A deceptively simple guide to relationships.
The self-help market abounds with breezy advice about love connections. It’s a rare guide that has the power to flip perspectives and trigger epiphanies, not to mention provide simple techniques that might alter habitual reactions and behaviors. From the first pages, this treatise diverges from the surface-skating norm. Drawing on decades of client counseling, as well as their own experience as a couple, Belzunce and Gutierrez have created a road map for exploring eight areas of human existence and interaction, which they call pathways. While some are self-explanatory (Connection and Communication, for example), most compartmentalize life in more novel ways (such as Being and Balance, the challenge of harmonizing discordant aspects of the self and the other). They make utter sense, though, within the authors’ framework. Such idiosyncratic terminology—and the unapologetically heart-centered language, which belies an inherent, worldly wisdom—is easy to resist at first brush. Familiarity, however, breeds understanding and acceptance. Each discussion of pathways includes explanations, illustrative case histories, questionnaires and worksheets, some extensive enough to require flip charts. Pointers abound for defusing heated communication, with examples of navigating difficult conversations and a recurring emphasis on being present—slowing breathing and hearing or expressing only what is happening in that instant. The material skillfully helps develop new approaches and viewpoints. Exposure alone has value, even to the reader who foregoes completing the exercises (or who would balk at couples’ therapy). Any relationship, post-divorce included, stands to benefit from exploring all of the pathways, as do the individuals involved.
A valuable addition to the self-help genre, for skimmers and divers alike.