What Do You Do When . . .

Yes, what do you do?

After all, it is a bit puzzling for some counselors to face the situation where one spouse is a believer and the other is not. So, when you run into this all-too-common situation, what do you do?

If you think about it for a minute or two, the puzzlement ought to disappear. What is the difficulty, anyway? Simply this—you’d like to deal with them both on the same level, wouldn’t you? That is counsel them both as believers—or even, evangelize them as two unbelievers. Then your approach could be unified—right?

But that isn’t what you have; so stop thinking about it. Start thinking realistically. Sitting before you is a believer and an unbeliever. Got it? OK. Let’s assume she is a believer; he isn’t—which is the most likely case.

Now, what do you do? To begin with you must ascertain the facts, using the PDI, the revelation that he isn’t even a church member and perhaps, and from his own admission “isn’t interested in Christianity.” Or however you come to your conclusions about the two of them.

Next, you tell the believer that she is the only one you can counsel (“I truly wish it were otherwise, but only you are the one who can make changes that please God”). So, in effect, you signal to Joe that he can sit and listen.

Then, you go on to counsel Sally, his wife. 

Along the way, you may make side remarks like, “I sure wish you trusted in Christ as Savior, because that would make things easier for Sally. But . . .” You say this without exerting any pressure on Joe.

As Sally does what she should over the sessions that you counsel her, with Joe present at each, Joe may become interested and even cooperative. You can capitalize on this by enlisting his help in monitoring Sally’s homework during the week. In effect, he will be an assistant in her dealing with her problems.

As you go along, opportunity after opportunity will afford itself to causiously, carefully present the way of salvation. Use them for that purpose.

If Joe never comes to Christ during your sessions at least

  1.  He will have heard the Gospel repeatedly
  2.  Sally’s progress will be a testimony to Joe
  3. The opportunity may present itself to speak further with Joe in the future.

You see, you’ve been honest about the circumstances—you’ve treated Joe as an unbeliever, Sally as a believer.  You haven’t counseled Joe, though you have tried to use him to help Sally, as any husband should wish to.  You have evangelized Joe (not in a pressured way (as occasion warranted)—again, what you should do with unbelievers.

In other words, there is nothing puzzling about it when you do what you should do to help each.

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