How well do you really know your partner?
Do you know how he or she would rate your first date with each other? What commercial causes him or her to tear up? If you went to prison, do you know how long he or she would wait for you?
Robert K. Elder wants to help you learn the answers to these and about 100 more questions in his newly released book, “Read Your Partner Like A Book.”
“It’s a mash-up of the old ‘Newlywed Game’ and ‘The Five Love Languages,’” said Elder, a Chicago-based digital executive and author of eight other nonfiction books. “It’s a chance to get to know your partner or test how well you know your partner in a fun, lighthearted way.”
Elder, a former editor-in-chief of the Pioneer Press, designed “Read Your Partner Like A Book” like a workbook.
It includes spaces for both partners to write in answers to fill-in-the-blank questions on the topics of family, sex, traditions, and personal habits and quirks. Question include: “My partner can make me laugh by…/I can make my partner laugh by…,” “I deal with anxiety best when I’m…/My partner deals with anxiety by…”and “If we ever break up it’ll be because…a) Ryan Gosling finally returned my call. b) Ryan Gosling finally returned your call. c) Ryan Gosling will surely do the dishes, unlike someone I know. d) Ryan Gosling filed a restraining order. e) other.”
Elder said the purpose of his book is help couples have fun, to promote healthy communication and to bring them closer together in a non-threatening way.
“This isn’t a relationship advice book. All the questions are designed to make you laugh, which lightens everything up and takes the pressure off,” said Elder, who has been married to his wife, Betsy Edgerton, for 13 years. The two have 11-year-old twins.
“Sometimes people need help with prompts and they can feel comfortable knowing that the questions in my book are being asked in a non-threatening environment where they are safe to answer honestly.”
Elder said that after he came up with the idea for “Read Your Partner Like A Book,” he tested out some of the questions while on a long road trip with Betsy.
“We were driving through Arizona, and I started asking her questions about things we should know when it comes to each other. It made us laugh and talk about things we wouldn’t otherwise talk about, so I felt like other couples would enjoy and appreciate this kind of conversation, too.”
According to Elder, many of the book’s questions were adapted using techniques from matchmakers, Catholic Pre-Cana marriage preparation courses and scientific attachment research.
He said “Read Your Partner Like A Book” is for new couples as well as those who have been together for a long time. The book can be read together or both partners can write down their answers on their own and compare at a later time.
Elder’s other published books are on topics that include history, music and the death penalty. This is his first book on the subject of love and romance.
The most fulfilling relationships are those with healthy, honest, open communication, which can be challenging at times.
Couples might worry that expressing how they feel would hurt the other person’s feelings or start an argument, cause resentment or just make things awkward.
“Read Your Partner Like A Book” seems to foster discussions in a way that lets down barriers and prepares couples to open up when there’s an issue at hand.
I imagine couples reading this book together while having a cocktail on the couch, or in the bathtub, in bed, on a plane or on a backyard patio. I feel like it will have people genuinely smiling, laughing, bonding and feeling more connected.
Plus, it could lead to other things. As stated in a disclaimer on the back of Elder’s book: “Warning: this book could lead to sex.”
But regardless of what happens in the short-term, reading “Read Your Partner Like A Book” could lead a couple to a richer, more authentic, and more trusting relationship.
• Jackie Pilossoph is a freelance columnist for Chicago Tribune Media Group. She is also the creator of her divorce support website, Divorced Girl Smiling. Pilossoph lives in Chicago with her two children.