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"Contrary to the wisdom of pop psychology, it is not essential to your or your children's well-being for you to have a great marriage," writes psychologist Coleman in the opening to this frank (and, to borrow from Lewis's foreword, even "radical") guide for struggling couples. In prose studded references to recent research and case studies from his own practice, Coleman clearly and compassionately outlines the stresses on contemporary marriages; discusses the need for spouses to grieve for what their marriages don't offer them; urges them to understand how their parents' marriages affect their own and to work on changing their own attitudes and beliefs instead of trying to change their partners'; describes depression's effects on marriage; covers sexual difficulties, affairs and "different kinds of marriages"; and numerous other topics. Coleman's argument is that barring abuse or debilitating mental illness, it's better for kids if parents stay together, and here, he carefully shows them how. Some readers may object to what can seem like a "you're not going to get it, so you might as well stop hoping for it" philosophy of partnership, but Coleman's words are a welcome antidote to unrealistic portrayals of domestic bliss. With practical advice and genuine empathy, Coleman encourages spouses to stick it out: their marriage may not change drastically for the better, he says-but then again, it just might. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Psychologist Coleman (Univ. of California at San Francisco Medical Ctr.) steps back from the traditional assumption that spouses must find great personal satisfaction within their marriage and examines alternatives-apart from divorce-for those with children who are experiencing problems. While the author believes that divorce is necessary when conflict and abuse characterize a relationship, he thinks that many drifting couples can find happiness with a program of acceptance. Ways to look at individual expectations within a marriage and give up idealizations, to examine the past of both partners for keys to understanding, and to develop plans for personal growth and fulfillment outside marriage are offered. Coleman believes that change is possible and that time and the lessening of stress may lead partners to revitalize their marriage. After children are grown, couples can plan for a divorce if necessary. Who knows whether Coleman's system works, but it certainly offers readers in troubled marriages, as well as students and counselors, food for thought. With footnotes and extended references; recommended for academic and public libraries.-Kay Brodie, Chesapeake Coll., Wye Mills, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.