Book Review: Break Through: When to Give In, How to Push Back by Tim Clinton and Pat Springle

“When it comes to rewriting the story of our lives — in making the journey from enmeshment to healthy loving relationships — many of us are still on the mountainside with our eyes fixed on the road,” so writes Dr. Tim Clinton and Pat Springle in their book, Break Through: When To Give In, How to Push Back.

If you deal with an unhealthy relationship or come across people whose imploding relationship is now effecting your relationship, this is the book for you. Instead of eyes locked in on the road of enmeshment, Clinton and Springle invite you to see what a healthy, beautiful relationship looks like and how to pursue a path that builds such health.

They even provide a self-test for evaluation. They also provide numerous examples and stories of those who found the path to health in relationships, and those who still struggle to find their way.


Though I can’t pinpoint a relationship in my life that is enmeshed and I am okay with that, I found Break Through valuable in understanding how to deal with people who are enmeshed, codependent, or unhealthy in dealing with others. 3 key images are given of people in such relationships:

1. Heroes

Heroes like riding in to rescue. If there’s a problem, they are quick to fix it. Sounds great right? Except heroes who always rescue others in relationship, rescue others from responsibility and accountability. Minus those two qualities in one’s life, the number of rescue opportunities increase.

2. Field Marshals

Field Marshals are bullies. They demand their own way. Everything is fine in a relationship as long as you go the Field Marshal’s way. Change path, make a different suggestion, Field Marshals will start firing away.

3. Turtles

Turtles withdraw. When the tension rises, when conflict comes, turtles pull back and hide. They don’t deal with the issue, they run from it. They deny it. They let it fester and grow.

Those who are wise in relationships know when to give in and how to push back. That’s the beauty of this book, it not only gives a glimpse of where relationships go wrong, they paint a picture of how relationships can go right.

With case studies, personal experience, and a strong Biblical foundation, Clinton and Springle identify not only the pitfalls of love, but also its possibilities. Forgivness is not giving in, but finding the path to get through. Speaking the truth in love becomes more then a Biblical slogan, it becomes a lifestyle to leverage one’s relationship for deeper growth with honesty, humility and respect.

Break Through answers 2 questions throughout its pages:

1. When does true love give in?

2. When does true love push back?

In reading the chapters and working through the questions each chapter offers for review and reflection, you develop a handle on your relationships. Their stories helped me to better understand my story and the stories of those I come in contact with who live harmful relationships and want me to join them. Clinton and Springle’s offer is better, Break Through, walk a path to healthy relationships.

I give Break Through 4 out of 5 stars. Their understanding of the story of Abraham and Isaac, and their relationship and why God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, read too much into the story. They suggest that  Abraham had put Isaac above God. I don’t think the Biblical text suggests that at all. It was the one negative that stood out in a book that is solid in its use of the Bible, its application for daily life as well as their own practice as Christian counselors.

If you are in an enmeshed relationship, this books is a necessity to read. If you are not, this book is good training for dealing with Heroes, Field Marshals, and Turtles as well as building healthy relationships in one’s own life.  You can read chapter 1 by clicking here and see a video by Tim Clinton by clicking here. Break Through is available on Amazon here or Barnes and Noble here.

Thank you to Worthy Publishers for a free copy of this book to review. I wasn’t required to give a positive review. I greatly appreciate the truths it taught and the relationship skills I hope now to develop because I read it.


1 Comment

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One response to “Book Review: Break Through: When to Give In, How to Push Back by Tim Clinton and Pat Springle

  1. This book is a game-changer for those who need help setting boundaries in their life. Some of us try to hard to control others; others of us allow ourselves to be manipulated, even bullied. This book addresses both these dysfunctions but offers real life examples of how to change. A quote from the book that I loved: “As we move toward healthier relationships, we’ll find ourselves developing a more secure relational style—learning how to identify and communicate thoughts, feelings, and opinions with confidence.” I want that, and this book is helping me to achieve it!

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