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The New Rules of Marriage audiobook cover art

Some biases have truth in them

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-03-07

I think this book is an amazing tool for a person like me that in some respects is crippled in my ability to understand how my words and attitudes toward others affect them. I learn best in these areas by having concrete rules to follow, coupled with examples that make it obvious how not following these rules impacts on my relationship with others, including my wife. Does it work all the time? No, especially when I'm feeling angry or shamed, but it gives me a firm foundation on which to base my later analysis of mistakes.

I agree that there is a male bias to this book, but I don't think that it's a fault. Many of the basic problems in my, and my friend's, relationships are leftover early 1900's paternalistic ways of interacting with others, and to try to balance this out moves the focus from the problem to some version of misplaced fairness. Sure, a proportion of the men that read this are going to feel uncomfortable or get angry, but self-knowledge is rarely easy to swallow. On the other hand, there is much here for either sex to learn. For example, the idea that intimacy is helping your partner learn how to give you what you need is gender-neutral. Also, much of the book focuses on dysfunctional interactions rather than either party's character defects.

So, I would say this book should be read by those who need concrete rules and practical examples rather than more general concepts of how relationships work; are accepting of the idea that men may be more at fault than women when relationships fail; and don't mind a long book that looks at each issue of importance from several aspects. The suggested work at the ends of the chapters complement the text, although some exercises are better than others.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful