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How Can I Get Through to You? Closing the Intimacy Gap Between Men and Women Paperback – January 7, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
"Conventional therapy has failed most couples," Real writes, and with over 20 years of marriage and family counseling experience, he's qualified to judge. Though traditional marital counseling has been prevalent for 30 years, divorce rates remain the same, and studies show that counseling has no lasting effect on either marital satisfaction or endurance. The author of I Don't Want to Talk About It, the national bestseller on male depression, Real is attuned to the characteristics of contemporary marriages and demonstrates insight into both male and female perspectives. The fundamental problem, he argues, is American culture's deeply entrenched "psychological patriarchy," which devalues all things feminine (including healthy relationships) and wounds males at an early age by disconnecting them from themselves and others. Men can't relate, and women can't teach them how ("If a wife truly demands that her emotional needs be met, she may indeed put her marriage on the line"). Counseling, too, fails them both in a "collusion of silence" as to what's really wrong. Real's alternative is "relational recovery." Identifying a healthy marriage as one following the repeated pattern of "harmony, disharmony, and restoration," Real teaches five skills for accomplishing the crucial, ongoing task of repair: holding the relationship in high regard, preserving intimacy and relational (i.e., authentically connected) speaking, listening and negotiating. With numerous scenes from his therapy sessions including quarrels most married couples will recognize Real deftly shows readers how to transcend "our culture's anti-relational bias" and move "out of patriarchy into healthy relatedness." This is a well-balanced and exciting new addition to the marriage-manual genre. Agent, Beth Vesel. (Jan.)Forecast: This breakthrough handbook should cause a stir in the marriage guidance field, with its acknowledgement of counseling's failings and exposing of what Real considers unhealthy fundamental American cultural values.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Two veteran family therapists have each written an excellent book on communication between partners. The author of I Don't Want To Talk About It, Real analyzes the reasons why men and women don't speak the same emotional language: boys' emotional relationships are squelched early on by peers, siblings, and fathers, whereas women learn to accommodate. Written with couples' therapy dramatizations, Real's book demonstrates his five relational skills: how to hold the relationship in regard, how to speak, how to listen, how to negotiate, and how to stay on course. Real, who is often called upon to arbitrate between couples as a last resort, is excellent at showing how couples can uncover hidden issues from the past and begin healing. The author of How To SayR It to Your Kids, Coleman takes a workbook approach to marriage therapy. He opens with six questions to which the couple must answer "happy" or "unhappy." He then explains his GIFTS technique in conversations: be Gentle, fix arguments with In-flight repairs, Find hidden concerns, use Teamwork, and reassure with Supportive comments. Each chapter begins with a scenario and continues with short tips under the "Have you heard?" heading, followed by "How to say it" and "How not to say it" and ending with "How to say it to yourself." Since chapter layouts are the same, the reader can easily pick out a problem area and read the two- to three-page chapter. Some topics include encouraging more conversation, rigid vs. flexible personalities, pregnancy, and cybersex. As popular marriage therapy manuals, these books are both suitable for public libraries and medical collections. The Coleman title is easier to use for a quick "fix," but Real's theories about men and women and how to take care of a marriage, though challenging, may prove more fruitful. Lisa Wise, Broome Cty. P.L., Binghamton, NY
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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In this book, Real faces head-on the reality that many women come into couples work with fierce anger, frustrated by trying to achieve true emotional intimacy with their man. His premise is that many women's responsibilities and aspirations have grown as part of the women's movement and their resulting, empowered roles, during decades when many men's roles and expectations have progressed less dramatically. As difficult as the tone of the anger and complaint, Real suggests the substance of women's frustrations is right-on, which will provide some much needed vindication for women readers.
This book is full of composite examples of couples-therapy sessions where the woman's attitude sounds in complaint and withering anger. The man in these examples sounds clueless, and deeply hurt by the woman's anger. Real's prototypical woman comes off like a nag, shaming while complaining. It is at this point where men typically recoil avoiding facing women's needs, and their own fears.
In Real's analysis, unconscious and almost always unacknowledged entitlement characterizes the man's side of the relationship problems. We were raised to quietly sit back in much that happens in the home, letting things take care of themselves. In reality, things don't really take care of themselves; women are taking care of them. Men's toughest work, it seems, is traditionally as breadwinner outside the home. Once home, perhaps enlightened some by the women's movement, we may do some chores and help some with the kids. But we may also quietly avoid the challenging work of true relational intimacy with our woman. The man often sees no problem, or at least no rational issue.
The man may think, "what's the problem: I am nice and thoughtful. I don't rage or abuse....." But the rub may be in his disengagement, and in his urgent avoidance of shame. Having studied male depression (I Don't Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression"), Real understands that men's issues are often driven by shame, where women's are often driven by fear.
Because women are most heavily tasked with maintaining relationship, and are very often dependent on the man for economic and child-rearing reasons, women's fears are usually first expressed circumspectly, on eggshells, rather than angrily. The fierce anger arises later -- after more delicate strategies have maddeningly failed. The anger feels like poison to the man.
Real's approach is much needed, and this book not only explains unflinchingly, but suggests ways out of the deadlock. There have been important contributions along the way - e.g., Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples. And there are libraries full of hyped up, supposed love-life panaceas. This fellow has a smart, tough set of insights, with ideas for finding our way out of the wilderness of too many current relationships. Highly recommended, for both men and women, and for couples therapists.
Real has since published an excellent follow up book structured a bit more as a "how to" guide: The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need to Know to Make Love Work. This is also very highly recommended.
For some reason, on the occasion of reading this book, and then my husband reading it, things moved in our marriage in noticeable ways. Real is big on taking responsibility, each of us for our own parts in things, which most of the time is a lot. He doesn't balk at instances of real abuse, but he is smart about our, as he puts it, tending to "marry our own unfinished business".
This book is on the messy side, not for those who would want to solve things with a loving gaze or a back rub as a substitute for dealing with complexities within.
It's a book I've read more than once and recommended to both friends and in my own therapy practice.