We all sin. Maybe we gossip too much or we’re prideful or we watch some inappropriate videos. I’m not saying you should run to other people every time you see your husband commit a sin. But sometimes a sin is so big that it can’t be ignored. I’m afraid that in the church we feel if we can’t properly confront these things because to do so sometimes seems as if we may jeopardize the marriage itself. And God hates divorce, after all! Yes, he does. But you know what he hates more? People jeopardizing their souls. Churches should be places where the wounded find healing, not where the wounded find cover so they can avoid healing. And yet too often that is what we’ve done. We hate divorce so much that we ignore the other side: God does not want an army of wounded, damaged people; he wants wholeness. When a spouse endangers his or her relationship with the family and with God, something must be done. And if nothing is done, then the spouse is giving cover to the sin. It’s scary to ask for help. It requires humility to tell someone else your marriage is messed up. But let’s not forget the bigger picture: What does it help to gain the whole world but lose your soul (Matthew 16:26)? Here are five things in marriage that warrant outside intervention.

  1. Affairs

    If your husband is having an affair, you need to get help. If he’s been flirting with other women on Facebook or pursuing an emotional relationship with someone else, you may also need outside help to talk through issues and provide accountability. Because affairs are so painful to recover from you’ll need someone, perhaps a counselor, to walk through the healing process with you, too.

  1. Abuse

    If your husband is physically abusing you, please get out and call the police at once. Abuse should never be tolerated. But what if the abuse isn’t physical — what if it’s verbal or emotional? If you feel you have to walk on eggshells constantly to prevent your husband from blowing up, there is likely a deep problem in your marriage. If he regularly calls you names, belittles you, or criticizes you, there is something seriously wrong. Please seek out a counselor.

  1. Addictions

    of all types — financial, emotional, physical — can wreak havoc with your husband’s ability to be completely present for the family. We’re used to hearing about the dangers posed by chemical dependencies, like drug and alcohol problems. Yet porn, video game, and gambling compulsions can also be harmful. If you feel your husband no longer is able to function well in his daily life because of his dependence on something mood-altering, seeking help is the best course of action.Sex is not an optional part of marriage, and yet too many of us are living in sexless marriages, thinking we can do nothing about it

  2. Sexual Refusal

    Is sex almost nonexistent in your marriage? Unusually when a man withdraws from sex, porn is involved. Sometimes, though, sexual withdrawal is caused by major psychological and emotional damage. Maybe there are homosexual tendencies, or maybe your husband has pushed down his sexuality so that he becomes passive and asexual. He could also be embarrassed or disheartened by sexual issues like erectile dysfunction or low testosterone.Sex is not an optional part of marriage, and yet too many of us are living in sexless marriages, thinking we can do nothing about it. Sexual refusal can’t be ignored, and a person who has become asexual must be confronted and told, “You need to get counseling or see a doctor.” Nothing is wrong with having psychological trauma or physical issues; there is something wrong with refusing to deal with these things.

  3. Financial Endangerment

    A man who refuses to provide for his family and who has become lazy also needs Christians to come alongside him and encourage him firmly to act responsibly. The same would be true for a spouse who is consistently getting the family deep into debt with spending. Sometimes a man may not actually be lazy; he may be struggling with debilitating depression or psychological trauma, which saps his drive to do much of anything. Even if laziness isn’t the issue, the underlying cause still needs to be addressed for the family’s health and for the husband’s health.

If your spouse is acting in such a way that he is denying a vital part of himself and a vital part of the Christian life — such as responsibility, intimacy, or community —then doing nothing about it enables that spouse to avoid any impetus for spiritual growth. Matthew 18:15-7 does not say, “Tell all your friends and ask their advice,” or “Go running to your parents.” It does say to tell two or three believers — and only two or three — initially. I’d suggest talking to a couple you respect, who you know can keep things confidential, and who can come to your house and listen to both sides of the story and hold you both accountable.

A couple is ideal because you’ve got another male who can exert influence on your husband and a woman who can help you find a healthy perspective. If that isn’t feasible or you have no one to ask, then I’d talk to a pastor or a counselor. Find someone who will walk you through an intervention process, if necessary, and someone who will stand alongside your husband and give him the help he needs to rediscover who he was made to be. I know this is scary. But it’s so much better than ducking and letting huge issues fester.

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Excerpted from 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage by Sheila Wray Gregoire. Copyright © 2015 by Sheila Wray Gregoire. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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