3 out of 4 stars
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Relationships are complicated and delicate things. At some point in life, most of us spend huge amounts of time and effort trying to find a good partner; once we do, we cherish them and try to display our best selves... at least for a while. Fast-forwarding a few years, we find ourselves becoming either indifferent or hostile to the one we're supposed to love. Is this an inevitable fate for couples past the infatuation phase? Must love always fade? According to Timothy Neff Gocke, no, but while the necessary steps to prevent this are conceptually simple, they require plenty of conscious effort. In At the Very Heart and Soul, Mr. Gocke lays out a guide to help couples achieve and maintain a fulfilling relationship by emphasizing what he considers the most important aspects: appreciation and gratitude.
Having completed a Master of Science Degree in Labor Relations and taught as a professor, the author came to understand the effects of appreciation in the work environment. Combining this knowledge with his experiences and the experiences of others, he compiled a collection of insights that form the basis of this book.
Besides appreciation and gratitude, a recurring idea in the book is the importance of small, everyday things. Indeed, the reader won't find any exotic, groundbreaking advice; the real challenge is keeping it up. Negative habits, routines, and thought patterns have a way of blinding us from the obvious and getting us used to misery. Even the way couples deal with mundane chores can slowly but surely cause resentment to pile up. These tiny things add over time, eroding even the most solid relationships.
It takes consistently practicing good habits to replace vicious cycles. That's why there are exercises at the end of each chapter, prompting couples to reflect on potential problems in the relationship and how to solve them, as well as think back on why they chose each other as partners and what they appreciate about one another. The author also encourages the reader to start journaling, leaving some pages on the book for this purpose.
Though the book focuses on married couples, readers at any stage of a relationship, including those seeking one, can find valuable advice in At the Very Heart and Soul. Insightful yet down to earth, the chapters offer clear explanations with examples and dashes of humor. There are many grammatical and typographical errors, as well as awkward sentences in general, so the editing is lacking. For this reason, I rate the book 3 out of 4 stars. There are no profanities or sexual content, making it suitable for most audiences.
At the very Heart and Soul
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