A simple, practical debut guidebook to relationship therapy—without the therapist.
Married or dating, gay or straight, long-term or brand-new couples all confront conflicts that test their staying power. Longtime therapist Compton spends little time on theory and keeps her text free of jargon. Instead, she writes for readers who believe they would benefit from therapy but can’t find the time or means for sit-down sessions. Each of the book’s 15 chapters introduces one of several different potential relationship hangups, and then outlines a workshop approach to dealing with each one. The big four—communication, sex, money and family—all get due attention, each with subthemes attached. Readers can dive into single topics such as “Couples and Compromise,” “Couples, Sex, and Sensation,” or focused segments on living with a “problem child,” in-laws or stepchildren. The book is sprinkled with words to live by: “Love can survive even a catastrophic loss of money. What it sometimes can’t survive are everyday hassles over money,” or “[S]hift from seeing your partner as the problem to seeing your sexual interaction as the problem.” That last phrase epitomizes Compton’s healthy approach to dealing with conflict: shift the focus from one’s partner to the issue at hand. The author, a Stanford University–trained clinician, brings a hard, professional eye to conflict management, but the book shies away from thornier issues like religion or familial abuse; some challenges are best left to in-person therapy. Occasional phrases may turn off some readers, as when she assures couples who choose not to have children that “[t]here are already too many people in this world!” But her confident, lucid writing and practical suggestions will win most readers over.
An instructive how-to book and a welcome prescription for troubled couples.