Everett L. Worthington Jr. 2005. Hope-Focused Marriage Counseling: A Guide to Brief Therapy. Michigan. IVP Academic promotes a clear message of hope, instilling therapeutic application that can be accomplished within weeks under guidance of moral and Christian values. The book is entirely integrated with the approach of eight elements needed to promote happiness within a marriage or those who are planning on being married in the future.
The introduction prepares you, the novice or knowledgeable reader of the objectives, formats, updates, and implications of this book. The need for ease, guidance of quick reference and accessibility for short-term counsel finds this handy book fit to set on any type of counsel’s desk. The focus is on love, faith and spirituality and provides a constant in any marriage. Love is understood as “being willing to value the other person and being unwilling to devalue that person (xxiv). Long lengthy time of research and empirical evidence has been gathered to be revealed through the experienced and in-experienced eyes.
Chapter’s one, two, and five reveal strategies and the focus of need for analysis, fitting attentively, the depth of troubles that may be encountered in a marriage. It gives a sneak preview of what level of intimacy is found between the two, revealing also the closeness of the physical-sexual aspect. Chapter six follows suit in sharing the necessity of assessment at the beginning of a counseling opportunity. To follow through with an assessment provides the need of the couple, thereby implying there is a problem and goal setting is imminent. It directs the counselor to what strategy may or may not be needed. Specific interventions are then emphasized with brevity in mind revealing a blueprint to be followed by counselors (19). Three defining elements reveal love, faith, and work, all are used to enforce the functions of happiness in the physical and spiritual aspects. The fingerprint’s of how Christ loved the Church and his functions of happiness is referenced, obvious and critical for the “higher calling” (35). Strategies promoting hope are well founded and encouraged to be applied. The understandings of the couples individual emotions, passions, and romance are well grounded in the belief of much-needed hope. The weaknesses of most troubled marriages are defined and found to relieve the rational manifestations of each other’s needs and patterns of negative interactions. The need for counsel and expectation of participation is warranted by both individuals. The intervention’s provided for each chapter give ample chance and choice for couples to be able to carry out exercises fitting to their specific needs. The work required allows for a visual evaluation and practice that can be measured by a standard with the understanding that growth is available and required, while also giving hope. Nine marriage counseling tactics are provided that can fine tune a target for the state a marriage may be in. It can also fit the need for couples who are thinking of marriage (89-90).
Chapter three’s connection is found to promote the strategy of hope applying the faith by working through love (51). Chapter’s seven and eight represent the elements of hope simplifying the core visions and values. The ingredients found within provide a perfect mixture for the perfect recipe. Three prominent questions are presented that refer to the couples current relationship, their desire for the future and involves the history of the past family (parents) marriages (127). The questions offer clues needed to interact with the assessment, counseled couples revealing each individual’s vision and need of change, initial values, faith, truth, all to be carried out with respect. All three chapters are interrelated to provide the marriage backbone (118, 101). The biblical pattern of marriage is revealed to require faith, hope, and love, implementing James 2:17, 1 Cor. 13:13 and Eph. 4:15 (118). The central values are given and expected to be fulfilled by both individually and are able to dispense the idea of misguided perceptions. The three values of vulnerability are encouraged, as needed to be accepted, to provide the sincere hope required for the couple’s growth (60-61).
Chapters nine through eleven and thirteen coincides with the needs of intimacy requiring the closeness that allows for the foundational need of communication, setting in motion the requirements of empathy and humility, to conform acceptance of confession and forgiveness, calling on the eight elements to strengthen communication, while recognizing healthy conflict resolutions promoting love.
To conclude the overall focus of the book is found in 1 Corinthians 13:13.
The strategy of potential target areas and interventions motivated the willpower to change, the way power, and wait power have proven true in my life.
Knowledge of commitment and determination has grown since I began to seek God’s understanding and to acknowledge him in all his ways (Prov. 3:6). This provided way power (Worthington. 2006, 31). My commitment to my husband and the desire to search for God’s truth has helped me adopt more of Christ, in appreciating and respecting Tim in many ways. The will power to change was granted with my hope in Jesus that if I attempted to do that which God commanded; it will be well with me (Deut.6:18, KJV). Tim was not raised in a church going family; but, was raised to respect and treat me very well. The sorrow endured was that he was not aware of the spiritual aspects, as I was, and it has placed me responsible for walking out the ways of Christ before him. My studies led me to study line by line and verse by verse; therefore arming me in the word of God. My hope that he would become obedient to Father was adjoined with much prayer. I quickly learned that I had to “trust in the lord with all thine heart” (Prov. 3:5). Trusting in God is what held me to the faith, hope and trusting not unto my own understanding, but to his understanding, fulfilling the first part of Prov.3:5, I have found myself growing in the understanding of wait-power.
What I like about the book is the interventions that are easily applicable for all and assessable to the average person as well as counselors. There is great detail in the breaking down of variables that may be repeated but it helps engrave the mind with repetition of truths. I also like the fact that divorce is not encouraged, but it lacks the reality that there are times that divorce is warranted (Deut. 24:1, KJV). No one wants to encourage divorce, neither did God, but he divorced Israel for their idolatry (Jere.3:8). Whiteman makes a valid point in the attitude of whether parents should stay together or not for the kid’s sake (Worthington. 2005, 246). I agree that it is bad both ways. Vows taken should be questioned first as to whether the couple feels that God hath joined them or they have chosen to be joined. The vow to God, if God has joined them promotes a more solid foundation than one with the choosing of the couple without God’s input. It makes way for disruptive beliefs and arguments. It can work, but it entails much more work than a couple who is already aware of the roles that God has laid out for each member.
I love the mindset that was brought forth through the variables of faith, hope, love, and works. I am instantly reminded of 1 Corinthians 13:13 which reveals hope, faith, and charity, but the greatest of these is LOVE. The combinations of faith and works produce the results found in James (Js. 2:17-18, 26). It is the works, that do not get us into heaven, but they do follow us (Rev.14:13). It is also our righteous acts that weave the fine linen we are able to be clothed (Rev.19:8).
By Belinda B. Dickerson
April 25, 2013