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Re-exploring the Territory of 'Couples' Advice : Survival Strategies for Couples by John Wright (Prometheus Books: $18.95).

October 08, 1987|ROSELLE M. LEWIS

It takes a certain amount of courage to re-explore the quite thoroughly charted territory found in "couples" books. Most followers of this branch of the self-help genre are familiar with the notions of fighting fair, of negotiation and compromise. Many have already filled in their share of charts and questionnaires.

Marital counselor John Wright, a Canadian--whose country, he writes, has seen a 500% increase in divorce between 1960 and 1980--offers useful and not overly familiar advice on making an "intimate relationship" last.

He begins by describing changing attitudes toward masculine-feminine roles, new divorce laws, our easy acceptance of dissolution as well as unrealistic attitudes toward sex as the major contributing factors to lack of commitment.

To cement relationships more firmly, Wright offers eight basic strategies. These range from shared interests to improving listening skills.

The most revealing chapter, excepting the one on sexual techniques, discusses monogamy and open marriage, showing how Wayne and Fey, attracted to the open-marriage movement, took different approaches.

Extramarital relationships, some believe, can strengthen the monogamous bond; others, primarily women in these anecdotal studies, are visited by the green-eyed monster jealousy rather too often.

Wright counsels patience as the main ingredient in interpersonal glue; it should hold together the components of a relationship, which is a "precious thing, and worth the time and energy invested to protect it."

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