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10 Best Books for Improving Your Relationships
Relationships are not just necessary for our survival, but play a major role in our happiness in life. When we think of being in love, which is a major source of happiness, we think of sharing that with another person. Yet, we don’t get any training or education on healthy relationship habits. Issues of money, sex, or emotions, all important aspects of adult relationships go unaddressed. We are left to figure it out on our own. Navigating our emotions, and the emotions of our partner with these sensitive issues is essential to relationship happiness. That is why it is important to educate yourself on healthy relationship dynamics, and to practice them.
Some of the patterns and habits we learned during childhood helped us to get by when we were younger, but fail us in adulthood. Habits of success in school (being right and quick with an answer) and career, might work against us in relationships. Being demanding and driven might make it difficult to slow down, listen, and be understanding of our partner. The practice of helping to solve problems and take care of other people’s needs might cause us to neglect our own wants and desires that make us happy and fulfilled. These books are some of the best resources and help I’ve found for getting in touch with what makes healthy and happy relationship work. (Click on the link of each title to go to the Amazon page for each book)
Relationships work through emotional connections. The most basic beginning is a “bid” for that connection. Depending on how others respond to that bid will determine what we do next. How we respond to bids from others will determine whether they feel accepted and move closer to us, or farther away. Most of these moments happen automatically and so we don’t’ know how to change them when bids are missed. Identifying your basic methods of connecting allows you to change your overall relationships.
You will cycle through different phases in your relationship when your love tank is full, and at other times when it is empty. So will your partner. Knowing how to get your tank filled, and your partner filling theirs will solve many of the other issues you might have. We have different ways of expressing love, and perceiving that we are loved. This book will help you sort that out.
What we say, and more importantly what we don’t say matters. Words send powerful messages and this book not only helps you speak more clearly for what you want and need in your relationships, it will help you hear what your partner is asking for. Read this book if you are having a difficult time being heard by your partner, or if they have difficulty sharing with you. You will ask better questions, and get better responses back.
We can operate by the dynamics of fear or by the force of love in relationship. Fear leads to control, disrespect, and suffering. Love leads to personal responsibility, appreciation, and happiness. This book will surprise you with ideas like, “your happiness in your relationship is because of your love coming out of you.” Excellent read for understanding a new paradigm of consciously aware relationships, one in which you are less dependent on your partner, but happier with them.
Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find and Keep Love.
A very effective way of looking at relationships. It begins by seeing them as emotional connections and the building out from there. Based on documented research. They also provide techniques and skills to make changes in what are largely unconscious dynamics. Well, at least these dynamics are unconscious until you read this book, and others on the list.
A guidebook for self-reflection work that helps you identify and unravel your negative thoughts and beliefs. The beliefs are often unconscious but have major impact on our emotions, decisions, and behaviors. When you better understand your self and how your mind works, you can make changes in your own behavior and emotions. You will then be a better partner in your relationship.
Men and Women are different, and they respond differently to the same circumstances or gestures. When your partner doesn’t respond to you in a way you expect or want you might interpret it as a rejection. This then creates other problems that don’t exist. Understanding how you are different from your partner will help you communicate with your partner in a way that helps them, and helps you. You will also respect those differences and value them instead of find them as issues of complaint or conflict. It is written particularly to help women stop sabotaging their relationship happiness, but will be a help to anyone.
Sue Johnson addresses the deep dramas of fear and anxiousness we do with our partner. The new research validates Attachment Theory. We attach and bond to people. We did it since childbirth and it provides many signals of safety, being cared for and emotional stability. When those signals are not there from our partner alarms go off, fears activate, and controlling behaviors begin. Being aware of these dynamics based on Attachment Theory within each of you provides a way of navigating around these drama’s. This book is focused on couples understanding the source of emotional drama causing them to withdraw from each other and create conflict.
A quick read, yet insightful and powerful introduction to beliefs and agreements unconsciously affecting our life. More importantly it is a simple reference for how to change and feel better. Self Awareness is the key. Without being aware of your own behaviors, words, and emotions, you have little chance of changing them. The Four Agreements is a practical wisdom book for personal change through self awareness. Continual practice of these four simple practices will take you deeper and deeper.
John Gottman has studied the details of relationship interaction for decades and has changed how we think and understand them. The small subtle cues of a raised eyebrow or facial movement can be an expression of disdain or criticism. Hundreds and thousands of these expressions, spoken and unspoken, over time determine whether your relationship is happy or ends in divorce. Knowing what John Gottman knows about relationships will change yours. Two of his books made my list, and that is not an accident.
A third of these books aren’t about relationships. They are about working on being happy with yourself. This might mean addressing your own critical voice, frustrations, fears, and emotions in other areas of your life. If you are frustrated with work, or get angry at other drivers, the people around you experience that and it takes a toll. Being a happier person with yourself, and your own life is one of the sure fire ways that allow others to enjoy you more, and suffer with you less. It is not always about working on “the relationship.” Sometimes it is about working on yourself in a positive way.3