Imperfect Harmony: How to Stay Married for the Sake of Your Children and Still Be Happy [NOOK Book]


Dr. Joshua Coleman is a caring psychologist who nonetheless isn't afraid to tell the truth: not all marriages can be joyful at all times, but that isn't a cause for divorce, especially with children involved.

Even if your marriage is never going to be the one you ...
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Imperfect Harmony: How to Stay Married for the Sake of Your Children and Still Be Happy

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Dr. Joshua Coleman is a caring psychologist who nonetheless isn't afraid to tell the truth: not all marriages can be joyful at all times, but that isn't a cause for divorce, especially with children involved.

Even if your marriage is never going to be the one you dreamed of, you can still live happily ever after. Dr. Coleman provides wise and compassionate advice on becoming a happy person in an unhappy situation.

In this groundbreaking work, Dr. Coleman also teaches readers how to:

- Reduce out-of-control conflict in the home
- Let go of the fairy-tale marriage ideal and create a better reality
- Accept change in your partner and make peace with what you can't change
- Maintain domestic harmony in times of crisis

Unhappy husbands and wives finally have an alternative to the devastation of divorce. And by maintaining imperfect harmony, each parent has the opportunity to love, to care for, and to teach his or her children "full-time."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Contrary to the wisdom of pop psychology, it is not essential to your or your children's well-being for you to have a great marriage," writes psychologist Coleman in the opening to this frank (and, to borrow from Lewis's foreword, even "radical") guide for struggling couples. In prose studded references to recent research and case studies from his own practice, Coleman clearly and compassionately outlines the stresses on contemporary marriages; discusses the need for spouses to grieve for what their marriages don't offer them; urges them to understand how their parents' marriages affect their own and to work on changing their own attitudes and beliefs instead of trying to change their partners'; describes depression's effects on marriage; covers sexual difficulties, affairs and "different kinds of marriages"; and numerous other topics. Coleman's argument is that barring abuse or debilitating mental illness, it's better for kids if parents stay together, and here, he carefully shows them how. Some readers may object to what can seem like a "you're not going to get it, so you might as well stop hoping for it" philosophy of partnership, but Coleman's words are a welcome antidote to unrealistic portrayals of domestic bliss. With practical advice and genuine empathy, Coleman encourages spouses to stick it out: their marriage may not change drastically for the better, he says-but then again, it just might. (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Psychologist Coleman (formerly of the Univ. of California at San Francisco Medical Ctr.) steps back from the traditional assumption that spouses must find great personal satisfaction within their marriage and examines alternatives-apart from divorce-for those with children who are experiencing problems. While the author believes that divorce is necessary when conflict and abuse characterize a relationship, he thinks that many drifting couples can find happiness with a program of acceptance. Ways to look at individual expectations within a marriage and give up idealizations, to examine the past of both partners for keys to understanding, and to develop plans for personal growth and fulfillment outside marriage are offered. Coleman believes that change is possible and that time and the lessening of stress may lead partners to revitalize their marriage. After children are grown, couples can plan for a divorce if necessary. Who knows whether Coleman's system works, but it certainly offers readers in troubled marriages, as well as students and counselors, food for thought. With footnotes and extended references; recommended for academic and public libraries.-Kay Brodie, Chesapeake Coll., Wye Mills, MD Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"This is a radical book. It challenges some of the most dearly held American beliefs about marriage and long term relationships. It challenges adults to examine themselves and their marriages for ways to change in order to remain good parents and viable family units for their children. It assumes, in a matter of fact, professional and upbeat manner that it's desirable and possible to overcome and learn to live with serious relational problems that most in our modern culture would consider grounds for separation and divorce. And it offers the astounding idea that having a marriage characterized by such 'imperfect harmony' can be part of a satisfying, happy life."

-From the foreword by Julia Lewis, co-author of The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429992640
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 7/29/2003
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 848,136
  • File size: 294 KB

Meet the Author

Joshua Coleman, Ph.D., is a psychologist with practices in San Francisco and Oakland, California. He is on the training faculty of the San Francisco Psychotherapy Research Group and has served on the clinical faculties of the University of California at San Francisco/Mt. Zion Hospital Crisis Clinic and the Wright Institute Graduate School of Psychology. He has been a frequent contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle and currently writes a column for TWINS Magazine. He is a member of the Council on Contemporary Families and the National Council on Family Relations. Dr. Coleman lives with his wife and twin boys in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2006

    An important book for our times

    I strongly disagree with the complaints that I have seen here about this book. Coleman says within the first 2 pages that people have a right to leave unhappy marriages, even if those divorces are potentially harmful to the children. In addition, his book has been endorsed by many of the top family researchers in the field such as sociologists, Paul Amato at Penn State University and David Popenoe at Rutgers University. I think the author takes the position that not all marriages can be made ideal, but there's a lot you can do to protect your happiness and the happiness of your children. He also cites the cases where it's more harmful to stay than to leave. This whole idea that ''If you're not happy then you should just leave' is way too self-serving. What about providing children with the model that you work on being happy even if your partner doesn't make you happy? What about providing children with the role model that sometimes you have to stick it out when things aren't going well because there aren't any better alternatives? Providing readers with healthy solutions seems to be more of the message of his book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2005

    I don't need to read this book...........

    to know that staying in an unhappy marriage for the 'sake of the children' is an absolutely ridiculous decision. You cannot under any circumstances hide your unhappiness from your children. And I don't care what 'techniques' you try, if you do not find your happiness, you can only pretend for so long. There may not be any fairytale marriages, but there are certainly people better suited for an individual more than others. For those living like this, think about how unhappy you are. Do you want your children to follow in your footsteps?? The best thing you can do is love your children and show them how to be happy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2004

    Stop and Think About Your Part

    I can understand a negative reaction and, to a limited extent, agree. I was especially disturbed by the suggestion that some couples agree on affairs. Nonetheless, Coleman's accepted reasons for divorce include far more than abuse and mental illness. Coleman¿s clear advice is that you should move on if you can¿t reduce the conflict in your marriage. Open, continuous, hostile conflict is bad for kids. He also seems to acknowledge that, when children are involved, there are no good answers if you have tried and don¿t seem to be able to resuscitate your marriage. He does, however, encourage you to consider the possibility that continuing the marriage for the sake of your kids could be more important than your selfish and doomed pursuit of a fairytale marriage. Furthermore, it is refreshing to read books that encourage ¿ in fact, demand ¿ that you examine your part in your marital discord. I have seen too many books that irresponsibly permit or even encourage the reader to blame the other spouse for all the problems. If you are miserable, it¿s time you examine your part in making your marriage miserable, especially if you once believed you had found your partner for life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2004


    Coleman basically states that NO MATTER WHAT (though he does make exception for abuse or mental illness) a couple should stay married for the sake of the children. The books shows different types of marriages - which should really be called 'agreements' - one of which is CO-EXISTING. What does that teach your children??? He even states that SOME COUPLE AGREE TO AFFAIRS WITH UNDERSTOOD LIMITS - LIKE ONLY ON BUSINESS TRIPS OR OUTSIDE THEIR SOCIAL CIRCLE! What would THAT say to your children??? It is dispicable! I found the book to be the perfect book if one is looking for justification as to why they continue to stay miserably married!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2003

    Good for all marriages

    Marriage is not all `happily ever after¿, and when the bumpy times hit, it¿s good to have options. This book discusses the option of staying married through the hard times. And it¿s a really great read ! This book doesn¿t suggest martyrdom (actually, it discusses the times when leaving a marriage can be the best option). Rather, it empowers us with techniques for change, methods of coping, and new ways of looking at relationships that can lead to greater marital harmony and personal happiness. I¿d even suggest this wonderful book as a wedding gift, because the techniques discussed are helpful in building and maintaining strong marriages. Kudos to Dr. Joshua Coleman for taking on this controversial topic.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2003

    This book has given me hope

    Imperfect Harmony describes my marriage which has felt for a long time like mere roommates sharing a house with small kids. I have now begun to think that the kids might benefit from this arrangement more than they would if I left to seek 'greener pastures'. Maybe I can have greener pastures while still living in this house. This book has given me hope. Thank you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2003

    Long Overdue

    Imperfect Harmony is a breath of fresh air. So many of us stay married for the sake of our children but feel encumbered by this reason for remaining in the marriage. Dr. Coleman validates what so many of us have done but have felt our underlying reasons to be socially unacceptable. Imperfect Harmony provides a realistic view of what is happening in contemporary society and offers tools to manage a widespread choice (staying married for the sake of our children). These tools have had quick, dramatic effects on my entire family system. Practical, insightful, nonjudgemental.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2003

    Finally Some Acceptance of Reality

    I found Dr. Coleman's approach extremely refreshing. So many of us feel guilty for staying in a marriage primarily for the sake of our children. His book allowed me to actually feel good about my reasons for staying in my marriage. His way of thinking has helped me to actually change the way I feel about a stance I have taken. Very practical, user-friendly!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2003

    Long overdue for couples in trouble

    Dr. Coleman has produced an elegantly written book which speaks to a sizeable portion of the population. Bound to stimulate controversy because he has the courage to accurately reflect the struggles of many couples, while recommending self-care strategies which are thoughtful and practical. Even couples without serious marital problems will find many of his suggestions useful. Intelligently written with a noteworthy list of references.

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