This is an excellent book whose greatest gift is that it makes the vast ground plowed 13 years earlier in the author''s 2nd book, Passionate Marriage, readily accessbile. The latter was a great book but a dense, difficult read that gave its greatest gifts only after repeated...
This is an excellent book whose greatest gift is that it makes the vast ground plowed 13 years earlier in the author''s 2nd book, Passionate Marriage, readily accessbile. The latter was a great book but a dense, difficult read that gave its greatest gifts only after repeated readings. This book, in contrast, makes the author''s approach to self and relationship development easily understood. It brings his theory down to earth and gives guidence in applying it to one''s life. I highly recommend it.
The book is, indeed, fun to read. Schnarch can deftly shift between transcribing the words & thoughts of a counseling session to his principles of human interaction & growth, and on to sometimes salacious stories of couples getting it on -- not only sexually but mentally & emotionally, and in a more open, enlightened way. He breaks into a mercifully short few pages of techno-babble at the beginning of one chapter to show his inclusion or understanding of brain science, but that is the only lapse in the smoothly flowing writing in this book.
Schnarch presents a number of "moving parts" within our relationships that work to grow us personally & as a partner. And his approach is generally at odds with the common approach within our culture of accomodation or withdrawal from conflict. Instead, he suggests that confronting one''s issues -- from one''s family of origin or from one''s current partner (and commonly they are one & the same) -- is the real path to growth. The process involves these key variable:
* All key dimensions of activity, including sex, have a high & a low desire partner.
* Our sense of self can be based on others'' opinion (other validated) or on our own heart (self validated). Both are valid, but if one is predominantly other-validated, then one becomes reluctant to say or do things that will endanger our partner''s good opinion of us. And that creates major problems often to the extent of losing our self in the process.
* The tension between autonomy & connectedness provides the opportunity for personal growth: the authors Crucible Approach (which he''s trademarked).
* Mind mapping is the core process of understanding the thoughts & intentions of another. Only where you allow another to honestly & fully know you can you have that deep connection most of us seek.
* Mind mapping as well as personal integrity is intimately involved in maintaining collaborative alliances with your partner. Being able to maintain such a collaborative alliance most of the time over a prolonged time is what makes for a "good relationship."
* Being psychologically prepared to sustain an alliance, and the integrity necessary for it, requires individual skills that were collectively called "differentiation" in Passionate Marriage and are here more usefully detailed as his Four Points of Balance on page 72.
* Marriage is a people growing system. One of its key mechanisms is to give you 2 Choice Dilemmas, forcing choice between alternatives that are both desirable. It forces growth where we might otherwise be tempted to complacently stay within our comfort zone -- and thus stagnate within relationship.
* Desiring your partner is one such Choice. And positively choosing your partner is a key part of fully participating in relationship.
Reading this book or any book won''t cure a troubled relationship. But it will give you guidence on how to face your own part in your troubles and, very importantly, give meaning to the fact of your relationship struggle. Yes its hard, but yes it is the felling of growth. Find that meaning and the hardship becomes very tolerable.
I highly recommend this book (and Passionate Marriage).