After everyone ate their meal, He left everyone and went to his Father to pray. He was by himself. The disciples in the meantime were in the boat when the storm started brewing. Jesus walked towards them on the water, and they were terrified because they thought he was a ghost. He comforted them by telling them to have courage and stop being afraid. Peter mustered up enough courage to ask Jesus to let him walk towards Him on the water and Jesus told him to come on. Peter started walking on the water, but as soon as he got distracted by his feelings, he lost his nerve and began to sink. Jesus grabbed him and said, “what in the world got into you?” Jesus helped him back into the boat. There was no doubt at that point that He truly was the Son of God. (Matt. 14:22-33, paraphrased).
Our business has grown to the point that we now get calls every day. Couples are frustrated in their marriages; they have either lost the art of communication or they never learned it; they lack any role model for a Godly marriage; they are living parallel lives as roommates; one or more of them is battling addiction, anxiety, adultery, greed, and/or selfishness; they have unrealistic expectations; they battle physical illness, emotional turmoil, and sexual frustration; they have lost their hope.
We almost always get a first meeting with them. From the time we meet them until the time we part, you can visually see the transformation in their faces as they go from a worried frown or a blank stare to a calming peace and sometimes even a faint smile. We have brought hope to them; we have extended a hand and said, “Come on, get out of the boat.” Their persona goes from skepticism to hopefulness as their faith is restored. We communicate to them that in order to have the marriage they desire, it is going to take hard work; it will require them to take some time to intentionally focus on how to care for themselves, care for their spouse, and care for the marriage. At least one of them is excited about “getting started” right away. They pull out their calendar, make a date, and resolve to begin a journey of having the marriage they can be thrilled about.
Almost half of these couples never return. Some pay for services up front and never show. They got back in the boat and lost their courage; they let fear take over and decided they weren’t certain what the winds of change might bring, so living in their “stuff” was easier than risking the unknown; or possibly giving up their “stuff” might result in nothingness. Sometimes they listen to a louder voice (mom, grandma, dad, sister, boss, bff) tell them it won’t work. What if they work hard, and their spouse doesn’t change? What if? They stay in the boat.
The other half do come — and they work hard enough to get relief. But for half of those, once they get relief, we don’t see them again for awhile until they are in pain again. Then they return to get some more relief. I describe these couples as the ones who “settle for a nickel’s worth of healing.” They don’t stay long enough to get complete healing and restoration. They keep climbing back it the boat.
The rest — they are fantastic! They stay out of the boat. They work the program they design for themselves, and they don’t give up until they can look at each other and say, “we now have a marriage that we are thrilled about!” They are dating again, establishing vision for their marriage, growing together, experiencing mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual intimacy. They have a glimmer of what Jesus meant when He told us that we could have an abundant life. Right now. Here. With our spouse. In marriage. For life.
But it does require two things — you have to get out of the boat, and stay out of the boat.
Cindy and David Southworth are marriage and relationship coaches, certified through the American Assn. of Christian Counselors and members of the International Christian Coaching Assn. Cindy is a John Maxwell certified speaker, trainer, and coach.. The Southworths are the owners of Breakwater Coaching. You can visit their website at www.breakwatercoaching.com.