Why Can't You Shut Up: How We Ruin Relationships— How Not To

Anthony E. Wolf, Author . Ballantine $22.95 (168p) ISBN 978-0-345-46093-6

Everyone quarrels, says clinical psychologist Wolf, but there are ways to prevent arguments from deteriorating into behavior that destroys a relationship. Although grownups are mature, says Wolf, they still retain a "baby self" that wants immediate gratification without stress. It is when someone's baby self, rather than rational self, emerges during a verbal conflict that trouble begins. Using numerous and often humorous sample conversations, the author demonstrates how to circumvent this. When Celia and Lewis disagreed because she had promised they would attend a dinner party and he wanted to spend time with his father, their discussion grew angrier because both used insulting language rather than accepting that they would have to negotiate. Just drop it, says Wolf, disengage and simply leave an argument if you and your partner cannot stick to the basic subject. Wolf (Mom, Jason's Breathing on Me ) also includes sensible advice on how to avoid other baby self pitfalls. such as bringing up past grievances, assigning blame and indulging a need to control. Agent, Joe Spieler. (On sale Feb. 28)

Reviewed on: 11/07/2005
Release date: 03/01/2006
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