Author: Judith Anne Desjardins
Publisher: Spirit House Publishing
Using her own personal experiences as well as the skills and knowledge she has acquired over thirty-three years as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Holistic Private Psychotherapist, Judith Anne Desjardins in her Creating A Healthy Life and Marriage: A Holistic Approach: Body, Mind, Emotions and Spirit has crafted a systematic plan in helping people attain a healthy and fulfilling marriage. It is her strong belief that unhealthy marriages are preventable and even if you are in an unhealthy marriage, you can still change the course of your marriage.
Essentially, Desjardins's approach focuses on finding and understanding your “inner child,” which she describes as the being within your unconscious and which is created in your young formative years. As she states, the inner child is that part of you that was originally a child and “it is the 'you' from your childhood- your first emerging Self." In truth, we still have that child dwelling within us, however, most of us are quite unaware of its existence. Consequently, this lack of conscious relatedness to our own inner child is precisely where so many behavioral, emotional and relationship difficulties emanate.
This inner child contains all your inner gifts, your original temperament, your spiritual destiny, your Authentic Self. It also contains all your experiences when you were growing up, be they pleasant or unpleasant. Some of these experiences may be buried within us and as a result may not resurface as part of our conscious self. In other words, it remains hidden within and ready to appear in glimpses in reaction to certain events or situations. Moreover, some experiences and trauma inflicted upon a child may have a profound influence on the behavior of the adult who may be unaware of this phenomena resulting in poor relationships, co-dependency and the overall quality of life of an individual. The way to interrupt the pattern of behavior is to find and mend the child within and in turn this will help in your relationship with your current spouse or potential mate.
In the opening chapter Desjardins cleverly uses the analogy of a “hope chest,” which she explains was a custom in pioneer days to provide a cedar chest to an unmarried young woman in anticipation of married life. The young woman would use her own needlework skills to construct a trousseau of items that she would need for her marriage. Young men were also expected to prepare for marriage by learning a skill that would produce income. Desjardins' informs her readers that figuratively they are the “hope chests” and she wants them to fill themselves with: knowledge of their unconscious, understanding the impact of their childhood on their emotionally/psychosocial development, healing of inner wounds, knowledge about how they operate in relationships, healthy coping skills, understanding how to be an emotionally healthy mate, understanding how to pick an emotionally healthy mate, and techniques for working together as a healthy couple. In the subsequent chapters Desjardins meticulously explores and identifies these pillars which are crucial to achieving a healthy and lasting marriage. In addition, she examines what sets apart those couples who suffer in their marriages from those who are willing to take action.
To assist you in your discovery and search for a healthy relationship Desjardins provides tangible strategies by way of a practical questionnaires dealing with such issues as the emotional/psychological needs that were not provided by your parents which she breaks down into love, safety, approval, guidance, and respecting boundaries and consequences. Others involve your childhood coping mechanisms, drawing up a personal inventory of yourself, reviewing significant past relationships, and a general couple's survey. She also provides case studies including examples from her own personal life, worksheets, diagrams, picture images and insights that go beyond theory to offer realistic steps towards achieving goals. To further help interested readers, Desjardins supplies a short list of references and other reading material.
No matter your point of view, if you believe in the concept of the inner child or not or if fabricating an inner child is a helpful tool in giving you a way to nurture yourself where early caregivers have failed, this book nonetheless is a worthwhile addition to an important conversation. Desjardins in candidly drawing on her own personal life and those of her patients has authored a powerful book with a wealth of information that will benefit many readers who are married or preparing for marriage.