How to Get the Most From This Book
Here are some suggestions for deriving maximum benefit from this book:
1) Read, discuss, and experience the book with your spouse or, if you're single, with a close friend.
2) Take time from your busy life to experience the growth tools and exercises. These methods will come alive for you and be more useful in your work if you first use them to enrich your own close relationships.
3) Review the principles and methods of growth counseling and marriage; enrichment in the companion volume -- Growth Counseling for Marriage Enrichment: Pre-Marriage and the Early Years. These principles and methods, which will not be repeated in this book, are also described in the cassette course, Growth Counseling, Part I, Course 1A. (See the Annotated Bibliography at the end of this book for the full references on all resources mentioned. )
4) As you use the book, jot down your ideas, questions, reactions, and plans in a small notebook. This notebook will become a growth journal, a log of your encounter with the ideas and methods of this book. Such a personal log can help you note the things worth remembering, as well as keep track of your ideas, growth experiences, and plans for implementing the methods which are relevant to your situation.
5) If the book proves to be helpful to you, try using it as an experiential learning resource with mid-years couples in a group or class. For example, invite three, four, or five couples who want to make good marriages better to join you and your spouse in using the book as a do-it-yourselves guide. Or, use the book to improve the mid-years program in your church, school, or social agency.
This book is designed for two purposes -- to provide resources and guidelines for ministers and other counselors for use in mid-years growth counseling and marriage enrichment; and to provide do-it-yourself help for mid-years couples who wish to enrich their own marriage. All the chapters except parts of 3 and 8 are directed to mid-years individuals and couples, as they might be addressed by a minister doing mid-years counseling or leading mid-years marriage enrichment events. Although the application of the book's ideas to the work of the pastor or other marriage enricher is self-evident, occasional explicit suggestions will be given to facilitate this application in the parish or other setting.
The book reflects my own struggles and satisfactions in the mid-years. It is a tentative statement and certainly not an exhaustive exploration of this life stage. My hope is that you will find it helpful in your contacts with persons in these years or in your own encounter with this rich, demanding stage of the life journey.
If you are in the mid-years, the book's basic message has two parts: (1) You have more going for you than you think you do -- probably lots more! (2) Here are some tools for discovering and using the potential of the mid-years.
I am grateful to Scott Sullender for his help with this manuscript. And to Charlotte, who has helped make our mid-years such lively and eventful years, my heartfelt thanks.