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Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships

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Passionate Marriage is recognized as the pioneering book on intimate human relationships. With a new preface by the author, this updated edition explores the ways we can keep passion alive and even reach the height of sexual and emotional fulfillment later in life. David Schnarch accompanies his inspirational message of attaining long-term happiness with proven techniques Passionate Marriage is recognized as the pioneering book on intimate human relationships. With a new preface by the author, this updated edition explores the ways we can keep passion alive and even reach the height of sexual and emotional fulfillment later in life. David Schnarch accompanies his inspirational message of attaining long-term happiness with proven techniques developed in worldwide workshops to help couples develop greater intimacy. Chapters provide the scaffolding for overcoming sexual and emotional roadblocks— from evaluating personal expectations to laying the groundwork for keeping the sparks alive years down the road, and everything in between. This book is sure to help couples overcome hurdles in their relationships and reach the fullest potential in their love lives.


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Passionate Marriage is recognized as the pioneering book on intimate human relationships. With a new preface by the author, this updated edition explores the ways we can keep passion alive and even reach the height of sexual and emotional fulfillment later in life. David Schnarch accompanies his inspirational message of attaining long-term happiness with proven techniques Passionate Marriage is recognized as the pioneering book on intimate human relationships. With a new preface by the author, this updated edition explores the ways we can keep passion alive and even reach the height of sexual and emotional fulfillment later in life. David Schnarch accompanies his inspirational message of attaining long-term happiness with proven techniques developed in worldwide workshops to help couples develop greater intimacy. Chapters provide the scaffolding for overcoming sexual and emotional roadblocks— from evaluating personal expectations to laying the groundwork for keeping the sparks alive years down the road, and everything in between. This book is sure to help couples overcome hurdles in their relationships and reach the fullest potential in their love lives.

30 review for Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships

  1. 4 out of 5

    Fairlyfeisty Dragonwagon

    I read this book at a time of painful difficulty - would the much-cherished marriage I'd been in many years actually come to an end (unthinkable) or would we, or I, or him, find a way to get to the bottom of what "went wrong" as we then thought, and from there, reinvent? That was ten years ago. Schnarch wholly shifted my paradigm, not just on relationship but of everything. For starters, pain and difficulty don't mean something "went wrong" but, rather, went right in the sense of... marriage, li I read this book at a time of painful difficulty - would the much-cherished marriage I'd been in many years actually come to an end (unthinkable) or would we, or I, or him, find a way to get to the bottom of what "went wrong" as we then thought, and from there, reinvent? That was ten years ago. Schnarch wholly shifted my paradigm, not just on relationship but of everything. For starters, pain and difficulty don't mean something "went wrong" but, rather, went right in the sense of... marriage, like life, is constructed so as to have these periods... it's part of how it works, right down to the uncertainty. The "non-pathological" approach - not making something wrong just because it's hard - was the beginning of what opened into the hugest, most joyful, reawakening, better than what I could have imagined, because the process we traveled, individually and jointly (with the help of this approach) was so outside of my scope, and yet, so "Oh! Right!" as I got pieces of it. But my scope, my heart, my life, my sense of loving and living, grew and grew, and we grew into the most passionate of marriages. About three years after we went through that huge upheaval and well into the joyful glide that followed, he died suddenly, in an accident (words that still, all these years later, sometimes strike me as unbelievable). But right from the beginning, the unreal horror of deciding about organ donation, cremation options, for someone who had been wholly and lovingly alive that morning... right from the start, I kept thinking, "Thank God we got through our stuff. Thank God Passionate Marriage came into our hands when it did." For it turned out that not only did the ideas therein enable me to grow up and into marriage, in the deepest and profound sense, they also helped me live through the non-negotiable loss that his death was. Ultimately, one's first passionate marriage is to one's self --- only from a steadiness there can one truly, non-manipulatively, love... Out of desire and wanting, not neediness, and not out of the mistaken idea that a relationship provides safety. (It doesn't. It can't. Nothing does... life is inherently unsafe.) Because of the work we did, and I did on my own, parallel to the late love of my life, I was able to live through his death. All of this said, I find Schnarch's case histories and opening chapters clunky and not well-written. But stick with it --- the underlying theory is elegant. As for the writing, it gets better and better. The final chapter, "Death, Sex, and Love" is one I read over and over when he and I went through our crisis... and then again, when he left this world so abruptly. The writing, the ideas, the truth is moving, crystalline, unavoidable, powerful.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nina Bradley

    This is a book I needed to read when I was a teenager. My review of five stars is not based on how well the author writes or communicates, but rather how important I think this information is. We grow up with a distorted sense of what love and intimacy are all about. That is to say we think it is all about us and our needs. We seek to fulfill ourselves through our relationships and get our needs met and our very selves validated by other people. The Passionate Marriage approach (although I think This is a book I needed to read when I was a teenager. My review of five stars is not based on how well the author writes or communicates, but rather how important I think this information is. We grow up with a distorted sense of what love and intimacy are all about. That is to say we think it is all about us and our needs. We seek to fulfill ourselves through our relationships and get our needs met and our very selves validated by other people. The Passionate Marriage approach (although I think it applies across all relationships and not just marriage) is that we must first validate and develop ourselves and only then can we truly experience the intimacy that we desire. Any intimacy that is based on fear and neediness can never truly fulfill you. Intimacy based on self-fulfillment and personal strength means that you are choosing your partner for who they are and NOT who you need them to be for you. I've read other books that contain these same ideas (Harriet Lerner's "Dance of" books for example) but for some reason Passionate Marriage was the one that really connected with me at a visceral level.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lena

    Early in his career, Passionate Marriage author David Snarch found it odd that sex therapy and marital therapy were two entirely separate disciplines. He spent the next several decades refining his theory that what happens in the bedroom can be an important window into the dynamics of the greater marriage itself. Though ostensibly about sex, Passionate Marriage is really about the process of individuation. Learning how to be an individual and a partner at the same time is no easy task for many of Early in his career, Passionate Marriage author David Snarch found it odd that sex therapy and marital therapy were two entirely separate disciplines. He spent the next several decades refining his theory that what happens in the bedroom can be an important window into the dynamics of the greater marriage itself. Though ostensibly about sex, Passionate Marriage is really about the process of individuation. Learning how to be an individual and a partner at the same time is no easy task for many of us, and this book offers important insights into the process of growth that intimate relationships inevitably force us into. Much of Snarch’s theory is relayed through case studies of actual couples he has worked with over the years. Those who are not comfortable reading detailed discussions about the sex lives of others will probably find this book difficult. But those who are okay with frank sexual conversation will likely find a lot of very valuable information about how to create more satisfying intimate relationships in this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Myridian

    This is Schnarch's attempt at merging marital and sex therapy. My reaction to this book is very mixed. On the one hand I think that there are a lot of valuable points in the book. On the other, I really disliked reading it, only finished it because I was getting CE credits for it (available on http://www.ce-credit.com/ btw) and felt I had to read every word, and feel there are some serious limitations to his conceptualization. So first the good. Scharch's two main points are 1) that self-soothing This is Schnarch's attempt at merging marital and sex therapy. My reaction to this book is very mixed. On the one hand I think that there are a lot of valuable points in the book. On the other, I really disliked reading it, only finished it because I was getting CE credits for it (available on http://www.ce-credit.com/ btw) and felt I had to read every word, and feel there are some serious limitations to his conceptualization. So first the good. Scharch's two main points are 1) that self-soothing is important within marital conflict (or really any interpersonal interaction) and 2) that marital conflict is normal. Both of these points are very valid. Scharch also offers some nice suggestions for increasing emotional intimacy during sex and points out that self-focused sexual contacts are often the norm for couples which limits the interpersonal connection that can occur through sex. However, that is about the extent of Scharch's discussion of sex therapy. The remainder of the book really focuses on marital therapy. Now on to the bad and there's quite a bit of it. I'm breaking my complaints down into different domains. First is writing style, second is ethnocentricism, and third is conceptual validity. As far as writing style goes, this book pretty much sucks. - It's repetitive and wordy in the extreme. (I really did only finish it because I felt I ethically had to to get my ce credits.) - Scharch presents exercises during the narrative, but nowhere does he actually systematically write out suggested procedures for people to try. This is pretty unheard of in modern self-help type books. - Scharch comes across as highly narcissistic. He states initially in his preface to this edition that there is nothing that he would change about the original writing of the book which just begs readers to pick it apart. Which I then did. Also, all of the examples he uses of him doing therapy and from his marriage also come across and self satisfied and self congratulatory BS. Enough said on this point. The writing style I can kind of forgive in the interest of having useful content. The problems of sublte prejudice and ethnocentricism I had a harder time with. - Scharch states in his preface that while he uses all heterosexual married couples in his examples, the book is intended to be useful for individuals in homosexual or nontraditional relationships. Again I call BS. You cannot simply say this and have it be so, particularly when you are talking about explicit sexual content without mentioning how to apply it to a homosexual relationship. - Scharch chooses to alternate between using male and female pronouns in his text. I am all for this. However, he tends (with a few exceptions) to selectively uses female pronouns for what would be considered weak or needy roles within a relatinoship. - Finally, and perhaps most damningly, the whole concept of differentiation is firmly rooted in an individualistic culture and discounts the communal focus of much of the world. I think there are probably ways of reconciling this, but Scharch did not acknowledge this, mention it, or attempt to address it. Finally the conceptual validity - Scharch annoyed me again by saying in the preface that there had been research done on his ideas since the original printing of the book and then not providing references or even a brief summary other than saying it all supports what he says. Again, another way in which the book could have used revising! - The explanation of differentiation is circular. Basically you are differentiated if you are having positive outcomes. There really is no operationalization of the concept that satisfied me. This calls into question the validity of the whole book. But that said, I liked the focus on self-soothing which is also a hallmark of dialectical behavior therapy which does have empirical support. Also normalizing marital distress is useful and focusing on strategies for resolving this successfully. I would say though that there are a number of other books I would recommend that focus on these concepts without having to put yourself through reading this particular book: Hold Me Tight Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love and The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert are two and I also like Don't Let Your Emotions Run Your Life How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Can Put You in Control as a nice DBT introduction.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Two things I did not like: 1)The part that degenerates into self-help. (I loathe self-help books because they tell me what to do.) 2) The title. A boring but more apt title might be "Understanding Identity, Sexuality & Intimacy". That said, I can't recall ever reading a book the way I read this one. I cried, I reread, I underlined and starred, I put it down for a few minutes every now and then so I could think. Because I have spent the past five or so years struggling intensely with identity and Two things I did not like: 1)The part that degenerates into self-help. (I loathe self-help books because they tell me what to do.) 2) The title. A boring but more apt title might be "Understanding Identity, Sexuality & Intimacy". That said, I can't recall ever reading a book the way I read this one. I cried, I reread, I underlined and starred, I put it down for a few minutes every now and then so I could think. Because I have spent the past five or so years struggling intensely with identity and intimacy, I can attest to some of the truths presented. Others I hope to be able to test in the future. I would say that I wish I had read this book as a young adult, but I really don't think I would have gotten much out of it. All the same, I'm determined to find ways to share its wisdom with my children. For instance, I was raised in a church that taught, "If you save sex for marriage it will be a beautiful, sacred experience that will draw you closer to your spouse." Really, it was that simple. But of course it wasn't. Passionate Marriage helped me understand exactly how this can happen. I would really like to discuss this book with someone I know, so please read it. Soon.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Margareta Ackerman

    Without a shred of a doubt, the best book on marriage out there. This is the book that saved my marriage. I recommend it to all my friends and everyone I meet whose marriage is in trouble. Unlike the great majority of other books on the subject, this one explains that marriage isn't just about being nice to each other, listening, understanding, caring, etc. It is a complex system with inevitable hard times. It explains how your relationships fit into your life a whole, and how a marital crisis is Without a shred of a doubt, the best book on marriage out there. This is the book that saved my marriage. I recommend it to all my friends and everyone I meet whose marriage is in trouble. Unlike the great majority of other books on the subject, this one explains that marriage isn't just about being nice to each other, listening, understanding, caring, etc. It is a complex system with inevitable hard times. It explains how your relationships fit into your life a whole, and how a marital crisis is an incredible opportunity for self-growth. The tension between our need for companionship and our need for freedom and autonomy are explained. This book walked me through what led to my marital crisis, and explained the process by which it would heal, giving me the necessary tool. This book doesn't trivialize marriage, how difficult a crisis can be, and how hard it is to work out difficulties in a marriage. It doesn't give any kind of "10-steps" that look great on paper but don't make any difference. Instead, it hits the nail on head showing you exactly what got you to do in a crisis, and what needs to happen for things to get back to normal - or, often, better than normal. If your marriage is in trouble - read this. You might be very happy you did.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kerim

    In the work I've done helping others with their relationships, I've had the opportunity to read plenty of self-help books on relationships. Most of the time I find the books useless, if not harmful. On the recommendation of a friend I checked this book out from the library. Now I'm buying it. I'm also recommending it to every person I know who is ready to make improvements in ALL of their relationships--including their relationships with their self. While other books focus on trying to communicat In the work I've done helping others with their relationships, I've had the opportunity to read plenty of self-help books on relationships. Most of the time I find the books useless, if not harmful. On the recommendation of a friend I checked this book out from the library. Now I'm buying it. I'm also recommending it to every person I know who is ready to make improvements in ALL of their relationships--including their relationships with their self. While other books focus on trying to communicate and on trying to nail down a specific pattern or behavior, this book recommends learning more about yourself and learning how to be true to yourself in order to act from that position in any relationship. Only by knowing what we want as individuals can we be true to others. Read this book, even if you think your relationships are great. You'll learn something about yourself and how you walk in the world.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    This is required reading for couples, and relationship therapists, for sure; chapters 1-2 and 11-13 in particular (if you don't have the time or interest to get through the whole thing). I do think, however, that this book suffers from some of the same things the other marriage bookshelf standard "Hold Me Tight" does—both authors oversell their theory (in this case "differentiation"; in the latter, "attachment"). When you're a hammer... Yet, both are very useful, and shed some fascinating light o This is required reading for couples, and relationship therapists, for sure; chapters 1-2 and 11-13 in particular (if you don't have the time or interest to get through the whole thing). I do think, however, that this book suffers from some of the same things the other marriage bookshelf standard "Hold Me Tight" does—both authors oversell their theory (in this case "differentiation"; in the latter, "attachment"). When you're a hammer... Yet, both are very useful, and shed some fascinating light on romantic relationships, even if they are somewhat impossible to integrate (let's be honest, ha!). Read it. Digest it. Let it hit you. Argue with it. See what sticks. Regardless of how you come away feeling about Schnarch or his mysterious Crucible Approach (I say "mysterious" because it's not an approach to therapy that is disseminated through accessible trainings or manuals), there's enough here to really provoke a lot of thought, and at best facilitate some personal and relationship growth.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Teresa Catlin

    Although this book is almost as weighty as a textbook, I HIGHLY recommend it! It is the first NEW point of view on marriage and relationships that I'd read for a very long time. It is not really about sex--at least not for its own sake--but looks at sex as the "crucible" in which a lot of emotional issues are worked out. It is a book that I think everyone, if they were willing to read it, would get a lot of insight from. It's interesting to me that so few of the people I've given it to or recomme Although this book is almost as weighty as a textbook, I HIGHLY recommend it! It is the first NEW point of view on marriage and relationships that I'd read for a very long time. It is not really about sex--at least not for its own sake--but looks at sex as the "crucible" in which a lot of emotional issues are worked out. It is a book that I think everyone, if they were willing to read it, would get a lot of insight from. It's interesting to me that so few of the people I've given it to or recommended it to have actually taken the time to read it. It DOESN'T have how-to tips for steamy nights, or easy answers. But for those willing to put the philosophy into practice, I suspect their relationships would change for the better.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Although a noble idea and a potentially juicy topic, the clinical nature of this book made it difficult to slog through to the actually useful information...wait, was there any actually useful information? I'm not sure. I couldn't get through the first few chapters. Amazing how an author can take a subject as promising and fun as sex and intimacy and make it sterilized and boring. Oh well. My advice to the seeker, read "Tantra: The Art of Conscious Loving" by the Muir's if you are really interes Although a noble idea and a potentially juicy topic, the clinical nature of this book made it difficult to slog through to the actually useful information...wait, was there any actually useful information? I'm not sure. I couldn't get through the first few chapters. Amazing how an author can take a subject as promising and fun as sex and intimacy and make it sterilized and boring. Oh well. My advice to the seeker, read "Tantra: The Art of Conscious Loving" by the Muir's if you are really interested in cultivating a passionate marriage/relationship.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tracy McMillan

    This is one of the best relationship books ever written! I have a dog-eared copy that is going on ten years old... and every time I open it, I learn something new. An absolute MUST READ for every woman who has ever been in a relationship.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    This is a must read for anyone who is in a committed, monogamous relationship. I also recommend it for people who are single. If you are among my many friends who are also members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stick around until the end for some notes specifically for you. This book did a lot for me. It gave me a new lens through which to view myself, my marriage, and all of my human relationships. It also helps me see the behavior of others, both in their marriages and oth This is a must read for anyone who is in a committed, monogamous relationship. I also recommend it for people who are single. If you are among my many friends who are also members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stick around until the end for some notes specifically for you. This book did a lot for me. It gave me a new lens through which to view myself, my marriage, and all of my human relationships. It also helps me see the behavior of others, both in their marriages and otherwise, in a new light and approach my view of others in a more compassionate and understanding way. It gave me a greater depth of appreciation for the goodness that already exists in my marriage and in my chosen partner, while at the same time showing me with clarity the areas where I can improve it. I've never felt such a keen understanding of our potential as a couple. Yes, this book addresses sex and intimacy in committed relationships, but it's really about marriage in the truest sense. Schnarch teaches with humor about what is often a heavy and difficult topic -- real intimacy. He asserts that it is our separateness that draws us together, that holding onto ourselves is what allows us to really be intimate with another person, emotionally and sexually (I think the book really illustrates how emotional intimacy can occur outside of sexual relationships, but real sexual intimacy is inextricably connected with emotional intimacy). I did not go into this book in a rocky marriage on the verge of divorce, rather from a position of feeling generally pretty good about my marriage, but wanting more for it, so I cannot tell you this book will save your marriage, but I could see that as a realistic outcome for some people. That being said, reading this book did result in the desired improvement in my marriage because it resulted in some big improvements in myself! The reason I recommend this for singles also is because it is about improving your marriage by improving YOU. Your partner doesn't need to read this for it to “work”! You can single handedly improve your relationships -- present or future -- by doing what he refers to as differentiation or “holding onto yourself.” I can honestly say I'm a better, happier person for having read this book. One last note -- this book is pretty accessible, but it's a rather weighty read. If you're not very used to reading academic language, there are some sections that might bog you down. His first and last chapters require some wading, but they are both worth it, in my opinion, and all the other chapters are pretty compelling and easy to get through. Notes for LDS friends: I came across this book as a recommendation from Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife (a well know LDS sex therapist) in a podcast I listened to. It has some graphic, but clinical descriptions of sexual encounters between married people. If that idea makes you uncomfortable, it probably wouldn't hurt to listen to some of the Rational Faiths podcasts entitled Ask a Mormon Sex Therapist before picking this up, and I very highly recommend that you do both of those things. Sexual repression is a thing, even for married, sexually active adults. Dr. Fife does an amazing job of parsing the cultural from the religious views about sex in the Church. While the author of this book is not LDS, reading it has brought my attention to the fact that our theology is rife with examples of this idea of differentiation -- holding onto yourself while being interdependent with someone else. Our theology is strongly supportive of this author's message and reading it has prompted personal and spiritual growth and an increase in testimony for myself. Basically this is a social-science view on how to develop yourself into a more loving human being. From a secular angle, this guy has figured out one of the keys to a celestial marriage.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kevan

    Intense, blunt, enlightening, inspiring. A vision for marriage that transcends mundane visions I've heard before, rooted in deep clinical study. Schnarch (what a name) presents marriage as the pinnacle of human evolution, deep connection as the ultimate path to eroticism, and straight-ahead conflict as the necessary door to long-term happiness. I only made it through 45% of this book before abandoning it earlier this year (it just seemed so lengthy; but reading on an eReader I had a hard time ga Intense, blunt, enlightening, inspiring. A vision for marriage that transcends mundane visions I've heard before, rooted in deep clinical study. Schnarch (what a name) presents marriage as the pinnacle of human evolution, deep connection as the ultimate path to eroticism, and straight-ahead conflict as the necessary door to long-term happiness. I only made it through 45% of this book before abandoning it earlier this year (it just seemed so lengthy; but reading on an eReader I had a hard time gauging such how much was left), but many of the concepts introduced have stuck with me clearly. Like these: - Differentiation: Healthy relationships need each partner able to clearly be themselves, fully 'differentiated.' - There's our reptilian brain, our mammalian brain, and then our neo-cortex, the fully-alive human mind. Sex rooted in simple impulse is the easy stuff, the responding to our mammalian impulses. But a relationship where being "known" is part of the equation creates the type of relational intensity only humans are capable of. His writing here, hinting at the transcendence we're capable of, is inspiring because of its dry, clinical, neuroscience. He's just describing neurology...and somehow leading you to understand peak experiences. Worth a read, for sure, if you can handle the unconventional intensity of an academic sex therapist tackling marriage. "It's very thinky," I would say.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    I LOVE THIS BOOK! Schnarch’s thesis can be condensed into the following quote, “Trusting me isn’t going to change you; trusting (and mobilizing) yourself will. The endpoint of differentiation is being willing and able to trust yourself” What is so fantastic about Schnarch theory is that its application is not limited to the context of marriage; but any intimate relationship. The process of differentiation is a journey of discovering oneself and can only occur in the context of close relationship I LOVE THIS BOOK! Schnarch’s thesis can be condensed into the following quote, “Trusting me isn’t going to change you; trusting (and mobilizing) yourself will. The endpoint of differentiation is being willing and able to trust yourself” What is so fantastic about Schnarch theory is that its application is not limited to the context of marriage; but any intimate relationship. The process of differentiation is a journey of discovering oneself and can only occur in the context of close relationships. He reminds us that differentiation is not a behavior that we adopt; it is a process of becoming more fully oneself while tolerating closeness and maintaining relationship with other. This book is a layman's version of his more weighty work, "The Sexual Crucible". As a future therapist, this is the modality that resonates as the healthiest approach to helping people look to intimacy as a context for growth rather than a other-validated unit that leads only to disillusionment and disappointment (We never get the acceptance and validation we are seeking from the other....we can only provide it for ourselves). Schnarch calls it holding onto oneself while tolerating closeness with another. There is so much depth and so many 'aha moments while reading this work, its one I know I will return to over and over as I move forward into practice.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Duc

    Differentiation, self-validation. I randomly picked up this book and B&N. Then flip through it. It talks frankly. I was shock to find the author's differentiations between sex, love making, and f*ing. This greatly impressed as most book of this nature doesn't talk honestly about the subject. At the same time, I also picked up 'Seven Levels of Intimacy'. After reading some of the Goodreads reviews, I'm convinced that I should read this book before any other self-help books on relationships. Dr. Sc Differentiation, self-validation. I randomly picked up this book and B&N. Then flip through it. It talks frankly. I was shock to find the author's differentiations between sex, love making, and f*ing. This greatly impressed as most book of this nature doesn't talk honestly about the subject. At the same time, I also picked up 'Seven Levels of Intimacy'. After reading some of the Goodreads reviews, I'm convinced that I should read this book before any other self-help books on relationships. Dr. Schnark talks about 'Hugging Till Relaxed' I notice at the airport that people rarely hug for more then four seconds. I only saw one couple that hugged for more then four seconds and it seem eternal. The beginning and end of the film 'Love Actually', there were shots of people greeting each other with warm love and expectations. This version of the book doesn't have the cover of a couple kissing with eyes open. That's the other concept which breaks the stereo type of romance and intimacy.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Carli

    I wasn't sure if I should include this book on my virtual bookshelf because there is a lot that might (will) offend the lds person. The language can be frank and graphic and Dr Schnarch includes peeks into the sex lives of his patients that is often just too much. I mean, you can skim or skip those parts, obviously, but things tend to sneak into view. So I don't recommend this lightly or broadly. Having said that, I think that he includes those things in good faith (from his point of view) and n I wasn't sure if I should include this book on my virtual bookshelf because there is a lot that might (will) offend the lds person. The language can be frank and graphic and Dr Schnarch includes peeks into the sex lives of his patients that is often just too much. I mean, you can skim or skip those parts, obviously, but things tend to sneak into view. So I don't recommend this lightly or broadly. Having said that, I think that he includes those things in good faith (from his point of view) and not to be salacious. The thing is, I wish I could blindly recommend this book to every person I know because, in many ways, it is amazing. It isn't about how to improve your intimate (sexual) relationship by trying this or doing that - there is NONE of that in this book; it is about growing up, developing integrity, and ultimately improving intimacy itself with your partner. This book and Dr Schnarch's description of differentiation had a profound positive affect on me, on the way I see myself, and on the way I see and approach my marriage.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I hesitated putting this book on my virtual bookshelf because some may find the language and details offensive or too descriptive. Those parts can be skimmed over if you want. However, this is not a sex "how to" book. It is all about maturing in a committed relationship (marriage) and confronting yourself and acting out of integrity. The crucible of marriage, as David Schnarch explains, is all about a marriage falling together when it appears to be falling apart. Differentiation is the key to a I hesitated putting this book on my virtual bookshelf because some may find the language and details offensive or too descriptive. Those parts can be skimmed over if you want. However, this is not a sex "how to" book. It is all about maturing in a committed relationship (marriage) and confronting yourself and acting out of integrity. The crucible of marriage, as David Schnarch explains, is all about a marriage falling together when it appears to be falling apart. Differentiation is the key to a deeper, more meaningful, and happier relationship within marriage, and with all of the relationships in your life. This book had a profound impact on me.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    The first two chapters are quite good abouts differentiation and its importance in relationship. I stopped reading shortly after that as the quality of the book and the extent of the author's ego threatened to negate anything useful he had to say in the beginning. The first two chapters are quite good abouts differentiation and its importance in relationship. I stopped reading shortly after that as the quality of the book and the extent of the author's ego threatened to negate anything useful he had to say in the beginning.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Henry Le Nav

    I have wanted to read this book for a long time, but it was not available in a Kindle edition. I am too old and cranky to be fooling around with Dead Tree Books, so sadly this book remained on my wishlist. Last month, finally, the book was available on Kindle and I bought it and started reading it immediately. I have always considered that love and sex, while separate things, are somewhat twisted together like the two snakes on Mercury’s caduceus. Schnarch goes a step further and considers marri I have wanted to read this book for a long time, but it was not available in a Kindle edition. I am too old and cranky to be fooling around with Dead Tree Books, so sadly this book remained on my wishlist. Last month, finally, the book was available on Kindle and I bought it and started reading it immediately. I have always considered that love and sex, while separate things, are somewhat twisted together like the two snakes on Mercury’s caduceus. Schnarch goes a step further and considers marriage and sex to be very much related. His approach is that a couple seeking sexual therapy will also benefit from marital therapy and vice versa. Schnarch does both therapies and the couple receives both. It makes sense, a troubled sex life could be symptomatic of a troubled marriage and a troubled marriage could be symptomatic of sexual difficulties. So why not look at and treat both at the same time? A good bit of this book is devoted to the concept of the differentiation of the individuals in the marriage and how to use increased differentiation to strengthen the individuals and thereby strengthen their marriage. By differentiation, I’m referring to standing up for what you believe. Calming yourself down, not letting your anxiety run away with you, and not getting overreactive. Not caving in to pressure to conform from a “partner” who has tremendous emotional significance in your life (in this case, my professor/chairman). Great abilities to have when you’re married. Schnarch PhD, David. Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships. Midpoint Trade Books. Kindle Edition. Location 149. Increasing differentiation is increasing the growth of an individual. In a marriage when one of the partners increases their differentiation they provide something of a dilemma to the other partner: grow with your partner and the marriage grows, resist growth and the marriage suffers. That is somewhat of a simplification but it gets the idea across. The condition of the marriage is often reflected in their sex life and vice versa. So Schnarch tries to improve both a couple’s marriage and their sex life by increasing the differentiation of both individuals. In fact he uses exercises, some of them sexual, to increase the differentiation of both partners. So on the juicer side of this book, Schnarch describes “wall-socket sex” which: involves physical and emotional union in the context of consuming mutual desire, heart-stopping intimacy, and deep meaningfulness. It includes multiple levels of psychological involvement and taps all capacities that are uniquely human, including mutuality, integrity, and spirituality. Schnarch PhD, David. Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships. Midpoint Trade Books. Kindle Edition. Location 1620. Under the exercises there are “hugging till relaxed”, "eyes open" foreplay, intercourse, and orgasm, and then my favorite chapter, chapter 10. Chapter 10 may be a bit much for some people, so let me introduce it gently. I have always had a poor vocabulary and have peppered it with some blue language to enliven it a bit. In fact some would say that like Ralphy’s father in The Christmas Story, I have “worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was [my] true medium, a master.” Yet for all of the “tapestries of obscenity” I have weaved, I have been strangely reluctant to describe what my wife and I do in the bedroom as fucking. Yet Schnarch tells me that is exactly what we are doing or should be doing in chapter 10 “Fucking, Doing, and Being Done: It Isn’t What You Do, It’s the Way You Do It.” Is that a gasp of outraged shock or a sigh of boredom that I hear from you dear reader? Oh big deal an author of a sex manual used the F word. Get over it. Indeed I have read many books on sex where intercourse was called by some of its cruder names and it was no big deal. But those books were written by people that you would expect that from. This is different. Schnarch is a very respected marriage and sex therapist and he works in cohoots with his wife. Imagine you and your spouse are having some difficulties in your marriage and you go to your priest or minister seeking advice and you get told “you two need to fuck each other hard.” There is an intentionality to the way Schnarch uses it. He is not just saying have sex, he is saying fuck each other as though your marriage depends on it. So Schnarch states his reasons for using that word and provides explanation of what it is: Fucking is a subjective quality accompanying some sexual acts, including intercourse. Fucking without intercourse is possible—it’s the embodiment of “anatomy-independent” eroticism and part of your sexual potential. Being able to fuck only during intercourse is anatomy-dependent; still, that’s further than many couples get. It doesn’t make sense to think of fucking as synonymous with intercourse, because many who’ve done the latter have never experienced the former. Some people “make love” specifically to avoid it. Fucking involves a unique tone of engagement and experience. People who know it know when they feel it—and with whom they feel it. To those who like it, it’s often more important than orgasm itself. Fucking embodies a lusty, lascivious eagerness for pleasure . . . a delicious, desirous wantonness. It is the opposite of crudeness; it is sex embellished with erotic virtuosity. There is deliberate intent to arouse (and satisfy) passion. Fucking makes for intense sexual encounters. Fucking involves doing and being done—as in doing your partner and being done by him or her. It’s the doing and being done that some crave and others fear. It involves energy exchange through patterns of coordinated stimulation and role behaviors. Schnarch PhD, David. Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships. Midpoint Trade Books. Kindle Edition. Location 4716 After chapter 10 the book goes into various discussions of what occurs during conflict and growth from the opportunities of differentiation that marriage provides. Concepts such as the two choice dilemma, the crucible of survival, and critical mass are discussed. But it was his final chapter, Chapter 14, “Sex, Love, and Death” that I found the most poignant. This chapter deals with the built in catastrophe of love and marriage, the loss of a spouse. As we grow older, the so called golden years, the disaster of one of us parting looms. I have often joked that my plan for us is to die together in a furnace explosion while making love on her 100th birthday, our bodies being inseparably melted together in an infinite moment of ecstasy. Well as lofty as a goal as that may be, furnace explosions are hard to pull off, can make a mess of the neighborhood, and generally not considered in good taste. As such, my wife and I are undoubtedly going to face this disaster. I will admit that I have often quite selfishly thought to myself “I hope I go first.” I don’t think I have the courage to face life without my wife. Schnarch analyzes this and while I found some comfort in his words I would have to say it is a bittersweet comfort at best. Who among us has the strength to love on life’s terms? How many of us can say to our partner, “You go first. I don’t want you to die, but you’re entitled to your own life and your own death. Go easily. Don’t worry. I’ll take care of myself somehow. Holding onto myself with you has made me strong enough to do that.” I’m not suggesting we choose our death like deciding who jumps off the diving board first; rather, this attitude underlies many marital interactions, and surfaces during times of illness and the golden years of life. My point is one we began this book with: nobody’s ready for marriage; being married makes you ready for marriage. Marriage is where you build the strength to love and soothe yourself through the loss of an irreplaceable life mate. The same personal development required to keep sex and intimacy alive in marriage allows you to soothe your heart enough to truly love your partner. In other words, the differentiation necessary to do your spouse also gives you the strength to bury him or her. Schnarch PhD, David. Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships. Midpoint Trade Books. Kindle Edition. Location 7276. Hmmm! I certainly have the differentiation to “do” my wife, but I don’t have enough to bury her. So again I hope we die together while we are doing each other. A few criticisms. This book could definitely stand to have a glossary. Schnarch seldom gives a concrete one sentence definition. Terms seem to be defined over lengthy paragraphs if not pages often employing examples. Quite often I would find myself pondering several chapters later “What is self soothing?” “What is the two choice dilemma?” It was difficult to go back and find a concise quick definition for a term or concept. Perhaps this is more a problem of my age and cognitive ability than the book but I frequently found myself wanting to review a quick definition and none being available. The second criticism involves the Kindle format and is relatively minor. There are extensive end notes that refer back to the text. However there are no footnote numbers embedded into the text to let the reader know that there is an endnote for this particular line of text. One doesn’t know about the end notes until the book is completed. The end notes have numbers which are also hot links but they must be page numbers. Unfortunately the book does not employ page numbers but uses Kindle locations. The hot link will take you to the vicinity of the text but not to the exact line of text and you must search further for it. For the casual reader, it is no big deal, but for someone with an academic interest in the book, this could be somewhat aggravating. The index also has hot links set up in pages and also only takes you to the vicinity. My last criticism is that Schnarch has a dim view of sensate focus: “Focus on what your body is feeling.” Three decades ago a technique was developed for jump-starting the body’s sexual response by teaching people to focus exclusively on their own sensations and tuning out their partner (“remove distractions”). Some therapists taught that “sex is composed of friction plus fantasy.” As a result, horizontal, eyes-closed, cadaver-like sex (“sensate focus”) has become our society’s de facto model. Unfortunately, this approach overlooks several inherent problems: lots of people focus on sensation to avoid emotional contact with their partner. It produces “good enough” sex that subtly emphasizes genital response and orgasm. But it doesn’t help couples regain the hot sex they may dimly remember from their courting days. Schnarch PhD, David. Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships. Midpoint Trade Books. Kindle Edition. Location 1327. I happen to like sensate focus because I think it is a therapy that lends itself well to the do it yourself couple. Of course, considering my zero experience in sexual therapy, it probably doesn’t matter much what I think or like. But it does lead me to a broader criticism that I don’t feel this book is well adapted to the do it yourself couple. Not everyone can afford or has the time or even courage to go to marriage or sex therapy. The concepts in this book are complex and I would think need the evaluation and direction of a professional therapist. A dedicated couple could go through the book and find valuable information and helpful exercises, but one could argue that such a couple probably is not the target of this book. All in all, my criticisms are minor. I think Schnarch has developed an effective program for marital and sexual therapy and the book offers valuable information on that program. So having read the book, is my level of differentiation sufficient that I can “do” my wife? Yes, I think we have been “doing” each other rather well for years. However I do lack sufficient differentiation to use Schnarch’s blunt terms for it. Alas I shall continue to use our privately negotiated euphemisms we have developed over the years to communicate our desires. Better to be a verbal coward snuggled in her warm bed than a highly differentiated heroic linguist sleeping out on the couch considering a two choice dilemma.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michele Fogal

    The Intro to this book was very pompous sounding as in, this is the greatest book ever and I wouldn't change a thing, but who knows, maybe he has some great things to say. I like the concept of differentiation - figuring out what you really believe in without influence or pressure from anyone else. That is a great idea when linked with how to be intimate. First, be wholly yourself. Also this idea that we think intimacy is disclosing something personal to someone and then having them validate our e The Intro to this book was very pompous sounding as in, this is the greatest book ever and I wouldn't change a thing, but who knows, maybe he has some great things to say. I like the concept of differentiation - figuring out what you really believe in without influence or pressure from anyone else. That is a great idea when linked with how to be intimate. First, be wholly yourself. Also this idea that we think intimacy is disclosing something personal to someone and then having them validate our experience or emotions. That is kind of a set up. If you disclose something and the other person doesn't say what you want to hear, it can feel like the expected intimacy is lost or damaged. Self-validated Intimacy So if you disclose something and then validate it yourself, the other person is just there as a witness I suppose, to share in what you're going through, not to DO anything. Interesting idea. But is that what we really crave? Does it leave us feeling understood and appreciated and loved and nurtured?

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    A great book for understanding and dismantling the brick walls - those arguments that have become impasses. From the book blurb: "Schnarch's fundamental lesson is differentiation -- the often threatening process of defining yourself as separate from your partner, which inevitably draws you closer to your partner than you ever dreamed possible." The author describes and outlines the processes of differentiation and fusion, how they each play out, look, and feel, and how people get from one to the A great book for understanding and dismantling the brick walls - those arguments that have become impasses. From the book blurb: "Schnarch's fundamental lesson is differentiation -- the often threatening process of defining yourself as separate from your partner, which inevitably draws you closer to your partner than you ever dreamed possible." The author describes and outlines the processes of differentiation and fusion, how they each play out, look, and feel, and how people get from one to the other and back again. This aspect of the book belongs in anyone's "owner's manual" for understanding the design of what it means to be human. The author clarified key concepts in human development (expounding on what Jung referred to as individuation). I found the clarity enlightening - I feel lighter, about my primary relationships (spouse, family, close friends) and also about some past work relationships. I recommend this book to anyone who feels frustration in a personal relationship or wrestles with a reoccurring issue.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lee Kofman

    Even though at times the book challenged me to reconsider my own behaviour in marriage, mostly it was full of clichés and grand statements. It felt like just another religious tract (indeed, the author seems to be oddly, obscurely ‘spiritual’ in some fashionably eastern hard-to-define way), where one assumption is used to explain everything. If Marx was obsessed with money and Freud with sex, then David Schnarch’s fixation is on what he calls ‘differentiation’. If the relationship is not working Even though at times the book challenged me to reconsider my own behaviour in marriage, mostly it was full of clichés and grand statements. It felt like just another religious tract (indeed, the author seems to be oddly, obscurely ‘spiritual’ in some fashionably eastern hard-to-define way), where one assumption is used to explain everything. If Marx was obsessed with money and Freud with sex, then David Schnarch’s fixation is on what he calls ‘differentiation’. If the relationship is not working it has nothing to do with such trivialities as love, compatibility, needs etc. Rather, it is always about the (lack of) differentiation. I only wish that life, and marriage in particular, was so predictable.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Ok, reviewing a book like this is awkward when your friends read your reviews. Just as a disclaimer, I didn't pick this up because we're having marital discord. Things are just fine but I enjoy books that help me see things in a different light and this is a rather important subject to making a marriage work. It was recommended by an LDS blog I follow. So I didn't really like it. There was some very helpful information (why I gave it an "it's okay" two star rating) but it was pretty long winded. Ok, reviewing a book like this is awkward when your friends read your reviews. Just as a disclaimer, I didn't pick this up because we're having marital discord. Things are just fine but I enjoy books that help me see things in a different light and this is a rather important subject to making a marriage work. It was recommended by an LDS blog I follow. So I didn't really like it. There was some very helpful information (why I gave it an "it's okay" two star rating) but it was pretty long winded. It also had more description than I needed, and I found some of the language very crude. I didn't finish it, which is rare for me. A better book in my opinion (coming from a Christian perspective) is The Act of Marriage.

  24. 4 out of 5

    kazerniel

    Disregard the title, it's a very good book for anyone in long-term relationship. (It even mentions same-sex couples in the intro, which is pretty good for a book from 1997.) A very useful book, I learnt a lot from it about differentiation, self-validation and how to grow and mature emotionally in a relationship. The only off-putting chapter was the one about how to use one's sexual aggression in a constructive way in a relationship. It's just something I - as a sexual abuse survivor - absolutely c Disregard the title, it's a very good book for anyone in long-term relationship. (It even mentions same-sex couples in the intro, which is pretty good for a book from 1997.) A very useful book, I learnt a lot from it about differentiation, self-validation and how to grow and mature emotionally in a relationship. The only off-putting chapter was the one about how to use one's sexual aggression in a constructive way in a relationship. It's just something I - as a sexual abuse survivor - absolutely can't relate to or agree with.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    This book was kinda hard to read because, well, that kinda stuff is *private* in my world, eh? However Schnartch delves into sex and the negotiation it's really about - as well as his great concept of differentiation - that really impressed me. It was a great book, despite a small handful of the Dr.'s own sexist references and outdated concepts. This book was kinda hard to read because, well, that kinda stuff is *private* in my world, eh? However Schnartch delves into sex and the negotiation it's really about - as well as his great concept of differentiation - that really impressed me. It was a great book, despite a small handful of the Dr.'s own sexist references and outdated concepts.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Esonja

    I am clearly the most differentiated!! Me!! Or, I am clearly interested in beefing up for Marriage Olympics. Let's just call this guy Béla Károlyi and be done with it, eh? I have gotten so much use out of this book, I'd like to say I took up temporary residence in the crucible for a few months. Really great for me and mine. I am clearly the most differentiated!! Me!! Or, I am clearly interested in beefing up for Marriage Olympics. Let's just call this guy Béla Károlyi and be done with it, eh? I have gotten so much use out of this book, I'd like to say I took up temporary residence in the crucible for a few months. Really great for me and mine.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tanish

    it's kind of slow going and good food for thought- a refreshingly different perspective on relationships so far... it's kind of slow going and good food for thought- a refreshingly different perspective on relationships so far...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alana Munro

    Definitely a must read for any couple. Shows us how to keep love and intimacy alive. Well worth a read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nate Bagley

    Absolutely incredible book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    Recommended by, Jennifer Finlayson-Fife I'll share with you some of my favorite quotes to give you a small taste: “There’s no beauty in sex - the beauty is in the people. You can’t save the beauty in sex, you have to put it in. Sex becomes beautiful when we bring our personal beauty to it. The issue isn’t simply who your partner is, whether you’re in love, or how good you can do it. It’s who you are.” Did you know that your capacity for sexual pleasure actually increases with age? - “If you’re int Recommended by, Jennifer Finlayson-Fife I'll share with you some of my favorite quotes to give you a small taste: “There’s no beauty in sex - the beauty is in the people. You can’t save the beauty in sex, you have to put it in. Sex becomes beautiful when we bring our personal beauty to it. The issue isn’t simply who your partner is, whether you’re in love, or how good you can do it. It’s who you are.” Did you know that your capacity for sexual pleasure actually increases with age? - “If you’re interested in sex with intimacy, there isn’t a seventeen-year-old alive who can keep up with a healthy sixty-year-old.” Piece of Meat Sex - “Our problem is that we have mindlessly embraced what I call the “piece of meat” model of sex. We idolize “tight buns” and flawless skin as the height of sexual attraction, worshipping youth as the essence of eroticism. Although we love parables like “The Velveteen Rabbit” that espouse “becoming real only happens after we’ve gotten loose in the joints and rather shabby”, we forget these lovely stories the moment we take off our clothes.” “Sex isn’t a natural function - at least, not intimate sex. Intimate sex is a natural potential that requires development for its fulfillment. No other species on earth requires as much time to reach full sexual maturity.” Mercy Sex - “Normal marital sadism surfaces in gifts given or received that are never quite right. Mercy [sex] withholds the sweetness of sex, breaks your partner’s heart (if he or she catches on) and leaves little recourse. You let your partner climb on top of you to get him off your back. The goal isn’t doing your partner - it’s getting done with it so you don’t have to do it tomorrow.’ People who accept mercy [sex] can rationalize that it’s better than no sex at all, but is it really? If you accept mercy [sex] “until the good stuff comes along,” it never does and it never will. Your partner knows you’ll settle for lousy sex, so there’s no reason to deal with the problems blocking better sex.’ “People giving mercy [sex] often get angry when their partners accept it, accusing them of just wanting their body - and they’ve got the proof: they know that’s all they offered! Well-differentiated people can have sex when they aren’t really in the mood, but it’s not mercy [sex]. It’s another form of mutuality, and it doesn’t have the withholding, sadistic quality of mercy [sex] because there is no sense of loss of self in responding to the partner’s preference.” This book is a little bit tough to get through because it’s long, has a small font size and (for me at least) requires quite a bit of brain power to understand exactly what he’s trying to say. But it is definitely worth the struggle because it is jam packed with golden nuggets of wisdom that will serve you for the rest of your life. I read his book Intimacy and Desire first which really helped. The one thing I liked about this book that he didn’t include in his other book ... personal stories. He shares some touching moments with his parents, his daughter and of course, his wife, Ruth. A couple of things that he included in Intimacy and Desire but are not in this book: “the Four Points of Balance” and he only talks about the first step in creating a resilient collaborative alliance, Hugging Till Relaxed, he doesn't mention the other two, Heads on Pillows and Feeling While Touching. Since this book was published first I can only assume that he created those other two after this one was published? Caveat: To all of my LDS friends, Dr. Schnarch does get sexually explicit and uses language some may find offensive. I hope that doesn’t deter anyone from reading his work. This book is filled with important life changing truths that may change the way you see yourself and the world around you. Wish I could give this book 10 stars.

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