Thank you so much to those who participated in yesterday's GIVEAWAY! The winner has been notified. I so badly wanted to give a copy away to everyone who wrote me! I do hope that you who did write to me, and were serious about wanting to use the book to improve your relationships will purchase a copy of it yourself, or at least request it at your local library.
As promised, here are some highlights from the book:
One of my favorite parts of the book is the Preface. It is an eye-opening, appetizing spoonful of the hearty meal he is about to serve.
Preface pg. xvi "I believe all people function best when given clarity about their situation--the truths about their situation--and then given clarity about their specific choices within that situation. Which choice you make is up to you and can never be determined by another, even a so-called expert like me."
pg. xv The Only Commucication Skill You Need to Learn Is Authentic Self-Representation (ASR)
pg. xvii "I am writing this book directly to your integrity, because your integrity knows that life and marriage are difficult, and that no growth in life or marriage can happen without clarity, challenge, and truth. Your integrity also knows what you want most, and the very fact that you're reading this book testifies to your deepest dream:"
"Again, hold on, because if you dare to keep turning these pages, you're in for a bumpy ride--a ride that may turn all that you've been taught about marriage upside down."
The real meat of the book begins immediately:
pg. 4 "If you want a warm, lasting marriage, you have to learn to keep your cool. "Keeping your cool" does not refer to simple anger-management techniques or artificial rules of engagement (fighting fair)....
pg. 5 "Here, keeping your cool means discovering and holding on to your truest self...It means willingly and calmly facing the natural fires of marital commitment, and actually growing up--and getting closer--through them...It means keeping your cool as you face conflicts with your spouse that may have previously set you off in some form of "screaming."
"Being ScreamFree means holding on to your deepest desires for connection and boldly making yourself vulnerable...without knowing how your spouse will respond."
"It means viewing old marital patterns through new lenses, no longer seeing those patterns as indications of irreconcilable differences, but rather as opportunities to grow your personal integrity and transform your relationship. It's not a journey for timid spirits, but the rewards are certainly worth the struggle."
"Chapter 1-- If You're Not Under Control, You Cannot Be In Connection"
pg. 12 "We all scream too much. We are either screaming at our spouses on the outside, or screaming at ourselves on the inside. We scream because we react to the anxiety of the relationship and the anxiety of the moment."
"Now I hear what some of you are thinking. "But I don't ever scream at my spouse." Screaming is the term I use to describe...emotional reactivity...allowing our worst fears to drive our choices, instead of our highest principles."
(See appendix A for the five ways we scream...only one of which entails raised voices.)
That is just through Chapter 1! It gets even better from there, but since I can't go through the whole book. Here are just a few of the gems I found:
Runkel speaks honestly about his relationship with his wife:
pg. 86 "I wanted to grow up and assume more responsibility precisely because she didn't need me to."
Runkel on adults growing up beyond our parents:
pg. 123 "skiing is hard. Really hard. There is just a natural difficulty to it. And when children encounter this natural difficulty, if their parents are anywhere in sight, they will naturally go to lean on them...and never learn to lean on themselves."
Chapter 7 A ScreamFree Marriage Leads to Scream-Filled Sex
Let me just note here that as a strong Christian, I worried about what I might find in this chapter. I found it enlightening, intense, and still porn-free. Here's an example:
pg.183 "One thing I always investigate with couples who come to see me is their practices of sexual initiation. This is because learning how couples dance around this most intimate and risky of proposals is a fantastically clear window into the relationship, and the individual partners as a whole."
pg. 187 "...it's not about your spouse validating your efforts--it's about you validating yourself as a whole, mature, sexual person, capable of owning and pursuing your deepest desires."
pg. 189 "It is no use wishing to see Europe if you're too afraid to travel."
"You got married with a biological, emotional, and spiritual desire for intense connection. Now, the years and kids and mortgages and fights have a way of disconnecting you from that passion...it's not completely dead. It is within you, waiting for you to Calm Down and Grow Up enough for you to Get Closer to your partner."
Chapter 8 Intimacy Begins With An "I"
pg. 220 "...self-representation is the answer to every problem in marriage...[it] makes for a remarkable connection because it ensures that the two trying to connect are at least trying to be authentic and truthful...[it] eradicates the villain of marital boredom."
Chapter 9 Let Love Rule
"When you are calm and present, you become a calming presence."
pg. 229 "Stop focusing on what your spouse is trying to do to you, and start focusing on something much more fruitful: changing yourself."
Readers, I will leave you on that note, with a disclaimer that Runkel is a much better writer than I, and if I have taken these words out of context and made them seem rote, or uninteresting, I apologize. The fault then would be mine, because this book is riveting--downright hard to put down. It is funny, sad, exciting, emotional--all the things a good book should be. I highly recommend it if you are ready to take the plunge into a deeper, more satisfying relationship with yourself, your spouse, and everyone else around you.
I do not recommend this book if you are looking for ways to manipulate your spouse. You will not find those answers here.