Southern Man

Monday, July 02, 2007

Ten Books

Southern Man has had a lot of help dealing with the events of this past year - from friends, pastors, counselors, family. You know who you are, and Southern Man sends a big "Thank You" your way. But it occurs to Southern Man that there have been ten books that have been of particular benefit to him as well. All of these are always near at hand; Southern Man reads in at least one of them daily.

One of the first he read (and one that went a long, long ways to helping Southern Man understand why he was so unhappy with his marriage) was Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. This book's descriptions of codependents / enablers and their partners struck home with tremendous force. This book really woke Southen Man to the role he played in the demise of his marriage.

And one of the most recent read was Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. While Codependent No More frames relational challenges in terms of compulsion, enabling and codependence, this book does so in terms of limits on behavior - or, more precisely, the result of failure to set such limits. Southern Man's consistent failures in the latter arena exaberated many of the problems in his marriage.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman is one that Southern Man had read many years before; indeed his Sunday-School class had used it as a text for a brief time. While his ex may scoff at this, Southern Man really did make an honest effort to apply the lessons in this book to his marriage and will continue to do so. There are now a multitude of specialized editions; Southern Man has the children and teen versions on order now.

The confrontational style of It's (Mostly) His Fault by Robert Alter was difficult to take at times but forced Southern Man to accept just how ill-prepared he was to understand and to do his part in building and maintaining a marriage relationship. Reading this book during a time of separation and divorce drove home how Southern Man had so often failed to communicate the love and affection he so deeply felt for his wife and children and what he needed to do to change. If there is any one book Southern Man wishes he had read and understood twenty years ago, this would be the one.

And if there's one book I wish she had read, it would have to be The Secrets Men Keep by Stephen Arterburn. Arterburn has considerable insight into what makes men tick and Southern Man learned more about himself and why he felt and acted the way he did from this book than any other.

Not one but two books by Dr. Jim Talley made the list. Southern Man had read Reconcilable Differences long before he was aware that Dr. Talley's practice was within a few miles of Casa Southern Man and read it again as part of his preparation for counseling with Dr. Talley. While Southern Man isn't giving good odds on this right now, this book continues to give a great deal of hope that it may be possible to regain some semblance of relationship with the mother of his children.

The second by Dr. Talley is Too Close, Too Soon, which provides rich detail on the differences on how men and women approach relationship and how those differences create enormous difficulties later down the road. It is with great chagrin that Southern Man recognized numerous mistakes he made in the beginning of his relationship with his ex as well as mistakes he's made in the recent past as well. Hopefully this book will help Southern Man correct the errors he has already made and avoid these mistakes in the future. That way he can make all new mistakes.

In a more light-hearted vein, 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married by Linda and Charlie Bloom does just that - lists one-hundred-and-one brief statements and gives a page or so amplifying each. Equally humerous and serious, it's a good book to keep on the nightstand and open at random.

Every Other Weekend by Kenneth Parker and Van Jones delivers what the cover promises - straight talk to divorced men who love their children but who don't live with them. That was Southern Man's state for nearly a year; now with his son in residence at Casa Southern Man he must play both sides with both him and his two sisters who still live with their mother. If nothing else, this bok is teaching Southern Man that he really hasn't a clue as to how to relate to his children and he'd better figure it out PDQ.

And the last stems from good advice from a good friend. Southern Man is trying to get into the habit of reading one chapter from The Book Of Proverbs each night. With thirty-one chapters, all one needs to do is open to the chapter corresponding to the day's date. Although he's often a bit disdainful of the wisdom to be found in the Old Testament, Southern Man is finding that these ancient words are speaking to him in ways that he's never before experienced. It is true that God speaks to every generation through His word. Lord, I pray that you would continue to guide and direct me as I search for truth and wisdom. Touch my heart, O Lord, that I might have healing and peace. Give me the open mind and open heart that I need that I might hear Your voice speak to me through Your word. Amen.


At Thursday, July 05, 2007, Blogger neighborsgrrl said...

They all sound like interesting books. It sounds like you are on a good track -- regardless of your relationship with your ex, the important thing is to build upon your relationships with your children. That's really important. Whether or not you become friends again with your ex is, in my mind, not nearly as important right now as having good, healthy relationships with your children. But what do I know? I don't have kids. I can only observe from the outside.

Change is hard and painful, but it sounds like you're putting the effort and work into it. Good luck.


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