If the couple we described at the beginning of this chapter would turn to a humanist counselor for help, the counselor would develop a detailed study of their backgrounds, their stormy marriage, and their response to each other at present. From this information, the counselor would help them understand how their backgrounds have shaped their outlook on life, what their needs are, what ways they are frustrating each other’s needs, and what adjustments can be made in order to satisfy each other’s needs.
Hopefully, as Dorothy gains some understanding of both her needs and Malcolm’s, and senses that he is making adjustments with her needs in mind, her anger and bitterness will be calmed and she will experience some peace of mind, become more hopeful, more affectionate, and more desirous of meeting his needs.
As Malcolm gains some understanding of his and Dorothy’s needs, makes some adjustments on her behalf, and senses that she is seeking to meet his needs, his quarrelsomeness and hot temper will cool. They can then develop a friendship and discover the joy of living as he works to meet her needs.
Just imagine how relieved these people would be if the counselor could help them in this way.
I emphasize that they can find blessed relief by following this approach, but not a change of heart.
What causes change as a result of relief? We could compare this change to the relief experienced if you take a pain pill. Change happens swiftly. You get relief but not healing. Isn’t it good to get relief? Of course, as long as you don’t kid yourself and you understand it is relief and not healing.
Recently I learned a lesson about the quick, comforting effect of drugs. I had a tooth pulled and it developed what my dentist called a “dry socket.” My jaw became infected and it spread to the side of my face so that at any one moment I experienced incredible, unbearable pain around my eye, ear, sinuses, jaw, and throat. The pain was so intense that I was ready to do anything for some relief!
My dentist handed me an envelope containing some little pills. After swallowing one, the pain gradually disappeared. To maintain freedom from pain, all I had to do was keep swallowing those pills.
Everyone knows that pain pills do not cure the source of the pain. Healing must also happen. So I knew that the condition of my jaw had not changed. But that didn’t matter. I would have paid any price for those pills. (This incident was a clear lesson to me of how easily anyone can become dependent on pills for a sense of well-being.) Having one’s needs met, similarly, brings relief, not healing.
Our couple could seek out a Christian who is trained in humanistic counseling, who would proceed in the same methods as the humanistic counselor. They could seek out a biblical counselor, who would also recognize that the woman’s anger, her bitter response to her husband, and his quarrelsomeness and nasty temper were barriers to a healthy marriage. The humanist would say these responses are socially caused. The Bible-based counselor would call them sin.