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***The 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships

What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It

by David Niven, PhD

Reviewed April 5, 2004.
HarperSanFrancisco, San Francisco, 2003.  223 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (302 NIV).

Psychologists spend their time studying people in relationships and what makes a strong relationship.  In this book, David Niven translates the results of 100 such studies into simple principles that we can apply to our own lives.

Each of the “simple secrets” follows the same format.  The title of each chapter sums up the concept:  For example, “Accentuate the Positive in All Aspects of Your Life,” or “Doing Nothing Is Rarely a Solution.”  Then we have a summary of the idea being presented.

The bulk of each chapter is an anecdote about a person or a couple who applied or didn’t apply this particular lesson and how it affected them.  Finally, he sums up each chapter with the results of the study that prompted it.  For example:  “Married couples who report they never argue with each other are 35 percent more likely to divorce within four years than are couples who report regularly disagreeing.”  “People who maintain a compassionate spirit during disagreements with their partner, considering not just the virtue of their position but the virtue of their partner, have 34 percent fewer disagreements, and the disagreements last 59 percent less time.”  “When both partners in a relationship thought the other had a good sense of humor, 67 percent less conflict was reported than in couples where neither thought the other had a good sense of humor.”

It would be mind-numbing to read this book in one sitting.  I read about five short chapters per day.  There was nothing earth-shaking, but it was nice to read about things that can strengthen my relationship with my husband, a nice reminder to nurture that relationship.  “Nice” is definitely my word for this book.  It’s also a little amusing to think about the things some people studied!  And in some cases eye-opening to hear how the results turned out.

Copyright © 2004 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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