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Partnering: A New Kind of Relationship Paperback – January 20, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
Drawing on pop psych paradigms from the '70s and more than two decades of experience counseling couples, both privately and in groups and seminars, the Stones (Embracing Each Other; Embracing Our Selves, etc.) advise readers on how to transform their intimate relationships into a "joint venture" based on "cooperation and equality, mutual respect and mutual empowerment." While they frequently refer to "the many selves" within each person (the "voice dialogue" therapy for which they are known involves these various "voices" in conversation with one another), the Stones' examples primarily feature an "inner parent" or "inner child," along the lines of the '70s classic I'm OK, You're OK. Their "no-fault" approach to conflict resolution in marriage is underscored by relatively benign case studies in which the partners tend to fall into traditional, stereotyped roles. Additionally, the Stones provide a list of "top ten challenges" to committed relationships that is incomplete, if not seriously unbalanced, in its neglect of such topics as conflict with in-laws, lack of money, problems on the job and addictions. While they offer good basic advice, and their view of the relationship as a "third entity" needing attention and nurture is sound, the Stones' overall approach is dated and simplistic, aimed mainly at couples who are already pretty well off.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
The main theme in the authors' newest book is that for relationships to work, participants have to take time to focus on each other, making all other distractions (including kids and work) secondary. Granted, this isn't anything that hasn't been said before. However, the Stones (Embracing Ourselves; Embracing Your Inner Critic) couch a lot of their explanations and exercises in Jungian and New Age-y terms. For example, they talk about the multiple personas each of us have and the importance of understanding which persona is "in charge" when dealing with one's partner and adjusting that persona if necessary. Likewise, they devote a chapter to what they term "energetic connection" and explain how to practice sharing energy back and forth with your partner. For public libraries where interest warrants.
-Pamela A. Matthews, Gettysburg Coll. Lib., PA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
The Stones firmly believe that relationships often end when they do not need to, and that it is possible to hold onto the magic that initially brought a couple together, after marriage, after children, and as life continues. But how do you get there? The authors favor approaching relationship as a joint venture. Differences thereby can be seen to enhance the blend of talents each individual brings to the relationship. Equal partnership can be attained while assigning specific areas of interest or expertise to one particular partner, but in the authors' opinion it is imperative that both partners retain input and veto power on all issues. So if your spouse is leading a search for day care for your child, and you direct investments, nevertheless each of you must be consulted prior to any final decision points. Simple enough.
The authors believe it's not what you say to your partner that is of central importance, but rather who in you is saying it. Voice dialogue techniques pioneered by the Stones have familiarized us with the different selves inside each of us, selves that take turns being in charge in our lives. So at one moment, our rebellious teenager might be directing our response to what we in the heat of the moment perceive at our spouse's attempt to control our leisure activities. Then later our responsible parent might be in charge of our interaction with our spouse over the other's desire to buy an expensive sports car. Our "primary selves" are who we think we really are, and our "disowned selves" are those aspects ourselves from which we separate, that we think are bad or not who we really are.
The Stones recommend explicitly incorporating your dream life into your partnering as a mirror to your relationship. Chapter 10 helpfully explains the likely meanings of some common themes in dreams.
Typically couples co-create both positive and negative bonding patterns between each other, in which a pair of complementary selves (such as controlling father and irresponsible daughter) interact. Why is it that the very things that attract us to our partners--our differences--so easily become the enemies of the partnership and can destroy it? The authors provide some enlightening ideas and suggestions. Vulnerability, they remind us, is a key to intimacy. On the other hand, unexpressed or disowned vulnerability can ignite negative bonding patterns. Our vulnerable selves, the Stones believe, are closest to our essential beings.
"Partnering" provides useful exercises and concepts for enhancing a primary relationship. While explicitly focused on any partner relationship, including gay relationships, the tools here seem particularly applicable to the sorts of polar differences that are often most starkly confronted in heterosexual relationships. Eventually the authors' regular references to their own products, listed in lavish detail at the end of the book, become more than a little annoying. Nevertheless this one lamentable defect in an otherwise excellent book should not in itself be enough to keep anyone away from the delights and learning that these folks have to offer.
The Stones encourage the reader to learn to choose how open or closed to be depending on one's needs and those of the partner. Exercises are provided in regulating the level of energetic connection between you and your partner, and in handling invasive energy.
Regarding sexuality, the authors believe that the core issue behind sexual problems is usually which selves are trying to have sex together. Relationships can be suffering in many different ways unrelated to sex, and yet the problems may manifest themselves sexually.
On the practical level, it is recommended that regular couple's "business meetings" be held, at least once a week. For couples with children, the relationship between the parents is considered to be of fundamental importance, even taking precedence over the parent-child relationship. At the same time, the Stones firmly believe that marital happiness does not need to suffer a setback when those delightful little ones (can you tell I'm a happy Dad?) come on the scene.
Chapter 9 tabulates the top ten challenges to relationships. The list does omit a couple of important issues such as conflict with in-laws, lack of money, problems at work and addictions. Three basic keys to meeting these challenges are explained to the reader: 1) make your relationship a priority; 2) when you feel uncomfortable with your partner or the relationship, don't ignore your feelings; and 3) create time for the relationship to flourish. Most importantly, the reader is urged to keep in mind that whatever destabilizes you is something you have disowned. And whatever you disown, that same self will find you.
"Partnering" is not the most stunning relationship guide I have ever read, and possibly not even the Stones' best book. But time spent perusing this unassuming, yet growthful and lovingly produced book will be amply rewarded by an expansion of and enrichment of your partnership.
Easy to read and understand
What I have found most useful is the vision of mature, healthy relationships where both partners continue growing and expanding psychologically as long as they stay in partnership. The book has given me great hope as I think about how to keep deepening and expanding my own 40+ relationship with my wife and life partner.
Most recent customer reviews
Hal & Sidra Stone's main premises are:
1. An individual is made up of several selves...Read more