By Dr. Maryel McKinley
Owner’s Manual for Love!



One of the main reasons couples split up is they jump into a commitment before they really know each other, experiencing what is called the “Honeymoon Period.” While mistaking lust for love, the idealistic couple will not listen to their inner selves, and will often not heed the warning signs that this may not be the perfect match.

How many times have you seen this happen to yourself, or others, in this day and age of quick gratification? We are so programmed to get what we want NOW that we have forgotten love is something that takes more than two lovebirds struck by cupid’s arrow. Love is a full-time job, and the real test is in the long haul.

On the other hand, a couple can be together 10 years, and still be practicing the same old patterns and games that were in place nine years earlier. This type of couple has the commitment factor down, but are they evolving? This is where heavy-duty marriage counseling is needed, and there are no secret recipes replacing old habits with new more effective ones other than hard work and time.

You may wonder “If I’m in a new relationship, how can I get to know my loved one better, and prevent these patterns from happening?” Besides premarital counseling, I would suggest that you ask each other questions about your past, present and goals for the future, and make sure you are on the same page in order to develop a solid foundation.

Recently, I was sent a perfect book to do just that. It is called “The Owners Manual: The essential guide to the one you love,” which is co-authored by one of my favorite media muses, Arielle Ford, best-selling author of the “Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Soul Series,” and lecturer, Elizabeth Goodman. When I asked Arielle how she came up with this fantastic idea for a book, she replied that several years ago she and Elizabeth were conversing one day trying to discover what it was they would want in their version of the perfect mate.

Ironically, Arielle did find her soulmate three years ago in a mystical union with her partner and husband, Brian Hilliard. The circumstances were most miraculous to say the least, and you can read about her magical experience finding true love in her “Hot Chocolate” series. Could groundwork for “The Owner’s Manual” have been the ingredient that helped attract the magical union and metaphysical circumstances in which Brian and she met? At any rate, when I read “Owner’s Manual” I was hooked.

Some questions asked in “Owner’s Manual” are straight-forward, yet most couples fail to ask themselves or their partner these or similar questions, and then wonder why they seem to grow apart, or feel misunderstood by their mate. Here are some sample questions from chapters in the “Owner’s Manual.”

“Where did you go to kindergarten? What makes me me? I am different from most people because_____; Something people don’t know about me is_____; Something I would like people to know about me is_____; Something I would like people to understand about me is _______.

Or the chapter on “Upsets and Moods” 1. I have a ______temper; 2. The early signs I am angry include______; 3. The worst possible thing to do or say when I’m angry is_______; 4. Techniques I use to calm down are_______; 5. Things that make me cry are_________.

Another intriguing chapter is If I could have the world the way I want it, I would____________; 1. If I had 20 million dollars I would________; 2. If I could meet one person dead or alive it would be__________; 3. If I were famous, this is what I would want to be famous for_______; 4. If I could have three wishes they would be________________.

As an ordained minister who performs weddings, and does premarital and marriage counseling, this book will become required reading for all my couples. It is highly recommended to anyone who is even thinking of entering a relationship, as it will help you get to know yourself and your personal needs as well. Doesn’t everyone wish they could have been given an Owner’s Manual for their past relationships? It certainly would have made things much easier and saved me a lot of wasted time in relationships that didn’t work out. Thanks Arielle and Elizabeth for a job well done!

Dr. Maryel McKinley is a Doctor of Philosophy in Meta-physical Counseling, an ordained interfaith minister, marriage counselor and licensed addictions therapist. For a free counseling session call (949) 887-7957, and if you would like her to perform your wedding vows, please call (818) 593-2007 or go to . You may also contact Maryel through 

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