I consider my life to have been greatly helped along and enriched by philosophy – through Alain de Botton’s and A. C. Grayling’s books in particular – as I have written about before.
This book was no exception. I was comforted and encouraged by de Botton’s message of deploying more forgiveness and kindness in our relationships (as well as to our own selves), as I have been by the overarching mission to nourish and console across all of his books.
The section about infidelity was very illuminating, it seems central to many relationships to attempt to demystify and neutralise this highly moralised subject. De Botton posits that the recurrence of ‘cheating’ in relationships is, in no small part, due to the emergence of a ‘tyranny of two’, whereby one’s partner must be all things to them at all times (lover, life-partner, co-parent). It’s detrimental effect on relationships seems as obvious as it is difficult to solve when authored so intelligently. Investigating these, and other relationship conundrums, is not only helpful, but it seems to me, essential if we are to live and love well.
I have really taken away a feeling of calm and hopefulness from this book, as I have with every other of de Botton’s books. In fact, I think I’m going to write him a thank you letter.