Pastoral Marriage Counseling

Ministers, Pastors, and Rabbis are often called upon to directly help congregants in troubled marriages.

What happens, however, when their own marriages need guidance and tending to?

Couples Therapy Inc. is proud to be able to assist these valuable community leaders and other faith-based couples. We offer highly-skilled couples therapists who are comfortable integrating religious teachings with science-based help.

For more than 49 years, Rev. Jim Ramsey, thrice ordained minister and certified Gottman Therapist has been helping couples see the wisdom of God in Science-based couples therapy. For Couples Therapy Inc.

How do religious leaders reconcile science-based and religiously-based counseling?

Fortunately, Dr. John Gottman's research is compatible with Biblical passages about relationships. He's even written a biblical guide for those who want to meditate on and study how science and religious teachings work together.

While his research wasn't based upon philosophical or religious ideology, we've found a compendium of biblical verses that are consistent​.  It shouldn't be surprising to learn that there are many tie-ins between Scriptures and research on intimate relationships.

Dr. Gottman began his research in 1972, in collaboration with Dr. Robert Levenson.  He's observed over 3,000 couples in his reach lab.  He videotaped them talking about ​pleasant topics, and areas of continuing disagreement.  He monitored their heart rate, blood flow velocity, and sweat output, recording moment-by-moment changes.  Endocrine and immune functions were also obtained. He used science to demonstrate age-old teachings about human nature and relationships. Rev. Ramsey was an early adopter of Gottman's approach.

personal growth
Dan is a very thoughtful guy. He met us where we were. He is direct. He weaved in scientific studies and our religious writings with great skill. We very much enjoyed working with him...

Harsh Start-ups​

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Gottman found that 96% of the time​, the way a discussion starts out predicts the way it will end. If you bring up an issue in a harsh way, there is only a 4% change that it will right itself.

Although seen occasionally with all couples, harsh start-ups are highly predictive of divorce when they are prevalent.​

Colossian 4:6  "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."
Proverbs 15:4 "Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit."
Philippians 4:5  "Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near."

Gottman's Science-based Language

Fondness and Admiration​

Gottman emphasizes ways to actively enhance fondness and admiration in a relationship.​ How you look upon any particular interaction is going to impact how you respond to it.  Is your spouse a loving, caring force in your life?  Are they trying their best, or are they trying to take advantage of you?  Are you grateful or resentful of their efforts to influence you and the direction of your family?

We teach this to couples in our ongoing Couples Intensive Retreats and in Online Couples Therapy.

Biblical Language

Proverbs 16:24  "Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."​
Song of Solomon 4:1-15  "How beautiful you are, my darling!  Oh how beautiful!  Your eyes behind your veil are doves. Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from the hills of Gilead...."

Turning Toward Instead of Turning Away

"Little connections often."  Turning toward are subtle, and learning what to do to reconnect, when these small daily connections are missed, creates loving bonds.  When one turns away or against these small bids for connection, partner are left lonely and isolated.  Gottman refers to these as "deposits" or "withdrawals" from the Emotional Bank Account.

Thessalonians 2:8  "So we cared for you.  Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well."
Romans 12:10  "Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves."​

​Stress Reducing Conversations

One aspect of Turning Toward is a daily exercise called 'Stress Reducing Conversations."  It allows the couple to discuss outside stressors and get comfort from each other. It has been scientifically proven to reduce relapse.

Romans 12:15  "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."​
Philippians 4:14  "Yet is was good of you to share in my troubles."​

Perpetual Problems​

The majority of problems couples experience in a marriage are perpetual. They are never going to be resolved. For this reason, Gottman refers to the need to "manage" marital conflicts and not "resolve" them. Learning how to dialogue about different perspectives with amusement, respect, and affection is the key.

Ephesians 4:2  "Be patient with each other making allowance for each other's faults because of your love."
2 Corinthians 12:9  "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient; for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."


Contempt puts someone down, and puts oneself on a higher plane.  When partners feel superior, and act with belligerence, the mindset of contempt becomes a habit of mind.  This habit constantly scans the environment for people's faults and mistakes, rather than look for what is positive or what to admire.  It is the single best predictor of divorce.

Proverbs 26:21  "A quarrelsome person starts fights as easily as hot embers lights charcoal or fire lights wood."​
Matthew 5:22  "...If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court.  If you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell."​

Rev. James "Jim" Ramsey

Rev. Jim Ramsey is one of 18 skilled couples therapists, four of whom specialize in working with religiously observant couples. Learn more about our Team.

Ask us about our special pricing for men and women who function as ministers, rabbis, pastors, missionaries and in similar religious callings.