Couples can face a myriad of issues through the course of their relationship. For some, being unable to communicate effectively creates walls between partners. In an effort to be understood, some may lose sight of trying to understand their partner. Conversation loops begin to develop; unhealthy habits that sabotage progress become harder to break.
As the communication breaks down, so may the emotional and spiritual intimacies within the relationship. Jacqueline Richard’s Divinely Attuned: Using brain science, psychology, and spiritual practice to maximize spirituality, improve intimacy, and make good relationships even better aims to bring couples back to the root of their relationship and love, strengthening the connection between the two.
Richard is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a certified AASECT sex therapist. Her role is not confined to her office; her website provides many resources for visitors, and she has a YouTube channel that covers topics like intimacy, pornography addiction, and forgiveness. It is no surprise then that her book is thorough without being overwhelming or weighed down by jargon.
Divinely Attuned is practically an at-home therapist for a couple. Richard uses psychology, neuroscience, and spirituality to guide couples to a more intimate and stronger relationship. Drawing from various spiritual traditions and psychological theories, Richard teaches couples about the different issues that may be affecting their relationship or holding them back — particularly items that may not be obvious.
Each chapter has an introduction to the topic, an explanation, and a “couple’s practice” so that readers can implement what they have learned. It is impressive how in-depth Richard gets with each topic without losing or boring her reader; no chapter is longer than 16 pages. Perhaps a few of the chapters could have been boosted with a bit more information, such as the one on emotional intimacy, but it seems likely that most pairs will find the information they need.
Divinely Attuned is not intended for everyone, though.
Richard’s text is for the couple that, while perhaps in need of some work, is not in imminent danger of losing their relationship. Much like in a typical therapy session, both partners must be willing to read and participate in the exercises. However, the couple also needs to be open to Richard’s approach. To some, her “couple’s practices” may seem a bit too new-age. An open mind and heart are necessary.
Her book is also best used if the couple takes turns reading the information and then, together, works through the exercise. I would recommend reading one chapter per week, at most, and using the practice throughout the week to allow the lesson to really sink in and potentially create new habits. Speeding through the book might not help.
For example, in the section on receiving love, part of Richard’s lesson is about taking note of the aspects of our personality that we do not like. “When we discover what it is within ourselves that we have rejected, we are able to meet, accept, and more fully love ourselves as whole individuals,” she writes. “…When we become mindful of what we see in others, both positive and disagreeable, they essentially and unwittingly become a mirror for our own unknown self.”
The practice that coincides with this section has each person take a look at their partner and list both the positive and negative aspects they see. Then, each individual is to look at the list they wrote about the other person and notice if there are any traits they find in themselves. Although listing negative traits in your partner could certainly stir up a quarrel or two, it is intended to help each person think about themselves.
Again, this is the type of exercise that truly requires both people to be on board. For readers willing to do so, Richard has presented a succinct, hands-on approach to deepening and strengthening an already established relationship. Her well-researched and gentle book is likely to provide couples with new growth and healthy intimacy.
Divinely Attuned: Using brain science, psychology, and spiritual practice to maximize spirituality, improve intimacy, and make good relationships even better
Balboa Press, 2012
Paperback, 140 pages