Book Review by Zinta Aistars
# Paperback: 304 pages
# Publisher: Plume, 1997
# Price: $15
# ISBN: 0452275350
I imagine most readers of Mira Kirshenbaum's Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay are leaning towards the going. Most of us tend not to mess with the good, or spend time analyzing why we feel bliss; rather we seek out deeper understanding only when something hurts. Human nature, I suppose. Take notice only when life becomes a pain. But as I read Kirshenbaum's easy to absorb guide on fencesitting relationships, I realized this is a good read even for the best of relationships. Even for those currently between relationships. Why not gain understanding as a preventative measure and avoid the iffy relationship entirely?
Kirshenbaum's book uses a series of diagnostic questions to ascertain if a relationship weighs more heavily on the side of staying or leaving. Yet, even as she encourages insights, Kirshenbaum, a trained psychotherapist who offers relationship counseling in Boston, is careful to remain in neutral territory, making no hard and fast judgments. A good therapist, after all, doesn't make decisions for you, or even give advice, as much as she offers guidelines and helps you find the answers for yourself, the right ones for you. Kirshenbaum stays on the up and up throughout. Even when a diagnostic appears to point to a major GO! she gently states: your situation may be different. Fencesitting? Nah. While we are all the same, as human beings, we are also all unique, and our relationships especially so. Take with grain of salt, then, and a recommendation to talk to a therapist one on one if truly stuck.
That said, I enjoyed this book and found myself recommending it to several others, regardless of their relationship status quo. The diagnostic questions are good ones. They lead to a good, long look in the mirror, a reassessing of one's own emotional well being, and gauging that one is in, or out, of a relationship for all the right and healthy reasons. And, if you are in a good relationship, the many yes's to Kirshenbaum's questions can rejuvenate any fencesitter, giving new appreciation for maybe what was pretty darn good all along. It's always nice to know you're doing just fine.