Book Review: The Invitation by Bethann Miller

This is a review of the The Invitation by Bethann Miller, a short read helping marriages learn practices so that each partner may be better be known and cared for. This book is short, reflective, and brief in nature that hopes the reader(s) will understanding how crucial it is “that we maintain an ongoing conversation of change with each other so that we do not end up lost in the relationship, living side by side with a stranger or roommate.”[1]

Bethann Miller is the CEO, and one of the founders, of Safe Place, a ministry that provides support, training, care, and guidance to folks serving in Jesus-centered ministries throughout the world.[2] As a licensed chaplain and board-certified pastoral counselor, she has been caring for pastors, missionaries, and ministry leaders for several decades and throughout fifty-three nations.[3] In addition to providing spiritual direction and pastoral care to leaders, Bethann often facilitates marriage intensives and group retreats.[4] This book emerges from her experience working with couples and facilitating those marriage retreats and intensives.

There are eight chapters to this book, each with a short page-and-a-half of reflection from Bethann Miller, followed by a collective of questions for further reflection with a spouse, and there are also suggested prayers from Amy Beth Velarde. The chapters of this book include topics of intimacy, disconnection, the art of yielding, power dynamics in marriage, emotional and relational safety, sexual connection, navigating conflict, and surviving seasons of stress.[5] In addition to the eight chapters, the book has a forward (from Bethann’s husband) and an introductory invitation and a closing challenge.[6]

This book is about finding the right mindsets in marriage. As Bethann’s husband points out in the Forward, “marriage is a mirror that can show you yourself and all your shortcomings one moment, and a coalition that can give us the greatest feeling of love and acceptance the next. It’s both the place for the greatest expression of unity and a place we experience the most consistent conflict.”[7] As a result of the impact of marriage, he goes on to remark that it is important for us to realize that “it’s how we choose to view ourselves, our partners, and even the difficulties we encounter, that determines the outcome of hardships we face together.”[8] How we choose to view ourselves and each other matters. In many ways, this book is about getting that right view of yourself, and of your spouse. Bethann’s hope is that this material will be a new paradigm that helps you to see that a “healthy, commonsense way of navigating and living in a fulfilled, satisfying, safe relationship is possible, and even intended for us by our creator.”[9] This paradigm is needed, because the feeling or experience of “love is not enough” to overcome our brokenness, our desires and expectations, and even our past hurts and hopes.[10] This book is not a deep dive into marriage or the cause of marital problems, but it is about getting some of the needed conversations out in the open in a method that is scripture informed, healthy, safe, and conversational.

I did not read this as part of a marriage retreat or with my spouse, but rather I did so after hearing Bethann talk about it a ministry leader’s event she facilitated. As a leader, and someone who encourages leaders, I instead read it for encouragement, information, and new ideas. The book is simple, and sometimes that is what is needed to spark the right conversations in a marriage and for that reason I would recommend this read.

Quotes & Highlights

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[1] Miller, Bethann. The Invitation: Keys to Strengthen Your Marriage (Unknown: B.A. Perspectives, 2022), 50.

[2] Miller, Bethann. The Invitation: Keys to Strengthen Your Marriage (Unknown: B.A. Perspectives, 2022), 55.

[3] Miller, Bethann. The Invitation: Keys to Strengthen Your Marriage (Unknown: B.A. Perspectives, 2022), 55.

[4] Miller, Bethann. The Invitation: Keys to Strengthen Your Marriage (Unknown: B.A. Perspectives, 2022), 56.

[5] Miller, Bethann. The Invitation: Keys to Strengthen Your Marriage (Unknown: B.A. Perspectives, 2022), iii.

[6] Miller, Bethann. The Invitation: Keys to Strengthen Your Marriage (Unknown: B.A. Perspectives, 2022), iii.

[7] Miller, Bethann. The Invitation: Keys to Strengthen Your Marriage (Unknown: B.A. Perspectives, 2022), vii.

[8] Miller, Bethann. The Invitation: Keys to Strengthen Your Marriage (Unknown: B.A. Perspectives, 2022), vii.

[9] Miller, Bethann. The Invitation: Keys to Strengthen Your Marriage (Unknown: B.A. Perspectives, 2022), 4.

[10] Miller, Bethann. The Invitation: Keys to Strengthen Your Marriage (Unknown: B.A. Perspectives, 2022), 4.

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