Real Relationships (by Les and Leslie Parrott)

This is a book that had been recommended to me several times. So, eventually, I bought it on special offer. I hadn’t previously heard of Les and Leslie Parrott, both of whom are apparently doctors of some variety, but reviews made it sound like an interesting book, well worth reading.

‘Real Relationships’ is written from a Christian perspective. However it can still be of use to those of other (or no) faith, since the Christian aspect is quite low-key until the final chapter, which is about relating to God. Earlier chapters deal in constructive and practical with human relationships of different kinds.

The book begins with a useful and thought-provoking introduction about the needs we all have for connection to other people. It demonstrates the importance of looking at our background and childhood - particularly if relationships have proved difficult - to see if there are unhelpful patterns that may translate into relationship difficulties later on.

The first relationships to be considered are those in the family, since that’s where we all begin. Later in th book romantic relationships are described, with some interesting - and, I thought, realistic - comments about built-in differences between men and women. There are also chapters about friendship in general, and some thought-provoking points about the contrast between life-long friends and those who are important to us for a period or place in our lives, but who then move on.

In my opinion, the book was well-written and very interesting, on the whole. However it was rather annoying to discover that, to make the best use of it, I should also have bought a related workbook - costing almost as much as the book itself - with exercises to help me determine how ready I was for various relationships, and how my emotional health was in general.

I like filling in questionnaires so I was quite tempted by the Kindle version of the ‘Real Relationships Workbook’; however the ‘look inside’ feature was so limited that there was no way to find out whether it would actually be helpful. I didn’t buy it - and doubt if I missed out on anything important - but the frequent directions to do another exercise became irritating.

Still, other than that, I thought it a helpful book which I would recommend to anyone having difficulties in either friendships or romance; or, indeed, anyone who is interested in learning more about the ways in which relationships of many kinds can work.

Available both in paperback and Kindle form on both sides of the Atlantic.

Review by copyright 2014 Sue's Book Reviews

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