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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Are you in a troubled relationship? Worried about the stability of your marriage or your future with your life partner? Have you considered counseling but forgone it for a lack of either time or money? Now you can get help for your floundering relationship and the next-best thing to your own personal counselor with Phillip McGraw’s self-help book Relationship Rescue.
At a time when the stability in relationships is at an all-time low and divorce rates still hang above the 50 percent mark, McGraw’s book is a welcome addition to the self-help market. Its intensive, hands-on approach makes it a standout from all the rest and may offer the best solution for many who are hoping to build (or resurrect) a meaningful and fulfilling relationship.
McGraw’s basic premise isn’t a revolutionary one. Like many before him, he preaches that the quality of a relationship depends on two things: the existence and strength of an underlying friendship and the degree to which the needs of both partners are met. It’s how McGraw goes about guiding the reader through the rescue process that makes this book stand apart from its competition -- a process that is not for sissies or for anyone who is less than fully committed to making his or her relationship work. The program McGraw advocates in Relationship Rescue isn’t geared toward figuring out why a relationship is broken but rather toward fixing it. And McGraw makes it clear up front that a serious commitment is required, for the process is neither easy nor comfortable.
An intriguing aspect of McGraw’s method is that it doesn’t require active involvement from the other partner in the relationship, though admittedly the whole process is more likely to succeed if both parties work together. Instead, McGraw puts the onus squarely on the reader’s shoulders, advocating a program of self-healing that will identify destructive behaviors, overcome damaging beliefs, and promote realistic goal setting for the relationship. The process involves an intensive program of self-analysis, brutal honesty, and accountability. McGraw directs readers to accept responsibility for their own happiness, to identify those obstacles that may be preventing it, and to take an aggressive and active approach toward achieving it. According to McGraw, fixing yourself will trigger changes in your partner’s behaviors and attitudes, changes that will ultimately salvage the relationship.
If this sounds like a monumental task, it is, but Relationship Rescue walks readers through the process one step at a time, providing the type of information, guidance, and “sessions” one might experience in a therapist’s office. The book contains guidelines to stimulate thought, questionnaires to help readers identify and deal with any emotional baggage they might be carrying, a provocative look at the types of behaviors that reflect one’s “dark side,” and even a scripted dialogue for when it’s time to approach the other partner. It’s an ongoing and lengthy process, replete with lots of homework.
McGraw’s tone is a refreshing one that brooks no nonsense and gets straight to the heart of the matter. He takes a firm stand on a number of issues, often coming down on the opposite side of the fence from many other current relationship counselors. He embraces the differences between men and women and defends certain types of disagreements as necessary evils. He emphasizes the importance of intimacy and vulnerability and dispels some commonly held myths about romance, love, and the nature of relationships. And his ideas on the necessity of conflict resolution may turn some modern-day counselors apoplectic.
This isn’t a warm and fuzzy book; in fact, readers who actually go through all of McGraw’s activities will find many of them downright uncomfortable. There are no platitudes or cutesy sayings here to provide short-term cover-ups; rather, the book reads like an intensive-care manual for saving a floundering relationship or resurrecting a dying one. Following McGraw’s plan may or may not succeed in rescuing a relationship, and, in fact, McGraw lists some scenarios where he doesn’t recommend making the attempt. But even if his plan fails to save an existing relationship, it is bound to leave the reader more self-aware -- much of McGraw’s focus is on breaking old habits so that the same mistakes aren’t repeated in future relationships. The resultant improvement in both emotional and mental health (which often equates to better physical health as well, due to lessened stress) can only have a positive effect on other, nonromantic relationships as well as any future romantic ones. (Beth Amos)