Updated: Mar 29
The influence of Christian counselors Nora and Carlos Rodriguez stretches across South Texas. In their 17+ years working with couples, not only have they counseled hundreds of people individually, they train the trainers – shepherding other marriage ministry leaders. It’s safe to say that thousands of lives have been affected by their work.
But the ministry closest to the couple’s hearts is to personally help people improve their relationships. It was this mission that compelled the Rodriguezes to found The Relational Wellness Center in 2010 to create capacity for their specialized skills. Premarital counseling with couples taking their first steps toward life together is one of their favorite areas.
In a month where thoughts turn to “I do’s,” the Rodriguezes “like to knock the rose-colored glasses off the faces of a premarital couple, but with great love, so they may begin their lives together with their eyes wide open and in a very authentic way!”
“I love to work with couples before all the problems and help them get a great start,” Nora said. “What we know today could have helped us handle what we’ve gone through in 48 years of marriage. God gives Carlos and me fresh material from our own relationships. People laugh and say, ‘Wow, you are real.’”
The counselors believe a quality premarital program should provide a great foundation for a couple to begin their lives together instead of "surprises" after the wedding. Their practice uses powerful, productive, and personal programs to determine a couple’s relational health. Premarital work with the Relational Wellness Center qualifies couples to benefit from the Twogether in Texas Premarital program, which will provide a $60 discount on a marriage license application.
“Premarital is the single best investment a couple can make together that will pay ‘big time’ benefits towards the marriage,” they state on their website.
While they do counsel clients separately, the Rodriguezes particular specialty is meeting with couples together, providing feedback and perspective from both genders simultaneously.
“As we are speaking couple to couple – each gets to hear the opposite sex’s point of view right there and then. Clients benefit from the dual perspectives,” Nora said. They are upfront that their practice is scripturally based. Both are pastoral counselors and life coaches certified by the American Association of Christian Counselors and also certified by the Family Dynamics Institute in Dynamic Marriage. Furthermore, Carlos is an ordained pastor.
“We genuinely demonstrate the love of Christ in conversations with clients,” Nora said.
They counsel those seeking marriage enrichment or in crisis and can cover a variety of relationship issues. They highlight distinct ways individuals think and communicate, noting disagreements often happen because of misunderstandings or unmet expectations. They refer to a phrase popularized by Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
The Rodriguezes teach couples to identify a problem, remove it from between them, and seek solutions as a team together in a respectful manner that honors the other party. The long-married couple serves as seminar directors for the Prepare/Enrich marriage assessment program, where they teach facilitators to use a series of objective questions to help couples identify areas of strength and opportunities for growth.
“The reliability of the assessment and feedback guided by our Facilitators help couples strengthen and enrich their relationship…” and have made Prepare/Enrich the most popular and effective premarital and marriage assessment for more than 35 years, according to its website.
The Relational Wellness Center does not charge clients for an initial consultation, Nora said, because the Rodriguezes believe it is important to determine if their personalities are going to be a good fit.
“If a client doesn’t feel comfortable with a coach, they are not going to be transparent and vulnerable. We don’t offer packages or a set program, we work specifically with each client to address their individual needs.” Of the hundreds of couples they’ve counseled, the Rodriguezes know of only a handful who did not choose to remain together.
“A healthy relationship is the best there is,” and Nora and Carlos find great fulfillment helping others get there. “I love the sheep – I want to do whatever God calls me to do to keep them from any unnecessary harm and encourage them along the way,” Nora said. Carlos became emotional when he described the love the Holy Spirit has given him for those he disciples.
“We take each problem one at a time and resolve it. The best way to reach people is to be authentic,” he said. “When you see the flicker of hope in someone’s eyes, it is just phenomenal.”
One of the gifts God has given Carlos is a tender heart. Nora agreed, “They seek him out because he loves them, and he’s real.”
“I’m always happy to be the vehicle God works through,” Carlos added.
Each of them has worn many hats in their decades-long ministry careers. Nora serves both on the board and staff of San Antonio Marriage Initiative (SAMI). The organization provides trusted, Christ-centered wisdom, resources and training to leaders on the front lines of preserving marriages: pastors, counselors, couples who walk alongside others, or those in church marriage ministries.
One way SAMI promotes healthy marriages is to sponsor conferences featuring national speakers like best-selling author Dr. Gary Chapman, which attract hundreds of participants. Nora’s primary role at SAMI is to liaise with churches and provide support as they host such events. Carlos also works with SAMI, keeping events current on its website and evaluating content.
Find the Relational Wellness Center online at therelationalwellnesscenter.com. Nora and Carlos see clients by appointment only. Because Relationships are better … together.