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Can We Dance? -- Learning the Steps to a Fulfilling Relationship
by Susanne M. Alexander with John S. Miller


and

Creating Excellent Relationships: The Power of Character Choice
by Susanne M. Alexander


My book review

Creating Excellent Relationships cover
Can We Dance? cover

Can We Dance? is one of the first Marriage and Relationship Education (MRE) Books that I read, and one of the best.

The central idea of this book – and a few others by the same author – is a focus on virtues or character qualities, such as Honesty, Faithfulness, Kindness, Wisdom, and a few dozen other such qualities. Much of Susanne's writing is to use and apply these kinds of words as much as possible. “Can We Dance” is about relationship building, not about marriage itself – but a relationship based on character qualities would be a strong foundation for marriage. Discussion of character qualities might seem unrealistic, or something just for small children rather than adults, but it does work and it is important.

Part 1 of the book is about getting an inventory of your own positive qualities, to see which ones are strengths and which need work. Part 2 is about developing an opposite sex relationship based on character qualities – including selection and assessment of possible partners, development of communications skills, and strengthening of relationships. “Dance” is used in a figurative sense, of two people anticipating each others moves and helping each other.

An important part of this book – and other books of Susanne Alexander – is activities and “questions for reflection” in each section. Instead of reading about emotional processing of previous failed relationships, for example, there are exercises to help with that, and specific questions to ask yourself and think about. It could be used in a seminar or workshop, or you can do it by yourself or with a partner.

Susanne's new book Creating Excellent Relationships: The Power of Character Choices is a very similar but shorter book, which is specifically focused on singles who are getting into dating. Much of its material overlaps with Can We Dance?. When I got back into dating after 25 years, these books gave me advice about the relationships part of it, and I also used Dr. Joy Browne's “Dating for Dummies” to cover the more practical aspects of dating.

Her book Pure Gold also has some of the same concepts and emphasis on character qualities, but specifically for already married couples. (I haven't read that one yet.) Susanne also has versions of this program for youth to help them build skills and expectations for future marriage relationships; my two sons went to a seminar based on this.

Susanne has a couple of websites. www.marriagetransformation.com is for anybody learning about her approach to marriage & relationship education. She also has www.bahaimarraiges.net, which is specifically for members of the Baha'i Faith. Both have lots of very useful information and guidance based on her years of experience.