I read this book at a time of painful difficulty - would the much-cherished marriage I'd been in many years actually come to an end (unthinkable) or would we, or I, or him, find a way to get to the bottom of what "went wrong" as we then thought, and from there, reinvent? But my scope, my heart, my life, my sense of loving and living, grew and grew, and we grew into the most passionate of marriages. Thank God Passionate Marriage came into our hands when it did." For it turned out that not only did the ideas therein enable me to grow up and into marriage, in the deepest and profound sense, they also helped me live through the non-negotiable loss that his death was. The final chapter, "Death, Sex, and Love" is one I read over and over when he and I went through our crisis...
Learning how to be an individual and a partner at the same time is no easy task for many of us, and this book offers important insights into the process of growth that intimate relationships inevitably force us into.
The Passionate Marriage approach (although I think it applies across all relationships and not just marriage) is that we must first validate and develop ourselves and only then can we truly experience the intimacy that we desire.
It is a book that I think everyone, if they were willing to read it, would get a lot of insight from.
Scharch also offers some nice suggestions for increasing emotional intimacy during sex and points out that self-focused sexual contacts are often the norm for couples which limits the interpersonal connection that can occur through sex. The remainder of the book really focuses on marital therapy. First is writing style, second is ethnocentricism, and third is conceptual validity. - Scharch states in his preface that while he uses all heterosexual married couples in his examples, the book is intended to be useful for individuals in homosexual or nontraditional relationships. Finally the conceptual validity - Scharch annoyed me again by saying in the preface that there had been research done on his ideas since the original printing of the book and then not providing references or even a brief summary other than saying it all supports what he says. But that said, I liked the focus on self-soothing which is also a hallmark of dialectical behavior therapy which does have empirical support. I would say though that there are a number of other books I would recommend that focus on these concepts without having to put yourself through reading this particular book: Hold Me Tight Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love and The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert are two and I also like Don't Let Your Emotions Run Your Life How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Can Put You in Control as a nice DBT introduction.
(I loathe self-help books because they tell me what to do.) 2) The title. I would say that I wish I had read this book as a young adult, but I really don't think I would have gotten much out of it.
I'm also recommending it to every person I know who is ready to make improvements in ALL of their relationships--including their relationships with their self.
Unlike the great majority of other books on the subject, this one explains that marriage isn't just about being nice to each other, listening, understanding, caring, etc. This book walked me through what led to my marital crisis, and explained the process by which it would heal, giving me the necessary tool.
This is required reading for couples, and relationship therapists, for sure; chapters 1-2 and 11-13 in particular (if you don't have the time or interest to get through the whole thing). Yet, both are very useful, and shed some fascinating light on romantic relationships, even if they are somewhat impossible to integrate (let's be honest, ha!).
Amazing how an author can take a subject as promising and fun as sex and intimacy and make it sterilized and boring.