Against the half-heartedness of love

The supply of books about relationships has been rising proportionally to the number of separations and divorces. Whereas it is difficult for those who need a book to help them with their troubled relationships to select the right one from the abundance of available literature, professionals have a hard time finding something interesting in a field in which so much has been said and written already.
In Couple Coaching, the therapist couple Elisabeth Lindner and Kurt Wawra have produced a book that straddles the gap between popular and sophisticated professional literature. The two authors take as their point of departure the logotherapy and existential analysis of Viktor Frankl, who emphasizes the essential freedom and ability of humans to give their lives meaning and values. Their indebtedness to Frankl makes Lindner and Wawra`s book less a self-help manual but an invitation to couples to engage actively in taking charge of their personal relationships.
The book covers a wide range of relationships, moving from fundamental components such as love, freedom, faithfulness, and personal integrity to a detailed analysis of sexuality and the importance of intact sexual communication. The authors analyze the process by which individuals come to define themselves as couples, pointing out how potential problems surface in the early stages of a relationship; as a result, they invite couples to clarify and communicate their expactations of a relationship early on to avoid later conflicts.
In their „preventive couple coaching“, Lindner and Wawra focus on teaching the partners how they can make their relationship navigate the difficult points of their lives together, such as when they choose their partner, move from infatuation to love, or make important decisions about their lifestyle.
Therapists will find the fourth chapter particularly interesting, the chapter in which the authors introduce their theoretical and practical approach to couple therapy. Lindner and Wawra focus on solving problems by (re)establishing communication between the partners, and they use case stories to illustrate their brilliantly simple and efficient methods.
However, the goal of partner therapy is not always to reunite the couple. Emphasizing personal integrity as well as genuineness and honesty towards one`s partner, Lindner and Wawra demonstrate that, in some cases, couple coaching can help the two partners make the necessary break from each other.
The last part of Couple Coaching deals with separation and triangular relationships, pointing out how partners can make decisions and move away from temporary solutions for their problems. In this last chapter that Lindner and Wawra once more foreground their fundamental approach: they see the ability to end a relationship as a skill akin to sustaining one because breaking up means that partners must deal with feelings of anxiety and guilt. Here as everywhere, Couple Coaching distinguishes itself through simplicity, clarity, and practicality; it boasts tremendous therapeutic value as well as philosophical depth.
To sum it up, in their analysis of common conflicts in relationships, Lindner and Wawra touch upon a fundamental human issue: the tension between freedom and commitment, between responsibility and guilt, and between the trust in starting and the courage in ending a relationship. Simply put: Couple Coaching is a must-read!

Translation by Ingeborg Fink, University of New Orleans