Counsel for Couples: A Biblical and Practical Guide for Marriage Counseling by Jonathan Holmes




Many pastors feel ill-equipped to handle the challenges that arise when a couple is going through marital difficulties.

If you are or have been in this situation before, this book shows church leaders how to counsel married couples from both a logical and biblical perspective.

Author and pastor Jonathan Holmes offers you a practical guide to get started with the first sessions and then offers specific guidance on nine of the most common topics that come up in marriage counseling.

In Counsel for Couples, Holmes provides you with:

a biblical methodology that navigates you through the world of marriage counseling based on God’s word
a theological counseling approach addressing the deepest of marital issues
advice from several respected voices in the biblical counseling community
In each chapter, you'll meet a new couple dealing with a different issue, much like the people in your church, office, and neighborhood.

Whether you're a novice or already knowledgeable, Counsel for Couples provides theologically sound and biblically practical tools to help you as you help couples in need.

Jonathan Holmes has produced in indispensable manual for marriage counseling. This excellent volume will prove a well-used resource for counselors. Highly recommended. -- TEDD TRIPP, author, pastor, conference speaker

Counsel for Couples is rich with well-rounded, mature, biblical wisdom stemming from years of loving, pastoral ministry. I know of nothing else like it. -- PAUL TAUTGES, author; senior pastor, Cornerstone Community Church, Mayfield Heights, Ohio; founder, Counseling One Another

Jonathan writes honestly about the realities of helping couples and points out hidden gospel opportunities to share true hope found in Christ, wisdom in Scripture, and our lives with others. Highly recommended. -- LILLY PARK, PhD, assistant professor of Biblical Counseling, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Counsel for Couples is a great read for those who want to grow in their ability to care for marriages in trouble. It will help you counsel marriages better! -- GARRETT HIGBEE, president, Twelve Stones Ministries; director of pastoral care, Great Commission Collective

What a unique and helpful trove Jonathan has labored to give us! From the concrete and practical elements of couples work to one personal story after another, here we have a rich reference that runs the gamut of marital counseling. -- AARON SIRONI, LCPC, faculty member, Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation

As I look back on my pastoral and counseling ministry, I wish I'd had this book to guide me. I look forward to using it in my ministry and in training future biblical counselors. -- DAVID MURRAY, professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology, Puritan Reformed Seminary

I've read many books on marriage, but Jonathan Holmes filled practical gaps and provided new strategies I now use to serve my church family. Read it and sharpen both your understanding of marriage and your wisdom in counseling. -- P. J. TIBAYAN, pastor-theologian, Bethany Baptist Church, Bellflower, California; blogger at

Much sage wisdom can be found in this helpful and practical guide for biblical counselors. -- ERIC L. JOHNSON, PhD, senior research professor of Pastoral Care, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

From helping couples navigate the arduous paths created by things such as adultery, abuse, and pornography to guiding husbands and wives with rich wisdom to help cultivate marriages that reflect the beauty of God, Counsel for Couples is a must-read for anyone desiring to serve those who have entered the sacred covenant of marriage. -- JEREMY LELEK, PhD, LPC-S, president, Association of Biblical Counselors

A wise, Scripturally-saturated primer on marriage counseling. If you're a pastor in search of biblically-based counseling resources, this should become a well-worn guidebook on your desk. -- MICHAEL R. EMLET, MDiv, MD, faculty and counselor, Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation

Jonathan Holmes is a rare kind of counselor--thoroughly biblical and attentive to the delicate dynamics of how people actually experience marriage. This book is a needed guide to addressing those dynamics with wisdom and skill. -- JEREMY PIERRE, PhD, Lawrence & Charlotte Hoover associate professor of Biblical Counseling; chair, Department of Biblical Counseling & Family Ministry

A tremendous gift to the church! This book is anchored in the truth of God's Word, saturated with the sufficiency of God's grace, and written for the equipping of God's people. Easily accessible to young and mature believers alike. -- DR. SCOTTY WARD SMITH, pastor emeritus, Christ Community Church, Franklin, Tennessee; teacher in residence, West End Community Church, Nashville, Tennessee

My heart was thrilled to sense Jonathan's kind eyes, gentle voice, and gospel of hope on every page of this book. If you often find yourself on the steep and thorny path of marriage counseling, this weathered map will help you find God's way forward. -- DAVID “GUNNER” GUNDERSEN, PhD, BridgePoint Bible Church, Houston, Texas

This book is abundantly practical, thoroughly biblical, and deeply refreshing. Here is real help for those called to shepherd the flock of God among them. -- J. J. SHERWOOD, lead pastor, Five Points Community Church

This book is an excellent basic primer in Christian marital counseling. Biblical, comprehensive, and realistic--the best marriage counseling resource available now to pastors and biblical counselors. -- SAM R. WILLIAMS, PhD, professor of Counseling, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, North Carolina

A helpful, thoughtful, practical, comprehensive, and edifying book on marriage counseling. Jonathan equips counselors with truth from God's Word and encourages them to communicate it in love. -- PR. ALEXANDRE “SACHA” MENDES, pastor (Brazil); director, Vision and Expansion of the Brazilian Association of Biblical Counselors; member of board of directors, Biblical Counseling Coalition

Loving, biblical counseling with individuals is complex. Loving, biblical counseling with couples is exponentially complex. Jonathan Holmes has done the biblical counseling movement a great service. -- BOB KELLEMEN, PhD, vice president and academic dean, Faith Bible Seminary, Lafayette, Indiana; author, Gospel-Centered Counseling: How Christ Changes Lives

I've been waiting for this book my entire ministry. This book is a treasure trove of wisdom for marriage counseling in the church. If you minister among married couples, you need to buy this book right now. Read it and keep it handy on your shelf for quick consultation. -- DAVE FURMAN, senior pastor, Redeemer Church of Dubai; author, Being There

Rather than candy-coat the challenges of counseling couples, Jonathan faces them head-on. He offers real gospel-anchored hope for the counselor and the counselee. This book is well-researched, founded on a rich biblical theology, filled with practical examples, and informed by experience. It's a must-have for pastors, counselors, and church leaders. -- DR. RYAN BOYS, senior pastor, Green Pond Bible Chapel

A delightful guide for those seeking to help married partners, and a much-needed reference for every biblical counselor's library. The 'One Couple's Story' sections are gold mines of practical wisdom for everyday life. -- DR. STEVE VIARS, senior pastor, Faith Church, Lafayette, Indiana

This book is not only a must-read but a must-reference. The most comprehensive and scripturally-faithful work on couples counseling I have ever read. -- CHRIS MOLES, author, The Heart of Domestic Abuse: Gospel Solutions for Men Who Use Violence and Control in the Home

A superb contribution to the field of marriage counseling! This should be required reading for anyone involved in pastoral ministry. -- DR. TIMOTHY S. LANE, president, Institute for Pastoral Care; author, Unstuck and Living Without Worry

Read this book cover to cover--it is useful immediately. Then keep it close by as a handy reference tool. It is filled with Jonathan's pastoral experience, to which he adds many other wise, reliable voices and resources. -- EDWARD T. WELCH, counselor and faculty, Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation

Whether you're a pastor, a counselor, or a layperson who wants to help marriages flourish, this book will help you help others. It's a resource you'll come back to again and again. -- BOB LEPINE, senior vice president, FamilyLife

Marital counseling presents some of the most difficult challenges of ministry. This book walks us through a labyrinth of marital issues by providing wisdom from the gospel of Christ and practical insights from the Bible. -- TIM SAVAGE, PhD, council member, The Gospel Coalition, Cambridge, England

What makes this book stand out is how it walks the pastor/counselor through the process of couples counseling with key points to cover, sample questions for counselees, and brief scripts for counseling. And it covers important topics that are rarely addressed in marriage books, including in-law relations, infertility, and miscarriage. -- JIM NEWHEISER, director, Christian Counseling Program; associate professor of Practical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina; executive director, The Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship

Counsel for Couples is an excellent introduction to the basic skills of marriage counseling and an overview of key challenges addressed in marriage counseling. Jonathan brings together best practices and leading voices in an extremely practical book. -- BRAD HAMBRICK, pastor of counseling, The Summit Church, Durham, North Carolina; author, Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage mentoring series (

This is a new must-have resource for pastors. I'll be taking all our pastors through the first part together for group discussion and encourage all of them to have the book on their shelf for when they need to refer to the second part before difficult counseling appointments. -- SCOTT ZELLER, executive pastor, Redeemer Dubai

About the Author
Jonathan Holmes serves as the pastor of counseling at Parkside Church in Ohio and is the founder and executive director of Fieldstone Counseling. He serves on the council board for the Biblical Counseling Coalition and is a frequent speaker at conferences and retreats. He graduated from The Master’s University with degrees in Biblical Counseling and History and has his M.A. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Jonathan is the author of The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship and has also written for The Gospel Coalition, Care Leader, Covenant Eyes, and Journal of Biblical Counseling. He and his wife, Jennifer, have four daughters, Ava, Riley, Ruby, and Emma. In his spare time, Jonathan enjoys traveling, reading, and gardening.