Author offers a road map to a happy marriage

Author offers a road map to a happy marriage

"The Marriage Whisperer" is a new self-help guide for couples, written by Patt Hollinger Pickett, Ph.D. It's not a book meant to be read cover to cover.

It contains many topics and issues that married couples face — just about every problem you could possibly come up with. This is a book for men and women to read and discuss together.

"This book is not a bandage for a broken marriage. It's a road map. A tool. A conversation starter. It's a serious marriage-fixer book, but only if you do the work," Patricia Lorenz, Art of Living writer and speaker, writes in the preface.

Pickett believes relationship improvement can begin overnight. She states that her belief is "genuine, not hype to sell this book."

She begins the book by sharing with readers a magic question that she uses when she counsels married couples in her day-to-day practice.

The question is: "What do you know to do that you are not doing that you used to do and when you did do it, your relationship was better — and if you did it now, your relationship would improve for the both of you?"

She explains why answering this question honestly can start to transform a suffering marriage immediately.

Once she motivates couples to think about what worked in their relationship in the past, she writes about the ways to improve a marriage long-term with behavioral and cognitive changes.

The way Pickett instructs readers is interesting and easy to understand: She uses stories from real couples in various marriage problem areas from communication and daily habits and chores to personality types and sex.

Couples who are using this book together to work on their marriage can scan the table of contents to find a story from 70 choices, which matches the problem they are having.

For example, if the husband and wife are having trouble with communication, they could read, "A Good Communicator: It Takes Another to Be One." At the beginning of this story, Pickett summarizes the problem of Sophie and Royce: They can't talk about the day-to-day details without arguing.

Once she introduces the couple and the issue, the author goes on to explain the problem and give advice on how to fix this breakdown. In this story, she writes about "two principles apply in two-way conversations" and "top five communication points."

Then she highlights a memorable quote: "We communicate when what you mean is what I understand."

Most of the book is organized in this way: A story about two couples is presented. Advice and tips for dealing with their problem is next, along with a highlighted quote. Bullet point lists and tables are often included for clarification, making the book easier to understand and read.

Pickett has worked for 20 years as a licensed marriage and family therapist, and she has a private mental health practice. She also works as a life coach and motivational speaker, and lives in Missouri.

Pickett delivers her marriage advice with humor and no nonsense. Through the pages, readers will feel that she cares about helping people and truly believes that most marriages can be improved and last with a little work from each person.

If you want to improve your marriage, consider using "The Marriage Whisperer" as a guide.

Margo L. Dill is the author of "Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg," a middle grade historical fiction novel. She often reviews books as a columnist for "WOW! Women On Writing" e-zine and her blog, "Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them" (http://margodill.com/blog/). She lives in St. Louis with her family.

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