The Relationship Handbook

An essential book if you’re in a romantic relationship. Great for interpersonal communication skills.

Some rambling in the updated post-script that I couldn’t quite follow. The book is full of case studies to illustrate the practical points.

This book completely changed (and improved) how I see my marriage and how I live as a husband.

My notes:

“Coping” in a relationship is a way to release steam, but it still leads to the breakdown of the relationship.

The most successful relationships don’t require “coping” or “work.”

Being open with criticism (transparent with your partner) doesn’t help resolve the “issues.” It just causes pain, frustration, and a downward spiral.

Your moods are temporary, but what you say while in a bad mood can never be reversed. Understand this from both perspectives and you’ll save yourself a lot of grief. Say less when you’re upset, forgive more when others are upset.

You’re as compatible with your partner as you decide to be. It’s a choice, not a circumstance.

One of the great golden rules applies MORE to close relationships than others. If you don’t have anything nice to say…keep your mouth shut. Don’t let temporary feelings cause permanent damage. Let it pass.

Emotions are just thoughts. They aren’t real or tangible. Don’t give them more attention than they deserve. Especially the negative ones. Acknowledge them and let them pass. Very Zen.

It may be difficult, but you can set your emotions aside at any time. It means you have a choice with your emotions, and that you are responsible for your own emotions. Example: you can forget your petty problems during emergencies to handle the fire in the present. You could do the same at any point if you stopped to look at your thoughts and emotions.

Compassion gives you the superpower to forgive others and not feel resentment. It’s a cushion to the world. By adopting a stance of constant compassion, you can get curious and have empathy for others, especially your spouse.

Like the Buddha said (paraphrased): Anger is a hot coal that you hold onto, waiting to throw it at someone else. Resentment hurts you more than the person you resent.

If you’re relaxed, happy, and trust your partner, you can simply “be” with them, and know that you each have the other’s best interests at heart.

If what you’re about to say doesn’t have a remarkably high probability of improving the situation, it’s best to not say anything.

Changes only take one moment, and are usually noticed in hindsight. The most effective changes start with addressing a belief, which changes a feeling, which alters a behavior. Beliefs and feelings are the starting point, not the behaviors.

To bring out the best in others, have a positive demeanor, provide positive supports, and have high expectations, but approach with kindness, gentleness, and compassion.

Don’t deal with problems, transcend them. Look at problems as opportunities and you don’t “deal with” them anymore. They become exciting.

Understand that no-one will ever see the world the way you do. Not exactly. That’s the source of interpersonal conflict, different lenses to view reality. This is a meta-skill.

You don’t have to agree with others, but you can try to understand them. Once you understand them, you can see things differently and make more informed decisions.

Stale relationships happen when they get stuck in a level of development.

Let your relationship evolve and deepen over time, and it will be much more satisfying.

A relationship shouldn’t always be exciting or full of desire. It should mature, like a person.

One thing that all phenomenally successful relationships have in common is a deep sense of connection, even if there is very little verbal communication or physical affection. If the partners are “connected,” then they feel completely comfortable with each other and share feelings of warmth while they’re around each other.

Relationships often plateau right before they evolve. If things start feeling “old” in your relationship, it may be a sign that you’re about to evolve further in your relationship.

Being “committed” is self-serving. It’s the one decision to remove 1,000 other decisions. When you commit to a relationship, you’re removing other options, and you have selected the best option for you. You get to decide that one thing is the best thing for you.

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