Book Review | Power of the Middle Ground by Marty Babits
Title: Power of the Middle Ground: A Couple’s Guide to Renewing Your Relationship
Author: Marty Babits
About the Book:
The Power of the Middle Ground explains as no other self-help book does why and how the inherent difficulties entailed in the change process itself are daunting. Author Marty Babits, a seasoned couples therapist and educator, explains strategies and provides tips for grappling successfully with the challenges that change presents. This key aspect of working through relationship difficulties has, until now, been given short shrift in the popular and academic literature. Despite the central place of divorce in our culture, he teaches couples how to achieve a much greater impact in solving difficult interpersonal problems than is often thought possible.
Babits helps couples envision a place that brings their potential for love and compassion alive. This place, which neither partner can dominate and in which each learns to approach problems productively, he calls the middle ground. Through a series of exercises, he equips couples to appreciate and actualize what is positive and possible in their relationship.
This encouraging, yet realistic book empowers partners to negotiate differences, emphasize the positive, see issues from each other’s point of view, defuse anger, and, as a result, rekindle warmth and love.
When I started reading Marty Babits The Power of the Middle Ground: A Couple’s Guide to Renewing Your Relationship, I had doubts as to what benefit would come from it. I am in a healthy, committed relationship with a man with whom I communicate. Truth be told, I don’t know how my relationship could get any better. That is, however, until I read this book.
Don’t get me wrong I know there is always room for improvement. And The Power of the Middle Ground laid out the groundwork for that improvement. The introduction includes an exercise to determine the state of your relationship. Because I scored quite high, indicating a good amount of trust and comfort in your relationship (which is true), I started off a tad smug, even skeptical that the book would hold my attention. That didn’t last long. Within the next few pages, I was underlining passages and making notes in the margin. I was drawn to advice such as, Do not ignore your feelings, but don’t let yourself be ruled by your feelingsâ€ and that one should strive to simply think through a situation rather than acting on a knee-jerk response.
My favorite portion of the book was, hands-down, the Seven Guidelines for Middle-Ground Communication. I won’t list all of them here, but they’re goodies, and I can admit that I’ve been guilty of some of them at different points in my relationship. I’ll give you a teaser: The first is Avoid Generalizing and Stereotyping. Another chapter covers The Two Myths; that relationships evolve effortlessly and if you need to work on a relationship, it means the relationship is defective. The author also deals with anger, parenthood, issues facing gay couples, and lovemaking. If you have a relationship issue, you’ll find it addressed here.
In my opinion, The Power of the Middle Ground is the perfect book for people in strong relationships who are looking to improve upon what they’ve already built. This is not going to cure infidelity or abusive situations, obviously. But it can go far — depending on your attitude and willingness to change — in correcting common pitfalls, like name-calling, or expectations, or prioritizing quality time with your significant other. This book is a fantastic tool and if you put it into practice, as I have, you will be grateful to have it on your shelf or nightstand.
Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample of the product for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.