Book: The DNA of Relationships

The DNA of Relationships: Discover How You Are Designed for Satisfying Relationships” by Dr. Gary Smalley

Almost everything we do touches a relationship in some way.  Just think about your day.  Whether you’re at home or at work, driving your car, exercising, shopping, vacationing, worshipping at church. or doing any one of the many activities you and I do every day, we are constantly involved with people.  We even interact with people in our sleep.  There is no escaping relationships.

That is the opening paragraph to Dr. Smalley’s book, “The DNA of Relationships.”  In it he proposes to offers some practical steps to take to enhance any relationship, especially those most dear to us.  His work centers around marriage relationships but, as he points out, the principles could be applied to any relationship.

His premise is simple.

What is the DNA of relationships?  It is simply the genetic relationship code with which we were created.  It’s our relational hardwiring.  It’s the unalterable, immutable relationship truth that is true for all people for all times.  We’ve never seen an exception.

The book has three sections with a total of nine chapters along with 2 appendixes and a study guide.  It is based on the work that he does in connection with his sons and colleagues (Greg Smalley, Michael Smalley, Bob Paul) at the Smalley Relationship Center and the National Institute of Marriage.  In his acknowledgments, he lists many other caring professionals whose goal is to see relationships restored and marriages thrive.

Part One: The First Step

  1. A Relationship Revolution
  2. The Dance That Destroys Relationships

Part Two: New Dance Steps

  1. The Power of One: Take Personal Responsibility
  2. Safety: Create a Safe Environment
  3. Self-Care: Keep Your Battery Charged
  4. Emotional Communication: Listen with the Heart
  5. Teamwork: Adopt a No-Losers Policy

Part Three: The Next Step

  1. What We Can Change
  2. You Can Make a Difference

Appendix A: How to Have a Relationship with God
Appendix B: Identify Your Core Fear
Study Guide

In the first chapter Dr. Smalley makes an ambitious claim.

In this book, we’re going to show you how to revolutionize your relationships and turn them into something deeply satisfying and even thrilling.

In the second chapter Dr. Smalley describes what he calls the “Fear Dance.”  This is when an interchange between two people escalates into an argument because neither of them is really listening to the other and they in turn are respond out of their core fear, which is usually rooted in broken relationships from their past.  He uses examples from his own life and those of his colleagues and other couples to illustrate how this might happen.

Then for the next five chapters he introduces the new dance steps that people could learn to incorporate into their relationships which can result in changed relationships.  The overriding theme is that we are and can only be responsible for our behavior and feelings.

In chapter eight, Dr. Smalley acknowledges that you can do all the things outlined in the book and still not see a change and points out that if our goal is to change the other person, we will fail every time!  We can’t make people change.  They have to choose to change and what a different life.

Finally, Dr. Smalley calls for a Relationship Revolution.  He harkens back to when Thomas Paine published “Common Sense” which ignited his contemporaries to resolve to break free from England and to change their world.  So too the need for a relationship revolution.

Today we need another revolution–a relationship revolution.  We need a revolution to free us from the chains of relationship discord, misery, and collapse.

He propose three actions steps that need to be done to accomplish this revolution.

  1. We must open our eyes to the relationship crisis.
  2. We must connect with leaders and nurture a grassroots response.
  3. We must take action.

He then offers action steps that can be done to ignite and promote this revolution.

I’ll conclude with quoting his final paragraph.

Let’s together spark a generational shift right now.  Let’s help our kids and grandkids to succeed at relationships.  Join us in spreading the great news about what can happen when people really start loving each other the way God designed us to love.

Let’s start today!

My copy of the book was published in 2004 and since then he has also published books focusing on couples and parents and teenagers and produced a 6-part DVD series.

Smalley, Gary, ed. The DNA of Relationships: Discover How You Are Designed for Satisfying Relationships. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2004. Print. [Amazon] [Christianbook] [Barnes and Noble] [Alibris]