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Uncoupling: Turning Points in Intimate Relationships Paperback – September 5, 1990

4.6 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Vaughan's examination of the breakup of relationships from a sociological and psychological perspective identifies the key steps in uncoupling from both partners' points of view. This schema is supported by 103 in-depth interviews and solid documentation from the professional literature. Useful to professionals, this work is also invaluable to lay people both because it normalizes a universal experience often seen as idiosyn cratic and because it will help those in the early stages of uncoupling to identify what is happening, enabling them to take the steps necessary to avoid the ultimate breakdown. Given the current divorce rate of approximately 40 percent, Uncoupling will have a wide readership and is recommended for general collections. John M. Haynes, Mediation Associates, N.Y.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

Now in trade paperback, the ground-breaking and carefully documented book that shows how couples come apart.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (September 5, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679730028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679730026
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I'm very picky and critical of self-help books, but Vaughan's Uncoupling is the next best thing to a counsellor. More than a psych book, it is the definite beginning-middle-end about how couples become uncoupled.
I picked up this book by instinct, as I needed to read something--anything--about how relationships end. I don't care about the why's anymore; I just wanted to understand what was happenning in my own relationship.
This book will not tell you how to save your relationship, or whether it's worth saving or not. Vaughan argues that there is a pattern to how relationships end. And in the telling, she gives the story that makes sense of everything--and that is all we need when we go row into the choppy waters of a faltering relationship.
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Format: Paperback
Regrettably, chances are that you will look for and find this book far too late in the process of uncoupling to save your own relationship. For the "initiator" has all the power to end or save a relationship and put the "partner" through hell in the process.
If you're the initiator, stop what you are doing, read this book and carefully consider the spiraling path to relationship destruction you are on.
Either way, I believe that you will learn more from reading this book than a dozen others. Much more than from marriage counselors or even Psychologists.
But the truth may be hard to take. It was for me as I was looking for help in saving my relationship from my wife's affair. Alas, she had long since started a transition out of our relationship and redefining me in negative terms.
This book will help you understand why the person you love can turn on you like a rabid dog, rip your beating heart from your chest, throw it in a blender and hit frappe!
Eventually you will want answers whatever the emotional cost and this book is filled with them.
However, if you are one of the fortuitous or lucky ones fortunate enough to find this before it is too late, then read, learn and act now before your life is sucked through a crushing black hole of change very few are ready for.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a sociological study--it discusses processes and patterns that typically occur as relationships fall apart.
As such, it does not provide solutions, fingers to put in the dike, compresses to stop the bleeding--in fact, it makes clear that most such measures are, finally, ineffectual.
At the same time, every relationship is singular--statistics portray the behavior of groups, without necessarily predicting individual outcomes.
If you are looking for a book that forces you to consider the individual and personal perspective in a damaged relationship, I strongly recommend "Should you leave?" by Peter Kramer.
Nonetheless, it is both enlightening and depressing to recognize "Damn, we've done that" as you read this book.
One final note: Ms. Vaughan's writing style is academic and often less than felicitous. The comparison between the liveliness and complexity of life shown in the quotations and her own dry, sometimes reductive commentary frequently annoyed me.
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By A Customer on June 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
First, although you will probably find this book in the "Self help -- Relationships" section, it is important to be aware that it is not a self help book. It is a sociological study of how relationships break down. It is quite academic but extremely readable. More importantly, it is quite brilliant. Diane Vaughan is so insightful that you will wish she was less so. That's because, whether you are "the initiator" or "the partner" -- the book's idealized protagonists -- you will find out some very uncomfortable things about yourself. For instance, suppose you're the initiator and you've pumped yourself all up to leave with some standard self-help fare about "responsibility to yourself" and "personal development" and all that stuff. This book will rip the carpet right out from under your feet, as you realize that your carefully crafted justifications are just that -- justifications. The initiator wants out of the relationship, and constructs an ideology which will facilitate this. This book is a masterpiece, and so it has flaws. The most obvious is a relentless pessimism which has been commented on by several other reviewers. This is clearly an artifact of the methodology: the author conducted interviews with people whose relationships had ended, thus we don't get even a glimpse of people whose relationships somehow escaped the seemingly inexorable patterns described. Do such relationships exist? I hope so. I don't know whether or not Vaughan comments on this limitation, because not being a sociologist, I skipped the methodology chapter. Although this is not a self help book, I feel that it did benefit me in understanding my own troubled relationship. Trust me, when you see "the initiator" and "the partner", you are going to work to make yourself less like them! I highly recommend this book to anyone who is curious and wants to understand their situation better. But, if you want self-validation, keep well clear!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I honestly think the author might just as well have called this one "Unfriending" or "unconnecting" or something similar and reached even a wider audience, although the focus is primarily on couples and marriages.

However, if your primary goal is knowing how this one could help your marriage, here's my take:

Instead of focusing on THE reason or reasons that marriages and relationships fall apart, the author notes that the process of separation - and, inevitably, divorce or estrangement - occurs even before the warning signs may be apparent. That infidelity that seems to be the "cause" of the divorce may be just one more step in a long progression of steps that started long before the actual affair. I think this makes sense.

It made sense to me that things may seem normal in a marriage and yet something is a bit worse than the day before, already shifting off-kilter. That is the type of change this book discusses, the veering away from being a couple and the distance that grows wider, day by day. It is the kind of thing that can be easy to dismiss until the inevitable happens - and by then it could be too late for therapy or counseling to help.

Although I'd call this more of a "philosophical study" than hard core science (even though many couples were interviewed, etc), I found it an engaging and intriguing book. This one would be worth reading before marriage and could help turn many precarious marriages back on track.

One of the most interesting parts of the book dealt with how unhappy partners may "revise" marital or relationship history, turning formerly happy memories into negatives in order to justify a separation.

Just to be clear, this review is not being written by a divorced person or someone in an unhappy marriage. I have no bones to pick, no axes to grind, etc. I simply found the book to be worth reading.
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