Be Loved for Who You Really Are:
How the Differences Between Men and Women Can Be Turned into the Source of the Very Best Romance You'll Ever Know
by Judith Sherven, Ph.D. and James Sniechowski, Ph.D.
Throughout history, our foremost spiritual teachers have understood
that to expand your consciousness, you have to go through some kind
of personal ordeal. An awakened vision comes only after you squarely
face into a demanding challenge and then release and let go of whatever
limiting beliefs hold you back, even if they are those you treasure. Then
open yourself to the new awareness that awaits on the other side
of your trial. When you do that, you move into a larger and more
encompassing consciousness, one that inspires more empathy, more
compassion, more of a sense of unity with the diversity of life. You grow
as you are able to embrace that which is different from you.
We're not suggesting that you have to become a mystic or a religious
to experience the spiritual dimensions of your relationship. We are saying
that when you embrace the challenge of differences -- which is at the core
of spiritual awakening -- you have the opportunity to grow each time you
and your partner find yourselves in a conflict.
Spiritual change is not merely a change in appearance. It is a
like carbon becoming diamond. That kind of change cannot take place
struggle, without a spiritual workout. Sometimes it takes a serious
a well-intentioned partner to wake us up.
When you avoid conflict, you pass up the chance to know yourself and your
partner better. Since such knowledge is required for intimate love,
be a special blessing. It's an adventure of practical spirituality
to move beyond being self-centered. Yet, at the same time, you surely
want to lose your independence. You like your own habits, attitudes and
ways of doing things. But here's the catch. Your partner feels exactly the
way about his or her habits, attitudes and quirky ways. So, t he point is
intimacy and the desire to love and be loved with your need for
Here's a question to think about.
What do you do with the ways the two of you are different, especially when
differences spark anger and conflict? This question applies to those of
who are dating and those who've been long married.
At a time when it's popular to believe men and women come from different planets, the husband and wife psychology team of Judith Sherven and James Sniechowski takes a far different approach in Be Loved for Who You Really Are. Using case histories, examples, and exercises from their own marriage and 14 years as relationship trainers, the authors suggest that individual and sex differences are not the source of relationship problems. Instead, they assert that true intimacy can be found in mapping and acknowledging differences as relationships ripen with time. You can't hurry love, say Shervan and Sniechowski, who counsel couples to understand four predictable passages to lasting love. These passages include "A glimpse of what is possible," "The clash of differences," "The magic of differences," and "The grace of deep intimacy." In each stage, couples are discouraged from hiding their differences or manipulating their partner to change, and rather are persuaded to encounter each other in genuine, unguarded ways. The book would have been strengthened with less New Age vocabulary and more examples from the authors' marriage, but overall, this is a wise and intriguing guide to creating a lasting love.
A husband-and-wife psychology team, the authors are well known for their show on Wisdom Radio, appearances on TV talk shows, magazine columns, web site participation, and previous book, The New Intimacy. Here they present a blueprint for what they call "the arc of love." They detail the four passages through which real, mature love between two people progresses, highlighting how the differences between men and women can enhance rather than destroy a relationship. Anecdotes from their own 15-year marriage and from the lives of people they have counseled are used to illustrate their points. Replete with suggestions for further reflection or activities, the narrative tends to have a spiritual, New Age flavor. Love is often personified, and a higher power or spirit is referenced throughout, though no particular doctrine is espoused. The section describing the importance of conflict and its place in a relationship includes a warning about abuse. Given the proposed national media campaign, which will include appearances on Oprah, The View, and other popular media outlets, this book should generate demand. For public libraries' self-help collections. Margaret Cardwell, Christian Brothers Univ., Memphis
Finding the Power in Your Differences
Differences are the number-one reason why couples break up. But in Be Loved for Who You Really Are (Renaissance Books, $24.95, October 2001), the new book from bestselling husband-and-wife psychology team Judith Sherven, Ph.D. and James Sniechowski, Ph.D., they demonstrate how differences can be turned into a powerful source of lifelong love and romance.
No matter how much two people may have in common, when they commit to a relationship they soon dis-cover all the ways they are different from one another. Failure comes when they struggle to get each other to fit into their expectations of how things “should” be, treating their differences as something to be fixed, in an effort to obtain an unrealistic fantasy relationship. Then, when reality doesn’t match the fantasy, the relationship falls apart. “In Be Loved . . . we celebrate those very real and unavoidable differences any two people run into when they are in a committed relationship,” says Sniechowski. “We go beyond gender differences. It is not about rules or about coming from different planets but about how two people can successfully co-create their own very personal and unique relationship.”
Using case histories and examples from their own relationship, Judith & Jim show that, con-trary to common belief, differences should not be a problem. “Differences can be turned into opportunities for intimate and spiritual growth in a relationship,” stresses Sherven. “They can even be turned into a tremendous foundation for keeping love and romance alive.”
The authors have helped close to 100,000 couples and singles by teaching them to turn the divisive wedge that drives most relationships apart into a powerful tool to take their relationship to a higher level. “By under-standing what real love requires, no one need ever fail again,” says Sniechowski.
Be Loved for Who You Really Are outlines a natural and predictable path that love requires, called the arc of love. Within this arc are four inevitable passages that enable the reader to better understand the challenges and pitfalls they will encounter, and to not confuse conflicts and tough times with disaster or failure. The four passages are:
The idea of a “passage” is used because as love evolves between two people it requires that they face into and grow through a number of challenges. Those challenges are necessary for them to mature in the wisdom of their love and intimacy and in the day-to-day relationship they are co-creating.
- A Glimpse of What Is Possible, the wonderful time of falling in love when you actually see the per-fection of your partner.
- The Clash of Differences, when your love is tested through the inevitable conflicts that emerge from your differences.
- The Magic of Differences, when those very same differences allow you to be respected and loved for the person you truly are.
- And The Grace of Deep Intimacy, when the passionate wonder of the beginning is now yours, through and through, and your love touches everyone you encounter.
Unlike most relationship books, which are written primarily for women, Be Loved for Who You Really Are speaks to women and men equally. Judith & Jim underscore the fact that men are just as hungry for this kind of life-changing information.