We Have to Talk: Healing Dialogues Between Women and Men

We Have to Talk: Healing Dialogues Between Women and Men

by Samuel Shem, Janet Surrey, Stephen Bergman
     
 

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“We have to talk.” For many men, these are the four worst words in the English language, especially when they’re uttered by a female partner. But it doesn’t have to be that way, argue Samuel Shem and Janet Surrey in their pathbreaking and practical new book. “Male relational dread”—that all-too-familiar reaction set

Overview


“We have to talk.” For many men, these are the four worst words in the English language, especially when they’re uttered by a female partner. But it doesn’t have to be that way, argue Samuel Shem and Janet Surrey in their pathbreaking and practical new book. “Male relational dread”—that all-too-familiar reaction set off by women’s “relational yearnings”—can be tamed, and in its place can emerge true satisfaction for men and women.To demonstrate how this is done, Shem and Surrey take us behind the scenes of their popular workshops. We hear couples speak intimately about anger, guilt, resentment, shame, and sex. We watch them wrestle collectively with the gender divide in their relationships—the deep disconnects, or “impasses,” that reflect the vastly different developmental paths men and women have traveled. We see couples learn to bridge the poles of dread and yearning, to emerge from isolation into mutuality. We witness their moments of sadness, humor, and, ultimately, discovery.Filled with moving stories of real people struggling with real problems, We Have to Talk shatters the “rules” and offers dramatic proof that men and women are not from different planets after all. It is certain to be seen as the relationship book for the new millennium.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Beginning with a small experimental group workshop on a weekend in Cape Cod in 1986, Shem, a psychiatrist, and Surrey, a clinical psychologist, have conducted what they call "gender dialogues" all over the world. They reject the popular notion that men and women are so different that "they might have hailed from different planets," dismissing the idea as a "masked return to the stereotypic 1950s." Instead they argue that "[d]isconnections in male-female relationships impact everyone: in families, schools, corporations, medical settings, courtrooms, and government." The athors offer a "relational" approach for more honest and mutually beneficial communication by applying the Connection Model--developed at the Stone Center at Wellesley College, where they are faculty members--to find and attend the "we" in any given exchange. Their implied position that what has traditionally been women's (learned) view is superior to that of men's and should be adopted in all circumstances will be troublesome to some and requires further discussion. Nonetheless, the actual dialogue sessions presented here ring true, and the positive results offer hope for the possibility of improved connections between different people in various settings. Couples, families, classrooms, schools and businesses, for example, might benefit from the authors' recommendation to learn to focus on a shared "purpose statement," admit and release the "dread" and "yearning" that create impasses in communication and "hold the we" while attempting to reconcile differences. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Shem and Surrey, a psychiatrist and clinical psychologist, work together to open up dialogs between the sexes. For more than 12 years they have used the same three questions to probe differences at all ages--from preschool kids to seventysomething couples: 1) Name three strengths that the opposite gender brings to a relationship; 2) What do you most want to understand about the opposite gender? and 3) What do you most want the opposite gender to understand about your gender? The results are perhaps not surprising. Women want men to talk more. Men only fake being macho. Men want sex. And so on. The authors emphasize that while these differences can be vast, men and women can and should learn from each other. Although that is not necessarily a bad lesson, this book doesn't make it an easy one to take, with its stilted dialog and psychological cliches. Still, because this book addresses the same sort of issues as John "Men Are from Mars" Gray (though with a different focus), public libraries may want to purchase.--Pamela A. Matthews, Gettysburg Coll. Lib., PA
Booknews
Argues that men and women do not have to resign themselves to accepting their inherent gender differences and learning to outwit each other. Drawing on their extensive clinical experience as psychiatrist and psychologist, the authors take us behind the scenes of their popular workshops to outline a program of healing dialogues that can help couples move beyond superficial harmony to genuine connection, to making the radical shift from "I" and "You" to "We" in the spirit of dialogue. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465091140
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
04/28/1999
Pages:
225
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile:
1030L (what's this?)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Paula J. Caplan
Shem and Surrey are the Dr. Spock of male-female relationships. Written with great love, humor, and intelligence, this book helps us get beyond the chasms of silence and hurt that can tear us apart. (Paula J. Caplan, author of They Say You're Crazy: How the World's Most Powerful Psychiatrists Decide Who's Normal)
Bernie Siegel, M.D.
A fine source for those who seek guidance in improving and healing their relationship. -- Author of Love, Medicine and Miracles
Joan Borysenko, Ph.D.
A triumph! This book has the power to change lives. Every couple, every parent, in fact everybody should own a copy of We Have to Talk." -- Author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind and A Woman's Book of Life
Terrence Real
Few clinicians generate such profound excitement and produce such radical change in the couples they work with as this dynamic husband-wife team. We Have to Talk is a groundbreaking work that will take both men and women to new levels of intimacy. (Terrence Real, author of I Don't Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression)

Meet the Author


Samuel Shem, M.D., (the pen name of Dr. Stephen J. Bergman) and Janet Surrey, Ph.D., are on the faculties of the Harvard Medical School and the Stone Center at Wellesley College. They lecture frequently and conduct workshops and gender dialogues, most recently working with children in public and private schools to create a true coeducation. Samuel Shem is the bestselling author of the novels The House of God, Fine, and Mount Misery, and, with Janet Surrey, the play Bill W. and Dr. Bob. Janet Surrey is the co-author of Women’s Growth in Connection: Writings from the Stone Center. The authors live in Newton, MA.

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