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Trading Places: The Best Move You'll Ever Make in Your Marriage

Trading Places: The Best Move You'll Ever Make in Your Marriage

by Les and Leslie Parrott, Leslie Parrott

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To understand your spouse you've got to walk in his or her shoes.

Ever feel like you're stepping on each other's toes? Then maybe it's time you put yourselves in each other's shoes. Of course that may sound uncomfortable. But it's easier than you think---and it will revolutionize your relationship. In fact, bestselling authors Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott reveal the


To understand your spouse you've got to walk in his or her shoes.

Ever feel like you're stepping on each other's toes? Then maybe it's time you put yourselves in each other's shoes. Of course that may sound uncomfortable. But it's easier than you think---and it will revolutionize your relationship. In fact, bestselling authors Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott reveal the little-known secrets of putting the time-tested strategy of trading places to work in your own marriage.

In this book, chock-full of practical helps and tips you've never thought of, you'll learn the three-step-strategy to trading places and, as a result, you're sure to:

- Increase your levels of passion
- Bolster your commitment
- Eliminate nagging
- Short-circuit conflict
- Double your laughter
- Forgive more quickly
- Talk more intimately

In short, you'll be more understanding and better understood. In other words, you'll experience---day after day---the unconditional love every couple longs for.

'We've often fantasized about being able to literally hand a box of mutual empathy---the revolutionary tool for instantly improving a relationship---to the couples that attend our seminars. Well, this book is the closest we'll ever come to being able to do just that.'
--Les and Leslie Parrott

Most couples never discover the rewards of trading places. For example, did you know it's the quickest way to get your own needs met? It's true! And Les and Leslie show you how. They also disclose exactly how trading places improves your conversations and how it's guaranteed to fire up your sex life. Truly, your love life and your entire marriage will never be the same after you learn the intimate dance of trading places.

This book also features a powerful, free online assessment, powered by eHarmony Marriage that instantly improves your inclination to trade places. How? By zeroing in on exactly what you'd most like your spouse to accurately understand about you. In addition, two workbooks with no-nonsense exercises---one for you and one for your spouse---will help you apply each chapter to your own marriage.

Les and Leslie have made it easy. So why not walk a few steps in your spouse's shoes, starting today? Whether you're a newlywed couple or you've been married for decades, it's never too early or too late to attain the power of trading places.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

According to clinical psychologist Les Parrott and his wife, Leslie, a marriage and family therapist, mutual empathy is the key to improving a relationship. The good news, say the couple, is that this ability can be learned, practiced, and acted upon immediately. The Parrotts deliver their message in three sections, discussing first the essential ingredients of empathy and next the rewards of empathic efforts. Finally, they recommend using the online eHarmony Marriage Profile to take a deeper look at one's relationship. The most helpful advice is to be honest and forthcoming in expressing feelings and needs. Recommended for all libraries.
—Deborah Bigelow

Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Trading Places
The Best Move You'll Ever Make in Your Marriage

By Les Parrott Leslie Parrott Zondervan
Copyright © 2008
The Foundation for Healthy Relationships
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-310-27246-5

Chapter One The Two Sides of Trading Places

If there is any great secret of success in life, it lies in the ability to put yourself in the other person's place and to see things from his point of view - as well as your own. Henry Ford

"Before you leave this auditorium, we want you to pick up a small bottle you'll find on a table in the foyer. Open it once you get home and pour it on your relationship. It's a bottle of empathy."

We've often dreamed of being able to say something like this to the groups of couples who come to our marriage seminars. Wouldn't it be terrific if trading places could be just that easy; if you could open a bottle and apply some kind of ointment to your marriage, and then instantly enjoy the relief and pleasure that come from mutual empathy?

How much would you pay for a bottle? It's a moot question, of course. Empathy is not a tangible commodity you can pick up at a local drugstore. But it is an invaluable asset. If it were sold in a retail outlet, we think it would probably be offered at only the finest of stores, and probably kept in a vault. Why? Because empathy is precious and rare. Its value is impossible to calculate.

Think of the rewards you'd reap in your relationship if you could, at any given moment, instantly apply a dose of mutual empathy to your interaction. Imagine how it would improve your ability to make decisions together, to work as a team, overcome hardship, achieve goals, and enjoy physical intimacy. In short, imagine how a ready measure of mutual empathy would elevate your happiness and forever join your spirits.

If you could both see the world from each other's point of view, instantly and routinely, what would your marriage look like? In other words, what would you use your bottle of instant empathy to accomplish in your marriage?

em·pa·thy ('em-pa-the): The identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives.

We can tell you how we'd answer that question.

Our marriage would have more laughter and less bickering. We'd use our bottle of empathy to become more adept at reading one another. We'd offer each other more care and comfort. We'd use it to create a warm emotional space while playing together with our kids. With an abundance of mutual empathy, we'd have fewer hurt feelings and a lot more fun. We'd have conversations that required little effort and afforded us moments of deep understanding. We'd be more thoughtful. More protective. More considerate. More indulgent of each other's quirks. Less judgmental and a lot more perceptive. We'd use instant empathy when we needed to lay down our pride and become more patient with each other. And when trying to muster the courage to apologize or ask forgiveness, we'd offer each other an abundance of grace. We'd never spend a minute letting the other feel left out or scared. We'd give more compliments. We'd show more gratitude. With more empathy, we'd dare to dream bigger dreams together. We'd share our secret hopes. We'd hold each other longer and more frequently. We'd kiss more passionately. We'd smile at each other more often. In short, if we could instantly and routinely apply a dose of mutual empathy to our marriage whenever we chose, we'd have more love.

Make no mistake - empathy is at the heart of love. No other practice can do more for your marriage than empathy. Yet too many couples neglect it at their peril. Why? Because they've never learned the secret to putting it into practice. And that's exactly what we intend to reveal to you through this chapter.

The secret is found in your head and in your heart. Literally.

Brain-to-Brain and Heart-to-Heart

We recently sat around an ordinary conference table in Southern California with six of the most prestigious relationship researchers in the country. The group was called together by Dr. Galen Buckwalter. Our purpose? To share our thoughts on what some are calling the new science of "neural calculus."

Now, before we lose you at the very utterance of this mind-numbing phrase, hang in there for just a moment.

We're not about to give you a heady lesson on social neuroscience. We simply want you to know that what you are about to learn in this book is new. Sure, empathy is as old as time, but not the way we're going to look at it. Why? Because something new and exciting is beginning to brew in some of the most respected university research laboratories in North America. It's not a cure for a biological disease, but it just may be a cure for whatever's ailing your marriage. And it promises to be revolutionary. We don't say that glibly. We genuinely believe that you are about to learn the rudiments of a practice that will positively impact your marriage in countless ways. It's a proven fact.

You see, until now, neuroscience has studied just one brain at a time. But now two are being analyzed at once, unveiling a never-before-seen neural duet between the brains of a husband and wife as they interact. That's what's meant by the phrase "neural calculus." So why does this matter? Because this emerging new science holds startling implications for your marriage. It holds revolutionary secrets for bonding the two of you brain-to-brain and heart-to-heart - quite literally.

In fact, Carl Marci of Harvard University has extracted from his extensive data something he calls a "logarithm for empathy." It's all about the interplay of two people as they enjoy a deep connection of rapport. Not only that, his logarithm reduces the pattern of two people's physiology at the peak of rapport - where each feels deeply understood by the other - to a mathematical equation. Imagine that!

Don't worry, we're not about to extrapolate a numerical equation for empathy here. But we want to lift the curtain on a practice that offers you a near guarantee for a pleasurable, engaging, and smooth marriage. It's a practice that generates harmony and strengthens the bonds between you, no matter what the state of your marriage may be.

What It Means to Trade Places

Let's define what we're talking about. Empathy means imagining what life is like at a moment in time for your spouse. It means putting yourself in your spouse's skin, looking at life through their eyes. It means walking in their shoes. When you do this for your spouse and your spouse does this for you, you're trading places.

The point of empathy is to understand your spouse's feelings, desires, ideas, and actions at a meaningful level. In a sense, its goal is to momentarily become your partner. It's what poet Walt Whitman was getting at back in 1855 when he wrote his masterwork Leaves of Grass: "I do not ask the wounded person how he feels; I, myself become the wounded person" (italics mine).

Now trading places requires mutual empathy. It's not one-sided. It's reciprocal. And it doesn't keep score. It hones in on moments of marital brilliance where your connection is intense, vivid, and radiant. Almost sacred - a marital communion. But it's not relegated to rarity. Trading places can be a common occurrence and a frequent experience in your marriage. No need to leave these moments to chance or fate. Once you learn the secrets to trading places, you'll see just how quickly this practice can be cultivated.

But keep in mind that these moments begin with one of you practicing empathy.

We also like to think about empathy with the word attunement. It's a word that actually has musical connotations - meaning to be in tune or in harmony. And that's exactly what empathy does in our relationship. It enables us to be in tune with each other and to live in harmony. In fact, in a later chapter, we'll introduce you to a new and innovative technological tool from eHarmony Marriage that's dedicated to helping you do this at a very practical level. But for now, we want to reveal something vitally important about empathy that most couples don't realize.


Excerpted from Trading Places by Les Parrott Leslie Parrott Copyright © 2008 by The Foundation for Healthy Relationships. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.


Meet the Author

Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott are founders of RealRelationships.com and the Center for Relationship Development at Seattle Pacific University. Their bestselling books include Love Talk, Crazy Good Sex, and the award-winning Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts. Their work has been featured in the New York Times and USA Today, and they have appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, and Oprah. They live with their two young sons in Seattle. SPANISH BIO: Les y Leslie forman un equipo como marido y mujer, y son expertos avanzados en los asuntos concernientes a las relaciones personales. Muestran sus experiencias como padres con el objetivo de ayudarte a cumplir la vocacion mas grande de u vida.

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