Uncoupling: Turning Points in Intimate Relationships by Diane Vaughan is an excellent book on the social and psychological dynamics of couple separation . The author clearly and objectively discusses the stages of when a relationship dissolves. Vaughan is a sociologist but this book is also like a self-help book because it is easy to read and has the tone of helping the reader to understand themselves.
In the Introduction the author discusses her own marriage separation and the stages of dissolution she observed. The author took 10 years to write the book. Each chapter is compiled of quotes from research studies that support the stages of uncoupling the author outlines.
The stages the author outlines in the book are: keeping secrets, displaying discontent, mid-transition, Signals, secrets and collaborative cover-ups, going public, the partner’s transition, transition rituals, and telling secrets to a stranger. Throughout each chapter the author refers to the initiator as the partner who realizes the relationship is over first; and the partner, who the author refers to as the one who wants to preserve the marriage but later decides it is over too. This is realistic and enlightening since, in the research studies highlighted in the book, both partners are usually not at the same stage in the relationship.
There are many quotes in each chapter, from people who have gone through the uncoupling transition. Their words bring the book to life.
The notes section is extensive with references to many books and research studies. The reference section is also well developed. The book is fully indexed which makes it easy to find sections that have the answers you’re looking for.
Uncoupling is a successful book for people who are dissatisfied with their intimate relationship and feel as though they are at the end of their rope. If you are one of these people and feel it really is over, read this book. The research results and the quotes from people who have been through this transition will help you make sense out of your feelings and actions during a breakup.
The author’s attitude makes uncoupling or breaking up seem like another inevitable transition in life. For a person who feels that a dissolution is the only answer to an unworkable relationship, this book is a real gem. It can help you understand yourself and your spouse.