As a psychologist I often read and sometimes review books about psychology and psychological interventions, so when I saw Snap Strategies For Couples by Lana Staheli and Pepper Schwartz, I was eager to get it. In part I was curious because there had not been any good book by a new author skilled in couples work in recent times. I was provided the Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review of this book, which is currently in pre-release status, and will be available for sale to the public on April 21st, 2015.
The authors have both published before, and this is their first collaboration. Dr. Staheli is a coach, and Dr. Schwartz describes herself as a “relationship coach,”but she is best known as a sexologist and sociologist. Dr. Schwartz writes a column on sexuality for AARP, and a book she wrote earlier made the New York Times bestseller list. In Snap Strategies for Couples neither author give their specific credentials; however from the content of the book it is likely that they are both trained in the coaching area. As a consequence, some might find these ideas a little too simplistic. Yet the 40 brief interventions that the authors describe are consistent with the kinds of emphasis and scope that is often found in the coaching domain. As such, Snap Strategies is a useful and well written collection of simple straightforward things a couple can do to improve their relationship.
Each of the 40 topics is introduced and followed by two clinical anecdotes that illustrate the issue. Each of these brief 5-9 page chapters is then concluded by a prescribed solution offered by Drs. Staheli and Shwartz. Many of these suggestions seem self-evident, as in the chapter on Snarky Comments. The authors point out that making snarky comments to your spouse can “poison the relationship,” and in the prescription, they say that recipient should first recognize that the snarky comments are hurtful, take them on, and then be specific in describing what is being said that is so hurtful. This is fairly typical of the level at which these discussions are presented. They are always straightforward and simple, but nonetheless often useful. However, if you expect in depth or scholarly discussions of marital problems and their solutions, tied to research or to the known experts in the field, then the reader may be disappointed. The authors do have a chapter on the Languages of Love that credits and relies upon the 1995 book by Chapman.
I found some of these pithy interventions quite well crafted and helpful. For example, one solution to a tendency of one partner to be too critical is for the critic to focus instead on the good things that they would like to see increased, rather than on trying to curb purportedly problematic areas. Where this book is at it’s best, however, is in addressing sexual conflicts and problems. Dr. Schwartz has already made something of a name for herself in this arena, with writing as far back as 1970 in her topic area. Her expertise shines through in these chapters, mostly outlined towards the end of the book.
I give the book Snap Strategies for Couples 4 out if 5 stars, and this quick read, aimed at couples trying to breaks some bad habits and patterns, may help many couples navigate these conflicts and problems more smoothly.
Snap Strategies for Couples
40 Fast Fixes for Everyday Relationship Struggles
by Lana Staheli and Pepper Schwartz
Release Date: April 21st, 2015