I’ve read several books on relationships in the past couple of years. While many have purported to give relationship advice, most have not been “how to” manuals. Many have mentioned masculine and feminine energy, but few have truly explained what that means.
So when a girlfriend lent me a “life changing” book on relationships, I didn’t really know what to expect. In fact, I don’t think I even looked at the cover or title; I just started reading. And, while clearly old school in a lot of ways, Dr. Patrician Allen’s and Sandra Harmon’s “Getting to ‘I Do:’ The Secret to Doing Relationships Right!” has some really solid advice (even if the title makes me cringe…a lot).
See…the thing is…I’ve never had any genuinely healthy models. By the time I was interested in relationships with boys, my mother had moved out. I had no positive relationship models at home and, as a tomboy, I wasn’t modeling my behavior after the girly girls. As an intelligent, early 90s feminist co-ed, I couldn’t abide the thought of “submitting” to a man.
As I’ve grown older, my perspective on what or how I may or may not be willing to compromise to enjoy the rewards of a healthy relationship has softened. I know with confidence that I prefer to be the feminine energy in a relationship. The problem? I didn’t know how, exactly, to do that, and I found few men who were capable of matching my intellect and strength, and who could confidently take on the role of masculine leadership. Those who were interested were always older and, often, married.
When I finally found a man I thought could love and cherish me, he lost his job (and his masculinity) and ended up staying home with our children. The role reversal wasn’t natural for us and, when we went to counseling, I was told bits of advice like, “Don’t put him in a corner” and “Don’t emasculate him.” Obviously, I would never try to do either of those things, but I didn’t even understand what these well-meaning therapists meant, much less what I might be doing to contribute to our problems.
This book has, in many ways, enlightened me.
While “getting to ‘I do'” is not a near-term objective, I’ve learned a lot about compromise — the way a woman may have to compromise to be with a strong man in a successful relationship — and about communicating in a successful relationship. Something about the way this particular book is written has helped me grasp these concepts in a more concrete way than many other articles or books on relationship advice I’ve read.
In sum, Getting offered useful tools and scripts for some potentially challenging relationship moments. I can see it being a manual of sorts for a young woman who is single, navigating a young relationship or in an early marriage. Even though the information seems a little less relevant to folks in my own situation — approaching middle age, not planning on “starting” a family, probably more desirous of sex than men my own age — I may buy a copy to keep on my own bedside table. At the very least, I’ll have some good advice to one day share with my daughter.