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Thursday, January 17, 2013

"The Sacred Search Couple's Conversation Guide"

TITLE: The Sacred Search Couple's Conversation Guide
AUTHOR: Gary Thomas, Steve Wilke, and Rebecca Wilke
PUBLISHER: Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook Publishers, 2012, (160 pages)

This book is a guide to stimulate discussion between couples and their counselors, pastors, or facilitators. Designed to accompany Gary Thomas's new book, The Sacred Search, it is a tool that focuses on guiding couples in pre-marital counseling. Written together with a couple that one pastor had previously counseled NOT to get married, it is a testimony of God's grace on the one hand, and the folly of human impatience on the other. Ultimately, to help other couples avoid the same traps, the Wilke's join forces with Thomas to come up with this "Couple's Conversation Guide," designed to ask tough, probing questions in order to reveal the purpose, the desire, and the wisdom of couples wanting to get married in the first place.

For pastors, this book is to give them a way to implement nine sessions of pre-marital counseling with couples wanting to get married. It is especially helpful if pastors do not have prior materials available. While the questions are helpful, they do not in any way replace the conventional methods of pre-marital counseling.

For couples, this nine sessions or nine weeks course can be most effectively completed when couples come with an open mind, total honesty, in courage, to actively discuss, and be prepared to work through issues, and when necessary, work with a trained professional.

For readers, these sessions provide an informative look at:

  1. Pre-Engagement Check list:
    Here, we see six checklists that probe far beyond the material and procedural things that most people worry about. The questions force couples to ask hard questions about their perceptions of their potential spouses.
  2. Doubt-Free Wedding Day
    The session aims to cultivate a reality check among couples and at the same time, encourage them to move forward in faith. 
  3. Marriage as a Covenant
    As a covenant, it is more than a human promise because it is a commitment made before God and people. Each is not just answerable to one another, but to God.
  4. How Two Become One
    Here, couples are taught that marriage is not a 50-50, 60-40, 30-70 or some ratio. It is a 100-100 commitment that is applied regardless of how the other party behaves. Everything is in.
  5. Building a Family
    Parenting issues are openly addressed.
  6. Be constructive during conflicts
    All marriages have their conflicts. So the best way is not to avoid or deny them, but to learn how to constructively manage and resolve the conflict. Forgiveness, teamwork, maturity, attitude are all important.
  7. Developing and maintaining sexual intimacy
    The session looks at both short-term and long-term sexual intimacy, how to anticipate changes, and a discussion on gender differences and perceptions.
  8. Finance
    Money can become a major source of stress. The three basic questions revolve around how to make, how to spend, and how to save.
  9. Spiritual Intimacy
    This session touches on one's devotional time alone and together, family devotions, participation in a Church, a Bible study, and how couples receive spiritual nourishment and encouragement. 
Each of these sessions ends with a devotional to help bring the issues discuss further with biblical background and spiritual insights. I like this book for its simplicity and the light reading portion before each session. While they are easy enough to understand, they are not simplistic. It is the questions at the back of each session that  make up the real deal. Tough, probing, and sometimes humbling, the questions require full honesty and openness in order to move couples into a deeper understanding of each other as individuals, and a better idea of how together they will look like as a married couple.  This is an invaluable tool for marriage counselors, pastors, teachers, as a resource pool, and a powerful tool for anyone contemplating marriage. It gives couples a better idea of what they are getting themselves into, so that when they do decide to get married, their eyes will be fully open, and their faith be fully aimed toward God. 

I highly recommend this book as a companion guide to Gary Thomas's "The Sacred Search."

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by David C. Cook Publishers and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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