Friday, October 8, 2010

Book Review : Secrets of Happy Couples

Title : Secrets of Happy Couples - Loving Yourself, Your Partner, And Your Life
Author : Kim Olver
Publisher : InsideOutPress
ISBN : 978-0--9827549-0-0

This book deals with that one relationship which has intrigued every individual at some point of time, either before entering into it or after. As the author Kim Olver says - 'creating successful relationships with our significant others and parenting children are two of the most difficult jobs we will ever face and yet, we receive no formal training for either'. I want to extend it a little further - these are the two relationships which are fun and challenging at the same time and the only way we can transform this challenge into fun is by appreciating the uniqueness in each individual, respecting people as they are and not trying to make them a clone of ourselves. She very rightly points out that the only person's behavior that you can control is yours. It is of paramount importance to keep reminding oneself that the partner is not yours. The tighter you hold onto someone or try to control their behavior, the greater is the likelihood that he or she will leave or feel suffocated, which can definitely not be the right ingredient for building a healthy and happy relationship.

We all grow up learning passively while watching our parents as a couple but the issues, challenges, preferences, idiosyncrasies, almost everything changes with every couple. So extrapolating the conclusions derived in one to another is not a good idea and not fair too. Moreover, fairy tales and TV shows do great amount of damage by creating a make believe world in the young minds and when the actual reality deviates from the fairy land, which in all probabilities happens eventually, sometimes it gets very hard to accept the reality because unfortunately most of these stories end at the point when actually the life begins.

Kim elaborates upon some areas and some issues which are sensitive and how to stay clear or work around these specific areas to make the relationship enjoyable for both individuals. Usually most couples get along well when times are good. But when times are rough which are the testing times for the relationship, they fight with each other, ignore each other or leave the relationship. One option is to seek help in mending the relationship and if they both agree that some external agent would be able to bring sanity in their thinking, there is no harm in trying that option and should not be considered as a defeat of the relationship.

Kim implores the readers to make use of the Platinum rule - 'Do unto others as they would have you do unto them', instead of the Golden rule which says that 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you'. You will be surprised to see what all can a slight change in the perspective achieve. It is imperative that both individuals sincerely attempt to understand the other's perspectives and while trying to build a long, peaceful and healthy relationship, satisfying the partner's needs should not become an ego-fight

'Secrets of Happy Couples' is a very well written book, reinforcing the most important fact that all great relationships begin and end with yourself. What I like the most about this book is how the individual traits, preferences and reactions are considered and discussed against different scenarios rather than working the other way round - picking up the scenarios and listing out behavioral do's and don’ts in that situation.
In my opinion, any external agent, counselors or books can help or impress upon the individual thinking to a certain extent, the complete onus to traverse the path rests entirely on the individuals involved and there cannot be any customized training for that. So have fun exploring it.

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