This is the first book I finished this year in my pursuit of nonfiction, and if you don't read any further than this, please hear me say that EVERYONE ON EARTH SHOULD READ THIS BOOK! If you're married, you should buy it and read it more than once. Old and young, men and women. There isn't anybody that would not benefit from the principles in this book.
I have to confess that when I first started reading, the first chapter sounded like such an infomercial: "Implementing the principles in this book will completely revolutionize every relationship in your life!" Yeah, right. But for real, you guys. I think it actually has the potential to deliver what it promises!
I'm not going to try to tell you everything, but the basic premise is just understanding how communication works in your relationships and learning to recognize what is happening when communication breaks down so that you can change your patterns. The most important concept for this is learning to understand yourself, which was really big for me. Each of us has some core fears that cause us to act and react in unpredictable ways, so when I came to understand what my deepest fears are (rejection and invalidation), I can now understand why I react so negatively to innocent things that shouldn't be a big deal. And then the next big part of understanding myself is recognizing that I am the only one that controls my actions and reactions. No one else can MAKE me angry or upset. I choose how I react to things that push my buttons.
Moving on from there, you can look at the people you have close relationships with and identify what their core fears are based on the way they behave. Then you can work to make your relationship as safe as possible by respecting their fears and treating them with kindness and understanding.
There is so much more to it than that, but you're just going to have to read the book for yourself! But seriously, this has really affected the way I handle myself, and I hope to get better at it with practice! Please let me know if you read this - I wonder if it will help others as much as it helped me!