Us: A User’s Guide by Daniel Tocchini

January 28, 2010 | By | 12 Comments

His mother, Mary, is in the crowd. When she sees how badly He is beaten and broken and how bloodied His body is, the pain is too much for her to bear and she turns away. Dazed by her grief, Mary wanders down a vacant alley, remembering a time almost thirty years before, when Jesus fell down as a young child. She pictured how fast she had to run to reach Him, sweep Him up in her arms, and care for Him.

As she is drifting down memory lane, Mary looks up and sees Jesus carrying His cross through throngs of people down the road to Golgotha. She watches Him cry out in pain and fall under the weight of the heavy cross. As He falls, Mary races to His side and reassures Him, “I am here. I am here.” Lifting her face with His blood-soaked hand, Jesus smiles and whispers to her, “See, Mother, I make all things new.” The fear that drove her from His beating was being made new by His presence there at the cross.

Us, p. 129

Background: The sub-title to this book reads, “It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s about… us.” I am reminded of a different marriage book written with the title Intimate Allies and the following quote by C.S. Lewis:

There is, hidden or flaunted, a sword between the sexes till an entire marriage reconciles them.

All have the idea of dropping weapons. No longer is it man against woman. Man and woman have joined in matrimony. No matter how disparate they once were, the two have become one. The working out of this reality is often excruciatingly difficult, but, ultimately, love is a war worth fighting. The battles, however, are for the other. And, because the two have become one, when fighting for the other you can’t help but indirectly fight for yourself.

Synopsis: Author Daniel L. Tocchini has worked with more than five thousand couples through personal marriage coaching and seminars offered through his organization, the Association for Christian Character Development. Using examples in his own marriage and others he has coached, Tocchini aims at teaching couples new ways of relating. The aim is to transform the marriage by learning to:

  • Talk to each other instead of making assumptions and jumping to conclusions
  • Break free of recurring, unresolved arguments
  • Manage the impact of difficult (but necessary) conversations on your relationship
  • Defuse conflict without sweeping it under the rug
  • Open the broken places in your marriage (the ones you hesitate to talk about) to reconciliation

Tocchini explains, “This is a transformational approach to breaking through the barriers and getting out of the ruts in our marriage by paying attention to our conversation – what we are thinking, our motivation for thinking it, and the impact it has on our spouse.” Part of the way he goes about doing this is by taking the reader through forensics of arguments to detail where things go awry. It’s like a coach studying game film, only the film is one more dispute in a relationship full of pain.

Review: Tocchini provides excellent guidance on how to really listen to your spouse and seek out the underlying longing that is hidden in a complaint. Much of the book revolves around altering harmful patterns of interaction and finding resolution to conflict so deep, that it leads to places couples are resistant to go. But you have to work through the crud to find deeper intimacy on the other side.

My friend once compared conflict resolution to throwing up. You’re going to feel really sick until what is hurting comes out into the open. But if couples can learn to understand where the other is coming from and meet needs in the other that have long gone unmet, they might just find a newer, deeper and better relationship than they had before. Learning new ways of relating can be awkward and painful. What can be more painful, though, is finding yourself growing further and further apart from the one you once deeply loved and maybe still do.

This book is not going to solve all your marital problems, but offers some tools to add to your kit and may provide insights as to how to breathe life into a dead marriage or prevent a healthy marriage from losing its vigor. Some people don’t even realize how much their marriage could improve. The book is a reminder that our assumptions about others aren’t always accurate. It will also attack tendencies to bring a consumeristic mentality into marriage. After all, it is not about me. It is about us.

Summary: According to the Bible, He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord (Proverbs 18:22). If you have been blessed with a spouse, please do everything in your power and get whatever coaching or counseling you need in order to keep that relationship strong. May you rejoice in the wife of your youth (Proverbs 5:18). Enjoy and treasure her. She is your reward for all your hard labor. Don’t live a life of regrets. Don’t realize what you had after it is too late.

Rating: 4/5 (Insightful book on patterns of relating.)

“Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun— all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 9:9

This book was provided for review by David C. Cook through B&B Media Group. To learn more about or purchase this book on Amazon, click here.

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  1. Dane Sanders says:

    My wife and I have been indirectly and directly impacted by numerous ministries that Dan Tocchini has led. “US” is yet another gift to, well… us… and to the kingdom of God.

    This work is accessible yet not superficial. It’s for people interested in living in the authentic, hopeful and redemptive mess of life and letting love rule all. It invites me to lay down my claim for control in life and open up to an entirely new possibility with my wife… to actually engage a lifelong conversation rather than a series of simultaneous monologues.

    I’m amazed at the woman I’ve married and this book is an invitation to discover her afresh over and over again. What I’m learning is there’s more to her than I ever could have imagined before.

  2. Liz Haskins says:

    US has been an amazing tool for my husband and I. We are newlyweds and I can not tell you how much the book ‘US’ has helped us with communication, intimacy, and vulnerablity with one another.
    I know Dan Tocchini personally and he has counseled my husband and I for three years and I believe that if it wasn’t for his help and dedication, we would not be married right now.
    Dan Tocchini’s whole life is a testimony and I love how honest he is about his past and his ups and downs in his marriage!
    If anyone wants more depth in their relationship with their spouse and with God, then don’t hesitate, buy “Us” right away!

    • Mark says:

      This is great! The Tocchini fan’s are piling in. I love it and have been touched by his supporters! I forgot to mention in my review how honest he is. You are right! This is by far the best outpouring of love to an author that I have thus far seen. Thank you for visiting and thank you for your comments!

  3. This is the best book on marriage I have ever come across.

    I have personally known Dan Tocchini for 17 years.

    He is one of the most honest people I have ever met.

    Noone has helped me more in my work as a psychologist, in my goal to be a great mother, than Dan Tocchini.

    The two areas he has helped me the most in is becoming less selfish and keeping my promises.

    I highly recommend this beautiful marriage book and it’s author, Daniel Tocchini.

  4. Shawn Alexander says:

    My wife and I, plus my 3 sons have known Dan Tocchini for over 10 years, through attending a variety of seminars and counseling sessions. These culminated, in Dan becoming a cherished friend to all of us.
    His marriage counseling enabled my wife and I, to finally make a frank assessment of our relationship. We were after all these years now capable of acutely hearing each other. His probing questions compelled us to focus on the systemic problems in our marriage. During these painful and sensitive sessions Dan was compassionate, forgiving, giving, but above all an individual of integrity. My wife especially appreciated his counsel, as he assisted her in gaining a voice to speak and to speak powerfully. It was inordinately beneficial to her.
    In my personal counseling with Dan, he was patient, straightforward and also impelled me to finally face my issues.
    What is so profound is that Dan is not directive in his counsel, which would presuppose a bias but rather he is so incisive and gentle in his ability to bring lucidity and definition to our thoughts and emotions. The net, all our final decisions become OUR decisions. His insight into the human condition is brilliant.

  5. Mark says:

    I am ready to vote Daniel Tocchini for president after reading all these comments!

  6. JerryCostello says:

    Dan has chalenged me to remain true to my committment to love my wife; in spite of how I may feel I am being treated unjustly. He has dared me to listen rather than defend, (a somtimes painful exercise he learned at the hands of unexpected opposition) and invited me to explore the possibility of standing firm in love as life’s trials persist.

  7. Brye & Salem McBee says:

    Reading US has been such a refreshing reminder of our hearts longing to have and to maintain the marriage we’ve always believed possible…and then some. Having been married almost 15 years, we have experienced Daniel Tocchini as a coach through his work and personally in life. We can attest to the fact that this book and it’s author are the real deal. Dan and Aileen truly put into action the beliefs and commitments written about in this manual. US is a book that we already recommend and will continue to recommend to newlyweds, those married for decades and those planning to get married; those whose marriages are healthy and those who are hurting. We are so grateful to Dan for putting into words something that this current culture needs and that will have lasting effects for the future generations.

  8. Linda Costa says:

    US, A User’s Guide…
    is an expedition into what it takes to have a love-filled, life changing marriage. The book’s interactive style is practical and provokes experiencing transformation in all areas of marriage. The scripture references and quotes create an apex of what marriage truly is and can be. I encourage anyone to read US, whether you are engaged, newly married, struggling or excelling in your marriage. You will understand how sustainable your marriage will be when it is God and spouse honoring! It is not too late to begin the transformation into the marriage you desired when you said “I do.”

    Dan and Aileen Tocchini have impacted Christian character for many years. Their love for each other and vulnerability in life is a constant source of inspiration for me. I appreciate their ministry ( as it has provided constant resource for my spiritual and day to day life development.

  9. Kim Cordery says:

    My husband and I (Gary) and I have been so impacted
    by the ministry ACCD for years now. The level of honesty
    and intimacy it has brought to our relationship has changed
    the way we relate to each other. We were definitely headed for tolerating the conspiracies we had become so accustomed to settling for. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have real friends who will risk for the sake
    of the other! Dan and Eileen are dear friends who we have come to know intimately. I so appreciate the authenticity
    in their relationship! What courage is being continually restored in me to interrupt the “status quo” as I read Dan’s new book- US! Refreshing and convicting!

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