Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Revolutions of the Heart: Gender, Power and the Delusions of Love

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Revolutions of the Heart: Gender, Power and the Delusions of Love

Article excerpt

Revolutions of the Heart: Gender, Power and the Delusions of Love. Wendy Langford. New York: Routledge. 1999. 168 pp. ISBN 0-415-- 16298-X. $22.99 paper.

Revolutions of the Heart is a thundering theoretical account of the romantic relationship, from its beginning to end, drawn in part from interviews of 15 English women. From a Freudian perspective, Langford follows the initial illusion of "romantic transformation," which allows partners to enact gender-astereotypical roles, to the breakdown of the relationship, in which traditional gender-typed behavior of control and submission return, rooted in past mother-son and father-daughter dynamics. In short, she explains why love does not give us what we want and maintains that we need to recognize the illusion to create lasting intimacy.

The book contains seven chapters and reads almost like a textbook, with extensive preview and summary in every chapter. As such, this volume is suitable for courses in intimate relationships. Therapists, scholars, upper-level undergraduates, and graduate students will find it provocative.

Chapter 1, "Government by Love," identifies the ideal of romantic love in current Western society. Langford, instead, finds romance a fraud and denies the "democratisation of love"; despite exchange theorists' claims that relationships are now "equal," she finds evidence of emotional dissatisfaction.

Chapter 2, "Romantic Transformations" begins by dismissing the "commonplace" egalitarian ideal and details how the women in the study fell in love. Predisposed by dissatisfaction and emptiness, the women expended much effort in the beginning of their relationships, whereas the men remained largely passive. The women then decided to "let go" and were thrust into an experience of great emotional turmoil. They felt fear, anxiety, and misery, yet found their "other half," lost sexual inhibition, and withdrew from the "other world."

Chapter 3, "Analysing Love," looks at the process of falling from a Freudian view. …

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