Here’s what experts are saying....



"If you want your relationship to work, read this book. Relationship Rights (and wrongs) gives both partners understandable guidelines and the language on how to share feelings in a positive way to make the relationship the best it can be."


Mark Victor Hansen



#1 New York Times best-selling series Chicken Soup for the Soul







"It is the most user- friendly resource that I have ever seen for relationships. It cuts to the core and clarifies many of the issues with which couples struggle."


Judy Sacknoff, M.L.S.


Retired Chief Health Sciences Librarian

Brigham & Women's Hospital, Boston







"A great and refreshing book based on the needs and input of people in relationships. A must-read for professionals and partners alike."


Dr. Richard I. Holloway, Ph.D.


Professor and Associate Chair, Family Medicine

Medical College of Wisconsin







"This easy-to-read book is like a "marriage mirror" that even comes with counsel for what you can do about what you see. A nice blend of sensitivity and directness. Serving over 5 million individuals annually."


Peter Goldberg, President & CEO


Alliance for Children & Families with outreach in over 8,000 communities in North America







"Beth has given us some simple but effective tools to evaluate our relationships. The ultimate goal of having a healthy relationship is more attainable to those willing to use these tools."


Kathie Stolpman, Executive Director


Sojourner Truth House







"A tremendous and highly practical resource for partners and professionals alike, because it describes both the positive qualities that create a healthy relationship and the negative qualities to avoid."


Dr. Bruce Ambuel, Ph.D.


Director, Family Peace Project and Associate Professor Family and Community Medicine






Beth’s Story


Just like most people—and probably even like you--I was in a marriage trying to make it work. 


I am not an author, a family therapist or therapist of any kind, but only a person who believed in a loving relationship and a commitment to marriage—as did my husband.  My husband and I loved each other and were always faithful to each other.  We came from solid homes where divorce wasn’t prevalent and we believed our parents were healthy role models.  We seemed to have a solid background to build from.  We dated for almost two years before marrying.  When we married, I was 29 and my husband was 33; it was the first marriage for both of us.  So being married too young or changing when we “grew up” was not an issue.  We had no “ex’s” to fight, no step kids to juggle.  We were financially stable and neither of us used drugs or alcohol.  We had every reason to believe that our marriage would work. 

But from the beginning, as soon as I said, “I do” I could tell that the relationship had changed overnight.  It became even more obvious when the honeymoon was over.  I thought that if I worked harder, did things better or gave up more of myself that our relationship would go back to the mutually supportive one I had known before we were married.  However, nothing seemed to work so we tried marriage counseling and more marriage counseling and even more marriage counseling after that.  In total, we were in and out of different kinds of marriage counseling for 18 of the 20 years that we were married.  We tried secular counselors, religious counselors and lay counselors.  We tried counselors who were men, women and even a man and a woman together.  There were sessions alone, together and my husband was in a men’s group.  We were willing to do whatever the counselors told us to do in order to fix the marriage.  But none of the highly recommended marriage counseling programs was able to identify or fix the problems even with all the years of trying.  After it was all over, I wondered, “If counselors couldn’t help a loving couple who wanted to make their marriage work; where both partners were willing to go to counseling and work at it; what would happen to really tough relationships?”  What went wrong?  What should we have known? What should have been done differently to either fix the marriage or get out sooner?  So began my journey as an author.

What were the counselors thinking all those years when we were going to them saying that there was something wrong?   What should I have known as a partner and what could I have done differently to have prevented this, fixed the relationship, helped us understand, or at least cut it short?  My husband, my daughter and I were all victims of the process.  I wanted a simple list of what to expect or not to expect in a healthy, mutually supportive relationship. 

So I took a year to research and find this list, including reading, using my own life experiences and those of other people as well as volunteering in a domestic abuse shelter.  The result of the search was my personal catharsis from 20 years of marriage.  I compiled a list of the common elements found in healthy mutually supportive relationships and a simple way to understand and communicate them.  This is what I needed as a partner for the 20 years we were married, the 18 years we were in and out of marriage counseling and even when the marriage was over.  It would have given our relationship direction and mutual agreement of how to treat each other (without turning to prior expectations), understanding of where we were in our relationship as individuals (both positive and negative), language to clearly communicate between partners (with independent neutral definitions) and a method to explain how we were treating each other with common meaning. 


The concept was based on:


1. a mutual starting agreement in a relationship, that “both partners are individual human beings and deserve to be treated that way,”  


2. a list and definitions of the elements found in most healthy, mutually supportive relationships to help people understand and communicate about what they have or don’t have in their own relationship and


3. a measuring scale to see where you are in your relationship based on how strongly you feel the elements are supported or denied toward you as an individual as stated in the starting agreement.   


When I shared the concept with some different marriage counselors, they urged me to write articles or a book about it.  They initially asked me to write the book for marriage counselors or professionals so that they could better understand the needs of a partner in a troubled relationship.  However, Relationship Rights (and Wrongs) is for people in relationships or contemplating relationships, as well as professionals to use in therapy.

Melinda Wyant Jansen and I have known each other for 15 years, throughout good and bad relationship times.  As the book took form, she and I collaborated, combining our inputs, experiences and shared research. 

Relationship Rights (and Wrongs) is written from the standpoint of a “regular” person within a relationship or marriage counseling.  It is not written based on the views of a specialist on the outside of a relationship looking in.  It doesn’t assume regular people have the same knowledge about relationships as professionals or the language to appropriately express themselves to either their partner or professionals.  (Obviously, if we all knew what to expect of each other and the ability to clearly communicate it, we wouldn’t be having so many relationship problems.) 

So the book is written to give partners a guideline of the common elements found in healthy mutually supportive relationships.  This guideline gives partners an easy-to-use list of healthy elements so that partners have a simple way to see what they have or don’t have in their own relationship compared to these healthy mutual relationships.  They can measure, understand and communicate where they are in their own relationship, based on how they feel these elements are supported, denied or controlled.  
It is a where-am-I book, not a how-to book.  It is a resource book for all relationships, not one based on gender stereotypes for relationship roles. 

I hope that the simplicity of the concept and understanding each partner’s three types of Relationship Rights will help you as much as it did me.    If I can help one other person or other child from going through what we did, then I will feel that I have succeeded.  Please let me know.


~Beth Sampson


Melinda’s Story


When Beth and I met in 1986, I was a newly divorced single mom reeling from my second failed marriage – this time with three small children.  One of my neverending activities was analyzing and reanalyzing my relationships so that I would not make the same “mistakes”  again.  Many Saturday mornings were spent over coffee with Beth, trying to clear the fog only to telephone later to share an “AHA” moment as Oprah would put it.  But it was not until many years later when Beth was newly divorced and the idea of a relationship traffic light started flashing in her head, that I began to have any clarity or understanding about my own relationships.  The concepts and lists that grew out of her brainchild ultimately provided us with the language we had both been searching for.   What you are about to encounter in this book is simple yet rich with depth and meaning and it is applicable to many relationship contexts.  As a counselor working primarily with children, teens, and families in a school setting, I utilize the ideas and language set forth in this book everyday.  My hope is that this book will initiate an “AHA” moment for you, the reader, and that our years of  work will help you learn about the inner workings of your relationship so that it can become all that you deserve it to be….


~Melinda Wyant-Jansen