Books for Empowering Love
With the holiday season drawing near for a number of spiritual traditions, one hopes there is a greater focus on love. Of course, how many forms that can take! Friends, family, and intimate relationships each has different meaning for growth, and each deserves its time of reflection in the winter of human cycles. Praying for happiness and balance in our worlds intimate relationships, though, I would take a look at the books in hand empowering success in this personal realm.
I will always laud relationship books of great depth. Emanuel Swedenborgs Conjugial Love and Dion Fortunes Esoteric Philosophy of Love and Marriage are two elder titles of much wisdom and, sadly, not much renown these days; both of mystery traditions, they lay down organized and consistent approaches to understanding relationships from a spiritual perspective. From such a perspective, many of the earthly questions and struggles can be readily grasped. Both of these, however, are for the more esoterically minded those who love to grapple mentally with a topic and bring it down to earth. Meanwhile, there are simpler approaches, there are more scientific looks, there are story-like discussions. All of these are important, because a book needs to speak to its reader. That in mind, let me share a few of the titles that have reached my desk and that I think important reads for those on relationship paths.
The first title to review here is a Jossey-Bass book called Should We Stay Together? by Jeffry H. Larson, Ph.D. We hear the commonly asked question, "When do I know if this person is the one?" We seldom hear such lucid answers as this book offers, especially alongside many practical evaluations. The author opens his work with a chapter on "Myths About Preparing for Marriage," explaining how one can move beyond these myths. Then comes the books weight in pages and in worth. Larson puts together what he calls "The Marriage Triangle," which he defines as the "three factors that predict your future marital satisfaction."
It all sounds very scientific, which is really the authors point there is a way to objectively look at what one is terribly subjective about. But the book doesnt feel quite so cold and steely. The three factors he alludes to are: 1) personal and relationship contexts, 2) individual traits, and 3) couple traits. Its really common sense, yet he pulls these together in a clear way to help the reader assess his or her relationship. The book nears its end with warnings of "Whom and When Not to Marry," but concludes on a higher note with "Resources for Marriage Preparation."
A second book here, and one thats been gaining popular recognition, is The New Couple by Maurice Taylor and Seana McGee, published by Harper San Francisco. As the title suggests, the book examines what may have worked in the past (or may not have) and compares that with where we need to go. It discusses ten rules that are needed for success in ideal relationships today, ranging from what one cannot control namely chemistry; its there or its not through those aspects of relationship one can work on emotional integrity, listening, equality, and more and finally on to a commitment for seeking education and help whenever theres a block in growth. Along the way, the authors offer invitations to reflect on the various laws, bringing up bullet-pointed questions for the reader to consider. For those seeking the practical basics of relationships, this seems a rather potent place to begin.
Another book on basics, but looking at love through the eyes of the simplicity movement, is Simple Loving by Janet Luhrs (published by Penguin Arkana). As many people know from experience, relationships are a whole lot easier when life isnt throwing in wrenches. But that seems to be lifes tendency (especially) in a fast-paced society. The simplicity movement tends to look at ways to slow the pace, to enjoy the little things while unburdening oneself from the heftier items that make life difficult in the first place. And in turn, the simplicity movement makes relationships that much easier as well.
Interestingly, the book is divided into three parts: 1) It Starts with Me; 2) Being Together; and 3) You and Me and the Outside World. Sounds a lot like the three points from the "marriage triangle" (contexts, individual and couple traits), but I said that on reflection, the triangle makes good sense. Here we see the principles applied again as the author suggests ways to simplify ones approach to love as an individual and then with a partner. Luhrs then takes a look at achieving and maintaining financial integrity so that this doesnt burden the relationship, as well as ways to stay connected in the midst of a growing family. Filled with quotes, anecdotes, and real-life situations, this book will reach all of those seeking simplicity in their lives.
Finally, I want to share a Chrysalis Book by Stephen and Robin Larsen, The Fashioning of Angels. The title dances with Swedenborgs idea that two spirits in a true marriage come to make one angel over time; indeed, the Larsens draw on many quotes and ideas from Swedenborg, as well as those from Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell. They have in fact put together a collection of world myths, scriptures, and archetypes, showing how these play out in modern relationships, and showing what we can learn from them. They cover topics as diverse as creation and dragon slaying, on to "The Making of the Wasteland," the Grail Task, and much more, ending with a discussion on "The Magic of Angel Making." An interesting inclusion throughout is a series of "Stephen and Robin in Dialogue," in which the reader can glimpse how their minds work together in marriage.
The books mentioned here are of course just a few of the many available, and in the end, those books that lead to equality, balance, and happiness will mean most to a reader. But along the way, these are titles to take a look at for yourself or for a friend; they offer a number of relationship basics to consider, and that is where success always lives.