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The Good Partner by Karen Nimmo


Partnerships in any context need work. Whether that is at work where partnerships rely on that transactional level of communication or, as this book suggests, at home where the relational aspects of partnerships really kicks in. Karen Nimmo is a specialist cognitive psychologist but explains the inner workings of the emotional connections with clarity and a straightforward style - particularly for the majority of us who don’t quite keep up with the latest in psychology language.


The book centres on two main mantras, that there are six different types of communication and there are seven (what Nimmo calls) pillars that work together to create strong relationships and quality partnerships. Beginning with the six types of communication, the real crux of these is the vital elements of honesty and communication. Without these, she suggests, there is little to hang a partnership on. Nimmo lays out in quite brutal language at times. A reminder that being ‘nice’ and being ‘kind’ are not the same thing. To be fair this is something that is important at work also. In this exploration of communication, there are also a number of references to the proliferation of external emotional and physical vices that exist in modern relationships. From devices to the pandemic, money to career paths, the ability to be a ‘good partner’ has become exponentially more challenging than it was in the past. Each of the communication skills that Nimmo reflects on and implores the reader to consider make you aware of the difficulties present in our modern world.


In response to these pressures, Nimmo also outlines her seven pillars. Trust; Communication; Conflict Skills; Intimacy; Load-sharing; Play; and Kindness. While none of these are particularly mind blowing in their originality, they are tried and tested responses and exercises in relationship building that are sure to create a better, more trusting environment within which a relationship can flourish. When we are all so very busy with life, it is nice to come back to the connectivity that comes within a partnership and grow as a couple. On that note, it is wonderful to have such an open approach to this modern relationship building. So often these books focus on marriage, and - in particular - with children. However, in Nimmo’s writing there is a real cognisant approach to the many varieties of partnerships that we have in our modern environment.


While never really stretching the psychological talk too far, Nimmo is able to give insight into how we can hone our own relationship skills to be better for our partner. It would be obvious for someone starting a new relationship to read this book, even for someone who is struggling in a relationship to read this book. But the real gift is for those who are in a happy relationship to learn where the pitfalls can come, and how to best respond in the moment. Endless numbers of people have been attributed to the adage ‘experience is what you get after you need it’ so it’s always best to be ahead of the curve and anticipate the challenges that lay ahead and head them off at the pass.


Overall, this is a wonderful guide and self-development process that will aid people in all manner of professional or personal relationships. The thought process of assessing your own situation alone is worth the time involved in reading. If we are not moving forward, we are going backwards. A highly recommended read for those interested in building, maintaining and stabilising their connections with others.


Reviewer: Chris Reed

HarperCollins