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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 June 18, 2019

                                          40 Ways to Achieve Peace Of Mind and Inner Calm

                                          40 Ways to Achieve Peace Of Mind and Inner Calm

                                          Do you have racing thoughts and find yourself constantly worrying? An anxious mind is truly distressing.

                                          The good news is, there’re simple things you can do to calm your thought.

                                          If you want to achieve peace of mind and inner calm, try these 40 simple powerful ways:

                                          1. Listen to Music

                                          Studies have found that relaxing music can help kids with ADHD to be calmer and focus. But it doesn’t matter what genre of music you want to listen to, as long as you enjoy it and it makes you feel relaxed.

                                          Music is food for the soul and an instant way to gain peace of mind.

                                          2. Deep Breathing

                                          When you focus on your breathing, your mind’s attention is drawn to the life-enhancing process of drawing in air and exhaling.

                                          Take five long, deep breaths and focus on your lungs and diaphragm as you do this. This is a quick and easy way to instantly feel calm.

                                          Here’re also 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly).

                                          3. Go for a Walk

                                          Getting out in the fresh air can do you a world of good and promote peace of mind. Take a break and get the blood pumping – especially when the sun is shining.

                                          4. Enjoy Nature

                                          Too much concrete is never a good thing. Spending time in nature can actually make you feel younger, happier. Here’s why.

                                          Spend time away from the city. Listen to the birds singing and enjoy the peace and tranquility.

                                          5. Play with a Pet

                                          Having a pet to play with is a great way to de-stress. Touch is a powerful sense and can ease tension and promote peace of mind.

                                          6. Declutter

                                          Have regular clear-outs. Clutter can add to feelings of tension and a clean, clear home allows a clearer, more peaceful mind.

                                          Take a look at this article and learn How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster.

                                          7. Acceptance

                                          Acceptance is crucial for peace of mind. Accepting that there are few guarantees in the world and learning to tolerate uncertainty is a huge leap in the peace-of-mind stakes. Differentiate between what you can and cannot control.

                                          8. Mindfulness

                                          When we are mindful, we are fully present in the moment and acutely aware of our five senses: touch, taste, sight, hearing and smell.

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                                          Engage your senses. This leaves less time for your mind to worry and think about “what ifs.”

                                          Here you can learn about The Power of Mindfulness.

                                          9. Self Love

                                          The more we like ourselves, the greater our peace of mind. We accept ourselves more and feel at ease in the world, no matter what situation we find ourselves in. We experience less insecurity and as a result, our inner peace is heightened.

                                          Start trying these 30 Ways To Practice Self-Love And Be Good To Yourself.

                                          10. Be True to You

                                          This is another vital component of peace of mind. When we practice congruency, we behave similarly to the way we feel and think. When the way we see ourselves and the way the world sees us is the same, we are practicing congruency.

                                          Problems arise when we see ourselves one way (for example, as a loving mother) but behave in ways that are at odds with how we would like to see ourselves (for example, neglect our children because we are too busy). Finding ways to keep our inner ideals and the way we behave similar is one of the keys to peace of mind.

                                          Find out How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want.

                                          11. Sense of Humor

                                          Laugh a lot. The world is instantly a better place when you can see the funny side of life. Laughter is a great antidote for stress and releases hormones that help us relax.

                                          12. Love Unconditionally

                                          When you don’t expect anything back, it makes it easier to love without fear. When we love with conditions attached, our unmet expectations can create inner turmoil and feelings of resentment. Insecurities destroy peace of mind.

                                          13. Go for Regular Health Checks

                                          It pays to keep checks on your health and look after yourself. Letting ourselves go can indicate a lack of self-respect, and this in turn will affect the way we see the world and the way others interact with us. Be kind to yourself and make the most of what you have.

                                          14. Take Stock

                                          Every now and then, it’s a good idea to check whether you’re happy with the quality of your life. Do you like your job? Your relationship? Are you on the right track? Make adjustments if necessary to restore peace of mind.

                                          15. Have Goals

                                          This ties in with number 14. Goals keep us going in the right direction and give us a sense of purpose. Make your goals SMART: How to Set SMART Goal to Make Lasting Changes in Life

                                          16. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

                                          This relates to number 11. Learn to be more flexible in your approach to life. The more rigid our thinking is, the easier it is to experience situations that contradict our rigid ideas.

                                          17. Live in the Moment

                                          Instead of worrying about the past or panicking about the future, really enjoy the NOW. It’s all we have — this moment in time.

                                          When we live in the present, the concerns of the past and future can’t worry us.

                                          Here’re some tips on How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future.

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                                          18. Worry Less

                                          We apparently have somewhere between 30,000 – 75,000 thoughts per day, of which 80% are random “nonsense.”

                                          Learn to “shelve” worrying by reminding yourself that most of your worries are unproductive and remove any chance of peace of mind.

                                          Some advice for you who worry often: How to Worry Less: 90% of What You Fear Won’t Happen

                                          19. Be Assertive

                                          You have as much right to be here and to have an opinion as anyone else. When we become passive or submissive, we do ourselves a disservice.

                                          Being assertive isn’t about your needs ahead of others (aggressive) or their needs ahead of yours (passive). Rather, it is about compromise —  a “win-win” situation.

                                          Learn How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way.

                                          20. Speak Your Mind

                                          Don’t be afraid to say what you’re thinking. This goes hand in hand with being assertive.

                                          Ask for what you want in life. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

                                          21. Enjoy “Me-Time”

                                          Time out is important. A little bit of selfish time to treat yourself or do exactly as you please sets you up for taking on the constant demands of life. Balance in life is crucial.

                                          22. Frolic

                                          The free online dictionary describes the word “frolic” as:

                                          “To behave playfully and uninhibitedly; romp.”

                                          All work and no play will stress anyone out. Make time for things you enjoy. Try to inject fun into situations that aren’t particularly enjoyable. Approach life with a playful attitude. When did you last let the child in you come out to play?

                                          23. Let It Go

                                          There are some things that you just cannot change, no matter how hard you try. Know when to cut your losses and detach (Just like Elsa does!)

                                          When you start to let go of your past, these 10 things will happen.

                                          24. Resist Guilt

                                          Guilt is a negative emotion that removes peace of mind. Although it can motivate us (in the wrong way), it is still a toxic emotion.

                                          Challenge the reasons for your guilt to make sure you aren’t placing unnecessary pressure on yourself.

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                                          25. Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude

                                          Focusing on all the things in our lives that we are grateful for promotes peace of mind and reminds us that there are always positives. Sometimes we just have to nudge our awareness.

                                          Try these 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

                                          26. See Failure as a Learning Curve

                                          Failure has such negative connotations, but actually, everyone fails. How can you improve or learn anything if you never fail?

                                          A healthy attitude towards failure encourages bravery. It’s not you that is the failure, instead it is what you tried that failed. There is a big difference.

                                          27. Connect with Others

                                          One of the true joys of life is sharing life with others and knowing that others “get” you. We feel less alone and feeling understood allows a fantastic sense of well-being.

                                          28. Test Your Limits

                                          You’ll never know your true potential if you always stay in your comfort zone. As the old saying goes, it is better to look back and regret what you did than regret all those things you wish you’d tried.

                                          Learn to step out of your comfort zone: 10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Overcome Your Fear

                                          29. Find Positive Outlets for Negative Emotions

                                          Sports, online forums, like-minded people, hobbies…whatever takes your fancy. Suppressing negative emotions can lead to ill health. Release tension and frustration in a pro social way and feel a whole lot happier.

                                          30. Slow Down

                                          Why does everything need to be accomplished today? Often, we place unrealistic pressure on ourselves when there is no need to.

                                          Challenge your impatience, be mindful and enjoy life in the moment.

                                          31. Challenge Your “Shoulds” and “Musts”

                                          Self-induced pressure never leads to inner tranquility or peace of mind. Replace “should” with “could” and live life more on your own terms.

                                          32. Be Kind

                                          It’s free and it makes a difference. When we show kindness, it gives us an inner boost, too.

                                          You can try these 29 Ways to Carry Out Random Acts of Kindness Every Day.

                                          33. Don’t Compare

                                          The more we compare, the more we lose ourselves.

                                          Forget what everyone else is doing or saying. What do YOU want? We all have our own paths to follow, and we are all learning and going through life at our unique pace.

                                          Focus on your own journey and lose the stress of comparing yourself to what you think is going on in the lives of others. This is a surefire way to eliminate peace of mind.

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                                          34. Affirmations

                                          Talk to yourself positively by using affirmations. A good example of one that encourages peace of mind is: “No matter what comes my way, I will find a way to get through it.”

                                          Believe in yourself and remind yourself regularly that you will be okay.

                                          Need some more inspirations to affirm yourself? Here’re 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life.

                                          35. Save a Little Money as Often as You Can

                                          Putting money aside is always a good idea. If you can afford to save money regularly, do it. Start up a regular debit each month, and you won’t even realize it’s gone.

                                          36. Less Is More

                                          Money buys choice, but it doesn’t buy us the happiness we crave. Be content with the simpler things in life — that’s where the real long-lasting joy and peace of mind comes from.

                                          37. Perspective

                                          Always  keep your eye on the bigger picture. Will you feel this way next week, or a year from now? Will your current experience of life seem as important?

                                          More often than not, you will be just fine. Foster peace of mind by maintaining perspective in life.

                                          38. Monitor Your Thoughts

                                          Our thoughts can make or break our quality of life. Make sure to choose thinking that works for you.

                                          Talk to yourself as you would a best friend. Self-loathing serves no purpose and will undoubtedly extract joy from your life.

                                          39. Stand up for What You Believe In

                                          Whether it’s protecting animals or helping those less fortunate than yourself, follow your heart and your passion. Fight the urge to fit in and do what’s expected.

                                          When you change yourself to suit others, you give away your peace of mind.

                                          40. Get Enough Sleep

                                          When we’re tired and grumpy, nothing goes smoothly. Get eight hours of sleep per night and regenerate your body.

                                          Final Thoughts

                                          The most important ways to achieve peace of mind involve being true to yourself, accepting that life is uncertain and watching your thinking. Many of us mentally “torture” ourselves daily with the things we tell ourselves.

                                          Trust your thoughts less, pay less attention to the negative ones and focus on what you are thankful for in life, and you’ll be well on your way to inner peace of mind.

                                          Featured photo credit: sean Kong via unsplash.com

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