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The Complete Idiots Guide to A Healthy Relationship

I'm very proud of this book because it contains SO much of what I have learned over so many years that makes a relationship work. It took a lot of work to write it-- to get it all down -- was like writing ten books!

After the pleasure of writing my last book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dating, and its success, the next step quite naturally surfaced. Once you find that special someone in the dating game, what comes next? Making the relationship work, of course. Making it last.

But how do you do that? After much meditation and reflection, the answer rang clear: A lasting love can only emerge from a healthy relationship. The word "health" felt so right. After all, your health is an emerging goal for the new millennium. Indeed, a lasting love has to nurture you on all levels: physical, emotional, and spiritual.

With that foundation in mind, all the qualities of a healthy relationship also rang clear to me. These qualities became the basis for the chapters in The Complete Idiot's Guide to a Healthy Relationship. As you go through these pages, you'll see that each quality of a healthy relationship is explored with advice, examples, and exercises on how to achieve it. The words just flowed, as your relationship and love should flow. I feel confident that if you integrate these qualities into your daily life and your relationship, you'll find the happiness you so desire and deserve.

From my years of counseling couples, I've learned that in order to find true health in life and love, you need to be open enough to share what is deepest on your mind and in your heart with someone who really cares. Then, you should be known, appreciated, and loved for who you are[en]at your core! What does that lead to? Good health, of course! Research proves it[en]the more love you feel, the more emotionally healthy you are, the stronger your immune system, the more physically healthy you are, and the longer you'll live.

Reading The Complete Idiot's Guide to a Healthy Relationship will certainly be valuable to those of you already in a relationship. But it can also be useful if you're just hoping for one[en]to offer you inspiration.

Also, those of you who have just gotten out of a relationship will find this book helpful, because it will motivate you to seek a healthier union.

When it comes to making relationships work, I believe that active involvement and "doing" is as important as understanding. That's why you'll find lots of quizzes and exercises in this book. They make the information come alive, so you can experience what I mean, what you are going through, and what is possible for you.

Do the exercises alone, and then do them with your partner. You'll be surprised at how writing things down can help you focus on both the problems and the solutions. Also, feel free to repeat the quizzes over time, because your attitudes and answers may change, and working at these changes can give you a measure of your growth.

Keep in mind that achieving a long-lasting, loving, and healthy relationship is a process, not an end goal[en]it keeps growing, changing, evolving. The lesson is one that reverberates in my head from the title of a song by my brilliantly talented musician friend, Jaiia Earthschild: We're all just "Learning How To Love." It's an ongoing[en]and beautiful[en]process, even with all the bumps along the way.

How This Book Is Organized
The chapters in this book are divided into five sections that take you through the process of developing a healthy relationship.

Part 1, "The Signs of a Healthy Relationship," presents an overview of the qualities of a healthy love, with quizzes and exercises to see if you have one. These quizzes are based on surveys and research done by myself as well as other experts, distilled into simpler forms so you can analyze and apply them easily.

You know the phrase, "you have to love yourself first before you can love anyone." Similarly, you have to be healthy yourself before you can have a healthy relationship. So, I begin Part 2, "The Secrets of a Healthy and Lasting Relationship," with how you can make yourself healthy first! Then you're ready to explore the four C's of a healthy partnership: compatibility, cooperation, communication, and commitment.

Far too many couples suffer from the seven-year itch (that has been reduced these days to the two-year and even six-month itch), when they no longer feel as excited about each other. But in a healthy relationship, you are always interested and excited about each other even as time goes on. In Part 3, "How to Keep the Passion Alive," I give you valuable tips to help you keep that romance and sexual attraction going. After years of being a sex therapist, I sure do know plenty of those tips[en]and now you will too!
The journey of love is rarely smooth. Don't be discouraged if you hit rough spots and rocky roads. The key to getting through them is supporting and caring for each other and yourself.

In Part 4, "Obstacles to a Lasting Relationship," we'll go over problems like love burnout, criticism, fighting, affairs, work, money, family stresses, and other crises[en]and how you can prevent these from derailing you from having the love you want.
There comes a point in your relationship when you have to decide whether this is "It."

In Part 5, "Where Do We Go From Here?," there's help for making that decision and then lots of information about assistance that is available. I've included many wonderful techniques for you to do on your own, or with professional help, to enhance your relationship or to fix simple as well as more serious problems. And, most exciting of all, I've included some interesting "alternative" techniques that you will undoubtedly be as fascinated about as I am.

Here's more detail about what's in the contents:

Part 1: The Signs of a Healthy Relationship
1 What Makes a Relationship Healthy? Discover the keys of sounds, sights, and feelings to a healthy or unhealthy relationship. Quiz yourself.
2 Is It True Love?
"How do I know I really love her?" "How can I be sure he's the one?" Find out if it's the "real thing." See if you pass the test.
3 So, You're a Couple[en]But Are You Friends?
Find out how being friends can contribute to a loving and long-lasting relationship.
4 The Importance of Matching Your Love Styles
Creative, Emotional, Conservative, or Intellectual? Find out what kind of lover you and your mate are, and learn how to resolve love style conflicts.

Part 2: The Secrets of a Healthy and Lasting
5 A Healthy Self First
Learn why you have to be a healthy individual first in order to have a healthy relationship.
6 Are We Compatible?
Take the compatibility quiz. Find out how much you and your mate really have in common and how to get on the same wavelength.
7 Cooperation: Whose Team Are You On?
Consider your relationship a team[en]in order for you to win in love, you and your partner need to work together.
8 Communication[en]Can We Talk?
Test your communication skills and learn how to speak clearly, listen actively, and provide good feedback to each other.
9 Commitment[en]Getting Cold Feet to Warm
Are you ready for the big "C"?

Part 3: How to Keep the Passion Alive
10 Making the Honeymoon Last
To keep your relationship vibrant, you have to keep dating each other with enthusiasm and passion[en]just like when you first met.
11 Resurrecting the Romance
Planned surprises as well as spontaneous acts of romance are key to maintaining a rich and fulfilling love. Keep a romance calendar.
12 The Art of Seduction
How to set the mood for hotter sex and lovemaking that brings you to deeper levels of intimacy and excitement.
13 How Important Is Sex?
Unresolved sexual problems drain your joy. Learn how to maintain good sexual chemistry that keeps your passion alive.
14 What's Healthy Sex for Couples?
Couples often ask what's "normal" or "right" in bed. Take the "Is It Healthy?" sex quiz with your partner and find out what you both think works in heating your passion.
15 Keeping the Sex Fires Burning
How often is often enough? What new things can you do? Discover exciting ways to add spice to your love life.

Part 4: Obstacles to a Lasting Relationship
16 Love Burnout
Too tired for sex? Too busy for candlelit dinners or long walks? Find out the top ten turn-offs and learn how to overcome boredom and keep your relationship fresh.
17 When Your Relationship Is Haunted
Patterns of your past affect your present choices in love. Confront past decisions, resolve "unfinished" business with past lovers, and ghost-bust your love life.
18 Dollars and Sense: A Healthy Couple's Guide to Handling Money Issues
Money is one of the leading sources of tension between couples. Learn how to handle money so it doesn't come between you.
19 Working 9 to 5
How to achieve a healthy balance of work and love. Tips about what works in the bedroom and the boardroom.
20 Destructive Criticism
Criticism bites[en]but it can be constructive. Here's how to deliver and take it well.
21 We Can't Stop Fighting
Yes, you can be peaceful, if you know how to prevent arguments and blow-ups. And if all else fails, learn how to fight fair.
22 Betrayal: When One of You Has an Affair
Betrayal is painful. Understand why lovers stray and find out how to forgive and forget[en]and rebuild trust.
23 Dealing With Crises as a Couple
Every relationship goes through its share of crises. Learn how to weather major ones.
24 It's Not Just the Two of Us
How to have a healthy relationship with parents, siblings, kids, friends, exes, and even pets so you and your mate stay happy.

Part 5: Where Do We Go From Here?
25 S/He's the One for Me!
So, you recognize the signs of a healthy relationship and have decided that your mate is the one for you. Now what?
26 Keeping Your Love Exciting With Alternative
Fun, unique, and exciting exercises you and your mate can do together to enhance your relationship.
27 Helping Each Other Toward a Healthier Relationship
Stress and problems can chip away at that solid foundation your love was built on. Here's help on what you can do to get back on track together, and advice on when to seek professional help.

Appendix A: Answers to the "Is It Healthy?" Quiz
in Chapter 1

Appendix B: Answers to the "Is It Healthy?" Sex Quiz