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Published on January 10, 2020

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 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 12 Relationship Deal Breakers That You Shouldn’t Tolerate

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                          Last Updated on October 22, 2020

                          8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

                          8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

                          How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

                          Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

                          When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

                          Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

                          What Makes People Poor Listeners?

                          Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

                          1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

                          Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

                          Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

                          It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

                          2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

                          This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

                          Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

                          3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

                          It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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                          I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

                          If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

                          4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

                          While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

                          To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

                          My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

                          Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

                          Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

                          How To Be a Better Listener

                          For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

                          1. Pay Attention

                          A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

                          According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

                          As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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                          I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

                          2. Use Positive Body Language

                          You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

                          A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

                          People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

                          But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

                          According to Alan Gurney,[2]

                          “An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

                          Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

                          3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

                          I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

                          Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

                          Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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                          Be polite and wait your turn!

                          4. Ask Questions

                          Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

                          5. Just Listen

                          This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

                          I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

                          I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

                          6. Remember and Follow Up

                          Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

                          For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

                          According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

                          It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

                          7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

                          If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

                          Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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                          Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

                          Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

                          NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

                          1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
                          2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

                          8. Maintain Eye Contact

                          When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

                          Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

                          By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

                          Final Thoughts

                          Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

                          You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

                          And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

                          More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

                          Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

                          Reference

                          [1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
                          [2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
                          [3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
                          [4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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