Top positive review
A state of relationships
10 September 2018
This book written by a psychotherapist and counsellor who has worked with couples will be of interest to anyone interested in relationships. It is also well written with an good narrative flow.
At the beginning of the book Esther Peel looks at the conventional wisdom on partnerships and marriages and fidelity in them. She points out that in Western society there are strong views that partners in these are expected to stay loyal to each other, with out straying elsewhere for intimacy and sex. She does not appear to have problems with this per se, but points out there are many divergences form this path. It is human nature to transgress boundaries, even if this is painful.
What follows are a large number of accounts of cases she has encountered. This includes infidelity in conventional marriages, both homo- and hetro- sexual partnerships, open relationships (where issues of infidelity can crop up despite there being a permission to find additional partnerships) as well as ones that insist on monogamy. She looks also at issues of betrayal, the pain of discovery of an affair, how some affairs may save people from bad partnerships and also how that affairs may sometimes (paradoxically?) even save and strengthen relationships. Perel also looks at the various kind of people involved, apparently settled people, those who prefer to have affairs rather than stay in a single one.
All in all the range of people discussed here is wide. Perel's aim is not to discredit monogamy, but to suggest what is needed is a little more space for people in their situations to work through. At one point in the narrative she ponders on the general state of knowledge around human sexuality. As she states it is limited. This book contributes to expanding that space a little more. An enlightening read.