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10 Books That Will Reshape How You Think About Relationships

10 Books That Will Reshape How You Think About Relationships

This is a list of the top 10 books that I recommend to clients, both in individual and couples counseling.  Each one provides a unique way to better understand who you are and how you typically act within relationships.  You don’t have to be in a relationship for these books to be helpful; in fact, if you read these books before you get into a relationship, you’re much likelier to attract the right person. Even more importantly, you’ll know ways to stay happy and connected once you find the person for you.

1. Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, 20th Anniversary Edition
     by Harville Hendrix.

    getting the love you want

      This book is truly life-changing.  You will finally understand why you picked your partner, even though they often trigger you and may seem like the worst possible choice for you on many levels. Hint: it has to do with repeating familiar patterns from your childhood.  There are wonderful exercises as well, for you and your partner to do together to make you feel closer.

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

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        hold me tight

          Another worldview changer. This book discusses the concept of attachment panic,which explains why you may feel so anxious and off-balance when your partner withdraws or acts distant.  This is a completely normal response for human beings, and Dr. Johnson explains how you and your partner can get out of this “dance” of closeness-withdrawal and genuinely connect on a level you did not think was possible.

          3.Wanting Sex Again: How to Rediscover Your Desire and Heal a Sexless Marriage
             by Laurie Watson

            wanting sex again

              For couples who are struggling with one or both partners experiencing low sexual desire, this is a wonderful, resource-filled book that provides education, clinical examples, and practical ways to jumpstart a fulfilling physical relationship.  Whether your decreased desire stems from boredom, deep seated hurt and lack of trust, or biological reasons, this book can provide you with new hope.

              4. The Highly Sensitive Person in Love: Understanding and Managing Relationships When the World Overwhelms You
                 by Elaine Aron

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                hsp in love

                  Are you a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?  Do you need your alone time, hate chaos and loud noise, and feel overwhelmed and stressed when your routine is disrupted?  Whether you are partnered with another HSP or someone who constantly feels that you’re “making a big deal out of nothing” and entreats you to “just go with the flow,” you need this book.  It can help you learn to get the most out of your intimate relationships, while being true to yourself and your needs.

                  5. The ADHD Effect on Marriage: Understand and Rebuild Your Relationship in Six Steps by Melissa Orlov

                  adhd effect on marriage

                    Since ADHD affects 4 percent of adults, there are many readers out there who want to learn how to deal with this issue within their relationships.  Even if you just suspect your partner may have ADHD, read this book. For spouses of individuals with ADHD, this book can save your sanity.  Finally you see that it’s not just you being hyper-critical; ADHD truly has a devastating impact on marriages if partners do not work together to ameliorate some of its effects.  Also discusses the phenomenon of the hyper-focused courtship, where someone with ADHD becomes focused on the relationship to the exclusion of all else, which feels great for the partner.  Soon after marriage though, focus often switches to something else, and the partner feels bereft. Sound familiar?  Get the book.

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

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                        5 love languages

                          This classic book explain how have partners often  different “love languages,” which means that what is meaningful and loving to one may not what is valued by the other.  It’s wasted effort and harmful to your relationship if you keep giving someone what they don’t want, e.g. planning surprises for a guy who prefers affectionate touch, or doing the dishes for a woman who would rather hear verbal expressions of love.  This book helps you figure out your love language and that of your partner, and how to use this idea to create a closer connection.

                          7. Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last
                             by John Gottman

                            why marriages succeed

                              John Gottman is one of the most respected and renowned relationship researchers of our time.  In this book, he guides you through figuring out what you’re doing right and wrong within your marriage, using self-tests (do you love quizzes?  I do) and straightforward advice.  This book is science-based yet easy to understand, and will give you concrete advice to help your relationship thrive.

                              8. The Science of Happily Ever After: What Really Matters in the Quest for Enduring Love by Ty Tashiro

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                                science of happily ever after

                                  Ty Tashiro was a professor on my dissertation committee!  And even if he hadn’t been, I would have loved reading his acccessible, yet research-based book about why we pick our partners.  He discusses why our decision making abilities, so effective in other realms of life, often lead us astray in the area of choosing a partner, and what we can do about this.  And he’s funny too. Singles will have a special preference for this book, because they are still in the choosing-a-partner process.

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

                                    Why do people eventually stop connecting physically and romantically after a few years or so of being together?  I am coining the word monotogamy to refer to this phenomenon, and although Esther Perel doesn’t mention this word (because I invented it yesterday), she has written a fascinating, un-put-downable book rife with clinical examples that show why relationships fall into a stale and boring pattern, with creative solutions to rekindling your desire.

                                    mating in captivity

                                      10. Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love
                                         by Dorothy Tennov

                                        love and limerence

                                          Did you know that evolutionarily, we are only expected to remain passionate about our lover (the feeling of infatuation or limerence) for two years, so that the couple can stay together long enough to conceive a baby and raise it for it’s first year of life?  We are wired to become virtually obsessed with new partners, particularly when it’s uncertain whether they reciprocate our feelings.  This is truly an eye-opening read about why people become so infatuated with their crushes and new partners.  It was published in 1979, but has become a classic and is just as relevant today.

                                          Featured photo credit: Couple Reading Books via pagesay.com

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                                          Last Updated on July 16, 2019

                                          7 Ways to Get Rid of Negative Energy and Become Positive

                                          7 Ways to Get Rid of Negative Energy and Become Positive

                                          Negativity affects ourselves and everyone around us. It limits our potential to become something great and live a fulfilling, purposeful life. Negativity has a tangible effect on our health, too. Research has shown that people who cultivate negative energy experience more stress, more sickness, and less opportunity over the course of their lives than those who choose to live positively.

                                          When we make a decision to become positive, and follow that decision up with action, we will begin to encounter situations and people that are also positive. The negative energy gets edged out by all positive experiences. It’s a snowball effect.

                                          Although negative and positive thoughts will always exist, the key to becoming positive is to limit the amount of negativity that we experience by filling ourselves up with more positivity.

                                          Here are some ways to get rid of negativity and become more positive.

                                          1. Become Grateful for Everything

                                          When life is all about us, it’s easy to believe that we deserve what we have. An attitude of entitlement puts us at the center of the universe and sets up the unrealistic expectation that others should cater to us, our needs, and our wants. This vain state of existence is a surefire way to set yourself up for an unfulfilled life of negativity.

                                          People living in this sort of entitlement are “energy suckers”–they are always searching for what they can get out of a situation. People that don’t appreciate the nuances of their lives live in a constant state of lacking. And it’s really difficult to live a positive life this way.

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                                          When we begin to be grateful and appreciate everything in our lives–from the small struggles that make us better, to the car that gets us from A to B every day–we shift our attitude from one of selfishness, to one of appreciation. This appreciation gets noticed by others, and a positive harmony begins to form in our relationships.

                                          We begin to receive more of that which we are grateful for, because we’ve opened ourselves up to the idea of receiving, instead of taking. This will make your life more fulfilling, and more positive.

                                          2. Laugh More, Especially at Yourself

                                          Life gets busy, our schedules fill up, we get into relationships, and work can feel task oriented and routine-driven at times. Being human can feel more like being a robot. But having this work-driven, serious attitude often results in negative and performance oriented thinking.

                                          Becoming positive means taking life less seriously and letting yourself off the hook. This is the only life that you get to live, why not lighten up your mood?

                                          Laughter helps us become positive by lightening our mood and reminding us not to take life so seriously. Are you sensitive to light sarcasm? Do you have trouble laughing at jokes? Usually, people who are stressed out and overly serious get most offended by sarcasm because their life is all work and no play.

                                          If we can learn to laugh at ourselves and our mistakes, life will become more of an experiment in finding out what makes us happy. And finding happiness means finding positivity.

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                                          3. Help Others

                                          Negativity goes hand in hand with selfishness. People that live only for themselves have no higher purpose in their lives. If the whole point of this world is only to take care of yourself and no one else, the road to a long-term fulfillment and purpose is going to be a long one.

                                          Positivity accompanies purpose. The most basic way to create purpose and positivity in your life is to begin doing things for others. Start small; open the door for the person in front of you at Starbucks or ask someone how their day was before telling them about yours.

                                          Helping others will give you an intangible sense of value that will translate into positivity. And people might just appreciate you in the process.

                                          4. Change Your Thinking

                                          We can either be our best coach or our best enemy. Change starts from within. If you want to become more positive, change the wording of your thoughts. We are the hardest on ourselves, and a stream of negative self talk is corrosive to a positive life.

                                          The next time you have a negative thought, write it down and rephrase it with a positive spin. For example, change a thought like, “I can’t believe I did so horribly on the test–I suck.” to “I didn’t do as well as I hoped to on this test. But I know I’m capable and I’ll do better next time.”

                                          Changing our self-talk is powerful.

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                                          5. Surround Yourself with Positive People

                                          We become most like the people that we surround ourselves with. If our friend group is full of negative energy-suckers and drama queens, we will emulate that behavior and become like them. It is very difficult to become more positive when the people around us don’t support or demonstrate positive behavior.

                                          As you become more positive, you’ll find that your existing friends will either appreciate the new you or they will become resistant to your positive changes. This is a natural response.

                                          Change is scary; but cutting out the negative people in your life is a huge step to becoming more positive. Positive people reflect and bounce their perspectives onto one another. Positivity is a step-by-step process when you do it solo, but a positive group of friends can be an escalator.

                                          6. Get into Action

                                          Negative thoughts can be overwhelming and challenging to navigate. Negativity is usually accompanied by a “freak-out” response, especially when tied to relationships, people and to worrying about the future. This is debilitating to becoming positive and usually snowballs into more worry, more stress and more freak-outs.

                                          Turn the negative stress into positive action. The next time you’re in one of these situations, walk away and take a break. With your eyes closed, take a few deep breaths. Once you’re calm, approach the situation or problem with a pen and pad of paper. Write out four or five actions or solutions to begin solving the problem.

                                          Taking yourself out of the emotionally charged negative by moving into the action-oriented positive will help you solve more problems rationally and live in positivity

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                                          7. Take Full Responsibility, Stop Being the Victim

                                          You are responsible for your thoughts.

                                          People that consistently believe that things happen to them handicap themselves to a victim mentality. This is a subtle and deceptive negative thought pattern. Phrases like “I have to work” or “I can’t believe he did that to me” are indicators of a victim mentality. Blaming circumstances and blaming others only handicaps our decision to change something negative into something positive.

                                          Taking full responsibility for your life, your thoughts and your actions is one of the biggest steps in creating a more positive life. We have unlimited potential within to create our own reality, change our life, and change our thoughts. When we begin to really internalize this, we discover that no one can make us feel or do anything. We choose our emotional and behavioral response to people and circumstances.

                                          Make positive choices in favor of yourself.

                                          “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny” ― Lao Tzu

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                                          Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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