To find the right balance of responsibility, some of us need to say less, some need to say more; some need to sit down, some need to stand up; some need to say no, some need to say yes. page 190
At a clergy retreat nearly twenty years ago now, I was introduced to the concept of enmeshment in family systems. Since that time when I have done premarital counseling I have emphasized understanding family systems and how it affects one’s marital relationship.
I have also thought of Abbot and Costello’s classic Who’s On First routine as it relates to family life. Seriously, some families know who is exactly on first. Other families are not sure who is on first, “oh the kids are out there…somewhere…” Enmeshment is a cause for both views.
Enmeshment is a relationship killer. It causes strong and confident people to lose their confidence and identity. It causes power hungry people to grow more powerful and domineering. It disables relationships, hope, love, and truth.
Dr. Tim Clinton and Pat Springle has provided us with a detailed, yet hopeful portrait of how to overcome enmeshed relationships and dynamics from a faith perspective that avoids a simplistic and “preachy” approach and tone. Break Through: When to Give In, How to Push Back (released yesterday, May 22, 2012, by Worthy Publishing ) offers some practical and helpful suggestions for learning how to deal with enmeshed relationships in marriage and family life.
The book begins with an overview of how enmeshment destroys vital relationships and is rooted in a false view of love that causes people to use denial to avoid dealing with the reality of dysfunction in a any relationship. Then it moves into subjects such as idolatry of persons and relationships which the authors call “Functional Saviors” and also the importance of understanding roles such as fixers who thrive on fixing people, performers whose success set up a treadmill of expectations that never end and exhaust a person, avoiders who seek to avoid conflict and lack trust in others; doormats who simply seek to not rock the boat, and adrenaline junkies who seek thrills to avoid an emptiness. They move on to the tasks of developing a healthy personal identity, the value and importance of proper trust, and the need to balance responsibilities as they go back and forth between the marriage setting and parenting.
Through a liberal use of stories of people and use of the Bible in a helpful way, they make a case that freedom to be a maturing and responsible adult is the path that we all need to take. An they provide a series of questions at the end of each chapter to assist the reader in applying what they have learned.
It is a strong faith based book and is a blend of both development and behavioral psychology. But Clinton and Springle have added to the discussion, in my opinion, by asking the reader to develop a healthy definition of love by redefining love in healthier terms. Most of the terms and concepts I have heard for years but it was good to hear them again.
I like this book though I think that if it is given to someone to help them work on improving their interpersonal skills and deal with enmeshment issues, it needs to be used in a group setting or at least discussed with someone who can help the reader process their issues. It is very detailed and at times the reader could be overwhelmed with the information.
On my rating scale, I rate this book a ‘good’ read.
Note: I was invited by the publisher, Worthy Press, to review this book without the expectation of a positive review.
Now through the generosity of the publisher, I am going to give away one copy of this book. To be eligible (sorry US residents only), please post a reply on why you would like to have a copy of the book by 11 PM EDT this Friday, May 25, 2012. I will read all comments and then make a decision (which will be final) and inform the winner via email as to their award with a request for an address that I can send it to.