by Barton Goldsmith
New Harbinger, 2009
Review by Alex Jenson on May 18th 2010
I must confess to being skeptical with regard to the plethora of self-help titles that dominate the bookshelves in the 21st century bookstore. However, after reading this intelligent and insightful book, I have put aside my own grievances with regard to the ascendancy of non-fiction to the detriment of classic literature, at least for the time being.
Let me start by saying what this book is not. It is not a panacea for terminally damaged and nearly-disintegrated relationships. If you and your better half have been lobbing emotional hand grenades at each other for the past fifteen years, it is doubtful that this book will help you to negotiate a truce and rediscover the beauty of your salad days.
However, I will go out on a limb and dare to say that this title may be the kind of bedtime reading that could help to prevent a relationship spiraling uncontrollably towards oblivion. A bold claim? Not really. It all lies in the simplicity of the wisdom found within its pages. I was searching for a quote which best sums up the essence of this title, and I found it quite early on.
“By not being intimate with someone, you never really let yourself be known, and you will never really know yourself.”
This book succeeds because it comes from a place of achingly simple wisdom. Upon reading such truisms, surely even the terminally single people of the world cannot be anything but inspired to go and find their one true love, before it’s too late. For those who have already found a special love, dipping into the pages of Goldsmith’s book will help you to consolidate and deepen your understanding of your partner.
Of course it is easy to be cynical about any book which claims to help people sort out the knotty tangle of their love lives, but if you allow yourself to suspend all cynicism and give the book a chance, you will be rewarded.
The author writes in clear, uncluttered language and the book’s layout is easily digestible. The practical sections that offer constructive exercises for deepening your intimate relationship with your partner are broken down into ‘bullet point’ headings, meaning that once you have read the whole thing, you can easily dip into it at will and extract the information and advice that is more relevant to you.
This is not a workbook that demands that you go from first page to last, covering every exercise before the next one. You can readily discriminate. Some exercises, which require an investment of ten minutes or so each day, will not be for everyone.
The author clearly has a depth of experience in the field of human relationships and marriage counseling. It is refreshing that someone who is so obviously exposed to the malfunctions of love, is able to offer up such a positive and enlightening overview. He has taken his years of experience and managed to mould it into a semi-philosophical instruction manual for how to create greater intimacy and harmony in a relationship. He is the love equivalent of a modern celebrity chef. His ingredients are his nuggets of personal wisdom gleaned over the years – and he has cooked up a winning recipe that deals with all areas of the relationship conundrum. A sample of the chapter headings will give you a clue. This is a dynamic book which leaves no stone unturned.... From me to we, Intimacy makes us vulnerable, avoiding ugly arguments, ten tips for building empathy, releasing the need to control, for the love of giving, Ten tips for compromising, bad days, how to deepen mutual respect.
Emotional fitness for intimacy is well-written, straight to the point, energetic, positive, enthusiastic and loaded with intelligent and creative advice to help any relationship ascend to the next level. It is grounded with realism and a practical understanding of the day-to-day workings of human relationships, so in that respect it is not a book that is stuck somewhere in the clouds. The author invites you to recognize where the problems lie and make the necessary investment to instigate profitable change. He knows he can help you achieve this, but he understands that his words of wisdom will not change anything without the efforts of the reader.
© 2010 Alex Jenson
Alex Jenson writes about himself: "I have just successfully completed my training to teach English as a second Language. I am a published author and poet, a film school screenwriting graduate. I am working on my first feature length screenplay. I was born in the north of England. I am a big sports fan and I love running and playing football."