Psychologist Hoistad lays out a road map for both new and established couples to achieve a secure, satisfying and invigorating relationship over the course of 16 weeks. The exercises in this workbook-style guide aim to help partners pinpoint and then transcend their current relational style: traditional (one dominant personality); merged (two interdependent people); roommate (equal yet disconnected). The goal is the titular Big Picture Partnering: strong individuals who create together the nurturing space Hoistad terms""our world."" Once couples classify their mode of relating, Hoistad directs them to exercises that investigate the strengths and problems of each type, and gently advises them to break from destructive patterns by implementing new modes of thought, feeling and action. One guiding principle that Hoistad has gleaned from studying healthy relationships is the 5-to-1 ratio, in which couples aim for five positive interactions for every negative one. This investment, writes Hoistad, is an insurance policy every couple can count on during times of stress. Couples both married and unmarried will find valuable techniques for enhanced communication and commitment--though some, like time outs and weekly partnering meetings, may seem a bit artificial. The author's warm, supportive tone encourages readers to stick with her program, which is intensive and requires two fully engaged participants. Like every worthwhile endeavor, Hoistad's path will take couples down roads they may not like to tread, but, as she insists, bumpy paths are part of""the trip of a lifetime.""