Marriage is one of the most precious gifts God has given His children, yet our daily experience in marriage doesn’t always mirror that reality. Selfishness, conflict, and other fruits of sin work to break the notion that marriage is a good thing; they can even begin making a spouse feel more like an enemy than a blessing.

One negative byproduct that can spring from two sinners doing life together is the presence of shame in a marriage. Heather Davis Nelson writes about this in an article entitled, “The Silent Marriage-Killer.”

Most Christian couples would not list shame as one of the top struggles in their marriage. However, in almost a decade of counseling, I’ve seen very few marriages that aren’t hampered by shame on some level. It’s just not often the first thing that’s identified, but it underlies so many other common struggles, especially communication and sex.

How can you know if this silent marriage-killer is present in your relationship?

Nelson goes on to list twelve evaluative questions to help couples recognize where shame may have made its mark in their marriage, and offers practical helps for pursuing healing and oneness.

None of us have a perfect marriage, or should expect it, but what holds us back too often is the presence of shame — the fear that I will be rejected if I am vulnerable with you. The way to fight shame, and be part of shame’s healing for one another, is to risk openness in these areas where we want to hide from one another.

The twelve questions for self-evaluation, and the article as a whole, are well worth some time spent reading, praying, and talking through as husband and wife. May God bless your marriage through them.

Link: Desiring God

While God is faithful to change hearts and minds in the lives of His children, we also understand that change is a process, and often times far from simplistic or quick. Habits of life and thinking tend to change over time as the Holy Spirit works in hearts. This process of change is called “progressive sanctification.” It can be helpful and sometimes necessary to seek help from other Christians who can faithfully lead and walk with us, providing biblical encouragement and instruction along the way for the implementation of God-honoring, Christ-centered change. If you are struggling with life’s challenges, we would encourage you to seek help from your pastor, a godly friend, or a biblical counselor who is committed to seeking answers from God’s Word. To find a biblical counselor you can contact us or visit biblicalcounseling.com to find a counselor in your area.

Born and raised in the Dallas area, Ryan loves calling Texas his home. He met his wife Jessica at Grace Bible Fellowship Church, where he serves on staff and is a counselor for Grace Biblical Counseling Ministries. Since 2013 he has been a member of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, and in May 2015 he graduated from Moody Bible Institute with a B.S. in Ministry Leadership.

Pursuing Shame-Free Unity in Marriage