When I was given this book to read, I must admit, being a woman of a certain age, I thought I knew all there was to know about relationships.  In my younger years, I changed partners more often than my leg warmers.  But then, gradually, I became tired of playing the field and ran out of leg warmers.  It was time for me to settle down.

I have been married for twenty-five years and feel pretty smug about it.  I mean, I must be doing something right for him to have stayed with me all this time. I know I make a mean roast dinner, but surely there’s more to our relationship than that?  Yes, we argue, more so in the early years, but generally, we just rub along now.  I convince myself that I have trained him well.

But after reading A Path Travelled – how to make sense of relationships, I have to admit to having my eyes opened. I have started to appreciate the complexities of my marriage, how our behaviours affect each other, and how we have evolved. While the book is aimed at couples, it throws a spotlight on your own habits.  Sometimes the spotlight is harsh, and it was these sections of the book I found particularly fascinating.

Alison Blackler explores and translates how past relationships, including those you witnessed and experienced as a child, alter and affect your behaviour, reactions and communications. Her analysis of why we react differently to situations or environments I found particularly intriguing.  I now find that I shouldn’t presume I am right simply because I can shout louder than him. I now examine my partner’s reason for not agreeing and realise that it is not always because he can’t be bothered, listen, or simply because he’s a man! (But sometimes it is.)

The book examines a wide range of relationships, including the bad ones.  My past is littered with men of questionable taste, bad manners and noisy eaters, and we’ve all been with the partner that totally disrespected us. I always looked at these with an element of regret, but after reading this book, Alison offers an alternative way of processing those memories and feelings and how to apply them in a positive way today.

With exercises for you to complete, this book offers a safe space for you to cogitate and express yourself.  It encourages honesty and deep reflection while making you still feel normal. We all know we can be a crank, but it was comforting to know that a lot of people are cranks too.  We are all human and we all want to be loved.

A Path Travelled – how to make sense of relationships is not a book that tells you how to make a relationship work. It simply offers the reasons why some do, some don’t, and some are not supposed to. Alison has produced a wonderfully insightful book that felt very personal to me, proving what an excellent writer she is. I will no doubt return to this time and time again, especially when he gets on my nerves!

Estelle Maher

Author: The Killing of Tracey Titmass