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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 September 17, 2019

                                          10 Simple Ways To Always Think Positive Thoughts

                                          10 Simple Ways To Always Think Positive Thoughts

                                          Positive thinking can lead to a lot of positive change in your life. Developing an optimistic outlook can be good for both your physical and mental health.

                                          But sometimes, certain situations arise in life that makes it hard to keep a positive outlook. Take steps to make positive thinking become more like your second nature and you’ll reap the biggest benefits.

                                          Here are 10 ways to make thinking positive thoughts easy:

                                          1. Spend Time with Positive People

                                          If you surround yourself with constant complainers, their negativity is likely to rub off on you.

                                          Spend time with positive friends and family members to increase the likelihood that their positive thinking habits will become yours too. It’s hard to be negative when everyone around you is so positive.

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                                          2. Take Responsibility for Your Behavior

                                          When you encounter problems and difficulties in life, don’t play the role of the victim. Acknowledge your role in the situation and take responsibility for your behavior.

                                          Accepting responsibility can help you learn from mistakes and prevent you from blaming others unfairly.

                                          3. Contribute to the Community

                                          One of the best ways to feel good about what you have, is to focus on what you have to give.

                                          Volunteer in some manner and give back to the community. Helping others can give you a new outlook on the world and can assist you with positive thinking.

                                          4. Read Positive and Inspirational Materials

                                          Spend time each day reading something that encourages positive thinking. Read the Bible, spiritual material, or inspirational quotes to help you focus on what’s important to you in life. It can be a great way to start and end your day.

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                                          Some recommendations for you:

                                          5. Recognize and Replace Negative Thoughts

                                          You won’t be successful at positive thinking if you’re still plagued by frequent negative thoughts. Learn to recognize and replace thoughts that are overly negative. Often, thoughts that include words like “always” and “never” signal that they aren’t true.

                                          If you find yourself thinking something such as, “I always mess everything up,” replace it with something more realistic such as, “Sometimes I make mistakes but I learn from them.”

                                          There’s no need to make your thoughts unrealistically positive, but instead, make them more realistic.

                                          6. Establish and Work Toward Goals

                                          It’s easier to be positive about problems and setbacks when you have goals that you’re working toward. Goals will give you motivation to overcome those obstacles when you encounter problems along the way. Without clear goals, it’s harder to make decisions and gauge your progress.

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                                          Learn to set SMART goals to help you achieve more.

                                          7. Consider the Consequences of Negativity

                                          Spend some time thinking about the consequences of negative thinking. Often, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

                                          For example, a person who thinks, “I probably won’t get this job interview,” may put less effort into the interview. As a result, he may decrease his chances of getting the job.

                                          Create a list of all the ways negative thinking impacts your life. It likely influences your behavior, your relationships, and your feelings. Then, create a list of the ways in which positive thinking could be beneficial.

                                          8. Offer Compliments to Others

                                          Look for reasons to compliment others. Be genuine in your praise and compliments, but offer it frequently. This will help you look for the good in other people.

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                                          9. Create a Daily Gratitude List

                                          If you start keeping a daily gratitude list, you’ll start noticing exactly how much you have to be thankful for. This can help you focus on the positive in your life instead of thinking about all the bad things that have happened in the day.

                                          Getting in the habit of showing an attitude of gratitude makes positive thinking more of a habit. Here’re 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

                                          10. Practice Self-Care

                                          Take good care of yourself and you’ll be more equipped to think positively.

                                          Get plenty of rest and exercise and practice managing your stress well. Taking care of your physical and mental health will provide you with more energy to focus on positive thinking.

                                          Learn about these 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit.

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                                          Featured photo credit: DESIGNECOLOGIST via unsplash.com

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