Growth Counseling for Mid-Years Couples

by Howard J. Clinebell, Jr.

Howard J. Clinebell, Jr. Is Professor of Pastoral Counseling at the School of Theology at Claremont, California (1977). He is a member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Counselors, and the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. He is a licensed marriage, child and family counselor in the State of California. His personal website is, and his email address is

Published in 1977 by Fortress Press, Philadelphia, this book was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


(ENTIRE BOOK) You have more going for you than you think you do — probably lots more! Here are tools for discovering and using the rich potentialities of the mid-years, for personal renewal and for the enlivening of marriage. The author states that this book grew out of his own struggles and his experiences in enriching mid-years marriages, including his own.


  • Series Forward by Howard W. Stone

    This book is one in the series on Creative Pastoral Care and Counseling. The series listed was written primarily for ministers (and those preparing for the ministry), but will also prove useful to other counselors who are interested in the crucial role of spiritual and value issues in all helping relationships. In addition the series will be useful in seminary courses, clergy support groups, continuing education workshops, and lay befriender training with a special emphasis to giving guidance and pastoral care and counseling of couples in their middle years.

  • How to Get the Most From This Book

    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.

  • Chapter 1. The Expanding Horizons of the Mid-Years

    The best way to cope constructively with the problems posed by this (or any) new life stage is to concentrate on developing the fresh potentials the new stage brings. The good news is that insights and methods are now available by which such persons can renew their inner lives and enliven their marriages.

  • Chapter 2. Twelve Strategies for Making the Most of the Mid-Years

    Twelve strategies are mentioned here as practical methods for renewing one’s inner wellsprings and helping a marriage become a more fulfilling bond of mutual growth.

  • Chapter 3. Enriching Mid-Years Marriages

    Marriages are enriched in the mid-years through three factors: 1. Individual longevity; 2. Rising consciousness and expectations of women; 3. Epidemic loneliness in our urbanized, mobile society. A mid-course correction is valuable for any marriage.

  • Chapter 4. Revising Priorities and Values

    The awareness of the brevity and preciousness of time is increased in our mid-years along with a strengthening of our insight into priorities and values.

  • Chapter 5. Methods of Spiritual Enrichment and Inner Renewal

    Increasing the spiritual sharing in a marriage deepens the care and intimacy of that relationship. The moments of sharing on the spiritual level are tender, precious moments in a relationship. Such moments become increasingly important and wholeness-giving in the second half of a marriage.

  • Chapter 6. Enhancing Mid-Years Sex

    Enhancing the enjoyment of mid-years sex is a significant ingredient in developing a couple’s pleasure potential. Good sex can continue indefinitely as a tender, love-nurturing form of sharing.

  • Chapter 7. Creative Approaches to Mid-Years; Parenting and the Empty Nest

    The interlocking of the generations becomes increasingly intrusive in the mid-years. Couples feel the crunch of being in the middle between the needs of still-dependent adolescents and aging parents This chapter suggests some ways of coping with the problems and realizing the rich possibilities of mid-years parenting and the empty nest. The approaches and methods here suggested can be used as resources by individual parents and by ministers and other leaders in planning parent training groups and marriage enrichment events.

  • Chapter 8. Growth Counseling for Mid-Years Marriage Crises

    Marriage relationships are often thrown off keel by the heavy pressure of multiple losses, changing roles, and diminished self-esteem. With the help of a skilled pastoral counselor or marriage counselor, many such couples not only weather the storm but develop a stronger relationship as a result of learning to handle it. This chapter describes some of the approaches by which couples in mid-years crisis can be helped to grow through counseling.

  • Annotated Bibliography