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Why Marriage Counseling Doesn't Work

Aug 29, 2022

When Trish and I started our first church in 2002, we had a lot of faith, very little money and even less people. I put together a business plan of what I thought was our budget and timeline and started meeting with as many people as I could, asking them to support this new church.

One morning I sat down with a very successful business man, seeking his advice but also his financial support. He had a huge heart for God and years of business experience. A friend had set up the meeting for me, and I didn’t want to blow it. I was nervous that I’d say the wrong thing and he would think I didn’t know what I was doing (which I didn’t) and not contribute to our vision.

I gave him a copy of our nine page business plan and began walking through it. My voice was shaking and my palms were sweating because there was so much at stake. I finished my speech and felt that even though it may not have been a great presentation, I swung for the fence. I closed my copy of the business plan, took a big drink of water and looked up to see his response.

“This is a great presentation.” he said.

“Thank you.” I replied.

“What is Plan B?” he asked. “If this plan doesn’t work, what is your Plan B?”

Inside I began to panic. I didn’t have a Plan B. This was my only plan. We were risking everything to start this church. I didn’t know if I should try to come up with an impromptu plan b or just be honest and tell him I didn’t have one.

“I don’t have a Plan B, sir.” I said. “I’m banking everything on this.”

His response still echoes in my heart and mind, “And that’s why this will work. If you had a Plan B, I’d question your commitment to this plan. This is going to work because you’re all in.”

A few months ago, I was sitting with a couple and the wife said to me, “We are going to try this (meeting with me) and if this doesn’t work we’re going to separate.” My response shocked both of them.

I said, “Well I can save all three of us an hour of our lives…you should just separate right now.”

Marriage counseling doesn’t work if a couple goes into it with a Plan B. The only way marriage counseling can work is if both a husband and a wife are all in. If you have a contingency plan or a a back up plan, you are already assuming that it will fail. You can’t hedge your bet and go ALL IN at the same time.

Marriage counseling is game-changing. It can save a shattered marriage and make a good marriage great. But what it requires is more than many people are willing to give: 100%.

100% commitment

100% honesty

100% vulnerability

100% forgiveness

100% ownership

100% grace

Because so many of us go into marriage counseling with this thought, “When this doesn’t work then I’ll do this….” we never allow our hearts to fully engage. Our Plan B robs us of experiencing the transformation and change we desperately need.

Going all in is risky. Pursing your marriage with no contingency plan means you could get hurt in the end. You become vulnerable. But God shows up when we’re at our weakest point. Maybe we don’t experience God’s power to transform our marriage because we’re so busy hedging our bets.

Complete surrender. That’s where life-change and marriage transformation is found.

Go all in.