Customer Reviews: Life Change for Couples: A Biblical 12-Step Journey for Marriage Enrichment
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on November 13, 2013
I am always on the hunt for resources which will help me minister effectively. The good news of the gospel is not (just) about eternal salvation; it also impacts every part of our lives: finances, relationship, family, work, etc. James Reeves has written a new book which aims at bringing about the sort of life change that will impact your marriage. Utilizing a twelve step approach Reeves urges husbands and wives to work through baggage and emotional issues. The end result is healthier, humble people who have submitted their lives to Christ. This will impact your marriage. Life Change for Couples is a workbook which helps couples work through the personal struggles they bring into marriage.

Most of this book walks through the twelve steps of alcoholics anonymous (and other recovery programs), slightly recast in a specifically Christian direction. Reeves first four chapters set the tone for the book. Reeves envisions that this book would be used in a group setting with other couples. Thus he lays out guidelines for `freedom groups,' and talks about the need for safe, healing environment. Reeves also lays out two guiding principles: the Emotional/Spiritual Principle and the Pile Principle. The Emotional/Spiritual Principle states that your spiritual maturity will never exceed your emotional maturity (37). This means that if you want to grow in your spiritual life. You need to work through your emotional issues. The `pile principle' asserts that we all carry our own pile of emotional garbage which impacts our relationship with God and others (49,ff). The rest of the book follows the twelve steps with an eye to where our marriages are impacted.

In Reeves parlance, the twelve steps are:

"A" Admit Powerlessness
"B" Believe the Truth
"C" Commit to Christ
"D" Discover Responsibility
"E" Expose Secrets
"F" Focus on Faith
"G" Go Get Right
"H" Heed the Weeds
"I" Increase God Contact
"J" Just do it.
This modification of the traditional twelve steps emphasizes a biblically revealed understanding of God. God is not just `a higher power,' but the God revealed in Jesus Christ. This is an important difference because Reeve challenges popular deficient views of God (see chapter six). Also there are only ten steps by Reeves's reckoning. The substance of the twelve steps is there, but it isn't actually `a twelve step journey.'

While this is a workbook intended to help couples and is designed for a group setting, its focus is on personal healing. When husbands and wives submit to the process laid out here, there is an opportunity for emotional healing and a deepening faith, which leads to personal responsibility, forgiveness and active reconciliation.. This is the sort of resource that will set people free to love and honor their spouse. This is good stuff.

However I offer two words of caution. First, there are no guarantees in marriage or life and I would be careful of overpromising. Ideally both wife and husband would work through their issues, have a healthy, growing faith and a deepening love for one another. But reading this book or any other and trying to practice it, is not a formula to get what you want out of your marriage. God may deepen your dependence on Him and your spouse may still leave, cheat or remain emotionally distant. This book will help you process through your own issues but it is not a `silver bullet' for successful marriage. Secondly, I would demur from Reeves on his emphasis on "facts" and reason and mistrust of feelings. He reproduces the familiar diagram of a train where the engine (Fact) pulls faith behind it, which is followed by feelings (183). I agree with Reeves that feelings are fallen and should not be trusted. People with emotional baggage create a world of hurt. Yet our reason is also fallen and sometimes God works in our hearts in surprising ways. I can point to numerous experiences where feelings drove my faith to healthy places (and only later did I have an intellectual account). I like Reeves's approach and commend it, but the privileging of reason is overly simple.

These two cautionary words should not dissuade you from making use of this fine resource. I think it will be a great tool for small groups, pre-marital and marital counseling. The twelve-step approach puts an emphasis on personal responsibility which will contribute to healthier, happier marriages as we submit ourselves one to another. I give this book four stars.

Thank you to Kregel Ministry for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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on August 7, 2013
This is an extremely practical workbook based on biblical principles for helping ANY marriage, no matter the stage. Every couple will benefit from going through it. It first forces you to focus on YOURSELF, which is really the only person you have control to change anyways. Then it applies what you have now learned about yourself to your marriage to help you communicate better, understand your spouse better, argue better haha, etc. This book has really given me and my husband extreme insight into why we say the things we do, why we do the things we do, and it gives us help to change the things that need to be changed. We are so much quicker to get through an inevitable argument because we can pinpoint what the problem REALLY is and not what it seems like on the outside. So basically our communication with each other is awesome and we understand each other a great deal better after having gone through this book. Every couple would benefit from understanding yourself and your spouse better! A breakdown in communication is one of the main causes of the marriage breakdown, and this book will help prevent that from happening.
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on August 7, 2013
The biblical principles in this book are critical for a marriage to be healthy the way God intended. It helped me to realize everyone has their own pile of emotional garbage. As I started to work on my emotional wounds it allowed my wife and I to then work on our relationship. I have a better marriage today because of it.
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on September 16, 2015
Nowhere in the product description at my time of purchase did it mention that this is a group study. I was looking for a bible study for just my husband and I to do together, so I feel like I wasted my money buying this. I wish the description had been detailed enough to prevent this. Don't know if the book is good, just that it's not what I wanted.
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on November 15, 2013
As a social worker, for years I've been working with families in crisis, who have been struggling in their relationships with one another. For those people who really want to change and improve their lives, this 12 step model of recovery is the best process I've seen for giving people the tools that they need to make real, lasting change. It helps people come out from hiding behind their own pile of emotional garbage and taking responsbility for their choices and their actions, which in turn causes others around them to change. This is a great tool and process to use throughout your entire life - I know I will.
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on August 7, 2013
The tools offered in this book are so essentially fundamental, that I cannot imagine a marriage surviving without them. Like so many of the "right things" that help our marriage, these truth's seem so clear and simple, yet are so difficult often to execute. The author and workbook provide an opportunity to explore "your side of the street", and you start to gain a clear picture difference between the "default marriage model" that you have built or were building, and the model the Architect intended. The fruit of the investment from this book comes quickly and can restore hope and a new vision worth working toward.
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on August 7, 2013
Life Change for Couples is spot on! My wife and I have been married for 17 years. We have been through several great Bible classes on marriage. Unfortunately, there have been too many "ME" problems to effectively deal with the "US" problems. Life Change for Couples deals with this issue and helps me break down the barriers between me and God so that I can get to the real marriage solution...Jesus. We practice these Biblical principles in our individual lives and the results in our marriage are tangible.
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on November 20, 2013
Most people hear "The 12 steps" and their thoughts immediately go to Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. But Reeves has taken the twelve steps and applied biblical principles to them, then applied the whole thing to marriage, then made it into a book.

When I first saw the cover, I was skeptical. While the twelve steps process involves religious overtones, it is far from a Biblical process, and I was prepared for a little bit of Bible with a lot of pop psychology or self-esteem stuff. I was pleasantly surprised. Reeves has put together a nice workbook that he markets as for married couples. I found very little that would be couple specific, and would probably use this study as an evangelistic Bible study with members of the community, especially since the book works heavily into the gospel.

Reeves takes each of the traditional twelve steps and applies the Word of God to them, explaining issues such as depravity, personal responsibility, salvation, and growing in the faith along the way. He makes it clear a few lessons in that those who have not been born again may continue and receive some benefit from the material, but that a major tenet of getting the help that so many people want and need is finding salvation and forgiveness in the person of Jesus Christ.

I probably would not do this as a Sunday School class or sermon series, but would definitely consider using it in counseling and as an outreach to the lost. Good, well thought through, and well written material.

I give Life Change for Couples 5 out of 5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Academic in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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on October 23, 2013
Life Change for Couples by James M. Reeves is a great resource for couples to work through the issues that come up in a marriage relationship. James, senior pastor of City on a Hill church in Texas is a regular contributor to conferences and venues relating to relationships, emotional issues, and marriage. As I began working through this book, I was initially challenged to ask the deep and thorny questions that come up when dealing with marriage. James has a way of pulling no punches in this book and getting to the heart of the issues. Whether in a small group of committed believers or as a couple, this workbook can go a long way in helping couples deal with their own sins and find healing through Christ.

The chapter on the emotional /spiritual principle was a particularly powerful chapter. James digs into the meat of the emotional turmoil that goes on in marriage by asking some key questions. A few of the questions include: What are some of the ways you have been emotionally wounded, What are some of the ways you have emotionally abused your spouse? If taken seriously, these questions can lead one to really find out the emotional damage they cause their spouse and how they, sometimes, unknowingly, they resort to a default setting by acting out of their emotional abuse of the past on their spouses. This unhealthy behavior is damaging to communicating and growing as a couple. The next chapter on the The Pile Principle is a further commentary on how the emotional garbage we bring into marriage like unforgiveness and bitterness can pile up to such a great degree that we cannot see through the end of the tunnel.

James goes onto to talk later in the book about our belief in God. It’s not that we don’t believe in God but that we often have wrong beliefs about God. Whether a policeman, grandfather, or old man, sometimes our behavior is predicated upon a false view of God. I would add here that the encouragement and right beliefs of a healthy evangelical church goes a long way in rooting out false beliefs that lead to bad behavior. Right thinking is the beginning of right behavior. So our beliefs about God and the good news are very important. The chapter on commit to Christ is another example of how a relationship with the Savior, right beliefs and actions about Him, go a long way in providing a hedge against temptation in a marriage relationship. No matter what, every marriage is conflicted by the damage of Adam’s fall, it is only through the grace of Christ that we can change. I was personally helped by this book by way of asking the tough questions about the way I relate to my wife. Healing begins with a healthy dose of the gospel and a recognition that our sin has to be dealt with, emotional and spiritual.

I hope many couples are encouraged by this book as I was. With a good dose of wisdom and biblical insight, James takes you on the road to healing.

Thanks to Kregel Ministry for the copy of this book in exchange for review.
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on October 8, 2013
Are you in a marriage that is struggling? Has your marriage gone through some challenges that have brought about some deep wounds and unforgiveness? Do you long for more intimacy in your marriage? Have you found yourself feeling like your marriage relationship is weak? If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, I think you should consider the workbook, Life Change for Couples: A Biblical 12-Step Journey for Marriage Enrichment, by James M. Reeves.

I'll be honest, I requested a review copy of this book simply because hasn't reviewed much in the area of marriage enrichment. We obviously tend to focus our attention on biblical, theological, and pastoral studies and haven't focused a lot of that attention upon this important subject. Yet I'm a pastor and I do a fair share of marriage coaching and communication training. Therefore, Life Change peaked my interest.

Life Change is a workbook. That means there is plenty of space for you and your spouse to "fill in the blanks." Reeves follows a three step pattern in each of his discussions: Instruction, Introspection, and Interaction. The great news is that this could be done with just a married couple or as a small group.

What I like about Life Change is that it is very practical. It's not a book of marriage theory from someone detached from people but a very real and very personal workbook. I can't imagine Life Change not finding application in everyone's marriage. Part of this is because of Reeves' own unique background which he openly shares throughout the book. It's also due to the fact that the content in the instruction is quite good.

Over the course of the workbook, participants are guided through a variety of issues that are extremely relevant to marriage. For example, how a relationship with Christ influences a marriage, issues related to taking responsibility for one's issues, watching out for recurring problems, and much more.

My only complaint is that the book includes the words "12-steps." I know, that's silly, but that alone almost kept me from picking up the book to review.

I plan on recommending this book to couples and would easily give it five starts out of five. Great resource, pastors and small groups!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review*
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