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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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Why aren't we as close as we used to be?"
PROBLEM: If you are a woman who is unfulfilled in your marriage...if you feel unheard or overburdened...if you quietly live in a state of slow-burn resentment...
PROBLEM: If you are a man unhappy that your partner seems so unhappy with you...if you feel bewildered, unappreciated, or betrayed...
Bestselling author and nationally renowned therapist Terrence Real unearths the causes of communication blocks between men and women in this groundbreaking work. Relationships are in trouble; the demand for intimacy today must be met with new skills, and Real -- drawing on his pioneering work on male depression -- gives both men and women those skills, empowering women and connecting men, radically reversing the attitudes and emotional stumbling blocks of the patriarchal culture in which we were raised. Filled with powerful stories of the couples Real treats, no other relationship book is as straight talking or compelling in its innovative approach to healing wounds and reconnecting partners with a new strength and understanding.
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One personal note for Mr. Real, if he reads these: you need a better copy editor! This was rife with errors.
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.