Reigniting The Spark: Why Stable Relationships Lose Intimacy, And How To Get It Back, by Dr. Bruce Chalmer
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by TCK Publishing in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
This is one of those books that is fascinating in its contents but not something that is immediately and personally relevant. Part of the interest in this book comes from the fact that the author is a psychologist who practices as a couples therapist. This presents an awkward situation, acknowledged openly by the author, where he seeks to use his insights to encourage a larger body of potential readers who would not be able to be a part of his practice without violating the trust that he has established with his clients. It was entertaining to read several notes throughout the book that the author had made his accounts of couples as composites and that he had to tell couples whose issues were similar to those in the book that he was in the process of writing a book and that they were not in it. This is the sort of dilemma as a writer that I can well understand, and I hope that this particular book gives the author a high degree of credibility in encouraging intimacy among his target audience of middle-aged and older couples who might find that the spark of excitement and intimacy has gone in their married lives.
This book is a relatively short one at less than 140 pages and 14 relatively short chapters. The book begins with a discussion of the author’s view of relationships in seven words: be kind, don’t panic, and have faith. The author begins the main section of the book with talking about the Song of Solomon and what it has to say about intimacy within relationships (1). This leads to a discussion of the golden gifts in tension of intimacy and stability (2), as well as the good and bad effects of panic and our attempts to deal with it (3) and the death spiral for passion (4). The author talks about trauma and relationships (5), the need for people to get a hold of themselves (6), and then the tone of the book shifts as the author talks about faith (7), how it helps with relationships (8), and the relationship between faith and forgiveness (9). The author discusses why it is that we should get married (10), as well as the difference between sex, good sex, and sacred sex in marriage (11). After that the author talks about infidelity (12), knowing when to end a relationship (13), and a prophecy of what happened to the various composite couples discussed earlier (14), after which the book closes with an epilogue, acknowledgements, and some information about the author.
One of the author’s more intriguing insights in this book is the way that intimacy and stability are often in tension with each other, and that the lack of one tends to endanger the other in a relationship. Where intimacy is high and stability is low, the lack of stability makes it hard to stay together, or want to, no matter how good the sex is. Likewise, the presence of stability and not intimacy in a marriage relationship may encourage one or both of the partners to stray, with disastrous consequences on the stability of the relationship when that betrayal is processed. Interestingly enough, the composite pictures of the various couples in therapy rings true as they are definitely types I am familiar with as well, and it is all too easy to recognize the trouble that people have in dealing with the betrayal involved in relationships and the way that can often lead to breaking up, especially when the betrayal is reciprocated by the other partner. This book is full of wise advice that may either help encourage people to change their behaviors without therapy, or help them into counseling that might help them to break some bad habits before it’s too late.