Terry Real's New Rules of Marriage - 1/28/07

Smartmarriages smartmarriages at lists101.his.com
Sun Jan 28 14:24:18 EST 2007

Books of Style
Mars and Venus, Coping With the 21st Century
The New York Times 
Sunday, January 28, 2007

Mating, Dating and Techno-Relating.
By Kristina Grish.
176 pp., Simon Spotlight Entertainment.

What You Need to Know to Make Love Work.
By Terrence Real.
320 pp., Ballantine.

LONG ago, in that dark, clamorous age before the ¹90s really got under way ‹
sometime after Wham! dropped off radio playlists, but before Vanilla Ice had
evaporated ‹ most people did not have e-mail or cellphones, and there were
no such things as Match.com, instant messaging, text messaging, BlackBerry
or MySpace. Back then, men and women had to actually meet in person, or
phone each other, if they wanted to talk. But scientific advances have
brought remarkable progress to the dating game, right? Not necessarily.

In ³The Joy of Text: Mating, Dating and Techno-Relating,² the foxy young
relationship pundit Kristina Grish (the author of ³Boy Vey!² ‹ tips for
non-Jewish women who hope to snare Jewish boyfriends ‹ among other advice
guides) shows that the great leap forward in communication has dragged along
with it a blight of text-driven power games and misunderstandings.

For instance, when a woman abruptly logs off an I.M. exchange, does she mean
it to sting or to tantalize? How long do you wait to respond to an e-mail
message (up to three days is not insulting, Ms. Grish believes) and text
messages (more than a few hours is probably a brushoff)?

Also, she cautions, be careful how you word your techno flirtation:
misspellings can be cute, or can make you look like a moron, while quirky
punctuation can make you seem unstable. If you use too many exclamation
points in your BlackBerry messages, you¹ll look slap-happy. If you use ALL
CAPS, your iChats can resemble death threats. ³Like it or not, you are what
you type,² Ms. Grish declares. Shrewdly and wittily, she points the way on
alphanumeric dating.

Her recommendations are often strikingly specific. An especially useful one:
What should you do when a cyber-Cyrano sends you long, eloquent missives,
but never asks you out? Pull a few words from his e-mail message that could
be ³easily misconstrued² and tease him with them. Ms. Grish instructs: ³Your
only response is one sentence: ŒI¹m sorry, but you just used the words
³hot,² ³pursuing² and ³strapped² in that last e-mail and I¹m still
recovering. ... Is there something you wanted to ask me?¹ ²

But be careful of the passions you whip up, she warns, and remember that
once you hit ³send,² you cannot prevent your correspondent from hitting
³forward,² or worse, posting your steamy prose on his blog, where it can be
salivated over ³by strangers with a bucket of popcorn.²

LIKE Ms. Grish, the relationship counselor Terrence Real recognizes that the
last decades have seen a revolution in the dealings between men and women
that has flummoxed both sexes. ³For most of us, whatever we learned growing
up about relationships is simply not sophisticated enough to deliver all
that we hope for,² he writes.

He adds consolingly, ³You have been trying to negotiate a 21st-century
relationship using 20th-century skills.² In ³The New Rules of Marriage,² he
provides a set of ³operating instructions² for modern couples, illustrated
by compassionately told case studies of embattled clients he has led away
from the brink of divorce.

Mr. Real isn¹t afraid to make breathtakingly bold statements. ³In the last
generation women have radically changed, and men, by and large, have not,²
he writes. As a result, ³Men are not all that unhappy in their marriages.
They are unhappy that their women are so unhappy with them.² Women, on the
other hand, ³want radical transformation.² They want their marriages to be
³intimate² (new paradigm), not ³companionable² (old paradigm).

If this in fact is what women want (sounds about right to me), many of them
have an awfully strange way of going about it, as Mr. Real¹s true-life
stories show.

Venting, criticizing, blaming and complaining ‹ all in the name of ³honest
expression² ‹ too many women provoke resentment, not sympathy, in their
mates, he explains. The men respond by giving in to their worst impulses,
like withdrawal, bullying, arrogance or stonewalling, hoping to ride out the

How can we all get along? By replacing accusation with understanding, Mr.
Real suggests, and continually posing the question: ³What can I give you to
help you give me what I want?²

Mr. Real blames psychotherapy, in part, for the communication impasse: too
many Americans, he believes, have been encouraged to seek ³personal
empowerment² rather than ³relationship empowerment,² putting themselves
first, and not trying hard enough to appreciate their partner¹s good points.

He identifies five major pitfalls that trip up the over-empowered
individual: Unbridled Self-Expression, Needing to Be Right, Controlling Our
Partner, Retaliation, and Withdrawal. And he provides exercises so couples
can assess their own flaws (no, don¹t surprise your partner by showing him
your bullet-pointed list of his failings), and strategies to increase

Mr. Real knows that readers may feel overwhelmed by his unsparing solutions
to tough-love woes. He writes, ³A part of you may be wondering, ŒHas the
game of love really grown so technical that I need an intimacy coach just to
have a decent relationship?¹ ² In a word: Yes. Luckily, you should be able
to track one down on the Internet.

Buy the book now, and have him sign it at Smart Marriages in June.

> The New Rules of Marriage:
> What You Need to Know to Make Love Work
> Terrance Real
> $17.22 Ballentine Books, 2007, ISBN: 140006401
> Women have changed in the last twenty-five years­they've become powerful,
> independent, self-confident, and happy. Yet many men remain irresponsible and
> emotionally detached. They don¹t know how to respond to frustrated partners
> who just want their mates to show up and grow up. Real identifies five
> non-starters to avoid and shares practical strategies for bringing honesty,
> passion, and joy back to even the most difficult relationship.
Order on amazon for only $17.22 at

It's 4th book listed, just click on the title to order.

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