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on 5 May 2017
I didn't like this book. It's written by a therapist/psychologist from a therapist's point of view. I wish the customers mentioned in here had narrated their own stories, may be those stories would have been more human and less clinical. The content seemed far away from the title of the book. I did not enjoy it and wouldn't recommend it for the topic in question.
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on 16 October 2017
Wife likes it.
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on 18 October 2014
A must read for singles and couples
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on 11 April 1998
Well, nothing but 10s so far from this book's reviewers, leaving it to me to give Dr. Schnarch's PASSIONATE MARRIAGE a 9, (reserving the "perfect 10" for his next book).
Away from work recently with a wicked case of pharyngitis, I stopped by the local bookshop on the homeward-bound trip to recuperate. Decided to look in the Romance & Matrimony section. Pulling up and collapsing in a chair, and then spending an hour perusing all the various manuals and how-to's within arm's reach, I decided on this book as the hands down favorite and superior read and investment of my hard-earned dollars..
Dr. Schnarch has several techniques which, (as pointed out by the previous reviewers), are designed to cure the disease and not the symptoms of marital unhappiness. Very exciting to read, and very human in the best meaning of that term. The key element appears to be his synthesis of sex and marriage therapies.
I'm not sure if it has helped my marriage; however it has helped me to function better within my marriage, with more realistic expectations.
Perhaps my favorite passage is where the author points out to a couple that their having marital problems is not a failure, but in fact an inevitability of being married. Clearly, modern mass society - many radio & TV "personalities" (?), the breakdown of morality (from whatever cause), political correctness, etc. have ignorantly and unintentionally furthered a pepsi generation/drive-through-window culture which is long on desires but a little bit wanting in the character and resilience department. And so, this book attempts to fill this terrible vacuum which day-to-day living's legacy has bestowed on each of us,- provide a blueprint on how to achieve an intimate and meaningful human relationship of quality and depth in our all-too-often plastic and shallow age.
A tour de force, and well worth the cash, too, for anyone serious about making the most of their investment and time remaining in their "significant other" relationship. Well done, Dr. Schnarch!!!
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on 26 October 2010
I read this book about ten years ago when my partner and I were going through couples therapy and were on the brink of breaking up for the first time in our relationship. Our couples therapist at the time recommended the book and after a period of resistance we bought it and began to read it. I finished the book in a weekend but it took my partner considerably longer to get through it. That is because it took us different time frames to process the information, to understand and come to terms with the truth about ourselves, each other and our relationship. It turned our relationship around and we decided to marry.

Ten years later, our relationship was back on the rocks and as a last resort I reordered the book and hoped it would help me remember what it was we were doing/not doing in our relationship that had brought us here and hopefully give me the insight at least to come to terms with the horrendous reality I was living.

I re-read the book much slower this time and found I was experiencing much more insight into myself and my relationship than I had after/during the first reading. I put this down to being older and more experienced in life but also because my relationship was now older and so the issues were also different.

The author says this is a book about emotionally committed relationships (and is) a testimony to the enormity of people sharing their lives.

I agree completely but it is so much more as well.

I believe this book's ideas about married life are unprecedented, the advice is often very confronting but always spot on and the writing is clear, concise and because of the author's style and tone it is also a pleasure to read.

If your relationship is in trouble, get this book! If your relationship is not in trouble but you think it could be more satisfying, get this book!

For me I not only discovered how to go forward and make positive changes in my life, but I also find out how normal the course my relationship was on was. This not only gave me comfort but it helped my partner and I find the courage to change and to turn our relationship around. I could not recommend this book more highly and do so often to friends when they hit marital gridlock - I give it ten stars!
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on 1 November 1997
Schnarch, David. Passionate Marriage. New York: Norton, 1997, 432p.

Passionate Marriage David Schnarch introduces us to a form of sex therapy that goes beyond the sensate focus approach on which modern sexual therapy has been based in order to get to the heart of how couples become present with each other. Some couples have the tendency to focus on the mechanics of sex: achieving an erection in males and lubrication in females, and the follow through to orgasm. Schnarch says this misses the entire point of sex which is the emotional and intimate connection that provides contact and facilitates growth in relationship.

Through the establishment of self validation and personal integrity through differentiation* Schnarch encourages individuals in committed relationships to maintain a sense of self that sets the boundaries, desires, and goals for their interaction. This done he encourages them to bring their sperate selves together in a way that enables them to maintain their individual integrity while giving and accepting attention and affection and making contact with each other that allows them to use their sexual togetherness to relate to each other.

Specific tools recommended by Schnarch to promote intimacy include: hugging till relaxed, eyes open foreplay; mental dimensions of sexual experience, eyes open orgasm, making contact during sex, as well as "doing and being done."

Of hugging till relaxed he says a great deal can be learned about how two people hug each other. He notes that some of his clients absolutely could not stand to continue a hug for more than a few seconds before coming to therapy. Schnarch looks at reasons why some people might be uncomfortable with this type of touching in order to uncover the emotional and mental dramas that prevent intimacy. Similarly he notes how some couples have never considered the possibility of being in the moment, with the light on and with their eyes open during foreplay, intercourse, and orgasm. He notes that state that the majority of those questioned have not experienced orgasm while looking at their partners and many consider it unthinkable to do so and that he has even been challenged by other sex therapist who think "eyes open orgasm" is of little value.

Of "doing and being done" he states:

"Doing is consistently described as: (a) moving into your partner, (b) tasting his or her essence, (c) ravishing him/her with fervor and generosity, (d) sending him or her to the edge, and (e) experiencing your own eroticism in the process. Doing someone is pleasurable in itself, but your partner reciprocates by receiving." (264)

He adds that: "Being done involves surrender, union, and the power of receiving" (266)

Schnarch believes sexuality is an opportunity for self enrichment and discovery through connection with other. Sometimes it is thwarted because of childhood traumas that hide in the psyche and sabotage individual's ability to be present, in the moment, during intimate or sexual exchanges. Often control issue dramas or elaborate defense mechanisms prevent connections.

Schnarch also states that couples always have the same level of differentiation, and that it is not true, as some maintain when entering therapy, that one is more differentiated than the other. Because of this, when one member of the couple grows the other is forced to. Schnarch draws two circles in a diagram to explain how this works. The inner circle he calls the "comfort circle," the outer one, "the growth circle."

He states that often individuals fight for years to prevent moving into the growth circle because of the turmoil that comes into relationships when that path is taken, however he also notes that if they refuse to grow the relationship will fail. He encourages couples to enter the growth circle without the battle of wills that often mark the boundaries of war that overpower relationships. He states that doing so on a regular basis when problems are small, enables couples to deal with relationship and individual issues before they get too large and frightening to face. He further notes that doing so expands their ability to accept and embrace change so that when real life threatening changes come along, couples are prepared to face them.

Schnarch speaks of marriage as "The Sexual Crucible," a container in which the individuals in a committed relationship can change within the bonds of matrimony. He gives advice on how couples can "hold on" to themselves during arguments, instead of reacting and escalating them.

One key to holding onto yourself is to stop disproving that there is "something wrong with you" or claiming that you're good enough the way you are. Stop inviting your partner to "prove" you need to change. People don't change when they feel under attack --- and defending yourself invites attack. The issue isn't whether you're good enough the way you are. It's a question of who you want to be. (337)

When a couple has an argument, Schnarch recommends: "stop focusing on what your partner is (or isn't) doing. Focus on yourself"(338). He uses the metaphor of climbing a mountain to make his point. He ask how sensible it would be to approach the mountain and expect the mountain to come down to us? Instead it is us who must change, work, transverse the spire in order to get to the top. It is the individual who has to do the work to reach the summit of the mountain or self fulfillment in relationship.

Schnarch states: "Becoming is never safe or secure, especially if we're dependent on a reflected sense of self. We don't get to stop when we're scared or uncomfortable, because we grow by going into the unknown" (400).

Schnarch's book is no light read. It is not the kind of popular, "best seller" you will find in the check out isle of the supermarket that gives three easy steps to nirvana. It is a serious work for those who are seriously ready to examine, willing to possibly dismantle, begin to rebuild, and greatly improve their relationships.

*NOTE: Webster's Dictionary lists one of the meanings of differentiate as: "5: to express the specific distinguishing qualities of:". Schnarch uses the term the way it is used by Psychologists, Murry Bowen, to establish a balance between the ability of self to come together with others or to seperate, or individuate from others.

Richard Peek
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VINE VOICEon 20 November 2009
I don't think I've ever read a book which is so down to earth honest and so revealing of the rubbish we ourselves and society in general crams into our heads about relationships. I had eureka moments page after page, for once taking a pencil out to mark passages, writing my own summary of the book (and its follow-up Resurrecting Sex), and writing a 4-page open letter to my spouse which is going to be read tonight. Cross your fingers for me! In the meanwhile I feel much better about myself, the lumps & bumps in our relationship, and much more optimistic of finding a way to solve them. Wonderful stuff; if I lived in the US I'd be in treatment with this wonderful man like a shot!
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on 20 November 1998
I cannot add more insights to the previous reviews of this book, but I can say it should be required reading before one is married, then re-read every 6 years for the rest of your married life. Brilliant! Cynthia
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on 25 November 2010
I think this book contains some amazing insights into intimacy and it genuinely changed my approach to intimacy with my partner. Hugging till relaxed, kissing with eyes open, maintaining differentiation and putting the emotional connection first all make intuitive sense to me and have improved my attitude towards my relationship.

I did find the writing style a little rambling though, and felt the author reinforced his own success a little too much. I also thought he didn't always succeed in treading the fine line between self help and professional memoir. I get that sexual aggression is not generally predatory in a loving relationship, but many lay people will not appreciate the nuances in what he was saying in this area.

Overall, whilst hard work at times, I enjoyed the book and gained an imense amount from it. It did leave me feeling 'if ever a book needed a co-author' though. With some more considered editing I think a refreshing and unconventional approach to intimacy could be made more accessible.
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on 9 September 2013
I'm sorry, I'm obviously in the minority here. I married three years ago after knowing my partner for 14 months, we had never lived together as we lived in different cities, but a week after getting married I got pregnant and on my son's first birthday I got pregnant again. Throw in a step child and starting a new business and buying a house... We are very much in love, and we have a very strong and happy marriage (after a few hiccups getting used to living together) but our love life has taken a complete nosedive. We both acknowledge this and understand why it's happened, but are completely out of practice. Therefore I wanted a book that would help us get back on track. This wasn't that book. I became irritated after the first chapter, reading pages of detail about a session with a couple who had no bearing on any problems we have. Then it went onto another couple, and another, and by chapter 7 the only advice was 'hug until you are relaxed'. Then 'orgasm with your eyes ope' and that's about as much as i could take after spending valuable time reading this twaddle. It's very scientific, and most of the book looks at couples who I am not interested in in the slightest, and the practical advice is sparse. I'm gutted I wasted £7 on this. Are there no books out there for a happy couple looking for some practical advice on how to get things back on track after having two children???
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