Without counselling, chances of marital failure much greater

If you were a counselor who was helping someone manage a crisis situation, your recommendations to exercise tough love could potentially kill the marriage.

Question: If you were a counselor who was helping someone manage a crisis situation, your recommendations to exercise tough love could potentially kill the marriage.

Doesn’t that make you nervous? Have you ever regretted taking a family in this direction?

Answer: Before I answer that question you need to understand how I see my situation.

My role is similar to that of a surgeon who tells a patient that he needs a coronary-artery-bypass operation.

The man sits in his doctor’s office, hearing the probabilities of success and failure.

“If you undergo this operation,” the doctor says, “research shows you’ll have a 3 percent chance of not surviving the surgery.”

Wow!

Three out of every hundred people who submit to the knife will die on the table!

Why would anyone run that risk voluntarily?

Because the chances of death are far greater without the surgery.

The “love must be tough” confrontations and ultimatums are like that.

They may result in the sudden demise of a relationship.

But without the crisis, there is a much higher probability of a lingering death.

Instead of bringing the matter to a head while there is a chance for healing, the alternative is to stand by while the marriage dies with a whimper.

I’d rather take my chances today, before further damage is done.

A blowout is better than a slow leak.

James Dobson is founder and Chairman Emeritus of the nonprofit organization Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, Colo. 80995 (www.focusonthefamily.org).

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