Reitman (You’re Okay But You Don’t Know It, 2012, etc.), a seasoned self-help author, offers a thoughtful, compelling and practical guide on how to create happy, lasting relationships.
As a clinical psychologist in private practice for more than 45 years, Reitman has witnessed the struggles of many couples, and he’s honed his sense of what works for men and women working through discord, miscommunication and other relationship hurdles. Reitman begins by taking a fascinating, distinctly non-nostalgic look at the roles of men and women in relationships throughout history, including an eye-opening pamphlet from a 1950s high school home economics book, in which subservience and placation were the ideal wife’s M.O. He points out that even when using idealized male and female qualities from the present day, it’s still a struggle to make relationships succeed, and the divorce rate has now risen to more than 50 percent of all marriages. The author analyzes three distinct roles that, he posits, people in relationships tend to play—the warrior, the wimp and the winner—though he’s also careful to say that no one is purely one type or another. He describes the warrior’s behavior as “typically highly egocentric and defensive in nature,” while the wimp will “capitulate, compromise, and rarely voice their real thoughts or feelings.” Winners have found “peace with themselves” and “are more forgiving and understanding of the shortcomings of others.” Reflective and self-deprecating, Reitman often uses personal, sometimes humorous stories to make a point. In addition, he describes many of his clients—anonymously, of course—and their troubled relationships as well as happier moments in which they were able to repair their crippled marriages. He emphasizes that much behavior comes from patterns developed as children reacting to unique family dynamics. Lastly, he gives readers a bounty of thoughtful problem-solving strategies, including how to recognize our destructive behaviors, set limits, trust ourselves and risk love.
An intelligent, insightful and highly readable guide written by a veteran therapist.