I just love it when I read a book on relationships that really challenges my thinking about relationships and more importantly, helps me improve my own relationship and the relationships of the people I work with.
The following list are public-friendly books, so don’t be concerned that you’re going to be overwhelmed by psycho-babble. All the books I’ve chosen are easy for the layperson to read and understand and are not written for therapists, although therapists will benefit from reading them too.
So here they are, my top 10 relationship self-help books (in no particular order):
by Terrence Real
This is a book I read recently before interviewing Terry Real for the members of Australia Counselling. Terry takes a very direct approach to telling you why the intimacy is not working in your relationship and what you need to do to improve it. His ideas are based on real-life work as a therapist with thousands of couples. There’s lots of practical exercises at the end of every chapter for you to try with your partner. This is a great book that both men and women will enjoy.
by David Snarch, PhD
This book was a pioneering book at the time of its release. Dr Snarch’s work is based on many years of research and working with couples with challenging intimacy issues. He talks about how to keep the passion alive in your relationship and reach sexual and emotional fulfilment later in life. I use some of his exercises in my work with couples- they are simple, yet powerful.
by Dr. Sue Johnson
Dr Sue Johnson is the founder of Emotionally Focussed Couples Therapy, which has shown through extensive research to be very effective with couples. Her premise is that love relationships form from an attachment bond, and that you need to restore the safe emotional connection with your partner to reestablish your attachment bond. This book is written in easy to understand language with some fascinating science to back up her ideas.
by Harville Hendrix PhD
Originally published in 1988, this book was ground-breaking in that it helped millions of couples create loving, satisfying and enriching relationships. Dr Hendrix is the founder of IMAGO therapy, which forms the basis of Getting the Love workshops that are run throughout the world. I love his practical exercises and use many of them with the couples I work with. If you only buy one relationship book, this is the one you want.
by Esther Perel
If you’ve faced challenges maintaing your desire in your relationship and the bedroom, this is the book for you. Esther Perel is one of the thought leaders in the world today on erotic intelligence. She demonstrates this in her book with fascinating case studies and a humorous perspective. You might want to also check out her recent TED talk titled What’s the Secret to Desire in Long-Term Relationships?
6. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide From the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert
by John Gottman, PhD
If you haven’t come across the work of Dr John Gottman before, then you’re in for a treat. He has researched couples for over 40 years and has shared some incredible findings that are on the leading edge of couples work today. Every couple needs to know the principles outlined in this book that teach partners new strategies for making their marriage work
by Gay Hendricks and Kathlyn Hendriks
This is an older book (1992) but has useful information that is still relevant today to help clear away the unconscious agreements patterns that undermine even your best intentions in your relationships. This book is written for individuals and couples and covers a broad range of unhelpful relationship dynamics that you can identify and start to break.
by Janis A. Spring
This book is a classic in the relationship genre and one to be read if you’re struggling with the aftermath of an affair. Janis is direct in her advice for couples that have been hit by betrayal and she has a ‘no nonsense’ approach to what they need to do to start the healing process. The latest edition has a special section for those dealing with online affairs in cyberspace.
by Dr. Gary Chapman
Do you know which love language you use, or more importantly, the love language that your partner uses? New York Times bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman helps you identify your own and your partner’s love language so you can better understand your blocks closeness. I love the simple steps at the end of each chapter, which is dedicated to a love language, to help you communicate on a deeper and more loving level with your partner.
by John Gottman, PhD
Dr. John Gottman appears in this list twice, but it’s hard not to recognise his incredible contribution to the field of relationships and couples therapy. In this book, Dr. Gottman shares a 5-step program to help improve all the relationships in your life, including your spouse, family and work colleagues.
What favourite relationship books would you add to this list? Share with us below in the comments.
photo credit: Chocolate Geek
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Clinton Power is a relationship counsellor and Gestalt therapist with over a decade of experience helping individuals and couples move out of relationship pain and create great relationships. Get Clinton’s FREE report: 10 Tips for Moving Out of Relationship Pain, by clicking the button below.