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65 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Reference, Not to Read Cover to Cover
Desperate Marriages:
Moving Toward Hope and Healing in Your Relationship
by
Gary Chapman
Review by
Anthony J. Centore Ph.D.

* * *
After Gary Chapman wrote the International Best Seller The Five Love Languages, myriad of spinoffs were published: The Five Love Languages of Children, The Five Love Languages of Teenagers, The Five Love...
Published on March 13, 2009 by Anthony Centore Ph.D.

versus
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as helpful as expected...
I thought the book although it chose important topics that often lead to marriages being "desperate" it did not spend adequate time discussing each topic. I felt it was handled more as an overview instead of the depth many of the topics needed.

Also on page 163 Dr. Chapman is advising a woman concerning the fact she has learned her husband sexually abused both...
Published 18 months ago by Chickadee


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65 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Reference, Not to Read Cover to Cover, March 13, 2009
By 
Anthony Centore Ph.D. "Anthony Centore Ph.D." (www.ThriveBoston.com (Cambridge, MA)) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Desperate Marriages: Moving Toward Hope and Healing in Your Relationship (Paperback)
Desperate Marriages:
Moving Toward Hope and Healing in Your Relationship
by
Gary Chapman
Review by
Anthony J. Centore Ph.D.

* * *
After Gary Chapman wrote the International Best Seller The Five Love Languages, myriad of spinoffs were published: The Five Love Languages of Children, The Five Love Languages of Teenagers, The Five Love Languages for Singles, The Heart of the Five Love Languages, The Five Languages of Apology, and The Love Languages of God; not to mention what appears to be several updated revisions of the aforementioned.

Rest assured, this book barely mentions the five love languages--keeping it to a minimum of just two pages in the first chapter, two pages in the back. Done. Finished. Life moves on. Finally.

In Desperate Marriages, Chapman promotes a philosophy he refers to as "Reality Living," of which there are six rules: (1) I am responsible for my attitude, (2) My attitude affects my actions, (3) I cannot change others, but I can influence others, (4) My emotions do NOT control my actions, (5) Admitting my imperfections does not mean I am a failure, (6) Love is the most powerful weapon for good in the world.

Basic Impressions:

This book is well put together. It is quality material. The reader with real marital problems and needing real information will get real information. For instance, the book speaks about divorce in chapter one--a smart move, for this is certainly on the mind of someone who is in a desperate marriage. Chapman states, "while divorce removes some pressures, it creates a host of others." Moreover, the book contains some good psychology (which any counselor reader will recognize as being of the CBT persuasion), and Chapman aptly references William Glasser (i.e., creator of Choice Theory/Reality Therapy). Chapman borrows Glasser's concepts when he states every person has a need for love, freedom, significance, and peace with God (wait, what happened to power, fun, and survival?).

After a few introductory chapters, the book employs a by-topic format, each chapter coaching the reader on how to apply the six "reality living" rules to marriage with a difficult spouse. The chapters are labeled:

* The Irresponsible Spouse
* The Workaholic Spouse
* The Controlling Spouse
* The Uncommunicative Spouse
* The Verbally Abusive Spouse
* The Physically Abusive Spouse
* The Sexually Abused/Abusive Spouse
* The Unfaithful Spouse
* The Alcoholic/Drug-abusing Spouse
* The Depressed Spouse

My feeling is mixed about the by-topic format type. On one hand, there's something for everyone; but on the other hand, at some point everyone gets left out in the cold. What I mean is, I would find it hard to recommend this book to a client without the caveat, "It's a useful book, but a lot of these chapters won't apply to you."

Bottom Line

Bottom line, if you've been looking information on the topic of troubled marriages, give Chapman's new book a read. It's a good reference, and the idea of "reality living" provides a significant philosophical foundation. And stay tuned, with any luck Desperate Marriages of Children should be out by fall.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as helpful as expected..., August 14, 2013
This review is from: Desperate Marriages: Moving Toward Hope and Healing in Your Relationship (Paperback)
I thought the book although it chose important topics that often lead to marriages being "desperate" it did not spend adequate time discussing each topic. I felt it was handled more as an overview instead of the depth many of the topics needed.

Also on page 163 Dr. Chapman is advising a woman concerning the fact she has learned her husband sexually abused both their underage daughters. I was appalled & concerned when Dr. Chapman DID NOT instruct the woman to report her husband to the police immediately. He could have further abused her daughters or other children. Most states require that a counselor must alert the police when child abuse has been discovered. I contacted Dr. Chapman's ministry hoping they will correct this mistake.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, January 12, 2009
By 
SW (Trinidad) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Desperate Marriages: Moving Toward Hope and Healing in Your Relationship (Paperback)
This book is very good in identifying different scenarios that could possibly exist within the desperate marriage. It was an excellent book for me because it didn't give me a blanket,generalized solution but a understanding of a variety of situations that may or may not apply to me and a great tool for handling them all. It was particularly helpful to me as I was able to see more than one issue in my marriage and practical examples of how to deal with them. The writer was able to tie into each chapter how the affected spouse should approach the situation from the angle of their personal responsibility in terms of their attitude and how to control what was within their control. Great book.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take Charge of Healing in Your Marriage, September 10, 2012
This review is from: Desperate Marriages: Moving Toward Hope and Healing in Your Relationship (Paperback)
If you've read Chapman before, you're probably aware of his concept of "love languages." In a nutshell, the idea is that everyone has one or more ways that they most need to "experience" being loved. These languages are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Giving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. Chapman believes that if we challenge ourselves to love our spouses using THEIR love language -- and they do the same for us -- marital harmony will result.

In Desperate Marriages, Chapman walks couples through applying these concepts to the most difficult of situations: marriages in crisis. In these situations, it's not quite as simple as just using the right love language. Usually, one or more myths stand in the way of the love language exchange.

He identifies four "myths" which he believes will make it impossible to save a desperate marriage:

1. My environment determines my state of mind.
2. People can't change.
3. In a desperate marriage, I have only two options -- either resigning myself to a life of misery, or getting out.
4. My situation is hopeless.

But then he counters by offering six "realities," or principles, which bust those myths and can lead to marriage-transforming change. He calls the application of these principles "Reality Living." They are as follows:

1. I am responsible for my own attitude.
2. My attitude affects my actions.
3. I cannot CHANGE others, but I can INFLUENCE others.
4. My emotions do not control my actions.
5. Admitting my imperfections does not mean that I am a failure.
6. Love is the most powerful weapon for good in the world.

Chapman uses conceptual these tools of myths, realities and love languages to show how to repair a variety of desperate marriages. In each chapter, he considers a different kind of "problem" spouse. A look at the table of contents shows the issues he addresses.

Chapman focuses on creating positive change in a marriage by starting with yourself, with a combination of self-sacrifice, flexibility, willingness to change your beliefs, and a fundamental hope in the underlying love of your marriage. The advice isn't revolutionary, and most of the time it won't actually fix or completely heal longstanding problems or wounds. This book is, however, a great starting point for the most common serious problems that affect most marriages. The table of contents lists one or more of the problems that you face in your marriage -- and you haven't done much reading on the problem yet -- then this book could be very helpful to you.

If you are looking to develop a more robust set of relationship problem-solving skills, you might be interested in the excellent Couple Skills. If your marriage is in dire straits, read The Couple's Survival Workbook. The focus there is on changing what only you have control over: yourself.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars WARNING: Dangerous information!, May 6, 2014
By 
Sonny "Sonserae" (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
The entire book talks about living "reality living" in healing their marriage. It is more like "fantasy living". The advice to people living with physically abusive spouses and spouses who molest their daughters is to get a few months of counseling! How about a restraining order and a jail sentence??!! To give an abused spouse advice to leave their abusive spouse but agree to counseling, is opening up a very dangerous situation for the spouse who is leaving an abuser. It is during this time in most cases, the abused spouse ends up dead. There was no warning that this is a dangerous situation. The real "reality" is that once the abuser has violated the boundaries and beaten their spouse, it is almost impossible for them to not cross that line again.

As far as the molester, I was APPALLED that he suggested they get counseling and live happily ever after!! What quack of a counselor would ask sexually abused daughters to go back to their abuser? What about putting the guy in jail where he belongs? The statistics for pedophiles being healed is closed to ZERO. A woman go back to her husband after he raped their daughters? What part of "reality living" is this??? Made me sick!!

As far as the rest of the book goes, there are some good tips but every example ends with,"..and they lived happily ever after". If a marriage can always be healed by just one person working on it, you wouldn't have a 60% divorce rate. Most marriages that end ALWAYS have at least one spouse wanting to work on it.

I felt this book was so far from reality, that the examples seemed completely made up in a sterile office by the writer's mind. it seems the writer is living in a fantasy world and completely naive that some marriages are irreparable and some people are DEADLY and DANGEROUS and you shouldn't put someone in a position of having contact with them at all. EVER.

It is always good to forgive for your own sake, but that does not mean to continue allowing a dangerous person I your life.

I am completely surprised by the good reviews...and surprised there isn't more outrage at the dangerous information, possibly putting women and children in harms way by giving such poor advice.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Found it interesting...but, February 28, 2014
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The issue dealing with Incest in a marriage. Seriously, incest is criminal and it seemed to be glossed over in this book, as well as domestic violence. I understand in DV situations, it is possible to work out issues that escalate violence in a relationship. However, when there are children involved (sexual and physical abuse), I don't care how much praying you do, those children need to be loved and protected from the abuser.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Desperate Marriages, February 21, 2011
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This review is from: Desperate Marriages: Moving Toward Hope and Healing in Your Relationship (Paperback)
Gary Chapman has skillfully written about the desperation couple's can encounter in the journey of marriage. In his book, "Desperate Marriages", Chapman offers real hope through his insights, suggestions and Christian truths about marriage. This book is valuable for every counselor and for every couple struggling in their marriage.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening!, February 26, 2013
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I loved this book and it gave me hope for healing my marriage. I've put some of the ideas into action and have at least found a bit more peace in the home in just a couple of weeks. I now have hope that although I can't change my spouse, I can make my marriage more satisfying and less stressful just by changing the way I react. The only reason I am not giving it 5 stars is it is a bit heavy on the Christian principles of marriage and could be off-putting to Non-Christians (as a Christian, I'm not sure if that is true, but I think it could be). I'm not sure I agree that in some of the worst case scenarios presented, that one should even attempt to stay in that marriage (but that's just my opinion). I've read MANY books related to broken marriages due to depression, alcoholism, affairs, etc. and this is by far the best. Highly recommend reading this before making any decision to leave a broken marriage; it gave me hope and encouragement. Also, it is well written and easy to follow and relate.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nail on the head again..., December 26, 2012
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Once again, Dr Chapman hit the nail on the head. Continue to pray for all struggling marriages, God can do all things.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Desperate Marriages---Hope in Desperate Times, September 9, 2009
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This review is from: Desperate Marriages: Moving Toward Hope and Healing in Your Relationship (Paperback)
In reading Mr. Chapman's book I found honesty in facing a desperate marraige. Not only is he straight-forward, but he offers hope and answers to many of the hard questions in relationships. His words are based in Biblical concepts and if you are willing, could be the steps to mending the hurts or tears in your marriage. A hard but well worth it read!
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