An energetic self-help debut for stoking the fires of romance for the long haul.
When Sumber was a young man, his mentor left him in the desert with instructions to “move a mountain.” Sumber stared at the mountains in the distance and realized his biggest obstacles in life were inside his own mind. He’s now a psychotherapist and relationship consultant, and his easy-to-peruse book reveals seven tools (e.g., “separating facts from feelings”) for moving metaphorical personal mountains and improving damaged relationships. In an action-oriented approach, chapters end with hands-on exercises, such as writing about personal life obstacles or reading to one another as a couple. (The book’s appendix includes a link for downloading a free companion exercise workbook.) With a friendly voice, Sumber addresses readers in first-person, sprinkling the narrative with quotes from erudite thinkers such as Carl Jung. The way to begin improving relationships, Sumber says, is through personal transformation. His thoughtful process isn’t a step-by-step quick fix; instead, he encourages changing paradigms and old ways of thinking. For example, Sumber writes that setting a mobile phone’s pop-up calendar with reminders to “share something personal” with a partner may seem forced and unromantic, but the results are more important than the prompt. Occasionally, the text feels a bit wordy, as with a description of his ideas: “These seven simple tools allow you to re-contextualize the drama of the negative exchange with your partner into a basic equation that exists in an alternate reality from the one you are so accustomed to being kicked around by; a relational dimension where feelings replace more transactional, cognitive ones and zeroes.” For the most part, though, Sumber’s style is accessible, and his ideas are practical, like his counsel to those who are just beginning to explore the process: “Take a vacation from figuring it all out. Focus on being present in the moment with yourself, your partner, and your new process.” Following the advice can also help readers ascertain whether or not a partnership can be saved. If not, Sumber’s reflective ideas may turn a painful breakup into a positive learning experience.
A useful complement to professional counseling.