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How To Say No To The One You Love
Peter Schellenbaum
Translated from German by Boris Matthews
Published by Chiron Press in 1987
Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2002


This small book might be subtitled "How Saying Yes All The Time May Be Hazardous To Your Health." One of the chapters deals with the tragedy of "the happy couple." This refers to the couple who puts on a facade of smiley faces and grows progressively apart by refusing to contact each other. They rub against each other (rub each other the wrong way) rather than penetrate and yield (the right way). Separate bedrooms, separate vacations and eventually, after the nest empties, separate spouses. Schellenbaum gives several other unpleasant scenarios for "happy couples" who didn`t learn to say "no" soon enough.

The book is well written by a man who understands what it is to be a man and to be a woman. He explains lucidly the need for a man to learn about and to attend to his feminine nature consciously or become feminine unconsciously. The same is true for women and their masculine nature. He explains how this process is fostered by a "no" and glossed over by a perpetual "yes."

The author makes a strange assertion: "Love is the meaning of destructiveness," and then goes on to make a strong case for this assertion. He points out destructiveness provides the "emotional precondition for love." He gives an example of a man and wife whose love has flattened in its affect, who get in a fight over some trivial issue such as who takes out the garbage. By the time the battlefield is cleared of bodies and debris, they notice that their pulses have quickened, their senses are sharpened, and that they have tuned into each other closer than for many weeks, months, or years. They have re-established the very processes of calibration that led to their falling in love in the first place. Thus the "emotional precondition" is created for love to infuse their relationship once more.

This book is not easy reading but is worth the effort. Read it and expect to find yourself mirrored in every story and anecdote. By the end of your reading you will be glad you said "yes" to this book.

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