Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Unsticking the Stuck relationship: "Family Ties that Bind" by Ronald Richardson;

Are your close relationship "stuck".  "Family Ties that Bind", by Dr. Ronald Richardson, is now in its 2011-4th edition and has sold over 135,000 copies.  "Family Ties" is a systematic way to get un-stuck from all of our family of origin's messiness.  He dares us to understand why we are who we are without being powerless to become healthier both within, and with our closest relationships. 

Dr. Richardson forms powerful concepts to visualize how we link our families together.  He uses Family Systems theory from the Bowen Theory approach without using a lot of psycho-jargon.  The paperback is only 140 very readable pages.  He is wonderfully transparent with his own family "mobile" and shares how he has worked through his own relationship.  This gives the book some flesh and blood, far more than a text book or a mere "how-to". 

Family Ties That Bind: A Self-Help Guide to Change Through Family of Origin TherapyEverything begins with our own need for closeness and separateness.  As we understand our personal needs and move toward our own healthy balance we are able to identify the dynamic, everchanging forces at work in our families.  You will find that there is all families have messiness and not just yours.  You will see that all families are built on emotional relationship that spiral in and out, closer at times and farther away at others. 

Each chapter contains thought provoking questions and an exercises to find healthier ways to live together.  He teaches us the difference between thinking and feeling; the wonders and dangers of "triangling"; how to escape unhealthy roles and form healthy ones; what we can learn from birth-order; and ends with a step by step process to put these concepts to work.  The goal is not to cure but to improve personal relationships and lead a less anxious life in the process.

My introduction to Ronald Richardson was in seminary through his book, "Creating a Healthier Church". This applies Bowen theory to pastoral leadership and like this book shows that these concepts affect all corners of our lives. The concepts that he uses to create healthier relationship at home also apply to church, work, sports teams and any other situation where two or more are gathered. I strongly recommend this book. A more complete outline will be posted on my blog. Thanks from the "thoughtful pastor" for reading this review.