Author: Winifred M. Reilly
Publisher: Touchstone Hardcover
Release Date: April 7, 2017
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman
Marriage counseling is something that people usually do together in hopes of resolving issues and “fixing” what is broken in the marriage. It is often used to improve communication, clear the air, and foster honesty and intimacy. Ms. Reilly doesn’t dispute most of this, but she does believe that just one person can make all the difference.
Contrary to what many couples and counselors believe, she purports that if just one person changes his or her attitude and reaction to how the other acts, it will ultimately improve the entire marriage. She has many case studies to support her theory, and most meaningful to her is her own. She is the first to admit that she and her husband have had numerous arguments that ended in at least one of them wanting divorce, and after numerous counseling sessions, they both realized that they did not want that. Instead, they took baby steps to improve their marriage by improving themselves. For example, she is chronically late. Her husband gets steamed over that and says she is inconsiderate. Instead of complaining about it, he just patiently waits. This in turn encourages her to work on being more punctual. Conversely, he is, in her opinion, sloppy. Instead of yelling at her husband to pick up his dirty clothes, Ms. Reilly doesn’t say a word. Her lack of complaining fosters a resolve in him to pick up after himself. Sure, they slip back into their old ways now and again, but they find that it is much easier to get along when they individually work to make things better.
There are many good tips in the book explaining how changing one’s own reactions to a partner changes the entire relationship, and while I am not sold on all of them, most make sense. Moreover, there are many techniques that would easily apply in other relationship situations besides a marriage. Working relationships, friendships, even relationships among family members, can benefit from each party taking a step back and being more cognizant of how he or she reacts to another person or situation. Not everything works for every situation, but many tips here can easily work in common interpersonal relationships.
Having been married for over 20 years myself, I thought my husband and I had things pretty well worked out. However, as I read the book, I could easily apply some of Ms. Reilly’s suggestions to our common areas where we get stuck. Once I realized that I needed to identify what I wanted in a calm and rational tone, or that he needed to stay calm when I called him out on something, it worked a lot better. Anyone can certainly benefit from Ms. Reilly’s observations.
I highly recommend this book for people who are in challenging relationships but don’t want to give up on them. They will certainly find, if they give it a chance, something that will help. I will not reveal all the tips in the book, but there are many that will make sense and be effective if given a good attempt.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.