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Amorous advice for would-be lovers
Why do fools fall in love? Perhaps only fools attempt to reason why. Luckily for lovers and would-be lovers, an engaging new crop of books dares to delve into the mystery.
The Girl Code: The Secret Language of Single Women by Diane Farr is a delightful romp through the dating world. The author, former cohost of MTV's Loveline and a contributor of dating advice to Cosmopolitan, uses a cheeky, up-front tone that befits advice on modern liaisons. As an "homage to friendship," it is a welcome antidote to the plethora of dating "rule books" prescribing pre-feminist deceit and manipulation. It even dares to assert that a woman can be complete without a man. (She does, however, need good girlfriends.)
The code offers inventive vernacular for various body parts, dating situations and types of men. With it, you too can respect the Ugly Underwear Rule, identify the Bad Hygiene Stage with Mr. Right Now, deal with Rug Burn and endorse Girl Patrol. For etiquette any single girl could use, check out the tongue-in-cheek, yet entirely sensible "Code of Behavior & Ethics," which details boundaries good girlfriends never cross. The Girl Code makes a great bridesmaid token or gift for a buddy in any stage of the dating drama.
Thirty marriage and family experts team up in Why Do Fools Fall in Love? Experiencing the Magic, Mystery, and Meaning of Successful Relationships, edited by Janice R. Levine and Howard J. Markman. Diverse essays attempt to explain how we fall in love, stay in love, and how love gives life meaning. By looking at evidence from master marriages (as opposed to disaster marriages), we can learn what "chemistry" really is - beyond endocrine glands. Sneak peeks at celebrity marriages and insightful marginalia jazz up a thoughtful, attractive book good for ailing or successful relationships.
Another approach to the mysteries of enduring love is a systematic plan from therapist and relationship coach Dr. Mark Goulston.
In The 6 Secrets of a Lasting Relationship: How To Fall in Love Again - and Stay There, he identifies and explores six "pillars" upon which every relationship rests: chemistry, respect, enjoyment, acceptance, trust and empathy. Case studies, worksheets and insights go beyond theory to offer realistic steps toward goals. The plan is tailored to appeal to the sensibilities of women and men, which is a refreshing change from the many self-help books aimed solely at women.
The Marriage Plan: How to Marry Your Soul Mate in One Year or Less by Aggie Jordan also takes the high road with a plan based on honesty and self awareness. The goal is not just to make it to the altar, but to make it there with a soul mate. A 13-step plan will, if not guarantee complete victory within the time limit, at least leave you exquisitely attuned to authentic needs and clear-cut goals, not to mention poised to recognize and attract Mr. Right. The author's credentials are impressive. After decades of teaching goal-setting and achievement to Fortune 500 executives, Jordan simply applies the same positive, practical approaches to marriage. Be careful what you wish for: with a plan like this, it is likely to come true.
Another new book that gets right down to the business of love is Prenups for Lovers: A Romantic Guide to Prenuptial Agreements, by Arlene G. Dubin. At first glance, the title may seem like an oxymoron, but smart couples will find this a wise guide from the ring to the altar. The very first chapter will convince skeptical readers the dreaded p-word is not just for celebrities or creeps with more cash than commitment.
Think of a prenup as a financial housekeeping tool, a handy way to start a lifetime commitment to financial planning. The author admits money is harder to talk about than sex, but couples who "invest" in a prenup will be more likely to remain a couple (70% of all divorces are caused by financial conflict). Prenups require full disclosure, compromise and open communication: three things crucial to the beginning of a lasting marriage. Samples and individual profiles show how a prenup can easily be tailored for any situation, even when the couple is already married.
What if prenups and pragmatic plans aren't your cup of tea? Brew up your own Love Potion #9 with Silver's Spells for Love. Best-selling author Silver Raven Wolf shares over a hundred "magikcal" recipes to get love, keep love and even get rid of love. Romantic love gets the most attention with intricate spells like Lust Powder and "Come Jump Me" Love-Drawing Oil, but other kinds of love get neat spells too. Summon a new pet into your life, find a job you adore, open yourself to new friendships, welcome a baby into the world. Spells require fairly ordinary supplies like candles, herbs and common household items. The most potent ingredient, however, seems to be intent: the sincerity and focus of the weaver of the spell.
Lest casual readers think a few magic words and white tapers will make them blissfully happy ever after, the author reminds us "love isn't a trifle . . . it takes courage, perseverance and wisdom to make any relationship work."
Joanna Brichetto lives and loves in Nashville.