BOOKS FOR BLUE COUPLES
The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm (which sold over 6,000,000 copies worldwide) was written in 1956 and opens with the question of whether love is an art that requires knowledge and effort, or if it is a pleasant sensation that people fall into by chance. In the following pages he advocates for the former, while thinking that most people believe in the latter—wanting to be loved, but not knowing how to love (which seems to be even truer today than it was in 1956). He outlines that any mastery of art requires theory and practice (page 5). According to Fromm, our need for love (return to oneness—versus fusion—or to find at-one-ment) is the most fundamental passion of humans (page 17) that stems from our awareness of separation, which—without reunion by love—is the source of shame, guilt, and anxiety (page 9). The following pages outline developmental stages up into orange, in which “the polarities of the sexes disappear and with them erotic love” and “men and women become the same without opposite poles” (page 15). He then goes on to touch on codependence, ascending (sadism) and descending (masochism), agency and communion, giving and receiving, care, responsibility, respect and knowledge, and the feminine and masculine (pages 18-35). Five objects of love (brotherly, motherly, erotic, self, and God) distinguish between love among equals, love for the helpless (compassion), love for one other person (fusion), self-love and selflessness (love is an active striving for the growth and happiness of the loved person, rooted in one’s own capacity to love, page 55), and various forms of love for God. 484 A chapter on real love and its disintegration in contemporary Western society is followed by a guide for the practice of love, which, according to Fromm, requires qualities such as discipline, presence, patience, faith, humility, concern for others, ability to listen, sensitivity, overcoming one’s narcissism, reason, courage, and fairness.
Writing mainly from a lower quadrant perspective, Fromm is critical of the rogue capitalist ORANGE and New Age narcissistic green worldviews and decries a loss of amber values in relationships and Western societies at large. However, most of his observations in this visionary book are relevant to this day, and have provided the basis for many modern relationship books. It provides a great foundation for singles and couples who want to take an Integral perspective on love relationships and is highly recommended.
The Exceptional Seven Percent: The Nine Secrets of the World’s Happiest Couples by Gregory K. Popcak, covers the two lower quadrants in an exceptional way. Based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, he identifies five major categories of marriages (page 24) that vaguely resemble the stages of consciousness from magenta to green. He calls them (1) deadly marriages, (2) shipwrecked marriages, (3) storybook marriages, (4) partnership marriages, and (5) spiritual peer marriages. The latter display exceptional qualities in nine areas: shared vision, fidelity (not only sexual), love, service, rapport, negotiation, gratitude, joy, and sexuality. Through worksheets and quizzes, couples can create what he calls “a
marital imperative” (a shared vision statement) and determine the stage of their marriage for each of the nine crucial areas (pages 7-21). What follows are chapters to sharpen the partnership skills that he identified as crucial for the sustainability of an exceptional marriage. Since Maslow’s hierarchy of needs represents a horizontal translation for each stage of vertical consciousness development (you can be self-actualized at each level), Popcak’s book can serve couples at almost any altitude, including second-tier partnerships. It is highly recommended.
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman and Nan Silver, has become a classic among couples and therapists. This amber book opens with a strong argument for the benefits of traditional marriages and the liabilities that result from divorce. After closely monitoring 49 couples for a weekend each in an apartment-like setting called The Seattle Love Lab, Gottman was able to predict with 91 percent accuracy if his clients would soon divorce or stay together, after watching and listening to them for just five minutes (pages 2-3). He found that happy marriages don’t depend on good communication skills, effective conflict resolution, or shared interests, but rather thrive on intimacy and friendship (shared lifestyle, personality, and values, page 23) that are based in seven principles: (1) Enhance your love maps—know about your
spouse’s everyday life, priorities, interests, desires, dreams, goals, etc., (2) nurture your fondness and admiration—remember and appreciate positive qualities in your spouse, (3) turn toward each other instead of away—fill the emotional bank account through active listening, empathy, affection, and validation, (4) let your partner influence you—husbands should listen to their wives, yield, and share power and the decision-making process with them, (5) solve your solvable problems—communicate, be tolerant, and compromise—and accept the irresolvable ones, (6) overcome gridlock—accept and support each spouse’s individual goals and dreams, and (7) create shared meaning—through similar spiritual
values and life purposes.
The overall message of this lower-quadrants focused book is that husbands can make their marriage work if they become less dominant andmore understanding, supportive, emotionally available, and compromising. This is certainly good advice for most conventional couples, but will not prevent most modern and postmodern wives from leaving their relationships.
For Men Only: A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn (hardcover edition) is the perfect little book for conventional men who NEVER read or learned anything about gender differences between the sexes. Written from an amber Christian perspective (page 19) it suggests that “husbands need to love their wives just as Jesus does us—which means to love, serve, and be willing to sacrifice everything for her good, even above our own.” In seven short and to-the-point chapters, the authors explain (1) that even after the wedding
a man needs to constantly reassure his wife of his love and to continually pursue (romance) her, (2) how her painful emotions from the past and nonlinear thinking often prevent her from being rational and that it is not his fault if she suffers, (3) that 70% of [amber] women would choose emotional over financial security and prefer their husbands to work less/make less money in order to spend more time with them, (4) how her feelings about a problem are more important than the problem itself and that a man should not try to offer solutions but simply listen to her and show
empathy (unless it is a technical versus an emotional problem, like a flat tire), (5) that most women want sex less often than men do, and need more warm-up time, (6) that she needs ongoing affirmation that she is the most beautiful woman to him, and (7) that [amber] women see their husbands as heroes who make them happy, even if they don’t tell him that. If none of this common lower right-hand advice is news to you, or if your orange (or above) partner is more complex and demanding, then you may save your time/money for a more advanced relationship book.
For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhahn (hardcover edition) is the companion to the book above, but geared towards women. The book suggests that men (1) would rather be alone and unloved than to feel disrespected and inadequate, which leads them to anger and withdrawal, (2) are imposters who hide a deep inner insecurity behind their confident mask, (3) feel obligated to be the provider even if their wives have enough income to support them both, (4) feel affirmed through sex from their wife, (5) like to look at sexy
women—even if they are married, (6) want romance as much as women do but are sometimes not sure how she wants to be romanced, (7) want their partner to stay fit and healthy, and (8) want her to know how much they love her. This little book with its lower right-hand focus is great to be given to your conventional partner if you would like her to be informed about and follow its advice, and you don’t know how to convey it to her otherwise.
Why Mars and Venus Collide: Improving Relationships by Understanding How Men and Women Cope Differently with Stress by John Gray (hardcover edition) is the latest contribution to his famous Mars and Venus series of books (see Bibliography below) that traditionally focus on gender differences in the lower right-hand quadrants of conventional and modern singles and couples. It is based on new upper right-hand scientific findings of hormonal and brain differences in males and females that lead to different causes and coping mechanisms for stress. As usual, the book starts out with a list of typical complaints from men and women about each other that result from evolutionary differences (men are single-focused hunters, women are multitasking gatherers/ caregivers) and the shifting gender roles in the past forty years (modern working women expect men to be more like wives, while men expect women to be more like their care-giving mothers), followed by a “he says–she says” chart. According to Gray, a first step to solving these problems is for women to be more realistic, ask for what they need, and appreciate men for what they contribute—while men should be more sensitive to her needs instead of becoming green Sensitive New Age Guys (SNAGs). Next the book addresses why many successful orange and above women leave their partners and remain single rather than be in a love relationship, before explaining different behavior (e.g., women talk more) with questionable differences in male and female brain structures.
Chapters three to five dive into the nitty-gritty of hormones that cause stress (e.g., adrenalin and cortisol), and those which alleviate it (e.g., oxytocin) and how women can increase their production of the latter (see lists on pages 98-101 and 109-112). Chapters six to nine are dedicated to fights between Mars and Venus, outlining the causes of conflict, the common mistakes during arguments that women (page 140-143) and men (page 144-146) make, and how to take a time-out to cool off. As the typical advice for amber and orange goes, he suggests that men should listen to and validate her feelings, while they should process their own with someone other than their romantic partner (e.g., a therapist or coach–see
page 196), as women otherwise swing over to their masculine side and feel that they have to take care of him, which is a huge “sexual” turnoff for her. In the conclusion to his book, Gray observes that successful modern women still need attention, love, romance, and sex (pages 221-222), which all produce oxytocin—the antidote to stress—and how to keep romance alive (pages 223 and 226-227).
Like most books that address amber and below from a right-hand perspective, Why Mars And Venus Collide does not create deeper levels of intimacy by healing childhood wounds and transcending gender differences, but teaches couples how to cope with their conflicts and to get what they want on a surface level, which is usually sex and appreciation for men, and money, status, and support for women.
How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It , by Patricia Love and Steven Stosny, makes an interesting connection between the evolutionary differences of the sexes in the upper right-hand quadrant and the resulting left-hand experiences of fear in women and shame in men.
They conclude that improving communication skills does not address the underlying conflicts that many couples experience. Instead, the authors suggest to accept the different views and needs of each partner (taking a second person perspective) and to connect with him or her emotionally and sexually instead of stonewalling or trying to fix the other. Through compassion and taking action (the root of emotion is motion that motivates
behavior), couples can learn to act lovingly towards each other without having to address the root of painful feelings and dysfunctional behavior.
While the insights about the fear/shame dynamic seem to be helpful for couples at any altitude that are entangled in it, the suggested solutionsseem to be most suitable for partners in BLUE and ORANGE
BOOKS FOR SINGLE BLUE WOMEN
Making Sense of Men: A Woman’s Guide to a Lifetime of Love, Care and Attention from All Men, by Alison Armstrong is an overpriced
summary of, and advertisement for her similarly overpriced (but entertaining) Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women® weekend workshops that teach women how to “turn frogs into princes—instead of the other way around” (page 5). She teaches that a man’s romantic behavior is a direct response to a woman’s skillful means (pages 7-10), that men are not hairy women—who are multitasking gatherers—but single focused hunters (pages 11-17), and that four qualities in women (shiny hair, shapely body, sensuality, and sexual energy) will attract men who will want to have sex with them (pages 18-33). Once a woman has charmed and enchanted him with her self-confidence, authenticity, passion, and receptivity (pages 35-46), he will fall in love with her and make her happy by spending time, taking care, protecting, and contributing (pages 47-61). This is the perfect right-hand quadrant book for attractive “sex-positive” amber women who have never heard of gender-specific differences and want to manipulate men to satisfy their right-hand needs.