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Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships Paperback – April 27, 2009

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Editorial Reviews Review

Couples therapists often specialize in one or the other--sex or the relationship. It's a ridiculous separation says marital and sex therapist David Schnarch, who believes sex is the all-telling barometer of a love relationship. Schnarch's fundamental lesson is differentiation--the often threatening process of defining yourself as separate from your partner, which inevitably draws you closer to your partner than you ever dreamed possible. Schnarch uses dramatic therapy sessions to illustrate how differentiation doesn't just cure sexual dysfunction; it helps couples reach the mind-blowing heights of their sexual potential. A groundbreaking and truly erotic discussion of adult sexuality. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Living in a "dead" relationship? Want to make it more passionate? More intimate? More loving? Schnarch (Constructing the Sexual Crucible, Norton, 1991) takes the reader behind the scenes as couples describe similar feelings as well as their explicit sexual encounters during dramatic therapy sessions. The book is divided into three sections. The first section gives the reader a framework for understanding his or her existing relationship so that it can grow. The second section gives detailed instructions on ways to make sex better and more intimate. The last chapters show how sex and intimacy operate together in marriage. A potentially useful guide; recommended for larger well-circulating self-help collections.?Marty Dean Evensvold, Magnolia P.L., Tex.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (April 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393334279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393334272
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (255 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Schnarch, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and director of the Marriage and Family Health Center in Evergreen, Colorado. He is founder of the Sexual Crucible Approach(r) to integrated sexual and marital therapy, and the Passionate Marriage Approach(r) for couples. Dr. Schnarch's textbook Constructing the Sexual Crucible is used as a primary text in graduate training programs across the country. He was the first recipient of the Professional Standards of Excellence Award from the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT} and chair of professional education for eight years. Dr. Schnarch currently serves on the editorial board of AAMFT's Journal of Marriage and Family Therapy. He lives in Evergreen, Co1orado.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Couples with relationship problems that they cannot fix and do not even really understand may well find this book to be a lifeline, but they should not assume that following the Passionate Marriage approach will make them happy in the end. Dr. Schnarch's thesis (highly simplified) is that married couples often wind up in "emotional gridlock" because, as important differences between them (such as disparate sexual desire) arise in the marriage, they cling to the illusion that their partner can be their everything. In a doomed effort to perpetuate this illusion, they "manage" conflict by doing things that violate their own integrity (e.g. having sex they don't want to have) or by demanding that their partner do things that violate their partner's integrity (e.g. have oral sex when the partner doesn't really like it); the result, ironically, is that they wind up feeling farther apart rather than closer together.

Dr. Schnarch's solution to "emotional gridlock" is to encourage you to maintain your integrity -- i.e. to "hold on to" yourself -- without pushing your spouse away: to be who you really are, and to let your spouse see who you really are, while at the same time letting your spouse know that you love and value your spouse and the relationship. The result is that you feel authentic in the relationship and your partner is given a chance to know and love the "real" you (and vice-versa). Dr. Schnarch calls this process of "holding on to" yourself while simultanesouly "holding on to" your spouse "differentiation.
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306 of 318 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 17, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
No better, stronger, and truer book on the real-life, grow-or-close-down processes of marriage and long-term commited relationships than this one (and David Schnarch's more technical "Constructing the Sexual Crucible", written for therapists). When you are ready, or almost ready, to take an honest and self-confronting look at yourself and at life itself --- including those areas where you really don't think you need to look because you've got it all figured out --- when you are ready to quit blaming your partner for every heartbreak, limitation, and shortcoming your life has delivered --- when you are ready to face yourself down so that you can become the better self part of you longs to be --- than this book is your map.
Almost incidentally, you may find that your marriage --- perhaps predictable, perhaps torment-filled, perhaps sexually flat --- may become full of surprises, ravenously and heated sexual, and spiritually, intellectually, emotionally fulfilling. In crisis two years ago, I searched this site for books on marriage and happened onto this one. My much-loved husband of 22 years and I were at a terrible, terrifying marital crossroads neither of us could make sense of. I read readers reviews. I ordered perhaps half a dozen books which seemed promising. This was one.
I can remember the crazy deep panic, trying to find something to latch on to, something that would take me deeper, or make sense. I ordered several books that night, and tore into them eagerly.
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309 of 326 people found the following review helpful By Elderbear VINE VOICE on April 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
Most books on improving a marriage focus on communication techniques or the basics/exotics of sex ed. David Schnarch has created something quite different. This book focuses on using conflict within the couple to create the growth necessary for partners to relate to each other. The book balances a well written presentation of psychological theory with anectdotal examples of how it manifests in couples.
The root of marital conflict is not failure to communicate. Rather, it is accurate communication between incompletely individuated people. Individuation means the ability to connect with another, even in conflict, without losing one's own sense of self. When individuation is lacking, members of a couple must find ways to keep their distance from their partners in order not to lose their sense of self. This distancing is the root of marital (or other committed couple) discord.
Schnarch uses the forum of the couple to challenge each individual to develop a stronger, less contingent sense of self. The very institution that produces anxiety--the relationship--becomes the mechanism of repair! He postulates that couples only form between individuals who are similarly individuated. As one member of the couple develops, it challenges the other. The two partners "leapfrog" in their development, continually challenging the other.
I've been married for 15 1/2 years. We spent the last three years (we're slow learners) working with a therapist who subcribes to Schnarch's ideas. After many, many wasted dollars with other therapists (we learned all the nice communication techniques, with no improvement in our couplehood), we've finally begun to develop a sense of intimacy in our relationship. This stuff WORKS!
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