While I was on my trip, I had a chance to read a book that was sent to me by a friend. It's about building trusting relationships. I know... I know... I'm in the final stages of divorce so what am I doing talking about relationships? Divorce is no fun, so if I can help people avoid any mistakes I've made by sharing my stories or passing on resources, I figure we're all better off.
Hill Harper has recently wrote a book that takes a look at relationships called The Conversation: How Black Men and Women Can Build Loving, Trusting Relationships. Although the title speaks to the African-American community, there's a lot of great insight into many of our communities where the family unit is disappearing.
Before a Relationship
Relationships are tricky business, one made even more difficult when we don't care for ourselves before meeting someone. In The Conversation, Hill talks about loving yourself before loving someone new. When we give "good love" to ourselves, we are less likely to settle for a less than righteous and fulfilling relationship.
The Conversation also goes into friendship in a relationship. Hill says that in order to have a healthy relationship, the train should be Attraction, Friendship, then Intimacy. Unfortunately, some times we go from Attraction to Intimacy too quickly and never have the pleasure of becoming Friends.
There is nothing a woman has to do to get a man to commit. The Conversation talks about being the best version of ourselves and that will attract a man that sees that special spark and will value her. She does not need to be anyone other than who she is.
What to Look for in a Mate
The book talks about how people tend to look for status when they should be looking for potential. I get a wee bit squeamish with the word potential. I think it might give you the idea that they can change someone or that someone might "settle" for a partner that may not see their own potential. Rather, the book discusses how two people in a relationship can buoy each other during times of growth and improvement, working together towards their goals.
"There's a power in partners that really reinforces a family and marriage. When you look at all the data, people who are in partnerships tend to be happier. They tend to be more successful. They tend to have less stress overall."
Harper also goes into the problems he sees facing the African-American Community. He believes that "Black men have failed int the area of male responsibility and accountability... We as black men rarely hold other men accountable when we clearly see they are not living up to their responsibilities with the women they are dating or married to, and even worse, with the children they have fathered... At times, we even cover for them."
Hill starts the conversation with frankness about the demise of the family unit and what he sees as the challenges and opportunities to help build stronger communities through stronger relationships.
Do you have a book club? Would you like to discuss this with friends? I'm giving away five copies for you and your friends to read and discuss and maybe pass on the word to others about The Conversation they should be having.
Leave me a comment below. I'll pick a winner Sunday, October 3.
In his own words: