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Book recc: “How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It”

August 15, 2013

I don’t read a lot of self-help. My time spent in that part of the book store is pretty much dedicated to the “there’s something weird going on with my kid” shelf.  But a little while after my Disturbing my calm blog, I went looking for some paperback perspective.

What caught my eye was a fantastic title: How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It.  I mean, talk about a book your husband WANTS to see you reading. (Oh yes, I downloaded it to our joint Kindle account.)  And, the sample chapter really caught my attention. So, purchase, download, devour. This book described to me some of the exact scenarios we play out in our house again and again. That’s always a big bonus, because the author is addressing my specific issues.

To sum up greatly: the book says that (generally speaking) men are driven by shame avoidance, and women are driven by fear avoidance…fear of being alone, unloved, etc. We want to, for example, talk a lot to connect and feel secure, but men feel like those talks are just long exposes on how badly they’re doing.  The authors cover the reasons and evidence that this is so, and discuss what to do about it.

The biggest thing this book did for me is give me understanding. I get what’s going on a lot better now, and why. Even better, I get how I’m part of the problem. And if I’m part of the problem, then there’s something I can do to make things better! (I am at least old enough to understand you can’t “fix” another person…)  That’s a relief. It’s also a relief that the solution isn’t a bunch of stupid, shitty tricks, or anything unrealistic. Or even anything you have to discuss with your partner. You just…start being a better partner yourself, in a few specific ways.

So in short, I recommend this book for anyone in a committed relationship. If you read it and say “Well duh, I already knew all of this”, then good on you…you’re ahead of the curve.  Everyone else: get thee some perspective.

-J

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous Husband permalink
    August 15, 2013 5:05 pm

    Definitely adding this to my reading list. I kinda feel I my wife and I might be in reverse situations here though.

    tl;dr: My wife is culturally ingrained to avoid shame, and I tend to lack shame from valuing honesty possibly too much.

    My wife, who grew up in Asia feels I lack a proper (typical and expected for her culture) sense of shame and face (as in saving face) because I do things that embarrass her. Its not that I’m intrinsically embarrassing to her, like I don’t make enough money or her friends all hate me, its that I don’t go out of my way to save my own face (and therefore hers as we are one in our marriage) when I do something stupid or make a mistake. I think this is because I’m used to being picked on as a child, and I’m super honest to a fault about a lot of things (e.g I refuse to set a clock ten minutes ahead to be punctual, because I’m lying to myself then).

    So do you think this book would work for when the gender roles are reversed?

    • August 15, 2013 5:13 pm

      Oh absolutely. At the very beginning, they have a talk about how “on average” men are blah and women are blah, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions. Just as, in general, men are taller than women, but in any given group you can find a man shorter than a woman in the group.

      Was just talking about this to a gay friend, who said in her last relationship her girlfriend was more like the “protector/provider/shame avoidance” one, and she was more the “communications/connections” role. I suspect absolutely everybody has elements of bothissues, and the balances change per individual.

      TL;DR: Yes, I recommend it for you too.

      Lemme know how you like the book, whenever you get it!

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