Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

Review of Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give, by Ada Calhoun

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give

by Ada Calhoun

W. W. Norton & Company, 2017. 192 pages.
Starred Review

Maybe I shouldn’t have picked up this book. My own marriage ended badly. I tried hard to keep it from falling apart, but finally figured out that if one party really wants to get out, one person can’t knit it back together by themselves. Now I’d like to get married again – and this book reminds me of that. It also reminds me that I don’t actually want some nice man to get divorced just so he’ll be available! I don’t actually want the sort of man who doesn’t try hard to stay in his marriage. And I don’t wish divorce on anyone. So in a way, thinking about what makes a marriage isn’t necessarily a place I should go right now!

But – the book was so much fun! And really does speak truth. Though I agree with the author that you wouldn’t necessarily want to point out these truths at the wedding of a dewy-eyed bride and groom. They’ll find out soon enough.

Here’s how she explains the book in the Introduction:

Now in the second decade of my second marriage, I can’t look newlyweds in the eye and promise they’ll never regret marrying. (Well, not sober. Maybe this is why weddings correlate with binge drinking.) I adore my husband and plan to be with him forever. I also want to run screaming from the house because the person I promised to love all the days of my life insists on falling asleep to Frasier reruns.

“The first twenty years are the hardest,” an older woman once told me. At the time I thought she was joking. She was not.

And this is why I don’t give wedding toasts – because I’d probably end up saying that even good marriages sometimes involve flinging a remote control at the wall.

She’s got some good insights.

The main problem with marriage may be that it’s not better than the rest of life. Suffering occurs in marriage because we think it will be different – purer, deeper, gentler – than other relationships. We expect our partners and ourselves to be better – more patient, more faithful, more generous – than we are. We believe ourselves exceptional, first in the depth of our passion and then in the breadth of our failure.

I like this take on it:

By staying married, we give something to ourselves and to others: hope. Hope that in steadfastly loving someone, we ourselves, for all our faults, will be loved; that the broken world will be made whole. To hitch your rickety wagon to the flickering star of another fallible human being – what an insane thing to do. What a burden, and what a gift.

But most of the book isn’t just musings. It’s also stories – stories from her own married life. And these stories do lead to musings, and truths, and some good thoughts about what marriage has to offer these days. She doesn’t offer a particularly religious perspective, so I wasn’t sure I’d really think I’d find them applicable – but she does offer a practical perspective. What does marriage do for you? This is worth thinking about, and she approaches it in a humorous way.

She finishes the Introduction this way:

Such are the thoughts I keep to myself, sitting in rented folding chairs, watching friends begin their married lives. To the newlyweds, I say congratulations, and I mean it sincerely. To say out loud the rest of what I’m thinking would be bad manners. And so I’ll say it here instead.

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Another Tip for Finding Online Dating Scammers

Saturday, June 18th, 2016

A year ago, I posted some tips on dealing with online dating scammers.

Today I discovered another scammer, so I have another tip: Reverse image search! has a Reverse image search. You upload an image, and the site searches the web for matches of that image.

Here’s the situation: A year and a half ago, I “liked” someone’s profile on OKCupid, and was told that he had “liked” me. So I sent him a short message. Then he never was online again. I figured he’d found someone else, but why didn’t he delete his profile?

Anyway, a couple days ago, he answered my message! But when I asked what the story was behind the year and a half absence, he said something about a long trip! Ummm, that’s a long trip.

On top of that, though he’s answering more quickly than a year and a half, he’s not exactly forthcoming or eager to talk with me.

And then I thought to do a reverse image search.

Sure enough! His picture comes up — on a Romance Scam site. The original photo is from a modeling agency. (I had thought he was maybe a little too good-looking to be real.)

I strongly suspect he’s a scammer with multiple profiles and had let that one rest for awhile.

I’m going to be doing this a little more often, any time I have any doubts at all.

I’m now torn between triumph and frustration. Triumph that I figured out this guy. Frustration that someone who seemed nice — isn’t.

But in the long run, I think I’ll go with triumph.

Review of The Real Thing, by Ellen McCarthy

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

real_thing_largeThe Real Thing

Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook

by Ellen McCarthy

Ballantine Books, New York, 2015. 263 pages.

Written by a wedding reporter, this book is composed of stories — stories of people committing to each other. But Ellen McCarthy didn’t stop with weddings and also includes stories of couples whose love has lasted decades. Along the way, she throws in some good advice about finding and keeping the love of your life.

Bottom line, even if you don’t take any of the advice, this book is fun to read. It doesn’t hurt to be reminded that people out there are finding love.

The author throws in her own story — she started as a wedding reporter when she’d just finished a major break-up, but wrote the book as part of a married couple with a child.

Here’s some of her introduction:

When I first started on the weddings beat — also starting, as I’ve mentioned, a new chapter of single life — I wasn’t sure how it would affect me to spend my days interviewing deliriously happy couples and watching them walk down the aisle. It could have been like salt in a wound.

But the job had the opposite effect. All of these people — young, old, rich, poor, plain, beautiful, sophisticated, and simple — they’d all found someone. I was reminded again and again that love happens every day, in all kinds of ways, to all kinds of people. And when it does, it adds a beauty and richness to life that nothing else can match.

So a couple of months after the breakup, I found my dating legs again. This time I had the lessons of the people I’d written about swirling around in my head. Their experiences pushed me to be more open and optimistic, and at least try to enjoy it.

Even more important, the collective wisdom of these couples challenged me to rethink what I was looking for. So much of what they taught me about love ran contrary to what we learn in pop culture and society. Don’t look for lightning. Forget about presenting your best self — it’s your real self that counts. And dreams do come true, but almost never how you dreamed them.

Yes, reading these stories could have been like pouring salt in my wounds. But it wasn’t. Instead, this book left me smiling and encouraged.

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Four Ways to Click, by Amy Banks

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

4_ways_to_click_largeFour Ways to Click

Rewire Your Brain for Stronger, More Rewarding Relationships

by Amy Banks, M.D.
with Leigh Ann Hirschman

Tarcher, 2015. 320 pages.
Starred Review

The premise of this book is an easy one to believe: We are wired for connection. Connection with people is good for us. However, the authors point out that this seemingly obvious truth goes against accepted wisdom about mental health.

The book begins like this:

Boundaries are overrated.

If you want healthier, more mature relationships; if you want to stop repeating old patterns that cause you pain; if you are tired of feeling emotionally disconnected from the people you spend your time with; if you want to grow your inner life, you can begin by questioning the idea that there is a clear, crisp line between you and the people you interact with most frequently.

The authors expand on that idea further in the introductory chapter:

This book is going to show you a different way of thinking about your emotional needs and what it means to be a healthy, mature adult. A new field of scientific study, one I call relational neuroscience, has shown us that there is hardwiring throughout our brains and bodies designed to help us engage in satisfying emotional connection with others. This hardwiring includes four primary neural pathways that are featured in this book. Relational neuroscience has also shown that when we are cut off from others, these neural pathways suffer. The result is a neurological cascade that can result in chronic irritability and anger, depression, addiction, and chronic physical illness. We are just not as healthy when we try to stand on our own, and that’s because the human brain is built to operate within a network of caring human relationships. How do we reach our personal and professional potential? By being warmly, safely connected to partners, friends, coworkers, and family. Only then do our neural pathways get the stimulation they need to make our brains calmer, more tolerant, more resonant, and more productive.

The good news for those of us whose relationships don’t always feel so warm or safe: it is possible to heal and strengthen those four neural pathways that are weakened when you don’t have strong connections. Relationships and your brain form a virtuous circle, so by strengthening your neural pathways for connection, you will also make it easier to build the healthy relationships that are essential for your psychological and physical health.

This book consists essentially of information about the four main neural pathways and ideas for strengthening each one. There’s a self-assessment at the start to see how your brain and relationships are doing.

The author calls her approach the C.A.R.E. Plan. C. stands for Calm; A. stands for Accepted; R. stands for Resonant; and E. stands for Energetic.

Each of these four pathways is a feedback loop. Supply the loop with good relationships, and most of the time, the pathway will become stronger. Strengthen the pathway, and your relationships become more rewarding. There are plenty of places in each loop to step in and boost the entire system.

I came away from the book feeling that I’m in a pretty good place. This book looks at the relationships to which you give the most time – in terms of thought and energy – so you aren’t counted “down” if you are not in a romantic relationship. Living alone, I wasn’t quite sure if I was cheating by counting the three people I email with daily or almost daily, but I do give them a lot of thought energy, and filling out the questionnaire confirmed that this connection is good for me.

The book did give me things to think about. For example, if I’m feeling a need for a pick-me-up, it might be a good idea to reach for the phone rather than play a game of Candy Crush. If I reinforce getting dopamine by reaching out and connecting, that pathway will become all the stronger.

This book is about all relationships – with family, friends, and coworkers, as well as with a “significant other.” It gives you plenty to think about for strengthening this crucial part of human life.

I’m thinking this might be a great gift for a college graduate. Rather than giving the message, “Okay, time to stand on your own two feet!”, this book reinforces the message that they will need other people in their lives – and will be healthier and happier the more they learn to connect with others.

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Some Tips for Dealing with Online Dating Scammers

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

how_to_avoid_falling_in_love_with_a_jerk_largeOkay, I’ll admit I don’t have vast experience. But I’ve been doing online dating for about a year now, and just the other night I figured out someone I was corresponding with was a total fake.

I thought I would imitate my friend, who when she gets an email scam letter, posts the letter on her blog, with addresses, to warn others away.

I am on OKCupid. I like that dating site a lot, because I like that *you* choose what questions you have answers to, and you tell the program which questions are most important to you. There’s no “patented match formula” that’s mysterious and magical — and didn’t turn out to seem terribly good in my case.

I will say, right up front, that I met one man through OKCupid whom I dated for two months and liked tremendously. I’m still friends with him, and I am still friends with his friends — and meeting him feels like a huge win for online dating, even though I’ve communicated with some scammers since.

My first tip, which would have ruled out the first scammer I communicated with, “Dejan Dimitrevi,” supposedly from the Netherlands but living in Virginia, is this:

1. Don’t correspond with anyone who hasn’t answered at least 100 questions.

That sounds like a lot, but these are multiple choice questions. It is easy to take a little time and answer them. I have a draft response written out which I paste into a message for people who correspond with me who haven’t answered very many.

Commonly they’ll say, “ask me anything,” but when you’re asking in a message, they can answer what they think you wish to hear.

I’ve answered many, many questions and marked the ones important to me. If someone has some of my dealbreakers, why go on? It’s the beauty of OKCupid to know up front where they stand. However, if they don’t answer the questions, you don’t have any of that information.

Now when I say “communicated with some scammers,” no one has ever asked me for money. I have corresponded with some people who probably would have asked for money eventually — but we didn’t get that far, because I followed the principles in the book How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk, by John Van Epp.

It’s a wonderful book that my sister gave me last year for my 50th birthday. I really hope some day I’ll get to apply the principles to a dating relationship, but for now, they have stood me in good stead for dealing with potential scammers.

And this last experience, with someone who calls himself “Ron Francher” (I use the name in case he still is trying to scam other women with this identity.) consolidated in my mind some more Tips for Dealing with Potential Scammers:

2. Don’t make any commitment to someone you don’t know and haven’t met.

This one is straight from the book How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk. It was this principle that eventually made “Dejan” lose interest.

“Ron” sent me this long paragraph, when we had only exchanged a few emails and had certainly not met:

Since we met on Okc, will you still be on the site checking out other men and corresponding with them? If so, then I am not your man. I think it only fair that if we are to truly find out if we are the one for each other, then we need to concentrate on each other without the distraction of others emailing us for our attention. If you are not in agreement with this, that is truly fine and you must follow your heart to search for the one right for you but please do not do it at my emotional expense. For two people to truly experience the wonderment that is defined by falling love, then love can only happen when no others are involved. Building trust, for me, is the core foundation for a long, loving, lasting relationship. If I found out you were corresponding behind my back or seeing another, my faith in you would be gone and our budding relationship finished before it got started.

Ummm, excuse me? We had not even met!

Yes, we would need to build trust — but I am not going to trust you until I find out if you actually are who you say you are.

I confess, I still hadn’t figured him out. Then after a few more emails exchanged, when I said, if you want me to commit to you, let’s meet first, he said, oh, we could not meet for a few *months* because he was preparing to be deployed to Damascus for a classified mission with the US Army.

And I *still* didn’t quite get it. But I thought the whole situation felt fishy, so I ran it by my friends. And that’s my next tip:

3. Run everything by your friends!

I explained the situation to my friends, and that I was cautiously optimistic about this man I was corresponding with. He grew up in France (so he said) but had been in America for 40 years and in the US Army for 35 years.

I wasn’t going to commit to him, but I was okay with corresponding a couple months…

However, a friend who is former military heard the basics and got very alarmed. He pointed out that someone in the military should not and would not mention a classified mission to someone they’d never even met — but a scammer certainly would.

I admit, I had been a bit flattered “Ron” would tell me about his mission. I had emailed back that I’d pray for him (but that I would not commit to him exclusively while I was waiting).

Another friend who is a romance novelist told me that the character sounded suspiciously like a character written for a romance novel, to be attractive to women — French accent, special forces, widower, lost his only son, grandson in Paris.

Their concerns made me start thinking harder. Even if he *were* telling the truth, wasn’t it rather deceptive to tell me he expected an exclusive commitment and only later say, Oh by the way, we won’t be able to meet for a few months?

4. Use common sense.

My former military friend also pointed out that given the description “Ron” had given me in an early message, he would have to be a general officer. Here’s what “Ron” said:

I completed the Armor Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, United States Army Command and General Staff College, and the national war college. I also completed the Army’s Ranger School.

I was commissioned in the U.S. Army in June 1979 as an Armor/Tank 2nd Lieutenant. Later, I received a Master of Science in Systems Management from the University of Southern California. I have commanded units at every echelon from platoon to division, with duty in Germany, Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and the United States. After my first assignment with the U.S. Army Europe, I was assigned to Fort Bragg, N.C, where I commanded a Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha in the 5th Special Forces Group and an Infantry company in the 82nd Airborne Division. My retirement is due by the end of July and then the would will be my oyster.

My friend had some contacts still in the military who would have to know someone in such a position. Would I like him to check?

I also know enough about the military that I knew an officer commanding divisions would make the news when he takes command. I googled “Ronald Francher” and didn’t get anyone who fit this description. I checked a library database, RefUSA, and he still didn’t come up. If he were really such a high-ranking officer, this was highly unlikely.

He went six days without emailing me, so I thought I’d discouraged him by not promising commitment. However, then I heard from him again. I had asked about his late wife. He told me they met in France (when did he have time for that?) and dated two years before marrying (earlier he’d said one year). They were married for 11 years. He’d already said she died 7 years ago.

So how on earth does he have a six-year-old grandson living in Paris?

Okay, with all that I was awfully sure he was telling me a story. Where I finally became absolutely sure this was the case was when I thought to do this:

5. If only one part of his background is grammatical, google keywords from that description.

In “Ron”‘s case, I googled: June 1979 Armor/Tank 2nd lieutenant

Bingo! I got the biography of Major General Seward, with about half of “Ron”‘s bio copied verbatim.

Googling from what’s left: “every echelon from platoon to division”

I found the rest of the bio he cobbled together into his “own” from General John F. Campbell.

I no longer have any doubt. I’m not going to answer any more of his emails (coming from — unless he asks for money, in which case, my answer will be: LOL

So — today someone contacted me who said he grew up in Lyon, France.

I refrained from letting him have it and instead sent him my standard response for those who have answered fewer than 100 questions.

There are some good men out there. I know it’s true.

But I’m going to have to meet you before I will make even the slightest commitment to you, thank you very much.

Review of Deeper Dating, by Ken Page

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

deeper_dating_largeDeeper Dating

How to Drop the Games of Seduction and Discover the Power of Intimacy

by Ken Page, LCSW

Shambhala, Boston. 2015. 255 pages.
Starred Review

I like the philosophy of this book so much, almost as soon as I’d read the Introduction, I ordered myself a copy. I will confess that I haven’t actually dated anyone while I’ve been reading it, and I haven’t done all the exercises. (There are some designed to help you find someone to date.)

However, I still love the principles behind this book, and I have a better idea of what I’m looking for, and I’m happier while I’m waiting to find someone, as well.

Let me quote from the Introduction to give you an idea of what’s found in this book:

The path to a loving relationship is about something much more profound, essential, and life changing than we have ever been taught. The real search for love is about embracing our most authentic self, sharing that true self with the precious people who know how to honor it, and learning to offer others the same in return. The amazing paradox is that the parts of our personality we think we must fix in order to find love are usually the keys to finding that love. On the path you’ll be taking, the focus won’t be on fixing yourself; it will be on honoring and expressing your innate gifts. And that changes everything. Instead of holding the whip of self-improvement over yourself, as many of us have spent so much time doing, you will learn to value, trust, and express what I call your Core Gifts.

What are Core Gifts? They are simply your points of deepest sensitivity to life. You will find them in the things that inspire you most, the things that touch you most deeply — and in the things that hurt you the most. Often we think we need to conceal these vulnerable parts of ourselves, to hide them or fix them in order to make ourselves more attractive, but the absolute reverse is true: they are the bullet train to authentic intimacy. When we learn to lead with our Core Gifts, our lives shift on their very axes. Our personal magnetism becomes stronger. We experience more passion and more connection to ourselves and others. Most important, we move closer to the love that may have previously eluded us, a love that empowers us and brings us joy.

This book explores how these ideas relate to your dating life. I especially enjoyed the section about finding your Core Gifts — because these things make life more rich, even while you’re still single.

The more you feel close to your joys, the more the people who are right for you will notice you and become attracted to you. Your joys are some of the very things your partner-to-be will love most about you, and will need most from you….

Also, the more time you spend with the things that touch you and move you, the more you will be noticed by the people who are good for you. The kind of person you are seeking is someone who is drawn to your Core Gifts, your authentic self. If you wait until you know someone loves you before you reveal these parts of yourself, it’s as though you’re waiting for the harvest without planting the seeds. It’s the vulnerability, warmth, and humanity of your gifts that will make the right person notice and come to love you.

Would you like to think about how these ideas can play out in your dating life? I highly recommend this book.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Say This, Not That, by Carl Alasko, PhD

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

say_this_not_that_largeSay This, Not That

A Foolproof Guide to Effective Interpersonal Communication

by Carl Alasko, PhD

Jeremy P. Tarcher (Penguin), 2013. 219 pages.

This is a handy and practical book about communicating in every area of life.

First, Carl Alasko gives an introduction that includes the Five Rules of Effective Communication:

1. Decide in advance what you want to accomplish.

2. Say only what you need to say; nothing more.

3. Don’t ask questions that don’t have an actual answer.

4. Do not use blame: no criticism, accusation, punishment or humiliation.

5. Always be ready to stop when things get too heated.

After explaining what he’s setting out to do in the introduction and explaining these principles, the author goes on to present scenarios from many different life situations. All of them take up two pages. On the first page is what you shouldn’t say (and why); on the second page is what you should say (and why). All these examples give you a good idea of how to put the principles into effect.

The sections of the book are Dating, Developing a Long-Term Relationship, Parenting, Friendship, the Workplace, and other Everyday Situations. There’s a section on Advanced Work at the end, now that you’ve learned the basics.

I read this book slowly, one scenario at a time. I can’t think of a situation when I actually used the book, but the message is a nice calming one, reminding me that I can rationally deal with tense situations and resolve them without blame. I began reading the book around the time I signed up for online dating, too. Even though I didn’t necessarily come up with the situations listed in the book (though there was one about writing your profile), reading through the dating scenarios was confidence-building. I can do this. And reading the Relationship scenarios is also confidence-building. We can be adults in communicating with each other.

This book contains nice practical advice for dealing with others.

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Review of Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed

Friday, August 1st, 2014

tiny_beautiful_things_largeTiny Beautiful Things

Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

by Cheryl Strayed

Vintage Books (Random House), New York, 2012. 353 pages.
Starred Review

My son sent this book to me, and I love it so much. I love his words in the note that accompanied it: “Dear Sugar is… the sort of creature I am startled and pleased to find existing in the world. Like a Mister Rogers of heartbreak and anguish.”

Dear Sugar is an advice column for The Rumpus. There is a lot of heartbreak and anguish here. Definitely not neat and clean situations.

But Sugar (Cheryl Strayed) handles them all with so much grace! She relates things back to her own difficult life experiences and has much humble, practical wisdom to share. And all along, she addresses people with endearments and makes them feel like they’re okay.

I’m going to give some random quotations from her advice below. Perhaps it will give you the sweet flavor.

It’s going to be difficult, but that’s no surprise. The story of human intimacy is one of constantly allowing ourselves to see those we love most deeply in a new, more fractured light. Look hard. Risk that.

Be brave. Be authentic. Practice saying the word “love” to the people you love so when it matters the most to say it, you will.

Trust yourself. It’s Sugar’s golden rule. Trusting yourself means living out what you already know to be true.

Writing is hard for every last one of us — straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.

You need to do the same, dear sweet arrogant beautiful crazy talented tortured rising star glowbug.

There will be boondoggles and discombobulated days.

But it will be soul-smashingly beautiful, Solo. It will open up your life.

I have breathed my way through so many people I felt wronged by; through so many situations I couldn’t change. Sometimes while doing this I have breathed in acceptance and breathed out love. Sometimes I’ve breathed in gratitude and out forgiveness. Sometimes I haven’t been able to muster anything beyond the breath itself, my mind forced blank with nothing but the desire to be free of sorrow and rage.

What’s important is that you make the leap. Jump high and hard with intention and heart. Pay no mind to the vision the commission made up. It’s up to you to make your life. Take what you have and stack it up like a tower of teetering blocks. Build your dream around that.

You asked me for practical matchmaking solutions, but I believe once you allow yourself to be psychologically ready to give and receive love, your best course is to do what everyone who is looking for love does: put your best self out there with as much transparency and sincerity and humor as possible.

As you are surely aware, forgiveness doesn’t mean you let the forgiven stomp all over you once again. Forgiveness means you’ve found a way forward that acknowledges harm done and hurt caused without letting either your anger or your pain rule your life or define your relationship with the one who did you wrong. Sometimes those we forgive change their behavior to the extent that we can eventually be as close to them as we were before (or even closer). Sometimes those we forgive continue being the jackasses that they always were and we accept them while keeping them approximately three thousand miles away from our wedding receptions.

I’ll never know, and neither will you of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.

Isn’t love amazing that way? How it can bend with us through the years? It has to. It must. Lest it break.

Perhaps these give you the flavor. But dip into Tiny Beautiful Things and just see if you can come out again.

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on my own copy, given to me by my son.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Review of The Science of Happily Ever After, by Ty Tashiro

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

science_of_happily_ever_after_largeThe Science of Happily Ever After

What Really Matters in the Quest for Enduring Love

by Ty Tashiro, PhD

Harlequin, 2014. 278 pages.

I began this book when I had recently decided to try online dating. When I finished it, I was already in a relationship. By the time I’m posting the review, I’ve broken up with that first person. But the overall idea of the book fits perfectly with the reason I’d decided to try online dating.

I’d noticed that once I actually meet someone, it’s harder for me to see the ways they are not necessarily good for me. Once my emotions get involved, it’s harder for me to exercise good judgment. So my thinking with trying online dating was this: Why not screen out people who obviously wouldn’t be great for me right from the start, before I even meet them in person?

The Science of Happily Ever After fits perfectly with that idea, because it presents some objective things to look for when contemplating a long-term relationship. In fact, it’s given me some things to look for once I meet people that might be red flags. Why not optimize one’s chances of happily ever after?

In the introductory chapter, the author talks about his reasons for writing this book:

Although supportive friends, self-confidence and communication skills contribute to healthy romantic relationships, a much stronger predictor of romantic success is the type of partner you choose in the first place. The traits that a partner possesses before you ever start dating, such as his or her personality and values, are among the strongest indicators of whether a romantic relationship will be happy and stable many years later. However, for people who say they will choose a better partner for the next relationship, the intention to choose a better partner does not guarantee that they will end up making better choices. How many times have you witnessed friends who are smart and effective people in most aspects of their lives repeatedly choose the same dysfunctional partners and then appear surprised when the relationship is a disaster a few months later?

This book does give tips as to how to help yourself pull off a good choice.

This is not a prescriptive self-help book promising a soul mate in three easy steps. Love is too complex and too personal for a stranger to tell a unique individual like you precisely what to do with your love life. Instead, my goal is to help you clarify your version of “happily ever after” and then to provide you with the information needed to make wise decisions when choosing a partner….

The Science of Happily Ever After is about making smarter choices. It’s about learning to weed out the undesirable traits and rethinking our views about what really matters in a romantic partner.

Along the way, Ty Tashiro discusses studies that have been done on what makes an enduring relationship. These give you some ideas on what you should look for. He points out that you’re not going to get everything you want, since no one is perfect, and gives you ideas for which “three wishes” you should prioritize.

I think this paragraph from later in the book sums up things nicely:

The fact remains that when it comes to choosing a romantic partner, what you see is what you get. Forever. Although this second type of change is possible, why would you go into a marriage relying only upon a partner’s willingness to manage their negative traits, rather than choose someone from the start who gives your relationship the best chance of success? Partners who give your relationship the best chance of success also tend to be the kind of people who are most likely to manage whatever weaknesses they have with maturity. So, once again, finding happily ever after begins with choosing someone with the right traits.

I do love it that this book came in right when I’d started dating someone. And I’m proud that, for the first time in my life, I broke up with someone – and stayed friends with him. Whatever my future holds, I feel like this book is helping me evaluate relationships from a more rational place, thus increasing my odds of one day living happily ever after.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Review of Runaway Husbands, by Vikki Stark

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Runaway Husbands

The Abandoned Wife’s Guide to Recovery and Renewal

by Vikki Stark

Green Light Press, 2010. 192 pages.
Starred Review
2013 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #2 Nonfiction

It’s been eight years now since my husband left me, and I’ve been divorced for three years. When I heard about this book, I had to read it. I was happy to be reading it from a place of healing. But still, the words were so validating. So good to know I’m not alone in this experience. Even better, I was able to recommend the book to a friend in the thick of it, and she said she was sure God prompted me to recommend it to her at exactly that time. I don’t doubt it for a second.

When I was in the middle of my husband leaving, the book that helped me tremendously was The Script: The 100% Absolutely Predictable Things Men Do When They Cheat. That book looks at what goes through the man’s mind as he’s getting ready to leave and leaving. Runaway Husbands is even more therapeutic, because it tells you what you will go through when you are left.

Now, I’m reading it from the perspective of several years out, but I so recognize the stages.

The author’s husband left her when she came back from a book tour, a tour during which he’d consistently expressed his love to her. Here’s how she describes why she wrote this book:

I was measuring what I’d observed with clients against what I was experiencing in my own life, and I just didn’t get it. Most people assume that it’s impossible for a person to have an affair without the partner having some knowledge — that the injured spouse is always either complicit or purposefully blind. However, that was not my case. Under even the closest scrutiny, I was unable to discern any trace that could have tipped me off that things were not hunky-dory in the marriage. On the contrary, few wives could boast of a more devoted mate, and, oddly enough, until the revelation of his infidelity and subsequent heartless flight from the marriage, he was the ideal husband!

I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how a man who genuinely appeared so committed to our marriage could morph overnight into an angry stranger. In the midst of my suffering, I knew that there’d be no rest for me until I could figure it out. So as days stretched into weeks, I started researching wife abandonment. Through reading and speaking with other women, a remarkable picture slowly started to take shape; my husband’s bizarre behavior seemed to fit into a pattern exhibited by other men who suddenly bolted from apparently happy marriages and then turned against their wives. The similarities were uncanny! I defined this pattern and named it Wife Abandonment Syndrome.

She names eight ways that Wife Abandonment Syndrome is different from a typical divorce: Shock value, a sense of powerlessness, lack of closure, deception, reality is shaken, a redefined past, greater effect on children, and greater effect on friends. There’s a reason this shakes your world so drastically! This book helped me feel better about how long it’s taken me to recover.

I like her eight Transformational Stages of recovery, because I recognize them all. It would have been nice to have this when I was going through them! She aptly names them after weather patterns: Tsunami, Tornado, Thunderstorm, Ice Storm, Fog, Sun Shower, Early Spring, and Warm Summer Day.

And here are her Seven Steps for Moving Forward, which she elaborates on more fully in the main part of the book:

1. Recognize that the chaos won’t last forever (needed to resolve the Tsunami Stage).

2. Accept that the marriage is really over (needed to resolve the Tornado Stage).

3. Integrate the fact that your husband has changed irrevocably and is beyond caring for your welfare (needed to resolve the Thunderstorm Stage).

4. Understand why he needs to justify his actions any way possible — including rewriting history, lying or attacking you (needed to resolve the Ice Storm Stage).

5. Give up trying to get the acknowledgment and apology that you deserve (needed to resolve the Fog Stage).

6. Turn your focus from the past to the future (a step in both the Sun Shower and Early Spring Stages).

7. Celebrate your new life as a single person (Warm Summer Day Stage).

Besides guiding you through these steps, this book offers plenty of helpful advice and encouragement for coping. Best of all, perhaps, is knowing you are not alone.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.