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The 700 Club

How To Transform A Struggling Marriage

In 1975, Pastor Bernard attended a Nicky Cruz meeting. It was that night he gained a better understanding of who Jesus really was and started on his journey as a Christian. A few years later, he left his ten year banking career to follow the call of God on his life to full time ministry. He became the founding pastor of the Christian Cultural Center (CCC) which began as a small parish in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York in 1978. With his wife Karen at his side, the church began with a small membership and reached out to its local community. Over the years, the church has gone through many stages of growth and development. Today CCC sits on an 11.5 acre campus with a registered membership of over 37,000 members.

In 1984, Pastor Bernard says there was a time in his life, marriage and ministry when he was guilty of the sin of transposition, having his priorities out of order: ministry first, then people, then his family. “It led to the greatest stress Karen and I had ever experienced,” shares Pastor Bernard. Karen miscarried a set of twins, he withdrew, and the distance between them increased. Karen’s heart became bitter toward him and her competition: the ministry. It took a year for Pastor Bernard to fully realize his sin. One day while attending a pastor’s conference he felt the full weight of responsibility for the condition of his marriage. He called Karen and asked for her forgiveness. Karen offered her forgiveness on an installment basis and gradually began to forgive him. Ten years later, Pastor Bernard and Karen had a heated argument. Pastor Bernard prayed on his way to work and asked God to reveal to him the problem. The word that came to mind was bitterness. He read Hebrews 12:15: “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many became defiled.” He shared this text with his wife. Later that evening she confided with Pastor Bernard how she asked God to forgive her and release her from bitterness.

As a pastor and counselor, Pastor Bernard has spent decades speaking with couples who are trying to navigate their relationships in a world where self-expressive (a marriage where spouses seek to discover who they really are. Each partner is on a mission of self-definition, a journey toward self-actualization) connections are the norm. People are marrying but not for love, security, and provision. Instead many couples’ view of marriage is self-centered which is why the divorce rate is skyrocketing. Marriage is an empathetic union, not a discovery of one’s true self. In the New Testament, Jesus advised husbands and wives to become so totally committed to each other that “they are no longer two but one flesh” (Matthew 19:6 NKJV). Although men and women are different it is important to focus on each other’s needs, as well as your own for a successful marriage. Pastor Bernard shares the four essential things women want from a man that he has observed over the years:

•    Maturity – doesn’t come with age; it begins with the acceptance of responsibility. When you hold yourself accountable in your words, thoughts, motives, actions and attitudes you grow up in a hurry. “Wise women want to spend their lives with fully grown men, not with aging adolescents,” shares Pastor Bernard. In order to make mature decisions you need values and principles to guide you.
•    Decisiveness –is a skill you learn over time. A woman wants a man who makes quality decisions quickly and confidently. God gives patterns and principles in His word that can help you make good decisions.
•    Consistency – is the ability to make mature, quality decisions time and again despite what the enemy tries to put in your path. “Consistency requires congruence between values and actions. When your actions are in sync with your values, you can look people in the eye, knowing what you stand for,” shares Pastor Bernard. A man’s consistency is what gives a woman security. Husbands who make a habit of saying one thing and doing another cause their wives to worry.   
•    Strength –is the willingness to stand up for the things you believe in rather than to follow the crowd. Strength is demonstrated by gentleness, kindness and self-control, not anger, aggression and impulsivity. Today women desire strength of character (integrity) more than strength of body.

Pastor Bernard tells women, “When you find a man with all of four character traits you’ll know he’s a real man.” His advice to men who may not have fully developed these traits yet: “There is hope. It is never too late to change.”

Mentioned in the Video



Guest Info


Author, Four Things Women Want from a Man, (Howard Books, 2016)

Senior Pastor of Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, NY with over 37,000 members

President of the Council of Churches of the City of New York

Masters of Urban Studies and Master of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary

Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Wagner College and Nyack College/Alliance Theological Seminary

Married to Karen for 44 years

Children: 7 sons (oldest son is in heaven) and several grandchildren


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