Integrating Compassion with the Wisdom of God’s Word


The purpose of Aunt Dara’s Christian Advice Column is to glorify God by addressing human needs with compassion and the wisdom of God’s word.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Giving Marital or Relationship Advice to a Friend

Dear Aunt Dara, 

I'm hoping to hear your thoughts on my friendship with my neighbor.  She's a close friend and I love her kids.  She and her husband (whom I also really like) are getting divorced, and he moved out 3 months ago.  It's been much harder on him, and mostly she has seemed almost indifferent about it.  Around that time she said that she thought she was gay, but hasn't said anything about it since, and I think she has a girlfriend.  She was raised as a Christian and goes to worship services sometimes, but I don't really know how her relationship with God is.  My family talked with the husband about our faith before he left, since he was unsure.  I've just been supportive of all of them as much as I can and helping with the kids, without giving too much of an opinion on what I think they should do.  I know there are Bible verses that tell us not to judge others, and other verses that tell us to encourage others to follow God's ways.  I'm wondering if it's my place to talk about what God says on these issues, or if it would be better not to bring up my thoughts.  Does it make a difference that she's 10 years older than me and I wouldn't be telling her anything she doesn't already know on some level?  I want to make sure that I'm not being judgmental, and that I'm loving them as God wants.  Thank you for your time and thoughts. 

Concerned friend

Dear Concerned Friend, 

I appreciate that you care about your friend and that you want to do the right thing.  Here are some things to consider:  Even though your neighbor may be a close friend, it doesn’t appear that she confides much in you, nor does it appear that she has asked for your thoughts regarding her problems.  Divorce is a complicated issue and you do not have all the facts surrounding your friends’ marital problems and you do not know that their marriage has been like.  You should not become involved in your friend’s marital problems by telling her what you think she should do.  It’s her marriage—not yours.  The Bible is clear that we should not meddle in other people’s business (Proverbs 26:17, I Thessalonians 4:11, I Tim. 5:13, I Peter 4:15).  Marital counseling should be left to those who have been trained in counseling and are experienced in providing spiritual counsel on family issues.  If you try to advise her, you may end up alienating her because few people appreciate unsolicited advice. 

The best thing that you can do for your friend is to let her know that you are available if she needs to talk.  Listen to her and let her know that you care.  Don’t judge her or tell her what you think she should do.  This is how you develop a trusting relationship with her.  Then you can ask her about her relationship with God and what she thinks God would say about her situation and what God would have her to do.  Be prepared to explore some relevant scriptures with her if her answers seem to be contrary to what the Bible teaches.  Do this gently (Galatians 6:1).  Use the approach that you are both learning what the Bible says.  DO NOT offer your opinion about what you think she should do, even if you have scripture to back it up.  If you do that, she is likely to become defensive and shut out anything that you say. 

Also, keep in mind that divorce is a very difficult thing for everyone in the family, especially the children.  The entire family is hurting, even if they do not seem to show it.  Since you are close to the children, encourage them to share their feelings with you and be supportive of them.  Let them know that both their parents love them.  Assure them that it is not their fault that their parents are having problems with each other or that their dad no longer lives with them.

Above all—pray.  Your prayers are what this family needs most from you!

God bless,
Aunt Dara

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