At first glance, Things I Learned from My Wife seems a deleterious at best, more likely traitorous, attempt to explain the male psyche to his spouse for selfish gains. The title alone made me question how often he was seeing his chiropractor for the inevitable pains that come from sleeping on the couch, or more likely in the doghouse. I seethed with our secrets being out in the open for the betterment of one man's sleeping arrangements and questioned where this book would leave the rest of us if Dr. Phil ever picked up this certain drivel. Drivel it is not. Rather it is the insightful and irreverent musings of a trained psychologist.
Dr. Robert Brown is not the sad sacked ninny I expected, but rather, a self-described "typical-issue male as unobservant as anyone, with two practice marriages and an overcome-the-odds successful twenty-year third marriage." Author of a number of books and holder of a Ph. D., Brown's love of golf, and its frustrations (that he has written about in a number of other works) readied him for this work of many parallels.
So many "self-help" books preach, carry on, and simply leave us with a sense of having wasted our time. For men, books of similar titles are simply read as penance for having failed to mow the lawn before the game was over and the rain came. Often they are simply dog-eared to give our partners the impression that we are indeed trying. We are not ruled by genetics and predispositions; we are married men. As Brown points out, the reason is simple -- we only possess three levels of attention, if they can be deemed so at all: Obliviousness, Vague Awareness, and Mild Alertness.
The genius of this book is, of which I'm well aware, that women are the wiser sex. I don't usually care to hear that, much less read it. Brown takes this understanding and runs with it for over 33 vignettes that provide on the surface, humor, but once reread, an understanding of the simple changes we can make in our lives to have one of the 50% of marriages that doesn't end in tears, or at least alimony. These understandings become apparent and even approachable as you turn the pages.
I also find it odd, yet welcome, that the good doctor has provided this roadmap and its sound advice, without having been written for a specific audience. Through humor, personal experiences, and sound science, Brown has compiled a fun read for the wanting husband, demanding wife, friends of both, and all else in between.
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