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Great Couples Book: The Usual Error

Pace and Kyeli Smith have knocked one out of the park with their new couples communication book, The Usual Error: Why We Don't Understand Each Other and 34 Ways to Make It Better.

What is the Usual Error? It is the very normal, very human, big-trouble-creating mistake we all make. It is assuming that others think like us, would react like us, or value the same things we do. When we do this, we get ourselves into all sorts of love-squelching communications problems.

While showing you how to spot these errors and fix them, Pace and Kyeli offer code names for them, so you can defuse a situation quickly. They provide wonderful little vignettes of how they have cropped up in their lives and how they now handle them. And they offer some great techniques for dealing with the big ones.

The book has four sections: communication dynamics, boundaries, turning conflict into communication, conflict resolution, and positivity. The chapters in each section are short, fun to read, and immediately useful.

I love their third alternative to peacefulness (avoiding all conflict to be nice) and violence (overstepping boundaries to protect what's rightfully yours). They call it fierceness. It is the assertive middle ground so many of us need help finding.

I also delight in their answer to indecision, trust your future self, and their approach to handling verbal attacks, verbal aikido.

The illustrations, by Martin Whitmore, are illuminating and fun. You cannot find this book in most bookstores, but you can order The Usual Error online or learn more about it at the Usual Error website.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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