Here are our own reviews of a number of Relationship Books which are available for purchase through this site.
Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus
A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What You Want in Your Relationship
by John Gray, Ph.D.
Harper Collins, 1992. 286 pages
Books exploring the differences between men & women had been written for years, but John Gray points out that his would be "the definitive guide for understanding how healthy men and women are different." It has certainly become one of the leading resources! As he puts it,
"When you remember that your partner is as different as someone from another planet, you can relax and cooperate with the differences instead of resisting or trying to change them."
Throughout the book, Gray presents both sides of each problem or issue that may arise, offering suggestions to prevent arguments and hard feelings. For example, the #1 complaint women have is that men don't listen. She wants empathy, but he thinks she wants practical solutions. Support makes her happy. "A way of honoring another Venusian is to listen patiently with empathy, seeking to truly understand the other's feelings." The #1 complaint men have is that women try to change them. Men need to feel that they can handle problems on their own, without advice. Asking for help is a sign of weakness. "A way of honoring another Martian is always to assume he can solve his problem unless he asks for help." Another observation is that men are most happy and motivated when they feel needed; women, when they feel cherished:
"A man's sense of self is defined through his ability to achieve results. A woman's sense of self is defined through her feelings and the quality of her relationships."
Women think out loud, and usually imagine the worst when a man is silent. They’ve got to realize that men need to be alone or silent when they’re upset. Along with more translations, Gray offers a list of ways to support a man ‘in his cave’ of silence.
****** The kind of love we need ******
Women need: . . . . . . . Men need:
caring . . . . . . . . . . . trust
understanding . . . . . acceptance
respect . . . . . . . . . . appreciation
devotion . . . . . . . . . admiration
validation . . . . . . . . approval
reassurance . . . . . . encouragement
This book has lots of tips, but before you put them into practice, it seems like you’ll constantly be analyzing your partner and trying to pinpoint what they’re feeling. The author’s methods can surely be used to diffuse some arguments. He insists on negotiating, being honest and open. Next time you’re frustrated with a member of the opposite sex, remember that we’re supposed to be different. Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus!
Are You the One for Me?
by Barbara DeAngelis, Ph.D.
Delacorte Press, 1992. 353 pages
This is an excellent book on personal growth in a relationship, particularly for when you're at a point of considering greater commitment. It's formatted like a textbook, with plenty of lists and exercises. Chapter one opens as follows:
"Falling in love is a magical and powerful experience. Each kiss, each moment in the beginning seems so right, so perfect. But soon attraction and infatuation become a 'relationship' and we are brought down to earth with the challenging realities of sharing our life with another human being. And as those first enchanted weeks turn into months, one day we find ourselves asking: 'Is this person right for me?'"
Yes, this is pretty heavy material. Which takes a serious look at diagnosing whether your love interest is healthy for you. The underlying theme of the book is how to be honest with yourself to determine your compatibility in order to avoid problems and heartache down the road. It's great for people with a low 'love IQ, which the author uses a 10-question quiz to determine.
If you've had a relationship that didn't work or are fearful of making poor decisions, Dr. DeAngelis helps you analyze your needs and boost your confidence in your ability to make successful love choices. Most of the book confronts negatives, such as her 'Five Deadly Myths about Love':
One useful piece of advice is to beware of being a 'love at first sight junkie'---it might be lust or it might be your infatuation with that person's image that turns you on. For those of us not yet "in deep", here's her outline of the Six Biggest Mistakes we make in the beginning of a relationship:
2. We make premature compromises.
3. We ignore warning signs of potential flaws.
4. We give in to Lust Blindness.
5. We give in to material seduction.
6. We put commitment before compatibility.
It's certainly easy to ignore many of these as we attempt to live our fantasies, we must be open-minded. The real-life examples spread throughout the book make this easier to understand.
More of the somber truth comes to us in a chapter covering 'various types of relationships that won't work.' Grin and bear it! Dr. DeAngelis explores how we can pursue stunted relationships, such as falling in love with a partner's potential or performing a rescue mission. She's very upfront in using her own painful experiences as examples of not noticing warning signs. It's easy to think [hope] the problem will go away.
The book closes on a more positive note--qualities to look for. The author puts together a formula to assess compatibility with your partner in ten major categories, to see if there's 'enough there' to have a future.
Romance 101 - Lessons in Love
"A little lecture, a little homework, a lot of fun"
by Gregory J. P. Godek
Casablanca Press, 1993. 262 pages
The author teaches romance classes and has written several other relationships books. This book is a "self-directed romance class." As a publisher's note explains, "it takes the material, but not itself seriously. It respects the reader's intelligence. It's written in a conversational style that 'sounds good' on the page and speaks to the heart as well as the head."
Romance 101 is divided into 64 chapters, or lessons. Each one includes definitions, exercises, questions, homework assignments, notes and resources. Godek mixes in applicable quotes from noteworthy sources to start each lesson. Chapters include:
Here's a glimpse of several of the concise 4 page chapters:
BRAINSTORMING - "A process of focussed fantasy in which your natural playfulness is released by suspending judgement- leading to a free flow of creative ideas."
COMMUNICATING - means communicating effectively.
"When one person compromises, he loses. When both people compromise, you both win."
ECCENTRICITY - Looking at the world a little differently from others can keep things exciting & fun and lead to better understanding. Explore different "inner characters", new sights, sounds, smells, colors to incorporate into your romance. Be unique!
FEAR - "Are you angry? Sad? Depressed? Bitter? Lonely? Frustrated?
GIFTS - How to save $100,000 in gifts over the course of your life:
HELP - This chapter itemizes additional resources such as spiritual, sexual, self-esteem books. Addresses & phone numbers are given for magazines, programs, newsletters and centers that specialize in each particular area.
INTIMACY - "must be created and re-created." Sustaining it is the challenge.
KISSING - The best advice is that kissing is "an activity unto itself" and is most effective when all attention is on the kiss. The author lists different kinds of kisses, in case you need instruction!
LOVE - It's no surprise that this chapter contains more questions than answers. It isn't hard to agree that "Creating a loving, intimate relationship is the most difficult, time-consuming and complicated challenge you fill face in your entire life."
MATH - Here we find the scarey idea of evaluating your relationship by sitting down with your lover and generating a "report card", including categories such as listening skills, spontaneity, playfulness, loyalty, humor, lovemaking skills, trust and flexibility.
SELF-ESTEEM - A chapter to work on individually.
SENSUALITY - offers stimulating ideas. Naturally, SEXUALITY offers even more exciting ones!
Don't attempt to plow through this like a regular book. You'll get the most out of it by considering it a textbook, to work through chapter by chapter. Much of the information will already be familiar, but you're sure to come upon details that will help you become a better lover!
Love & Survival - The Scientific Basis for the Healing Power of Intimacy
by Dean Ornish, MD
Harper Collins, 1998.
"Love and Survival. What do they have to do with each other? This book is based on a simple but powerful idea: Our survival depends on the healing power of love, intimacy, and relationships. Physically. Emotionally. As individuals. As communities. As a culture. Perhaps even as a species."
Dr. Ornish grabs our attention right away. He's known as a diet expert, but in this book explores how our emotional lifestyle may play an even more powerful role in maintaining good health. He uses his own research and that of others to support his conclusion.
Threats to Health
"The real epidemic in our culture is not only physical heart disease, but also what I call emotional and spiritual heart disease--that is, the profound feelings of loneliness, isolation, alienation, and depression that are so prevalent in our culture with the breakdown of the social structures that used to provide us with a sense of connection and community. It is, to me, a root of the illness, cynicism and violence in our society."
For example, loneliness and isolation can lead to smoking and overeating, which lead to adverse health. Other unhealthy habits resulting from depression include drug and alcohol abuse, working too hard, or watching too much TV.
or you can drill a hundred shallow, dry ones.
Pet the Dog
Don't worry, be happy!
Light Her Fire:
How To Ignite Passion and Excitement in the Woman You Love
by Ellen Kreidman
1991. 228 pages
The theme of this book is that a man's communication and sensitivity to his partner"s needs will lead to a much more fulfilling relationship. Simply put, a little time and thought goes a long way to keeping her in love with you. The book is based on principles taught in the author's 5 week course for men on what women seek and need in order to keep the fire burning.
In her introduction, Ms. Kreidman makes some lofty promises to the men who invest a few hours reading her book, whether they're married, in a committed relationship, or even--
"If you are single, you will have more women in your life than you know what to do with. They will find you irresistible. You will be leaps and bounds ahead of any competition you might have had before."
Believe me, this got my attention!
It's hard to disagree with her premise that some men are just too lazy to be romantic, feeling they work hard enough on their job, so why work at a relationship, too? Let her know that you care!
"She wants to be at the top of your list of priorities, and you constantly have to prove it to her through words and actions.. and proving your love always involves extra time, money, or effort spent in making her feel special."
But the payback will be worth it!!!
Women love receiving gifts meant just for them. A flower with a handwritten note can mean as much as a fur coat. To many women, a gift says, "you are worthwhile." But not giving a gift is like saying, "you're worthless." Men have to constantly remind themselves that women are simply more emotional.
Ms. Kreidman showers us with examples of how a woman feels hurt when instead of receiving a compliment, her man says nothing at all. A guy may think this is silly, but the sooner he understands, the better. For example, "When a woman has to ask you how she looks, whe's already thinking, 'he doesn't think I look good.'"
"If I want to know how good a couples' sex life is, all I have to ask is 'How good is your conversation together?'" Ms. Kreidman advises that, "she needs quality time with you every day." If you suspect something is wrong with her, ask. Her equation for guys to remember is
"Five minutes of my time = Five hours of harmony."Differences
The book explores how we must recognize each other's uniqueness to create a fulfilling partnership. You don't have to agree on everything, but Light Her Fire encourages men to view her differences in a more positive way, and show appreciation by telling her.
Even occasional arguments are healthy---relieving tension and leading to growth. The chapter on turn-ons and turn-offs had the best advice immediately:
"If you don't pay attention to what turns her off, you'll never get the chance to turn her on."In other words, one or two negative attributes can outweigh a whole list of positive ones.
A chapter near the conclusion presents 'Fifty-one ways to keep her fire lit.' Many of them will seem corny to a guy, but they're worth it if she melts in your arms!
Merrill Markoe's Guide to Love
by Merrill Markoe
Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997. 177 pages
Without being familiar with the author, the title of this book led me to believe that it contains plenty of valuable advice. Oops! I should have realized that the first blurb inside the jacket would be more telling: "Markoe is the funniest woman in America and, please, let's have no arguing, okay?"---PEOPLE
"Guide to Love" is around 90% humor and 10% substance. The table of contents made it appear otherwise, with chapters including:
How to Become Irresistible to the Opposite Sex
Speed Seduction: The Cliff Notes
Finding Your Perfect Mate
Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places
Getting to I Do
These were great teasers, but I quickly found that the book seems meant to be a teaser. Unfortunately, I was looking for a relationship book. It could have been both. The book's jacket continues:
"Guide to Love goes whre no book has ever dared. Intrigued by the commercial ventures that promise to hold the key to a thrilling love life, Merrill Markoe ventured out into the world of self-help and love therapy to find the coveted answers."Seminars, Seminars, Seminars
Most of the book does, in fact, relate her experiences attending various seminars geared towards helpless adults. (Not to mention calling psychics for predictions. She exposes the sales pitches, makes fun of the presenters and even attaches playful nicknames to her fellow participants. The reader is left to sift through her remarks and anecdotes to try to separate the advice from the sarcasm.
A seminar about flirtation did bring some helpful advice:
"It is a good idea to learn how to tell the difference between a flirtatious five-second eye hit and the early moments of a psychotic stare. My rule of thumb is this: If the person who is making eye contact with you for five seconds or longer also has visible beads of perspiration accumulating on any portion of their anatomy, forget about giving them your phone number."Breast Games
In the chapter entitled "Learning to Live a Lie", the author playfully discusses breast implants and enhancers:
"I have never met a woman who preferred a toupee to baldness, but men seem to have no problem acclimating to fake boobs."
She opts to purchase two sets breast enhancers and...
"Suddenly I was spending all my time in front of the mirror, in profile, playing comparative breast games. In one position they were too Mary Tyler Moore show, in another, too Barbara Bush. It was becoming impossible to accurately assess what looked more real or less fake."
One valuable observation is her conclusion that:
"In the course of writing this book, I have also noticed that the greater the degree of craziness and obsession accompanying the relationship, the less the chance that it is headed for a happy ending."Bravo, Merrill!
In general, the book shouldn't be compared with those that take a serious look at the subject of love and relationship advice. You may find it amusing when relating it to your own experiences and you could benefit from the bits of wisdom that are woven in. Finally, her list of 22 Lessons Learned include:
--Men, please do call a woman the next day after sex even if you never want to see her again. Just say something like, " I really liked jumping your bones and I'll call you later.
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