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12 Marriage Books Couples Should Read for a Healthy Relationship

12 Marriage Books Couples Should Read for a Healthy Relationship

Relationships are fickle in nature. One minute you’re in love, and the next you wish you never met. Yes, even the happiest relationships have room for growth.

Are you looking for a little bedtime reading that can completely transform your relationship? The best marriage advice is found in the pages of the experts.

We are examining the books that are most recommended by marriage counselors. These treasured reads have helped thousands of troubled couples boost communication, increase intimacy, and learn new techniques for conflict resolution.

Let’s look at 12 marriage books contain the best tips and tricks for getting your relationship back on track.[1]

1. The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need to Know to Make Love Work by Terrence Real

    Have you ever been in a relationship that turned from the best thing that ever happened to you, to a positively soul-sucking experience?

    Real does not beat around the bush when he discusses why couples allow destructive, negative behavior to control their relationship.

    This book also discusses the new marriage for the new Millennium. He talks about the change in the wife’s dynamic from subservient housewives to independent, self-confident career women.

    It also talks about emotionally stunted men and how couples can come together to fix the problems in their relationship.

    The aim of “The New Rules of Marriage” is to help couples move with the types, articulate their wants, learn how to listen, and express appreciation for one another.

    Pick up “The New Rules of Marriage” here.

    2. I Love You, But I Don’t Trust You: The Complete Guide to Restoring Trust in Your Relationship by Mira Kirshenbaum

      Anyone who has been through infidelity in a marriage has surely asked the question, “Is this relationship worth saving?”

      Regardless of how partners may have betrayed one another, once trust is gone, it can be nearly impossible to get it back.

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      Kirshenbaum reassures couples that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that a marriage can be saved, even hurtful damage from dishonesties have driven partners away from one another.

      This book discusses how to restore trust and leave the past behind. It talks about the various stages of healing and rebuilding intimacy and security in a partnership.

      This is one of the best marriage books for anyone who has experienced betrayal in a serious relationship.

      Pick up, “I Love You, But I Don’t Trust You” here.

      3. The Relationship Cure: A 5-Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships by John Gottman

        American psychologist John Gottman has been exploring the topic of marital stability for decades, and his book “The Relationship Cure” is a testament to his knowledge and expertise.

        This 5-step program understands that your mood, your relationship, and your mental health can affect all of your relationships in life – romantic or otherwise.

        Within this marriage book, Gottman discusses the key elements of healthy relationships and includes exercises and questionnaires to keep the content feeling engaging and relevant.

        Pick up “The Relationship Cure” here.

        4. Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Dr. Sue Johnson

          Communication is the key to a successful relationship. With the thought that attachment bonds and loving relationships go hand in hand, Dr. Sue Johnson shows couples how to nurture their relationship through conversations and communication.

          One of the most influential marriage books out there, this book, narrows in on Emotionally Focused Therapy and how it can help struggling relationships.

          Pick up “Hold Me Tight” here.

          5. Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda by Jennifer Hurvitz

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            This book has the best marriage advice for those who have been through a painful divorce and are once again looking for love.

            Looking back on her own failed marriage, the author discovers what went wrong and what she ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ done differently to save her relationship.

            Dating after divorce is no joke, but somehow Hurvitz manages to maintain a fun and relatable tone that keeps her book engaging and easy to read.

            Pick up “Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda.” here.

            6. Wired for Love by Stan Tatkin

              Have you ever wondered what your partner is thinking? Have you ever been tempted to say, “I can’t read your mind!” when trying to solve a problem as a couple? If so, ‘Wired for Love’ will be one of your new favorite marriage books.

              Everyone is wired differently, and it is with this thought that author Stan Tatkin explores ten principles to improve any relationship.

              This book will delve into such topics as healthy conflict resolution, becoming an expert in making your partner feel loved, and using daily rituals to improve intimacy and connection.

              Pick up “Wired for Love” here.

              7. Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel

                Perel encourages couples to unlock their erotic intelligence and keep sex, intimacy, and monogamy exciting. How so?

                The main point and best marriage advice in this book are that couples need time apart for personal growth and to maintain a sense of independence within their relationship.

                Spending time together as a couple is a great way to strengthen your connection, but too much time together can spoil relationship curiosity and make sex feel boring or routine.

                Pick up “Mating in Captivity” here.

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                8. The Sex-Starved Marriage by Michele Wiener Davis

                  The Journal of Health and Social Behavior posits that sex is good for your mental and physical health.[2] The oxytocin released during moments of intimacy with your partner promotes emotional bonding, relieves stress, and enhances cardiovascular health. Sex also acts as a mood elevator.

                  With these benefits in mind, it is no wonder why Davis is encouraging couples to boost their libidos and find a way to connect sexually even when their sex drives aren’t always in tune with one another.

                  Pick up “The Sex-Starved Marriage” here.

                  9. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary D. Chapman

                    If you have ever done an online relationship quiz with your spouse, odds are you have heard of Gary Chapman.

                    Pastor and author Chapman is most famous for his theory that there are five main love languages in any relationship:

                    • Words of affirmation
                    • Acts of service
                    • Receiving gifts
                    • Quality time
                    • Physical touch

                    Even if a couple is in love, they may not always feel like they are on the same page. That is where the five love languages come into play.

                    This book will help you have a deeper understanding of how your partner gives and desires to receive love. This marriage book is an eye-opening look at a whole new world of affection.

                    Pick up “The 5 Love Languages” here.

                    10. Toxic In-Laws by Susan Forward

                      Sometimes it isn’t your marriage that needs reworking – it’s your in-laws!

                      When personalities clash, or you’re dealing with critical or controlling in-laws, it can have an unfortunate effect on your marriage. Spouses will feel torn between romance and family loyalties.

                      While this book acknowledges that you can’t change your in-laws, you can change your outlook. Forward teaches couples how to communicate their frustrations constructively and gives various coping techniques to help partners protect their marriage from outside influences.

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                      Pick up “Toxic In-Laws” here.

                      11. The Normal Bar by Chrisanna Northrup, Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., and James Witte, Ph.D.

                        Does normal exist? Is your relationship normal? How does the average couple communicate, problem-solve, and maintain a happy marriage?

                        If you have ever had any of these questions, then you are definitely “normal”!

                        This book is all about data. With research-based on 100,000 study participants, this book lets couples know what is normal in a relationship.

                        Take a deep-dive into what makes the average couple tick and look at how couple’s deal with race, age, gender, sexuality, having children, sex throughout the different stages of marriage, and those teeny, tiny habits every couple has to deal with.

                        Pick up “The Normal Bar” here.

                        12. Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love by Marcia Naomi Berger

                          In our final book, author Berger posits that the best marriage advice is to devote thirty minutes each week to couples’ communication.

                          Sitting down together each week to discuss the relationship allows couples to communicate.

                          Weekly marriage meetings afford couples the opportunity to commend and compliment one another on what is going right in the relationship.

                          This reinforces positive feelings. However, weekly marriage meetings also give partner’s a chance to reflect honestly about what in the relationship could make improvement.

                          Having a set time of thirty minutes or less each week takes the stress out of communication. Both partners know that they will be given a platform on a weekly basis to express themselves, problem-solve, and feel heard.

                          Pick up “Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love” here.

                          Final Thoughts

                          Relationships are complicated. Whether you’re dealing with issues involving in-laws, what goes on inside the bedroom, or want to boost your communication skills, you’ll find the best marriage advice on the pages of these best-sellers.

                          Featured photo credit: Edward Cisneros via unsplash.com

                          Reference

                          More by this author

                          Sylvia Smith

                          Sylvia is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt its principles in their relationships.

                          How To Resolve Relationship Conflicts without Hurting Each Other How to Leave a Toxic Relationship When You Still Love Your Partner How to Overcome Jealousy in a Relationship How to Stop Nagging And Communicate With Your Partner Better 6 Reasons Why You Should Not Give Up on Love

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                          Last Updated on January 15, 2021

                          7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

                          7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

                          The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

                          Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

                          Posture

                          First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

                          • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
                          • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
                          • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
                          • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

                          All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

                          Facial Expressions

                          Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

                          • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
                          • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
                          • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

                          If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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                          1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

                          A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

                          The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

                          This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

                          2. Relax Your Face

                          New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

                          The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

                          To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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                          3. Improve Your Eye Contact

                          Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

                          The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

                          To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

                          3. Smile More

                          There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

                          Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

                          4. Hand Gestures

                          Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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                          It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

                          5. Enhance Your Handshake

                          In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

                          “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

                          It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

                          6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

                          As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

                          Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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                          Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

                          Final Takeaways

                          Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

                          If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

                          More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

                          Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

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