Review: Deal Breakers, by Dr. Bethany Marshall

Deal Breakers
Dr. Bethany Marshall
ISBN: 1416935932
Nonfiction / Psychology / Relationships

Quick, easy, and to the point, Deal Breakers outlines the ins and outs of bad boys’ bad behavior, how to deal, and when to let go. While Marshall is full of insight and good advice, the book is plagued with Stuff You Already Know. Innovative it isn’t, but enjoyable and useful all the same.

Rating: B+

Review: The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman

The Five Love Languages
Gary Chapman
ISBN: 1881273156
Nonfiction / Relationships / Christianity

In THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES, Gary Chapman explores what he believes is the cause of all marital dysfunction and breakdown: the different languages in which love can be expressed. According to Chapman, we each respond to one of the five “love languages”–affirmation, time, gifts, service, and touch–and will only feel sufficiently loved when we’re being spoken to by our mates in that language.

The breakdown of the five love languages was fascinating, but Chapman’s “love is a choice” philosophy is so bogus, it’s not even funny. It’s that kind of bass-ackwards thinking that lead many people into unhealthy relationships in the first place, and he wants to keep them there? Please.

According to Chapman, “real love” is a benign act we engage in willingly–like picking up cereal or refilling the gas tank on the way home from work–while being “in love” is a fabricated emotion built on obsession.

“…falling in love is not real love,” writes Chapman, “because it is effortless. Whatever we do in the in-love state requires little discipline or conscious effort on our part.”

The points Chapman makes are valid, but he approaches them with the kind of anti-divorce tunnel vision that is far too common in these kinds of books. You can no more choose to love someone than you can choose to be a blond-haired, blue-eyed mermaid who lives in an oversized clam shell off the coast of Maine. Oh, sure, you can bleach your hair, pop in a pair of contact lenses, and pretend you’re a mermaid who lives in a clam shell off the coast of Maine, but that doesn’t make it real.

And that’s exactly the point I’m getting at. Chapman derides the “in love” feeling as being synthetic emotion, and yet, when push comes to shove, insists that when it comes to “real love”, choosing to fake it is the way to go. Um. I don’t have any fancy-schmancy degrees to back me up, but if you ask me, a forced act of love is about as genuine and meaningful as an effortless act of obsession. It’s the wavering between the two extremes that leaves this book cold and sterile. I imagine the real “real love” is a happy medium between those two extremes–neither self-destrucive nor impotent.

All in all, I’d say the author gets it about half right, as much as his own personal values will let him. I would’ve been more pleased if the focus had been on choices made and physical actions done out of love than a crash course on how to fake it ’til you make it. There are a multitude of reasons why two partners fail to make a real and lasting connection with each other, and not every divorce is a failure. Sometimes that’ the only way for the family unit to survive without being severely damaged. Asserting that we should all assign blame where there should be none is nothing but a recipe for resentment.

Rating: C-