you!

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