The Relationship Handbook: A Simple Guide to Satisfying Relationships by George Pransky

the-relationship-handbookThis book, formerly published under the title “Divorce is Not the Answer”, is a simple, well thought-out and organized little book containing chapters on topics such as “A Fresh Start” and “Compatibility is Only a Thought Away”. Pransky is a practitioner of “Positive Psychology” which essentially posits that “it’s all in our heads”. With that in mind, one can change the trajectory of a marriage by changing a simple thought pattern.

The chapters start out with stating a “Myth” about the topic at hand, then stating “The Grain of Truth”, and then describing the “change of heart” (really the change of mind) that it takes to overcome the difficulty, whether it is perceived lack of compatibility or feelings of dissatisfaction. As a result, effortless, permanent change can actually occur in cases where the couple thought they were stuck at an impasse. Try it. It makes great bedtime reading with your spouse.


Dr. George Pransky, Ph.D, suggests an analogy to illustrate how couples resolve conflict. Imagine a couple spending a romantic evening in front of a fireplace in their old home when, suddenly, they become aware of a chilling draft. They may elect either to search for the cracks allowing cold air to penetrate and then install weatherproofing, or to throw another log on the fire, thereby producing more warmth.

I have found that people considering divorce invest most of their emotional and intellectual resources in “weatherproofing” their marriage or wondering how to do so. Yet, just as weatherproofing will lessen a draft but will not generate warmth, a critical approach to problems may halt unwanted behaviour but will not engender intimacy.

Focusing intently upon their concerns and disappointments, spouses forget to enjoy their marriage and to invest emotionally in this crucial relationship. When one partner is dissatisfied with the marriage, an entirely new strategy is necessary. Spouses must resolve to renounce old anger and presumptions, to stop thinking “If he (or she) would only do what I want.” They must assume responsibility for becoming proactive, rather than passive or merely reactionary, in envisioning and realising a productive marriage

Learn how to listen attentively to your spouse’s needs and views without superimposing your own “agenda,” and to respond appropriately. I have seen many presumably unsalvageable marriages transformed when partners began to feel that their needs were being recognised. This sense of “validation” replaces resentment with respect, understanding, love and hope. When pathology and blame are exchanged for a desire for health and growth, relationships mature and the bond between the spouses strengthens and deepens. Marriage should, and can, be fulfilling and holy.

While I recognize that the sobering divorce statistics cannot found a good marriage, my prayer is that the above information will reach those couples that have given up trying to improve their marital relationships. Adopting a new approach, even to problems that seem intractable, will enable them to embark upon the rewarding process of re-inventing their sacred bonds.

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  • […] tools for communication and change. Books can also help. I highly recommend George Pransky’s The Relationship Handbook for spousal reading, chapter by chapter, in bed before going to sleep. Pransky is a PhD […]