August 21, 2012

How to Have A Match Made in Heaven. {Book Review}

A Transformational Approach to Dating, Relating and Marriage. 

As a therapist who counsels and a minister who marries couples, I welcome resources to guide those I serve. And as a nearly 14-year-widowed woman in my 50’s having had short-term relationships and wonderful lovers since then, I am open to learning more about the lover in the mirror.

Like many, I have been on dating websites where you spin the wheel and take your chances, wondering whether what you see is what you get. In some cases, I’ve been delighted, in others decidedly disappointed.

What I recognize now is a pattern developed of wondering right out of the gate “Is he the One?” Rather than just having fun getting to know another person, I was accustomed to being a career interviewer, and so getting to know someone new was often more work than play. SInce I value candor, I also wanted the romantic candidate on the other end of the phone or  across the dinner table to learn as much about me as possible. Simply, I wanted them to recognize that what you see is what you get. I often felt frustrated the other person was not always on the same page.

Then, along comes a book—How To Have A Match Made in Heaven:  A Transformational Approach to Dating, Relating and Marriagethat has been the ideal guide to putting together the pieces of the dating and relationship puzzle. (I joke that if puzzles get too complex, more than the 10 pieces wooden kiddie version, I don’t always gracefully and easily put them together.)

With three decades of relationship history, husband and wife authors Shya and Ariel Kane certainly have more than academic knowledge of what makes partnerships tick. In this book, they lay the groundwork by noting that the most important ingredient to a healthy, thriving relationship is listeningwith the ears of the heart, rather than doing what is customary in many conversations—processing what the other person is saying in order to have a witty or profound or countering response.

Rather than fixing, curing or even healing relationship problems, the Kanes are advocates for transformation.

They have witnessed it with the myriad clients and students with whom they have worked over the years. Several of these clients were gracious enough to allow transcripts of taped sessions to be used in the book.

There’s the German woman who deliberately gave her children Jewish names to get back at her father who was a Nazi but found it backfired since it also kept her linked to her anger at him, which inhibited open-hearted relating with her husband.

Then there was Frannie who in the sixth decade of her life, unconsciously chose not to be in a relationship for fear of being subjugated to the will of a partner. Can I ever grok that one!  Having lived solo in the 13 years since my husband died, with the periodic return to the nest of my son, I have done what I wanted, when I wanted, without consulting with anyone. There is tremendous freedom in that dynamic and yet I do miss the companionship of a partner. The paradox was not lost on me. The Kane’s book and the model of their own relationship assured me that I can have it all—a loving, mutually supportive, healthy relationship that has freedom and open-hearted communication as a bonus.

In the book, Ariel and Shya reframe for Frannie the idea of surrender versus succumbing and it seemed to make sense to her. Much of her learned behaviors harkened back to her childhood when one parent would acquiesce to the other rather than going for a win-win.

Concepts such as being right versus being alive, attention seeking, playing the victim role, fear of intimacy, flirting, seeking perfection, mindfulness, presence and, of course, and sex, are highlighted throughout this book that should be on every therapist’s bookshelf as a relationship primer. And this is the ideal book for anyone who simply wants to understand the dynamics of any relationship they may find themselves in.

For me, the best part of this book was the Kanes playful view of dating as simply getting to know someone, without expectation for outcome, with room for something to breathe and grow. What a revelation that was for me and one that I will put to use the next time I’m tempted to override the fun of getting to know someone with the pressure to cast them in the role of Mr. Right.



Editor: Lori Lothian


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