If I had a nickel for every girlfriend I have known whose boyfriend can't seem to commit, I'd be, as the saying goes, a rich woman. Surprisingly, perhaps, I also have girlfriends who are in decades-long marriages where (although the ring is on their mate's finger) he still remains emotionally unavailable and uncommitted. If this sounds familiar to you, then WHEN THE MAN IN YOUR LIFE CAN'T COMMIT is a great resource book to inspire change, whether by taking the steps YOU need to make intimacy happen or to end the relationship. This book, Hawkins promises, will help singles find a man who will be committed, or if you're already in a relationship, will help you understand why a man may be afraid of commitment. You'll also look at your own commitment issues.
I like reading Hawkins because he has a nice rhythm of using personal anecdote/counseling anecdote/personal application in his chapters. As a divorced Christian, he understands the pain that goes with broken relationships. As a counselor for more than 30 years, he has seen a myriad of different scenarios and learned what works and what doesn't in healing relationships.
Hawkins admits he has had his own lifelong battle with a fear of commitment and emotional vulnerability. Many women, he believes, wrestle with their man being uncommitted, unemotional or insensitive. His assumption undergirds the book: "As a woman you are looking for a committed relationship with a man who is willing to be emotionally vulnerable. You want a man who is willing to put his emotions on the table and talk straight from the heart. You want a caring companion, not an overworked, insultated robot. You want emotional availability and an intense interest in you! You want him to risk as much as you do --- preparing to make a lifelong attachment to you…. What you want is no trivial matter."
Hawkins unfolds, chapter by chapter, the tools a woman will need to determine how to understand the problem and become more skilled at determining whether a man will ever be committed to her. He also turns the tables on the reader, forcing self-examination of whether or not she is a committed and emotionally vulnerable woman.
When choosing a man, Hawkins suggests using his "baseball pyramid" to gauge the maturity of the man involved --- from "peewee leaguers" (immature and emotionally underdeveloped) to "all stars" (responsible and spiritually sensitive). "Looking deep into a man's maturity during the initial stages will yield dividends later," he advises. He outlines characteristics of "dangerous men," those who are seriously emotionally unhealthy. Then he leads women through an assessment of why they choose certain men and sustain patterns of bad relationships. Gently, he also shows how personal change in developing a stronger sense of self on a woman's part can often lead to her making better choices in men and help her break the cycle of negative relationships.
Hawkins also includes a chapter on "Yellow Warning Lights," signals that there is trouble ahead in a relationship --- such as substance abuse, character issues, and men who want to continue playing the field. He's also not afraid to tell a woman to go with her gut instincts. "Trust your hunches….If you sense something is probably wrong, it probably is."
This is a hope-filled book, full of practical advice, good insights drawn from a potpourri of others (Henri Nouwen, Dean Ornish, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, John Gray, Hugh Prather, Julia Cameron, Dr. Jerome Murray) and helpful personal anecdotes. All of Hawkins's advice is securely grounded in scripture. Compellingly, Hawkins urges women to hold out for commitment --- for someone who is willing to write you into his future. Women frustrated with men will find plenty of guidance for effective change and will discover that Hawkins is good company for the journey toward more meaningful relationships.
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby on November 13, 2011