Clergy: Measure Progress, Expect Outcomes

Dear Bishop/Clergy Member,

I won’t pretend that I have a “Simple and easy 10-step plan!” that will save all marriages. Some can’t be, some won’t be, and quite frankly, some shouldn’t be. The sad, current reality is represented in these grim statistics surrounding marriage and divorce: 50% divorce rate for first marriages, 65% divorce rate for second marriages, and only 25% of those who are married report being  happily so. However, the good news is, the GREAT news is, that 85.6% of my couples not only stabilize and save their marriages but most report a better marriage than they ever thought possible (I track outcomes post-termination with follow-ups at 6 months, 12 months, 18 months and three years). With numbers like these you can see why I love my job.

However, I cannot and will not take full credit for this success. There are many factors that conspire synergistically to create successful outcomes (in no particular order):

  1. The Therapist: Yes, my skill, training, education, experience, and expertise are an important factor. While I have no desire to boast, I will not feign false modesty—I do know my game and I know it well;
  2. The Bishop: Couples who are supported and referred by their Bishops tend to take their counseling more seriously and are more willing to use their testimonies in the process of changing their hearts, learning new skills, and correcting their behaviors. Further, I believe I am correct in my understanding here that through your support and encouragement of them working on their marriage they fall under your mantle and receive spiritual support through that;
  3. Christ: I believe and take full advantage of Christ’s promise that “Where two are three are gathered in my name, there will I be also in their midst” (Matthew 18:20);
  4. Our Leaders: There is the power of the promises the General Authorities have given us on marriage;
  5. Agency: Then there is the power of their own agency to choose to engage in this work to create a truly united and loving marriage. To choose to be fully accountable to their own testimonies.  To choose to be guided by faith even in the midst of seeming impossible odds, in the midst of what appears to be no reason to hope.
  6. Translating Knowledge to Application: Many of the members I have been blessed to work with have strong testimonies of the principles of the Gospel, but struggle in the translation of those truths into specific application in the stresses of daily life in real-life scenarios. That’s where I come in. My work is based on the foundational principles of the Gospel, with the training as a marriage and family therapist I am able to provide your members with the practical application they so desperately seek.

When all of these forces are combined it is hard, near impossible, for the Adversary to prevail. I inform my clients that if they are willing to show up and do the work that they will get better. They do. The outcomes at certain point become a forgone conclusion. It does become predictable.