Couples can make significant progress toward resolving their own problems when they receive appropriate guidance from a caring person. This book outlines five tasks focused on identity, agency, and meaning that spiritual caregivers can use to empower couples for significant change in just three to five conversations. Critically integrating desert spiritual theology with empirical data about successful marriages, Bidwell advocates for mutuality and partnership within covenanted relationships, which allows partners to create an alliance strong enough to resist the forces that threaten relationships—especially the negative influences of criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and withdrawal.
Pastors who adopt the approach outlined in the text will "travel lightly" in terms of pastoral power, decentering themselves so that couples can identify and build on their unique strengths and relationship with the divine.
"Empowering Couples is an excellent text, one for which I have been waiting. Duane Bidwell has pulled together three powerful resources—Narrative Therapy, John Gottman's long-term research on couples, and desert spirituality—to create a comprehensive and practical model for spiritual care with couples experiencing struggles and challenges in their lives together. This book is uniquely valuable and is a must read for seminary students, pastoral counselors, and parish pastors." —Christie Cozad Neuger United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities
"Duane Bidwell combines the unique understanding of passions from the desert mothers and fathers with the insights of marriage and family therapist John Gottman to create a consultative approach for spiritual care that aims to empower couples to reframe conflict as an external force and rewrite their narratives so that preferred meanings can emerge in order to refashion their relationship as a covenant friendship." —Herbert Anderson Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary