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Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  2,538 ratings  ·  221 reviews
Passionate Marriage is recognized as the pioneering book on intimate human relationships. With a new preface by the author, this updated edition explores the ways we can keep passion alive and even reach the height of sexual and emotional fulfillment later in life. David Schnarch accompanies his inspirational message of attaining long-term happiness with proven techniques ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published April 27th 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1997)
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4.13  · 
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 ·  2,538 ratings  ·  221 reviews


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Fairlyfeisty Dragonwagon
Jan 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone willing to self-confront in service of become their best self.
I read this book at a time of painful difficulty - would the much-cherished marriage I'd been in many years actually come to an end (unthinkable) or would we, or I, or him, find a way to get to the bottom of what "went wrong" as we then thought, and from there, reinvent?

That was ten years ago. Schnarch wholly shifted my paradigm, not just on relationship but of everything. For starters, pain and difficulty don't mean something "went wrong" but, rather, went right in the sense of... marriage, li
...more
Lena
Sep 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Early in his career, Passionate Marriage author David Snarch found it odd that sex therapy and marital therapy were two entirely separate disciplines. He spent the next several decades refining his theory that what happens in the bedroom can be an important window into the dynamics of the greater marriage itself.

Though ostensibly about sex, Passionate Marriage is really about the process of individuation. Learning how to be an individual and a partner at the same time is no easy task for many of
...more
Nina Bradley
Oct 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book I needed to read when I was a teenager. My review of five stars is not based on how well the author writes or communicates, but rather how important I think this information is. We grow up with a distorted sense of what love and intimacy are all about. That is to say we think it is all about us and our needs. We seek to fulfill ourselves through our relationships and get our needs met and our very selves validated by other people. The Passionate Marriage approach (although I think ...more
Teresa Catlin
Nov 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: already-read
Although this book is almost as weighty as a textbook, I HIGHLY recommend it! It is the first NEW point of view on marriage and relationships that I'd read for a very long time. It is not really about sex--at least not for its own sake--but looks at sex as the "crucible" in which a lot of emotional issues are worked out.

It is a book that I think everyone, if they were willing to read it, would get a lot of insight from. It's interesting to me that so few of the people I've given it to or recomme
...more
Myridian
This is Schnarch's attempt at merging marital and sex therapy. My reaction to this book is very mixed. On the one hand I think that there are a lot of valuable points in the book. On the other, I really disliked reading it, only finished it because I was getting CE credits for it (available on http://www.ce-credit.com/ btw) and felt I had to read every word, and feel there are some serious limitations to his conceptualization.

So first the good. Scharch's two main points are 1) that self-soothing
...more
Laura
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Two things I did not like: 1)The part that degenerates into self-help. (I loathe self-help books because they tell me what to do.) 2) The title. A boring but more apt title might be "Understanding Identity, Sexuality & Intimacy". That said, I can't recall ever reading a book the way I read this one. I cried, I reread, I underlined and starred, I put it down for a few minutes every now and then so I could think. Because I have spent the past five or so years struggling intensely with identity ...more
Kerim
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the work I've done helping others with their relationships, I've had the opportunity to read plenty of self-help books on relationships. Most of the time I find the books useless, if not harmful. On the recommendation of a friend I checked this book out from the library. Now I'm buying it. I'm also recommending it to every person I know who is ready to make improvements in ALL of their relationships--including their relationships with their self.
While other books focus on trying to communicat
...more
Margareta Ackerman
Dec 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Without a shred of a doubt, the best book on marriage out there.

This is the book that saved my marriage. I recommend it to all my friends and everyone I meet whose marriage is in trouble.

Unlike the great majority of other books on the subject, this one explains that marriage isn't just about being nice to each other, listening, understanding, caring, etc. It is a complex system with inevitable hard times. It explains how your relationships fit into your life a whole, and how a marital crisis is
...more
Adam
Oct 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is required reading for couples, and relationship therapists, for sure; chapters 1-2 and 11-13 in particular (if you don't have the time or interest to get through the whole thing). I do think, however, that this book suffers from some of the same things the other marriage bookshelf standard "Hold Me Tight" does—both authors oversell their theory (in this case "differentiation"; in the latter, "attachment"). When you're a hammer...

Yet, both are very useful, and shed some fascinating light o
...more
Megan
Aug 17, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Although a noble idea and a potentially juicy topic, the clinical nature of this book made it difficult to slog through to the actually useful information...wait, was there any actually useful information? I'm not sure. I couldn't get through the first few chapters.

Amazing how an author can take a subject as promising and fun as sex and intimacy and make it sterilized and boring. Oh well. My advice to the seeker, read "Tantra: The Art of Conscious Loving" by the Muir's if you are really interes
...more
Carol
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I LOVE THIS BOOK! Schnarch’s thesis can be condensed into the following quote, “Trusting me isn’t going to change you; trusting (and mobilizing) yourself will. The endpoint of differentiation is being willing and able to trust yourself” What is so fantastic about Schnarch theory is that its application is not limited to the context of marriage; but any intimate relationship. The process of differentiation is a journey of discovering oneself and can only occur in the context of close relationship ...more
Sara
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I hesitated putting this book on my virtual bookshelf because some may find the language and details offensive or too descriptive. Those parts can be skimmed over if you want. However, this is not a sex "how to" book. It is all about maturing in a committed relationship (marriage) and confronting yourself and acting out of integrity. The crucible of marriage, as David Schnarch explains, is all about a marriage falling together when it appears to be falling apart. Differentiation is the key to a ...more
Tracy McMillan
Mar 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best relationship books ever written! I have a dog-eared copy that is going on ten years old... and every time I open it, I learn something new. An absolute MUST READ for every woman who has ever been in a relationship.
Michelle
Sep 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book for understanding and dismantling the brick walls - those arguments that have become impasses.

From the book blurb: "Schnarch's fundamental lesson is differentiation -- the often threatening process of defining yourself as separate from your partner, which inevitably draws you closer to your partner than you ever dreamed possible."

The author describes and outlines the processes of differentiation and fusion, how they each play out, look, and feel, and how people get from one to the
...more
Michele Fogal
Oct 18, 2011 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: life-learning
The Intro to this book was very pompous sounding as in, this is the greatest book ever and I wouldn't change a thing, but who knows, maybe he has some great things to say.

I like the concept of differentiation - figuring out what you really believe in without influence or pressure from anyone else. That is a great idea when linked with how to be intimate. First, be wholly yourself.

Also this idea that we think intimacy is disclosing something personal to someone and then having them validate our e
...more
Carli
Jan 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sure if I should include this book on my virtual bookshelf because there is a lot that might (will) offend the lds person. The language can be frank and graphic and Dr Schnarch includes peeks into the sex lives of his patients that is often just too much. I mean, you can skim or skip those parts, obviously, but things tend to sneak into view. So I don't recommend this lightly or broadly. Having said that, I think that he includes those things in good faith (from his point of view) and n ...more
Duc
Aug 16, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Differentiation, self-validation. I randomly picked up this book and B&N. Then flip through it. It talks frankly. I was shock to find the author's differentiations between sex, love making, and f*ing. This greatly impressed as most book of this nature doesn't talk honestly about the subject. At the same time, I also picked up 'Seven Levels of Intimacy'. After reading some of the Goodreads reviews, I'm convinced that I should read this book before any other self-help books on relationships.
Dr
...more
kazerniel
Dec 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Disregard the title, it's a very good book for anyone in long-term relationship. (It even mentions same-sex couples in the intro, which is pretty good for a book from 1997.)

A very useful book, I learnt a lot from it about differentiation, self-validation and how to grow and mature emotionally in a relationship.

The only off-putting chapter was the one about how to use one's sexual aggression in a constructive way in a relationship. It's just something I - as a sexual abuse survivor - absolutely c
...more
Esonja
Jul 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am clearly the most differentiated!! Me!!

Or, I am clearly interested in beefing up for Marriage Olympics. Let's just call this guy Béla Károlyi and be done with it, eh? I have gotten so much use out of this book, I'd like to say I took up temporary residence in the crucible for a few months. Really great for me and mine.
Kelly
Jun 10, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those in long-term relationships who's sex life is flagging (or has in the past)
This book was kinda hard to read because, well, that kinda stuff is *private* in my world, eh? However Schnartch delves into sex and the negotiation it's really about - as well as his great concept of differentiation - that really impressed me. It was a great book, despite a small handful of the Dr.'s own sexist references and outdated concepts.
Jenny
Nov 27, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The first two chapters are quite good abouts differentiation and its importance in relationship. I stopped reading shortly after that as the quality of the book and the extent of the author's ego threatened to negate anything useful he had to say in the beginning.
Nate Bagley
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely incredible book.
Alana Munro
Mar 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Definitely a must read for any couple. Shows us how to keep love and intimacy alive. Well worth a read.
Tanish
Feb 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
it's kind of slow going and good food for thought- a refreshingly different perspective on relationships so far...
Abby
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read for anyone who is in a committed, monogamous relationship. I also recommend it for people who are single.

If you are among my many friends who are also members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stick around until the end for some notes specifically for you.

This book did a lot for me. It gave me a new lens through which to view myself, my marriage, and all of my human relationships. It also helps me see the behavior of others, both in their marriages and oth
...more
Jill
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is one part human development/attachment textbook, one part therapeutic case studies, one part marriage/sex therapist memoir. Recommended to me by a friend whose marriage had a rough patch a few years ago and she attributes much of their success working through it to this book. If you skip the rest of my review, read FairlyFeisty’s below— she says it precisely.

Written in 1997, he feels slightly dated in tone, but still progressive conceptually. Feels a little like what if your slightly hipp
...more
Nikki Morse
Mar 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: personal-growth
I picked up this book to explore the concept of differentiation - of holding on to yourself while in connection with others. Schnarch's theory draws from the family therapist Murray Bowen, and is really distinct from much other relationship theory, which often holds that current relationships salve the wounds of past harms in a direct way - if you didn't get enough attention and attachment as a child, the solution is more attention and attachment now, right?? His theory is that this trauma or wo ...more
Yessi Young
Mar 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I gave a good rating because David Schnarch has a brilliant philosophy and truly self-discloses himself. This is not just about sex, but about being brave enough to let our spouses (or long-term partners) see our genuine selves. This book is not about compromise with your partner, but rather about facing ourselves. For one person to do more of something and the other person to do less of something for the sake of compromise can cause resentment overtime. But to face yourself and ask "do I really ...more
Kevan
Dec 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Intense, blunt, enlightening, inspiring. A vision for marriage that transcends mundane visions I've heard before, rooted in deep clinical study. Schnarch (what a name) presents marriage as the pinnacle of human evolution, deep connection as the ultimate path to eroticism, and straight-ahead conflict as the necessary door to long-term happiness. I only made it through 45% of this book before abandoning it earlier this year (it just seemed so lengthy; but reading on an eReader I had a hard time ga ...more
Amy
Jan 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Title is misleading. This isn't a "how-to" book on how to have a more passionate marriage. It is more of a memoir of a psychotherapist about some of the couples he's treated in his practice throughout the years. I was fascinated by some of the stories and the processes these couples had to work through to improve themselves in order to improve their marriages, only because I've worked through my own therapy process in the past for recovering from depression. In all of the couples were partners w ...more
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David Schnarch is a licensed clinical psychologist, certified sex therapist, and author of numerous books and articles on intimacy, sexuality, and relationships. He is the Director of the Crucible® Institute and his work has attracted clients and students from across the globe. His book Passionate Marriage is a perennial bestseller, offering the general public his revolutionary approach in a pragm ...more
“You don't think your way to a new way of living. You live your way to a new way of thinking.” 16 likes
“Our mistakes and regrets are not barriers to becoming who we can be; they are a necessary ingredient.” 13 likes
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