Kelly E. Johnson, MD|
Publisher: Hay House
Q. There are hundreds of relationship self-help books on the market. What makes this book different from all of the rest?
A. I've pretty much read all of the material written by other relationship "experts" and I was quite disappointed - either the book promised relationship secrets that simply don't exist, or it was so theoretical and complex that the concepts just weren't practical to use on an everyday basis. The bottom line is that real ideas that have a real chance of helping someone create a great relationship simply weren't being heard The Relationship Problem Solver for Love, Marriage and Dating is a different experience for the reader because they'll come away with an honest understanding of why they do certain actions that can either enhance or destroy their personal relationships. This gets to the root of their choices, problems, and interactions with relationship partners. My obligation as the author is to provide the reader with timeless relationship principles that will apply even if my book is reread years from now. This book definitely isn't the newest "fad," written by someone with few credentials - I truly believe that it gets to crucial relationship issues that have never been clearly articulated in other mainstream books.
Q.. Okay, so what are your credentials that make you the right person to write a book on relationships?
A. First of all, let me say that I'll talk about any relationship topic in any format, no matter how bland or provocative. I've done this on my radio show for years. With that said, I don't know if there is a perfect set of qualifications that would allow anyone to give relationship advice to others. After all, a relationship with another human being is a complex phenomenon that, but there are certain patterns and similarities that we all share. As a psychiatrist, I've been trained to help people understand what makes them tick and to understand their relationship dynamics with partners. After all, any relationship behavior or emotion is based on something, and it's my job to find out what that something is so that the person can develop better relationship skills. As a therapist and radio show host, I've helped thousands of people over the years through some of the most difficult relationship problems imaginable. But I was also lucky enough to see the most important relationship example - my parents' relationship - work out and set the tone for my future. I have now been married for several years and feel as if I'm personally and professionally grounded in basic relationship principles that will work for anyone.
Q. You tackle some of the more sordid aspects of intimate relationships - divorce, cheating, lying, addictions, and abuse. Why did you include these topics?
A. The answer is simple, yet sad: The truth is that a good percentage of all love relationships will experience one or more of these issues. Just take a look at the millions of dollars that daytime talk shows make by showing the unfavorable relationship outcomes for many of us. I feel that you should at least think about these things, and then take the necessary steps with your partner to minimize the risk that both of your lives will be ruined. But there are some relationships that will be practically guaranteed to destroy your life. For instance, I'm certainly a proponent of "family values," but I become frustrated when someone has stayed in an abusive or neglectful relationship for years, replaying old relationship dynamics from the past. I'm also stymied by those who hang in there for the sake of the children.
Q. How has your experience in radio and television impacted your views on intimate relationships over the years? After all, you go on a lot of national talk shows that focus on severe relationship conflicts. In the two minutes that they give you to help these people, it seems as if there is usually no change in their behavior.
A. Here's a handy hint: Whatever the guests are doing on television shows or my radio show, do the opposite and you'll generally have a good chance at succeeding in your relationship! I agree that if you watch enough daytime television or listen to my radio show, you could get really depressed about the state of relationships; but to me, this just means that most of us don't know how to handle them or don't know where to turn. I have spoken to so many people about intimate relationship details that it almost seems second nature to me now. Whether these shows are helpful to any extent is debatable, but I like to think that the guests go home and work on what we've discussed on the show. I do know that one of the reasons I wrote this book was so people could have a straightforward relationship manual at their fingertips when things get rough - if you've engaged in relationships that failed and led to a lot of pain, then this book is for you. If you're committed to someone, but feel as if there's a lack of communication or connection, unresolved anger, sexual problems, or apathy and boredom . . . then this book is also for you. but I also wrote it in a way that even those in a happy relationship can benefit from the exercises and content found within its pages.
Q. So let's say that I'm pretty happy overall with the state of my relationship. What can your book offer me?
S. Should you read my book if things are basically peaceful and content with you partner? The answer is a resounding yes, for the following reason. The principles in my book don't just allow you to learn about interactions with your partner - more important, this book forces you to take a long, hard look at yourself. Consequently, you'll be able to make sense of your life choices because you'll begin to understand your unconscious motivations. So a happy relationship can only get happier.
Q. Talk about your idea that "serious relationship problems require relationship therapy." You say that this book is like therapy without having to go to the office.
A. I've been trained in a psychodynamic approach to relationships. I believe that people will only make significant gains in any of their relationships if they attempt to understand their own natural tendencies and motivations, which are based on their past. Any book that promises the "easy secrets" has simply sold out; and if a person is dealing with serious issues, books like these really won't help at all. I wrote The Relationship Problem Solver for Love, Marriage, and Dating to read just as if the reader had entered my office and asked for help. If someone out there is struggling with a difficult life situation or a relationship that's on the rocks, then they deserve nothing less. After all, at the end of the day, all we really have is the joy or the pain that our relationships have brought into our lives.