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If you dislike your stepchildren and think that infidelity is acceptable, then this is the book for you!
on January 31, 2014
If you actually love your stepkids and consider ongoing lies and sexual betrayal to be a dealbreaker, however, then this book is useless.
When I was looking at this book online, I used the "Surprise Me!" feature to see what a random selection from the book looked like. It gave me a page where the rule was, "You can only give your partner one criticism a day," or something like that. It seemed pretty reasonable, and all the rave reviews on this website conviced me that this could be a useful book.
When the book arrived, however, and I started skimming it, things got....weird. First came an anecdote about how when she and her husband were on vacation in another country, they pledged to only speak the language of that country to one another - even though the author couldn't speak the language! Now, maybe I'm biased because I lived overseas for many years, but that just seems like a waste of time and energy. Since two weeks isn't enough time to learn a language anyways - it generally takes years - why not just use a phrase book or hire a translator? It seemed odd, but I continued to read.
Then things got weirder. There is an entire section of the book devoted to how awful stepchildren are, and how to prevent these awful children from ruining your marriage. I am a stepparent myself, and I was taken aback by the entire tone of these chapters. Just for the record, stepchildren aren't the problem - their parents are. If you are having a problem with your stepchild then you need to talk with the child's parent (your spouse) and then take it from there. Yes, blended families can be complex - but it is up to you as the adult to recognize that children react to their environment, and if there is a problem in either home environment that the child is reacting to, it is up to you as the adult to fix that. Take some responsibility, people!
Then things got truly strange. Rule #66 is some of the worst advice I have ever seen on infidelity. Basically, the author asserts that finding out that your life partner is an adulterer, a liar, and has destroyed the marriage the two of you built together is no big deal. She seems to think that this is not very important (?), and that the betrayed, devastated spouse should "force themselves to forgive." I'm serious. She actually says that. You should "force yourself to forgive" the person who just destroyed your faith in love and marriage because....well, that part isn't clear. Apparently you should just forgive them and "move on" from the fact that your spouse has revealed themselves to be narcissistic, selfish, and cruel.
Let me give some more accurate advice about infidelity: To thine own self be true. If you are a cheater and/or have cheated in the past and you find out your spouse if having an affair, consider it to be a a case of what comes around goes around. You have gotten what you deserve.
However, if you are the sort of person who is faithful and true-hearted, consider the fact that there is an excellent chance that you were selected for your trusting, faithful nature - only to be deliberately betrayed and cheated on. You have found your soulmate.
Rule #1: If you are not a cheater, you deserve to be with someone who is faithful, too. You deserve to be in a loving, trusting marriage - not a "compromise" marriage where you look at your partner with skeptical eyes and a pit in your stomach.
This whole "force yourself to forgive" thing is a miserable piece of advice when it comes to infidelity. Imagine spending the rest of your life in a relationship where there is a "before" and "after", and the "after" is a situation where you may still love the other person, but you can never trust them the same way again. You will spend the rest of your life feeling like things used to be different (because they were), and that you were a happier person in that "before" situation. And why? Because of someone else's selfish choices and deliberately cruel behavior. Frankly, I wonder about the author's personal history that would cause her to be so "forgiving" of infidelity herself. Ahem.
So yeah, I ended up throwing this book in the trash after 20 minutes. Worthless. If you are looking for a good relationship book to heal or improve your marriage, I recommend the books by Harville Hendrix, especially "Getting the Love You Want". That book contains useful relationship advice, not this drivel.