The author, Sol Gordon, Ph. D. received his B. A. and M. S. from the University of Illinois in 1947. He then went on to get a Ph. D. in psychology from the University of London in 1953. Since graduation, he has served as Chief Psychologist at the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic and the Middlesex County Mental Health Clinic. He also was a professor of Child and Family Studies and Yeshiva University, and later was the Director of the Institute for Family Research and Education at Syracuse University. After his “retirement”, he began giving lectures on sexuality, promotion of self-esteem, and suicide prevention.
In his lifetime, he has written 15 books, and over one hundred articles. The author starts off the book with a dedication to his wife. In this, he shows that he has personal experience with the subject he is writing about. They had been married 35 years, and he knew, like the majority of other married couples, the good times and bad times of marriage. But he took his own advice, and finished by saying he will still look up at his wife after 50 years and say “I still like you. ” The whole point of the book is about improving you own self when it comes to relationships.
Gordon starts off with some problems in relationships today. He says that most people blame it on the excuse that they can’t find the right guy/gal, but where most of the problems lie, is with the recipient’s low self-esteem. Most people find their relationships unsatisfying because they don’t value themselves. Gordon addresses his audience in this way. “This book is for people who want a lasting, mature relationship. It is also for people whose current relationship or marriage is unsatisfactory. ” (Gordon, 1990. Pg. 13). The book then continues with a focus off of “love”.
It talks about how love and sex are never the only reasons to get married (Gordon, 1990). It approaches subjects like sex, intimacy, space, friendship, and when to get married. The key point of the second chapter was that “intimacy and sex are not synonymous, and a strong relationship that is less than ideal sexually is not doomed. ” (Gordon, 1990. Pg. 23). Continuing along the lines of a relationship, the focus switches to a self-centered policy. What reasons are you datable? “Your relationships are a mirror, an exact replica of what you think and believe about yourself.
When you look at a man or woman from across the room and decide instantaneously that you are not interested in them, you are giving others permission to judge and evaluate you in the same way. ” (Bradley, 1996. Pg. 5). It discusses points on how you can expect to be loved by someone else if you don’t love and respect yourself (Gordon, 1990). This chapter keys in on self-esteem, healthy body, and happy mind. It even goes so far to discuss reasons why we feel depression and worthlessness and talks about ways to feel better about yourself.
As we dive further into the book, the subject of love comes up again. What is it? How do we describe it? “There are many approaches to love, and it is not possible to give a single definition. ” (Hendrick, 1992. Pg. 5). To put it simply – love is unexplainable. Gordon talks about the definition of immature love, a fairy tale love, and mature love, a love with partners willing to commit and compromise. He also goes into different views on the characterization of love. He mentions Robert Sternberg’s triangle of love: commitment, intimacy, and passion.
Once fully discussed the actual feeling of a mature love, Gordon finally settles into his third section of the book: marriage. He sets out a pre-emptive strike for what to do before tying the knot. He quotes the Census Bureau to say that about half of all recent marriages break up within 10 years (Gordon, 1990). He uses this “scare tactic” to point out that marriage is an important decision that can’t be rushed. Subjects such as changing and maturing personalities, fair fighting, compromise, and commitment are the key issues.
However, regardless of the bad “reports”, he reassures his audience with saying, “Statistics don’t get married; people do. ” (Gordon, 1990. Pg. 52). Further into the marriage topic were questions that every couple needs to ask. These questions may not always be comfortable to ask, but in order to communicate on mature values; every couple needs to discuss them. Gordon said that these were important in order to fully understand what each partner wanted out of the relationship: jobs, money, children, living, disagreements, possessions, religion/politics, social life, and the future (Gordon, 1990).
He ended with the realization that some little habits that start out as “quirks”, can be rough to deal with once you’re living together. Then came the darker side of relationships. This chapter brought up reasons not to get married, and the people that come with those reasons. He warns against marrying addicts and violent or abusive partners. The problem could exist with the partner’s personality, or your hidden reasons of desperation, money, sex, and the like. He also approaches those who marry widows and people who have been divorced or “re-married”.
He finishes up the chapter with a brief discussion of homosexual relationships. After marriage, there was a bit to say about calling it quits. Topics were brought up such as reasons to say goodbye (such as stress, abuse, and pain), why people hold on (for love, threats, and desperation), and recovering afterwards. In conjunction with that, the following chapter said to take a look at yourself, and see what you can better for “next time” (Gordon, 1990). He warns people about falling back into feelings not worthy of a good and healthy relationship.
Nearing the end then came the short but informational section on sex: why it is or it not important, the false hopes we get from our surroundings, and centering on the fact that it was not a test or proof of love, but just a wonderful benefit of a loving passionate relationship (Gordon, 1990). “Sex is a life-long learning experience, one that cannot be fully and completely addressed in any book. ” (Gordon, 1990. Pg. 13). The last topic of the book was family life. There are certainly many struggles in having a family, all of which this chapter briefly discussed: bad and good moments, conflict, stereotypes, and step-parents.
All the facts were summed up with the conclusion that a parent never stops learning (Gordon, 1990). Susan Bradley had something to say in her book that could be applied to Gordon’s work as well, “I don’t know when your perfect partner will appear in your life, when your current partner will be “perfect” for you, or how many people you will need to date before you find “the one. ” Finding love cannot be hurried – it’s a process. ” (Bradley, 1996. Pg. 7). The book was summed up in the statement that “no book can tell you it all. ” (Gordon, 1990. Pg. 135).
It all seems to take patience, self-efficacy, and a willingness to learn. At the end, there was a questionnaire I was able to take about myself and my relationship life. I found this book to be written with the social-cognitive school of thought. The theory states that behavior, environment, and cognitive factors are important in understanding personality (Santrock, 2006). The book listed statistics and stereotypes about our society and the relationships it possesses. These factors are clearly and influencer in the way we view love and relationships.
Sometimes the assumptions were right, but other times, what is portrayed can be misleading. Gordon used a little of his personal experience to draw his conclusions. However, he has a list of sources, which he encouraged us to read, at the end of his book. He wrote stats from the Census Bureau, and quoted Sternberg. He also drew from many authors including M. Scott Peck, Erich Fromm and a quoting from the San Francisco Chronicle. I found remnants of all 3 coping techniques throughout this book. However, the meaning-focused method was most prominent.
The meaning-focused strategy involves drawing on beliefs, values, and goals to change the meaning of a stressful situation, especially in cases of chronic stress that may resist problem-focused coping (Santrock, 2006). There were valid themes of always trying to learn for the better, being willing and open to learn, self-efficacy and self-esteem, and a positive outlook to improve relationships and help solve issues (Gordon, 1990). He definitely had a theme of learning from your mistakes and not being afraid to never give up.
When we discussed love in class, we focused on Roger Sternberg’s triangle of love. In Gordon’s chapter about love, Sternberg’s 3 main ingredients to a mature love could be incorporated a great deal. In dealing with immature relationships, there were many factors that could be explained with the fact that the relationship was lacking commitment, intimacy or even passion. Some people, perhaps out of desperation, might take this information and want to follow it religiously. They may think that if they follow the “rules” that they will achieve a great, happy relationship.
In doing so, they may believe that if they don’t get outstanding results from doing what the book says verbatim, that they in fact are a failure. What needs to be realized is that every personality and every relationship can greatly differ. This book was set up as basic guidelines and tips. Even though I think every relationship can benefit from these tips in some way, the most important thing is to be patient, flexible, and being willing to learn and keep trying. After reading this book and a few others about love, my intrigue for this subject has been grown.
I “love” this subject, and now my desire to maybe become a marriage counselor or even a self-help book author has increased. I found myself staying up late nights reading some chapters over and over. From a personal standpoint, almost every part of the book I could apply to my life now, or my future life. I liked the subject of stereotypes and gender roles in a marriage, and wish Gordon would have maybe gone into a little more depth in that area. The book set up some good guidelines and warnings about what to look for.
While reading, I could point out mistakes I have made in my relationship life, why things did or did not work, what I had fixed, and what I still needed to work on. I applied everything to my life in terms of not just love, but personality, self-esteem, social and family life, and a healthy mind. This book wasn’t just about two-person relationships, but about the well-being of an individual person as well, perhaps looking for that significant other to not “fill the missing gap” but to enjoy life along with them (Gordon, 1990).