on 19 June 2010
I CANNOT RECOMMEND THIS BOOK HIGHLY ENOUGH.
Forget "five stars," I give it TEN.
I have read it several times.
The book's claims are true - even if you're about to sign your divorce papers, if there's any niggling doubt in your mind/heart as to whether divorce is the right path for you, even if there's no hope in sight because so much damage is done and your partner is completely uninterested in any reconciliation - it is worth a last try to read this book. Even if your relationship still ends in divorce after reading this book, it could very well help make you feel more resolved about your decision.
Here are what I consider to be some of the books key strengths:
> It reminds us that divorce is not a solution or instant fix to life's current problems and unhapiness. Once the ink is dry, you probably still won't be any happier, contrary to the perception we have of divorce. Once divorced, you might feel even more depressed, which is a terrible shock for divorcees. The failures of your marriage won't be resolved and you could well carry them into your next relationship. It is therefore critical to try and understand "what happened," if not to successfully save your marriage, then to learn lessons and improve your future relationship(s);
> It points out that most people have a false expectation of "what marriage should be" due to images in the media (film, television, press, celebrity). These images set up false expectations and doom us to feeling failure in our own marriages;
> Don't ever think it can't happen to your marriage. All relationships, especially long terms ones, are vulnerable. In fact, the longer a relationship goes on, the more vulnerable we are to the drip-drip-drip of subtle but potentially very damaging conflict and behavior. I certainly learned that the hard way;
> Divorce is devastating to the children involved and will forever alter the course of their lives for the worse (except in extreme cases e.g. abuse, etc). For the good of the children, divorced parents will STILL have to work together, make compromises, cooperate and present a "united front" - that won't be easy, in fact it will probably be more difficult but will be absolutely necessary for the benefit of the children. Why not, then, try to make that effort WITHIN the context of marriage, rather as two separate households?;
> The breakdown of a marriage is NEVER just one person's fault. The person in the "victim" role must acknowledge their role in the breakdown, and this book helps to gain insight into both partner's roles and responsibilities;
> Marriages in critical condition need an immediate, radical approach. Couples therapy is, of course, valuable, but for a marriage on life support, dramatic - almost instant - progress is essential. This books approach tries to provide that kind of support and ideas that can be implemented immediately and WITHOUT a therapist's involvement. This is especially critical when one partner is anti-counseling or has given up on the relationship entirely;
> If you can remember a time when you and your partner were happy and when "it worked," then those shreds of memory are enough to "seed" happiness together now and are invaluable tools to bring your marriage back from the brink and even (gasp!) make it fun again;
> Even if you feel that you have "tried everything" to make your marriage work, I guarantee this book will contain at least one insight or point of view that you haven't considered ("light bulb moment") (how can you put a price on that?);
An example of one of these gem concepts is "Act as if."
That is, don't wait for your partner's behaviour to change for things to get better. Instead, ACT AS IF your partner is already behaving in a positive way. Yes. Even If You Feel That They Are At Fault.
By acting as if, you will break the stalemate of their negative reaction to your negative reaction to their negative reaction to your negative reaction and so on... If you suddenly Act As If instead of acting in the way your partner HAS COME TO EXPECT OF YOU in times of conflict, it will not only will give them a chance to change their reaction/behavior, it will radically change their perception of you.
This minor, unexpected shift could well break the cycle of negativity and be a catlyst to jump start their positive reaction to your positive reaction, etc. But, you ask increduously, "Why should I take the lead and take the high road? Especially when I haven't done anything wrong and it's all their fault?!" Well, that depends on if you are keeping score, or trying to save your marriage. ACT AS IF.
Some "negatives" about the book:
> It was written in the 1990s, so does at times feel dated, particularly when it comes to the role of new technology in marriage breakdowns and conflicts (mobile phones, texting, emails, internet pornography, etc.);
> It is written by an American, and therefore, at times reads "very American";
> The idea behind the book is to employ a therapist who uses the author's technique, HOWEVER, if her subsequent book ("The Divorce Remedy"), the author makes it clear that this was a weakness of the first book and that it is NOT essential to employ a therapist.
Given the above negative points, I really wish the author would totally revise this book and bring it up to date (and not just in the introduction) - it is badly needed. Still, don't let these weaker points dissuade you from reading it. Just keep these points in mind and adapt your assimilation of its advice (and know that in her second book, she actually recants/adjusts some of her previous advice).
I have read both "Divorce Busting" and the sequel, "The Divorce Remedy." I found this book (Divorce Busting) far more powerful - a strong voice that can reach through the darkness of the darkest days of marriage breakdown and impending divorce. The second book is helpful, but in my opinion, for specific chapters later in the book (e.g. infidelity, men's mid-life crisis, etc.).
Given the critical state of our marriage (separated after a truly devastating series of hurtful events and breakdown), I actually did invest in a few sessions of Telephone Divorce Coaching with the author's "certified" American-based coaches. This, too, was incredibly helpful, but will only be if you read this book first.
In closing, I again highly recommend this book. Even if it doesn't work for you and you do end up divorced, it will make you feel that you've left no stone unturned in trying to make your relationship work. That will only bring you peace of mind, especially where children are concerned. So far, the result has led my partner and I down the positive path. When I discovered this book I was actually searching for books to help me deal with the transition of becoming divorced. When I happened upon this book, it struck a chord, and even back then when any resolution seemed impossible and hopeless, I purchased it. The book was a bolt from the blue, an incredible force of intervention. I would have never imagined that we would be back together as a family but here we are with a year back together under our belts...
PS: This book is NOT just for people who are on the brink of divorce. Much can be gained by anyone who is in a relationship to deepen bonds, communication and understanding, and to learn how to problem solve.