Screamfree Marriage by Hal Runkel-a book review
I waited anxiously for the arrival of my package for days and days. When it finally did arrive, the package was covered in black scuffs, torn, and re-taped. Inside, stuffing and debris mixed with the anticipated cache. This little package had been severely abused. But inside, the two books it contained, both copies of the same book, needed only to be dusted off, and were good as new. I opened the book with great anticipation, knowing I would find gold inside.
I turned the pages, underlining and taking notes, enjoying immensely the stories, the laughter, and the insights. I knew I could recommend this book with no hesitation. As I began to end the first half, however, something began to change. I found myself slowing down. My vision blurred if I tried to read too quickly. I found myself reflecting, not on whether my readers would enjoy such and such, but on my own marriage, my own relationships, and myself in general. In each example he gave, I began to see myself. With each page were deeper truths, truths that I could not skim by quickly without stopping, and taking some kind of action, even if it was just pacing around. This book, I found, is about change. It is for real. It is not for the light-minded.
You cannot read this book and be the same. You cannot read this book and feel there is not some new action you want to take to alter yourself in your relationships. This book may cause you to look at your relationships with new eyes. It may shift your perspective from onlooker, receiver, victim, or passer-by, to doer. You may begin to formulate a plan in your mind. If you are not ready to face your demons, you may feel a sick feeling of dread, realizing that if you do not do something differently, you won't be able to live with yourself, because now you see clearly, the gap between the relationships you want, and the relationships you have. This book will not allow you to gloss over problems or stuff them away for another day. It will not let you push them to the back of your mind, and hope they will fix themselves with time. This book will show you how a small problem left unaddressed, will grow to a bigger problem, and maybe even a fatal problem down the road. Gradually, you become aware of the very real truth--you have the power to change all your relationships for the better, and it will take courage.
I thought I was a courageous person. I thought that I had little to change, and nothing to hide. I thought that I was already pretty honest and open with others and myself. But the thought of facing my demons came crashing down on me after 2/3 of the book was finished, and I found myself resisting. I was so unaware of how the truth would affect me so deeply, I was embarrassed and ashamed. I began thinking, "Who am I to review this book? Who am I to write this blog? Who am I to preach hope and change, and then panic when I am called by my own conscience change again?" I found myself weeping.
And then, slowly, I began to feel the sweet assurance that Runkel offers, that this is not something to fear. I began to understand that he wasn't leaving me to do this alone. I had his words beside me. I had his wisdom and could read it again and again, before taking any action of my own. Runkel is so honest and warm in his communications, that I felt as though I were looking at him--almost as if he were my own personal counselor. He spoke so informally, with a genuine admission of his own faults, he caught me off-guard, and I found myself easily admitting my own faults, many of them I had not realized before.
I sit here, still stunned by what I found. What I found was something different than I expected. I did not find a treasure of secrets; I did not find a wealth of "tips," or ways to inspire others to change, or even a recipe for how to change my own behavior. I found instead, a mirror--a special kind of mirror that when looked into revealed all the parts of myself that I desperately tried to hide. The parts that were quietly sabotaging my relationships in little and big ways.
I found out from this book why I have trouble getting close to people; why I have never had a best friend; why I have been holding people I love at arms-length; why I sit and write this blog---really. I discovered more about myself and my habits of relating than I ever wanted to know, and now I can never be the same. Do not read this book lightly. Do not read it if you are not serious about wanting your relationships to improve. As Runkel says, "Hold on. This may not be the marriage book for you."
While I cannot casually recommend this book, I can give you a warning, and an assurance, that while you will not be the same when you close the pages, you will not want to be the same, either. I found not only a wake-up call, but also a way to improve and heal myself and my relationships, that, while not easy, is simple. And it is possible, for anyone, even me, to do.
Tomorrow I will give some quotes from the book, and other gems I found, teasers, if you will, that will give you a greater understanding of it. But today I wanted to share with you my reaction.
Just like the scuffed, torn and ripped envelope that my books arrived in, many of our relationships are being taped together on the outside after being dragged through terrible ordeals. Many of us don't even realize that there is a way to discard that ugly cover. Inside each of us is a gem that perhaps needs only to be dusted off, and we will find therein a gleaming, fresh relationship where the dust, dirt and stuffing used to cling.
Valentines Day! GIVE it AWAY!?!
I have been given a great opportunity to give away one free copy of this book on Valentines Day.
I have thought long and hard about how to go about doing this. I can choose only one friend or family member to share this with at no cost to you, and I cannot in good conscience give it away lightly. I will decide, based on your letters to me today and tomorrow, which of you wants (notice I did not say 'needs') it the most. I will include my contact information below, and if you write me, and give me your solemn word that you will use this book as a tool, and not "throw it out the window" once it gets a bit uncomfortable, (which believe me is very tempting, as Runkel himself admits,) you may find a book coming to your door!
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Here is just a sample of a part of Screamfree Marriage's message. Runkel sites Shel Silverstein's creations, "The Missing Piece," and "The Missing Piece Meets the Big O" as some of his favorite books. He describes the story line, but does not include the ending, hoping we readers will look it up on our own. So here is The Missing Piece Meets the Big O for you, readers, with the ending intact.