When people visit my website, MenAlive, you will see my welcome video, “Confessions of a twice-divorced marriage counselor.” I used to try and hide the fact that I’d been married twice and divorced twice. Who would ever want to come to see a marriage counselor who was a failure at marriage? But I’ve learned some important lessons since I got my master’s degree in 1968 and began my practice. I learned that having a relationship that lasts and gets better through the years is not an easy thing to achieve and going to school gives you some skills, but you still have to apply them in real life. I also learned that when we are given the correct love map and learn to follow it, we can all have the love we’ve hungered for all our lives.
When I fell in love in college and we decided to get married, I thought life was simple and I was on the path to happily ever after. Like many men and women, I grew up in a family that didn’t offer a clear map to achieving success in a relationship. When I was five years old my parents separated and later divorced. I vowed I would never let that happen to me and thought the key to happily ever after was to find the right partner. After dating and experimenting through my freshman, sophomore, and junior years at U.C. Santa Barbara, I met Lindy in my senior year. I knew she was the one.
If I thought about it at all, I believed that a happy marriage was a two-stage process. First, go on a search for that special someone, which involved, in my case, chasing a lot of pretty girls until that magic moment when our eyes would meet across a crowded room and we’d run into each other’s arms and know, finally we’d found our soulmate. Stage two is simple, though there are always a few ups and downs. You build a life together, usually including a few beautiful children who bring joy to your life. Old-age is somewhere way out in the future, but they are golden years and you die surrounded by love and dozens of tearful progeny singing your praises as you depart for the after-life.
Well, it didn’t happen that way. Life is never that simple, predicable, or easy. Following the first divorce after ten years and two children, I decided I was ready to try again. I found that it wasn’t so easy to meet a whole lot of potential partners after you leave college, but I finally found her, not across a crowded room, but in the baths at Harbin Hot Springs. I should have been forewarned when I learned she slept with a gun under her pillow to protect her from men, but I was at a stage of my life where I confused adventure with temporary insanity. Our marriage didn’t last long, but I felt lucky to have gotten out alive.
Then, I met Carlin at the Aikido dojo in Mill Valley. She was visiting a friend and she seemed like an interesting person, but no bells and whistles went off, no fireworks. Besides I was done with relationships and having another nice friend seemed much better than another crazy ride in search of a partnership I was coming to believe was as likely as finding and befriending a unicorn. Our relationship developed more slowly than the crazy ones and we did fall in love. Carlin is very real and we’ve learned a lot in the forty-two years we’ve been together. We even wrote a book, The Enlighted Marriage: The 5 Transformative Stages of Relationships and Why the Best is Still to Come.
The book contains a lot of what we have learned together, but also wisdom from some of the best marriage counselors we’ve met over the years, including the ones who truly know what real couples need and actually have practiced it in their own lives. Two people we have gotten to know, first through their books and later as we became friends, are Harville Hendrix and his wife Helen LaKelly Hunt.
They’ve written numerous best-selling books including Getting the Love You Want and they offer wonderful courses on-line as well as in person. It was from Harville and Helen that I learned about a new book that sounded intriguing, The Go-Giver Marriage: A Little Story About the 5 Secrets of Lasting Love by John David Mann and Ana Gabriel Mann.
“Falling in love is easy,”
Harville and Helen said in review of the book,
“Staying in love? That’s the tricky part.
John and Ana have written a beautiful tribute to the joys and challenges of marriage. This is a book that couples will come back to again and again.”
I’m always looking to connect with people like Harville and Helen who have learned not only the first stage of falling in love, but how to navigate all five stages to have a marriage that gets better through time. I was sure that whoever they recommended would be well-worth my time and effort. I reached out to John and Ana and I’m so glad I did. We talked for an hour and we could have gone on for days.
They sent me their book and it is like nothing I have ever read. It’s not a marriage manual as much as it is magical mystery tour that took me on a journey that made me say, Yes, this is really what it’s like to fall in love and then to be given the secrets of what it takes to have a love that lasts and gets better through time.
If you are in a relationship that is great and you want it to continue to grow and get better though time, this book is for you. If you are in a relationship that is OK, but you’d like it to be wonderful, you will want to read this book. If you are struggling and want to keep your relationship from going under, don’t wait, get this book now. If you are in between relationships and you don’t want to get burned again but want to have a proper love map for finding the right partner and knowing you have the right guides with you for your journey, John and Ana will be there with you.
I think you can guess that I’m high on John and Ana and their wonderful Go-Giver Marriage. If none of the above applies to you, or even if some does, you may want to give a gift for someone who is about to get married or a family member, perhaps a son or a daughter, who you want to give a gift of love. Please go visit John and Ana at GoGiverMarriage.com and check out their book and the other goodies they have to offer.
Oh, one more thing. If The Go-Giver sounds familiar to you, the original book was a global bestseller a few years back. Written by Bob Burg and John David Mann, The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea was read by millions of men and women around the world. John and Ana told me they had been waiting years to write The Go-Giver Marriage and now it is here. You might want to do what I did. I bought a copy of each.
In these times of global disruption and chaos, it is helpful to have some stability in our love lives and our work lives. Sigmund Freud once said,
“Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.”
I truly believe that the wisdom contained in these two wonderful books can go a long way to helping us in our day-to-day lives. They can also help us all bring about “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible,” as my colleague Charles Eisenstein so beautifully puts it.
I always enjoy hearing from my readers. Your comments and questions let me know you are out there and my weekly articles connect with some of you. Please visit me at MenAlive.com