“Wired for Love” - Book Review

This month we read the book “Wired for Love” by Stan Tatkin — for the third time in a year. This book has significantly influenced our marriage by helping us become closer than we have ever been. It taught us to create “an agreement to put the relationship before anything and everything else. [To] put our partner’s well-being, self-esteem, and distress relief first” (Wired for Love). And for them to do the same for us. This is what Tatkin refers to as a couple bubble.

“Wired for Love” teaches that a marriage isn’t about us as individuals, it’s about the marriage itself, and we need to put what is good for the marriage ahead of our own self interests. A marriage is supposed to be high maintenance, it’s about always being there for our partner, and knowing they will be there for us. If one of us is awake at 2 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep we can wake the other person to talk about what is bothering us. There is security in knowing that we can bring up any concern at any time and knowing our partner will give us the space to talk and will try to understand. A marriage is about truly learning who your partner is, and then using that knowledge to help them be better, reassure them, and soothe them. Our marriage comes first — before ourselves, our parents, our children, or any and all other priorities.

The book teaches it is okay to fight, it’s even good for the marriage to fight, as long as we do it safely and productively. Fighting is how we get to know each other and work out our differences. In the past we’d often get bogged down in what Tatkin calls the “blah, blah”, the details and stupid stuff that comes out of our mouths when we are being defensive or selfish. We have to learn to fight friendly, if we feel threatened our brains will move into fight or flight mode and can’t help us resolve anything. Tatkin teaches that compromise isn’t an ugly word. If your spouse wants to go to the office party and you don’t really want to, it’s alright to ask for something in return, like a meal at your favorite restaurant or an intimate evening together. It’s about making sure their needs are met as well as your own. A good compromise is when we all feel like we got what we needed, and no one feels like they lost.

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A marriage takes significant effort but there are significant benefits we gain from these efforts. Tatkin teaches that a couple bubble will help us feel more secure (we know we always have an ally), make better decisions (two brains are better than one), and live longer and be happier. We have seen these benefits starting to manifest. For example Kelli has worked for years to lose weight, and yet her weight continued to increase while her health declined. Since embracing this couple bubble we have each lost more than 40 pounds and Kelli is getting close to her pre-childbirth weight for the first time in 20 years. We have seen multiple other benefits as well including feeling more understood, trusting each other more, and being happier.

We highly recommend this book. There is a saying “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit” (Bible KJV, Matt 7: 16-17). The best praise we can give this book is that so far, in our marriage, it has brought forth wonderfully delicious fruit.

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The purpose of “The Couple Project” is to learn more about what makes a strong marriage or relationship. We share what we are learning, which ideas we are trying, and which ideas helped improve our relationship. We realize not everything that works for us will work for you, but we still hope you will find our journey valuable.

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