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Review on “All You Need Is Love and Other Lies About Marriage” by Publishers Weekly

This particularly thoughtful and articulate volume marks the arrival of major new voice in couple’s psychology. A professor at NYU’s School of Medicine, Jacobs has also run a private psychiatric practice for the past 30 years, and his experience working with couples in both locations informs the practical, realistic view of marriage he presents in this book. “Virtually everyone has significant problems at some time in their marriage,” he acknowledges. Some of those problems are made by husbands and wives, he explains; some of them are caused by biology, or by the tremendous social and economic changes of the past 40 years. Some are handed down generation after generation in families. Jacobs considers each of these sources in turn as he deconstructs “The Seven Lies of Marriage”—among them the ideas that “people don’t really change” and that “children solidify a marriage.” While the book’s myth-busting structure resembles that of many pop psychology guides, Jacobs’s advice is noticeably more sophisticated. His tone is friendly and impartial, and he makes no false promises. “Marital relationships,” he writes, “are by their very nature fraught with difficulty and vulnerability.” It takes dedication to make them comfortable, loving and fair year after year, he says, and the tools he outlines go a long way toward making that task easier. He teaches readers how to overcome anger and resentment without sacrificing their needs. He explains how couples work as “systems” of action and reaction, and gives them ways to break “negative emotional spirals.” Men, in particular, will appreciate his concerted effort to recognize the complaints and desires of both genders. In fact, Jacobs’s book is so well organized and insightful that even happily married couples may find it useful.
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“Dr. Phil, Harville Hendrix, and John Gray may have some great new company.  John Jacobs’ no-nonsense talk, incredible experience, and realistic suggestions will make a huge difference for people across America struggling to deal with the challenges of 21st century relationships.  Some books announce a substantial new presence.  Jacobs has the kind of clear, healing voice that needs to be heard.”

— Dr. Ron Taffle, author of The Second Family


Reviews from readers on Amazon.com

Wow, this excellent book explains a lot., December 3, 2005

I wish I had this book years ago, it explains so much. For example, the author explains that marriages today are heavily influenced and burdened by the outside in. That means that we are stuck in the old roles and expectations of the past even though our culture has changed dramatically. Excellent, common sense points abound throughout the book. This is by far the best book on marriage I have ever read. If you are looking for ways to understand and improve your relationship -married or thinking about getting married- you owe it to yourself to get this book.


Read this book before you get married, January 30, 2005

This book articulates exactly the kind of issues which occur in marriage which tend to be brushed aside as being inconsequential/trivial/the norm you have to live with but ultimately have a lot of impact on how happy you are in marriage. Both partners need to read this book!This book articulates exactly the kind of issues which occur in marriage which tend to be brushed aside as being inconsequential/trivial/the norm you have to live with but ultimately have a lot of impact on how happy you are in marriage. Both partners need to read this book!


Single or married- buy this book!!, June 6, 2004
Reviewer: A reader
This book “tells it like it is”. Although the contemporary state of marriage reflects a sad 50% divorce rate, the observations and suggestions in this book might help to reverse those dismal statistics. 

One needs to be absolutely aware and “conscious” before entering the holy state of marriage. Questions to ask yourself: Are you and your loved one “best friends”? Do you have common values and interests? Do both of you consider your _commitment to your marriage_ as the most important aspect of your mutual values? Are you willing to compromise with your partner? Have you discussed parentage? (having children places the greatest strain on a marriage.) 

This is a fine publication, and worth your while.

Very insightful…unraveling the myths of marriage, November 9, 2005

Although I think the author is still stuck with a bias in favor of marriage cf. divorce (or non-marriage), he does an excellent job of dismantling the myths about marriage and providing powerful suggestions on addressing the difficulties that those lies were designed to cover up.

“…more than 50% of all marriages in the U.S. end within the first 20 years of marriage.”

“Men and women put up with limited gratification in their marriages because they had other more serious problems with which to contend.” -in previous times when marriage was entered more for survival and not for personal satisfaction.

“…chronic depression is more common in married individuals than in singles.”

“Indeed, it has exposed a universal truth: Historically, one of the most important glues keeping marriage together has been women’s economic dependency on men.”

“The single most powerful effect on marriage of women’s new economic power is women’s greater willingness to divorce.”

“Recently, a Gallup Poll sponsored by Rutgers University’s National Marriage Project found that, among people in their twenties, 87 percent believe that they will find a “soul mate” when they are ready to do so….I believe that the wish for unconditional love represents a new mythical solution to our common fears of abandonment…By all means, hold on to your ideal of unconditional love for your younger kids and puppies, but give it up when it comes to your marriage. Your spouse will not and should not accept everything you dish out, and neither should you.”

“You’re not really listening unless you’re prepared to changed by what you’ve heard.”

“Getting what you want in a marriage by coercion is a Pyrrhic victory at best because it simultaneously creates resentment in your spouse that silently undermines your relationship.”

“Differentiation refers to the human ability to acknowledge and maintain a separate sense of self while still remaining closely connected to others.”

“Most people change in relationships when they like the person they are changing for, feel cared for by the person requesting the change, understand why that person wants them to change, feel capable of the change being asked of them, and believe that the change does not imply a loss of power or position.”

“As appalling as this may sound, resolution of marital problems sometimes comes from transforming the ineffective, manipulative threat of divorce into the thoughtful, realistic option to divorce.”

“You must be able to stand firm in the belief that figuring out how to be part of the solution does not mean that you are the sole cause of the problem.”

“The decision to behave fairly and agreeably, no matter how you continue to be treated by your loved one, is terrifying because this kind of self-control inevitably foretells greater maturity and differentiation of the self. It is self-empowerment. The inherent danger of unbalanced, unilateral maturation is that the less mature spouse rapidly becomes undesirable to the maturing partner.”

“However, as I tell many of my patients, there are better ways to show your love for your family than by sacrificing your own life.”

“If power cannot be used to cover up a problem or impose a solution, spouses often find that they have to deal with many more differences and incompatibilities than they expected.”

“Agreeing to do something against your will can lead to marital unhappiness, even though it looks like progress has been made in settling a difference.”

“No matter how strong they look, most men cannot tolerate feeling rejected or unloved by their wives.”

“Though married women are considered about half as likely to have affairs as men are, many do have them, and working women, who have greater opportunity, may be as likely to stray as their male counterparts.”

“One of the greatest dangers to marriage is complacency, which is fostered by foolishly maintaining a belief in the excessively romantic lies of soul mates and marital bliss.”

“Social conventions and cultural traditions have allowed most of us to grow up believing that marriage is a much stronger interpersonal bond than it actually is. Today, there aren’t enough external social forces holding couples together to permit most unsatisfying relationships to last a lifetime. The marital glue supplied by religious dogma is gone. The glue of the financial and emotional dependence of women is gone. The glue supplied by prevailing social attitudes and legal constraints is gone. The glue of the primacy of higher-order values like self-sacrifice is gone. The glue of community’s and parental disapproval of divorce is mostly gone and, anyway, more or less irrelevant. The glue of believing that no one else out there has it any better than you is gone. The glue of thinking that you have to live with this person only for a little while longer is gone. The glue of believing that happiness is rare and unnecessary is gone. The result is that the only glue left to hold couples together is the glue created by the two of you-the glue of mutual satisfaction, gratification, appreciation, and respect-the glue of mature love. If you don’t have this, or if you’re deluding yourself into thinking you have it, then your marriage is in serious jeopardy.”

I give this book five stars. 


John W. Jacobs, M.D.
180 East 79th Street, Suite 1D
New York, NY 10075

For appointments call:
(212) 570-5043