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Mr. A. Mitrofanov "Relationship Engineer" (Brighton & Hove, East Sussex, England)

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The Relationship Handbook: A Simple Guide to Satisfying Relationships
The Relationship Handbook: A Simple Guide to Satisfying Relationships
by Dr. George Pransky Ph.D.
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.55

12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A one-trick pony does not make for a good circus..., 18 Oct 2012
"Relationship Handbook" by George Pransky is not a bad book. Pransky's approach to relationships is strongly informed by teachings of Sydney Banks, the founder of the Three Principles movement (see for example Missing Link, The). The main premise of the book is to overlook to the differences and disagreements in one's relationship and "to start enjoying each other". The book also recommends to avoid engaging in big relationship conversations when in a bad mood, and to disregard negative thoughts and feelings about one's partner and relationship dynamics.

This book's advice will certainly help a challenged couple better than going to a bog-standard marriage counsellor trained by Relate, who are *usually* well-intentioned yet clueless about happy relationships, and encourage couples to persevere in staying together despite their misery and to "work" on their relationship until they lose their will to live (see my review of The Relate Guide To Better Relationships: Practical Ways to Make Your Love Last From the Experts in Marriage Guidance (Relate Guides) for a full account). More and more progressive psychologists, therapists and relationship counsellors root their work in Innate Wisdom principles made popular by S. Banks, and, in this way, "Relationship Handbook" is a useful introduction to these principles in the context of love relationships.

However, in my opinion, Pransky's advice is oversimplified and limited, and there are a lot of areas where this book falls short. Here is my account of the main two shortcomings of this book:

1. Advice to overlook differences / dissatisfaction and Lack of an adequate process to resolve conflicts / differences.
The book presents dealing with differences on a relationship as "struggling" and implies that the best way of handling problems is to overlook them and to focus on "positives" and the problems take care of themselves. This advice is not dissimilar to recommending one to ignore the smell of rotting rubbish in their house and to mask it with deodorants instead of finding the source of stink and eradicating it once and for all. The book does not offer ANY effective process for effective conflict resolution. I recommend Nonviolent Communication: a Language of Life as a good starting point in developing such a process for you and your partner.

2. Unawareness of a distinction between Love and Co-dependency and promoting an extremely co-dependent way of relating.
The author discloses (p. 153) that he believes that "All you need is love" and "If you love each other enough, everything will take care of itself". Indeed, needing or wanting anything outside marriage is presented as insecurity. Any marital problems (such as infidelity) are recommended to be overlooked. Anything that happened in the past is reframed by an author as "just memories" that have to be disregarded to the sake of relationship to be sustained. In a way, the author proposes a self-inflicted "brain-washing" that is not unlike being brainwashed by a totalitarian state into believing that one lives in a free democracy. According to the illogic in this book, ANY two people who at least somewhat fancy each other and utilise an approach proposed in the book may fall in love and stay happily married ever after, no matter how abusive the dynamics in that marriage might be. The notion of overlooking problems and personal flaws ultimately defies the significance of taking personal responsibility for one's actions in a relationship. For a good introduction into the difference between Love and Co-dependency see Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment.

There are many more areas where this book does not sit right with me, such as misunderstanding of the forgiveness process (a myth of "forgive and forget" is presented as the way forward in the book); OR equating relationship commitment with marriage, which indicates an outdated rigidity with regards to open relationships (Indeed, commitment is defined as "a whole-hearted, single-minded predisposition to a person or activity", which strikes me as something unchangeable and stifled. For a different perspective on relationship commitment, see Opening Up: A Guide to Polyamory: Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships )

To sum up, certain useful ideas, such as focusing on positives and not arguing when in bad mood, are presented as panacea to happy relationships in "Relationship Handbook", thus overlooking many important areas of creating and developing a thriving, intimate relationship. In this way, this book becomes a one-trick pony. And as we know, that doesn't make for a good circus.

The Relate Guide To Better Relationships: Practical Ways to Make Your Love Last From the Experts in Marriage Guidance (Relate Guides)
The Relate Guide To Better Relationships: Practical Ways to Make Your Love Last From the Experts in Marriage Guidance (Relate Guides)
by Sarah Litvinoff
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

51 of 62 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A collection of outdated recipes for marital problem solving, overlooking personal happiness and "better relationships", 6 Mar 2011
I am a relationship consultant by trade and hence I have read a lot of books on better relationships, some good and some bad. In a nutshell, I find this Relate Guide by Sarah Litvinoff is based on outdated paradigms for love relationships and totally misses the point of what "better relationships" are, while giving its earnest attempt to provide unhappily married couples with a variety of recipes for marital troubleshooting, that would perhaps ensure that above couples have a more tolerable co-existence in their marriage.

Here's where this book gets it wrong in my professional and personal opinion:

1. There is a confusion over what Love is and why people get together in the first place. A lot of terminology in the book like "falling in love", "romantic love", "newly in love" romanticises and misunderstands the mechanisms of human sexual attraction and lust that have little to do with actual Love.

2. "Perseverance rather than Happiness" could be the slogan of this book. The main focus of this book is on making existing marriages less miserable, rather than on fostering personal happiness of two individuals who decided to have a relationship together. For a better account of how to cultivate personal wellbeing in a relationship, see The Relationship Handbook

3. The book draws its evidence from the Relate marriage counselling which main claim (on their website) is: "80% of respondents said that Relate counselling had strengthened their couple relationship". Notice, there is nothing about happiness or fulfilment in this claim. It helped people to remain stuck together, yes, but at what price?

4. It equates "serious commitment" with getting married. I.e. if a couple is not getting married, they are somehow "unserious" about their commitment. Here's a direct quote from the book: (p.35) "Marriage is a definite commitment, while living together is more of a trial - a time for thinking." And here's another, even more outdated quote: "Living together is more acceptable than it was, though still not entirely so."

5. The only kind of "marriage" that is seemed to be discussed in this book is a strictly monogamous, heterosexual marriage strongly informed by extremely conservative Christian morals and dogmas without acknowledging it. Open relationships or civil partnerships are totally ignored in this book.

6. There is not a single word in the book about Co-dependency - people getting and staying together due to the perceived lack of wholeness and resources to live separately. In fact, many symptoms of Co-dependency are confused with notions of love, care and family duties. To find out more about Co-dependency and how to avoid it in your relationships, see Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment

7. The book does not confront the conventional gender roles in a marriage (i.e. a woman takes care of the kitchen and a man earns money for the family) despite giving examples of their detrimental effects of relationships.

8. The book arms the reader with rudimentary understandings of psychoanalysis (like "You're acting like your mother, and I'm acting like a naughty boy."), but seems to overlook the importance of taking personal responsibility for one's feelings and ability to consciously reassess and override family conditioning with modern psychological interventions offered, for example, by Neuro Linguistic Programming or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

9. There are much clearer strategies (for example, for arguing in the family) that can be found elsewhere for enhancing communication between partners. For example, see Nonviolent Communication: a Language of Life

10. Last but not least, there is not a single paragraph in the book that states the obvious: If married partners are not mutually compatible anymore (or perhaps neither have they ever been), the best thing they can do is to split up! Once again, the focus of the book seems to be on keeping the marriage at all costs, and not on being happy, or fulfilled in your relationships.

To sum up my review, I acknowledge that the author of the book (and Relate Marriage Council she represents) is well-intentioned and gives struggling married couples some useful tools to cope better with their misery (hence 2 stars, instead of 1 I would have given it of the basis of its efficacy). Unfortunately, this book fails to help people have "better relationships" due to being based on outdated models for relationships, and prioritising "marriage perseverance" over "personal happiness and wellbeing". I would therefore strongly encourage you to look elsewhere if you need sound relationship advice.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 24, 2011 9:59 AM GMT

2 x Hot Stuff Hand Warmers
2 x Hot Stuff Hand Warmers

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not warm enough & cools down much quicker than claimed, 17 Nov 2009
My girlfriend bought me this hand warmer for Christmas, and I tested it indoors. It was very easy to use, however the surface was tepid, and I'd imagine not nearly hot enough to warm up your hands while skiing. Also, it cooled down in under 10 min, as compared to 20-30 min claimed. May be I got a defective one, but I was disappointed with the performance of this had warmer.

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