Keeping Score by Marc Brackett

Keeping Score: A Guide to Love and Relationships by Marc Brackett

Commonsense + honesty + openness = Keeping Score

The book in one sentence: A fun quiz book that will get you taking stock of your relationship with your (current or future) significant other.

Synopsis of Keeping Score by Marc Brackett: It's a relationship book even a man can understand. Keeping Score provides a relationship evaluation quiz followed by a common sense guide for relationship improvement, all with a humorous twist. You can determine if your relationship has the qualities it takes for a successful marriage and lasting love affair. If you're single, read this book to see how well your potential life partner measures up. If you're married, read this book to reduce conflict and increase your happiness. Take control and shape your union into a relationship that will stand the trials of life and go the distance.

My two cents:  

Relationships are complicated. We get engrossed in the fine details of our relationships, and its various aspects -- in all its glory and gore. We know it. We live it.

So-called commonsense can keep relationships going, but apparently this is in shortage (especially when emotions are involved) that this book was born. This is "a relationship book even a man can understand" and it's written by a male author, so if you're female this is what you say to your man if you want him to take the quiz. And if you're male, well, you're supposed to understand this.

Yes, this is a fun read! But let me qualify that -- it's not a straightforward read so "reading" it is a little different. This slim book is divided into three parts:

Part I is titled "Adam and Eve" and it branches out into two sets of quizzes, one if you're male and the other if you're female. You go through four sections for each gender, three of which are unique and the last section common for both partners.

  • Section 1: For Eve, this looks into a woman's thoughts on the ability of her partner to provide financially. For Adam, it looks into a man's thoughts on the physical attributes of his partner.  
  • Section 2: For Eve, this looks into the factors of how a woman feels loved by her partner. For Adam, it looks into areas of potential conflict with his partner, including financial, nurturing, and loyalty.
  • Section 3 is a bonus question. For the women, it is about her partner's sense of humour; for the men, it is about (oh no!) feeling (in)adequate!
  • Section 4 is about common interests and how other influences impact your relationship. Some touchy areas it looks into are family (including the in-laws, children and other family member through other marriages), religion, and shared activities.
Part II is titled "Knowledge is Power" and provides insights on the quiz items. This is the meat of the book.

Part III is titled "A Score to Win" and guides you into looking at your relationship score, analyzing it, and deciding how you can get the relationship you really want.

A big part and a very substantial resource is the website - www.keepingscorebook.com - that you should look at in conjunction with this book. The book is merely a jumping board; the website the ocean.

What I liked: The format - it's small and you can pop this into your bag and do the quiz on the bus or during a break at work. 

It is also extremely easy to read and understand. There are tons of analogies so that various points get across crystal clear. For example (Though I must express some resentment at woman being compared to a car! This isn't exactly a politically-correct book!): 
A woman can have all the goods you like, but if the soul is a poor match you'll find the goods a whole lot less enjoyable. Think of it like a car. You can admire a Lamborghini, but would you like paying the insurance, worrying about scratching it [...] - p. 61
The humour. Generally, I found the quizzes funny and I found myself snickering throughout the book. (Though sometimes I found some of the humour a bit tongue-in-cheek). For example: 
What is the condition of your partner's tail end? How do your partner's "assets" compare with your preference in this area. Some like a tight end, others like some junk in the trunk. To each his own. How's the scenery from your viewpoint? - p. 56
Overall I think this book is an excellent tool for taking stock of yourself as relationship material, figuring out what your own stand is on various aspects of a relationship, and just generally opening up an avenue for communication with your partner. The caveat is that you need to be honest in your answers. And if you intend on bringing in your significant other, s/he has to be equally open to the process of taking the quizzes.

Uh-ohs: I know I said I liked the format, but I have secondhand thoughts about the format of the quiz sheets. I was having some issues with the scoring and the flipping back and forth and I resisted the urge to just tear out the score sheet. Then I got the next part where there is getting the difference from the maximum score and I went uh-oh, why is this so complicated? Also, I kept thinking that the scoring and the explanations should be nearer the actual quiz.

(Note: I also entered my score on the website and it was an answer to some of my gripes above. But this is a review of the book after all. While the quiz part of this translates better in an online format, what's the fun of reading online? I recommend you read through the whole thing, then verify your scores by entering online where you also get the added benefit of comparing to average scores.)

I worry that this book caters to a only heterosexual relationships. If I were gay, which quiz should I take? What is you're in a same sex relationship - so both of you take the Eve quiz or the Adam quiz? Maybe I am overanalyzing this, but the question begs to be asked.

What I found a little worriesome is that there are several assumptions for each gender that didn't quite sit too well with me. The first part of the gender-based quizzes are based on very obvious gender stereotypes: that women are interested in a mate who can provide for her (hence a stress on the financial side of the relationship) and that men place a high value on the physical attributes of their partner. Hmmm ... do we risk perpetuating stereotypes in a relationship by presenting these generalizations as fact?

The cultural lens through which this book came about is based in the dominant culture of North America. While the latter parts of the quizzes are quite open, I found myself wondering how different cultures, which place value different things, would read this and score. For example, Asian cultures value family way beyond what is mentioned here, extending to the value of a person with a community but this isn't reflected in the book and would probably be subsumed under another topic (common interest?).

Overall, I maybe overanalyzing. I think the best way to reap some good from this book is to take it at face value, have fun with it, and open up communication channels with your significant other. Yes, that's commonsense! 

Verdict: A fun way of assessing your relationship! A great tool for opening up conversations about the mundane and the things that matter in your relationship ... just be sure to be honest about it!

I was provided a review copy by the author in exchange for an honest opinion. I have also hosted a guest post "Taking the Long View" and held a giveaway on this blog.

(Apologies for the delay in getting this review up -- this 116-page book is a lot more involved than I expected!)

4 comments:

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    1. thanks juju! it helps me make sense of what i thought is most important! :)

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  2. I have this book and I need to read it ASAP. I'll have to come back and read your review after I finish it because I don't want to be influenced :)

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    1. it's quite fun to "read" :) thanks so much for visiting, shannon, i'll go check out your blog!

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