“Strategic Planning for Love and War – Relationships and Adult Conversations,” written by Jo Lena Johnson and Steven Charles Martin, with musical arrangement by Radio Legend Kevin B. Fleming, offers a very interesting take on adult relationships today and the challenges people face in their quest for their “soul mate,” the “one true love,” even if they are single, dating, married or somewhere in between.
Authors Water, Ice and Soul (self-donned monikers) discuss the ebb and flow of relationships through practical wisdom, praise, poignant language, humor and song.
The fact that “IceWater” are actually a couple in life makes it all the more interesting for the reader. Instead of a dry self help-type book, you get to see what real challenges and difficulties this couple has experienced throughout their relationship, and cannot help feeling surprised at the open way in which they discuss matters – even sensitive issues like cheating, lying to your other half, or even taboo topics like body odors and emissions. The book is complemented by numerous interviews and testimonials from real people about various challenges they have experienced in their relationships and marriages, as well as an remarkable selection of the best R&B music of the past 30 years, provided by Soul, as a musical backdrop for each relationship high and low.
The writers have covered 60 topics in just 130 pages. Examples include a woman who broke off a long-term loving relationship for her mate’s bad breath problem, and a middle-aged woman, described as a cougar, who only wants to have sex with younger men because her sex drive is way too high for men her age to satisfy. These examples represent an expression of the more extreme, non-average views that are out there, so they are shared.
From dating, sex, marriage, choosing a partner, to dangers in a relationship, healing from a previous relationship and alternative lifestyle choices – celibacy, long-distance relationships and sex with multiple people, everything is in here. The book is about overcoming the weaknesses and real life struggles every day people face. It is permeated by the idea of spirituality, soul connection and guidance to create understanding, to stop battling and to learn how to strategically create relationships worth having.
Communication is a key issue that is explored in the book – communication with your mate even for the most awkward or taboo matters, as well as self-exploration, knowing yourself, your needs and desires, and facing them with honesty in the search for happiness. The eternal “battle” between the male and the female is also a central focus of the book: the strong, independent male who is expected to take on the role of the provider, versus the sensitive female who seeks love, confirmation and mutuality in the relationship. While both sexes may seemingly look for the same thing, the ways in which they approach it may vary wildly, and this is where challenges in a relationship come up, along with the question of how you make your loved one aware of your needs.
Ultimately, one of the central messages of the book is that, in today’s society, relationships between the two sexes are so much more complicated, as compatibility is sought at so many different levels compared to the past: emotional, psychological, physical/sexual, financial and spiritual. At the end of the day, the success of a relationship very much depends on the couple being “on the same page”: wanting the same things from life at that particular time, seeing eye to eye in their goals and how to accomplish them, and being at a similar stage in their lives. Any relationship that falls outside this spectrum faces a much higher risk of not making it long term.
The couple as “IceWater,” leave the question of what happened to their own relationship open in the end. Perhaps because they themselves are unsure of what the future holds for them? And even though we all love a happy ending, real life seems to be mo