When I first started graduate school, I would tell people that I was going to be a marriage and family therapist. Because part of me knew I had a good marriage and thought I did a good enough job at being a healthy family. So, it seemed like a natural fit. When I first went into private practice, I learned two things very quickly. One, I wasn’t going to be a good marriage counselor without much more training than I had already done. Two, family therapy was much more difficult than I anticipated and most of those sessions early on, I felt like I was in way over my head. Shortly after working with a few couples for marriage counseling, I made a decision to focus on some of the niches that I felt like were better suited toward my strengths like the highly sensitive person trait, trauma and parenting.
I’m very passionate about helping people have strong marriages and families, I just do that work more indirectly with helping individuals find their voice in relationships and families to have healthy communication and more peace in their homes. This week I’m focusing on some of my favorite marriage books because I think there is always something to be learned about how to be a better partner to my husband. And of course, any of the information I learn in marriage books I can pass along to others!
Divorce Busting by Michele Weiner-Davis
This is the first book I remembered reading when I was engaged to my husband. I’m not entirely sure why I picked it up in the first place, but I was glad that I did. Even though it’s been a long time since I’ve read the book, I learned that when there are problems in a marriage, I’m partially responsible. The author goes on to share what you, the reader can do, to change your attitude rather than trying to change the other person. I was curious what the Amazon reviews said, and most of the people who left one-star reviews did so because it, “didn’t work.” Which means the marriage was most likely on the precipice before they began reading the book. It’s a quick read with helpful tips for better communication.
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman
John and Julie Gottman are very well known within the therapy community. They have one of the best training programs for marriage counselors and it resonates with a lot of people. They dig into the expectations couples have for one another and tackle how to handle issues such as in-laws, money and sex. This book encourages all of their readers to implement the strategies as their reading it.
Sheet Music by Dr. Kevin Leman
My colleague and I talk often how there are not enough good resource for couples on sex and intimacy. This is definitely a good book for how to create sex and intimacy within a marriage. While this book could be good for couples, regardless of how long they’ve been married, I think it’s better suited for couples how haven’t been married for decades. One big complaint of this book is that he really could have used a female co-author for a broader perspective on the topics he covers.
Love More Fight Less Workbook by Dr. Gina Senarighi
Dr. Senarighi is a Gottman certified relationship coach and has created this workbook for couples to do one lesson a day. This workbook is focused on building healthy communication skills within relationships, communication difficulties and advice with expert advice. The author also recommends couples make sure all other needs are met before discussing difficult topics (e.g., hungry, thirst, tired). My husband certainly has learned the hard way that discussing hard things with me when I’m hungry or tired doesn’t go well! But I think that’s most people.
Safe People by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
While this is not specifically a marriage book, I do think it’s important for anyone who is having relationship difficulties read this book. The book in divided into two parts. The first one is identifying the twenty traits of unsafe people and the second part is dedicated to what you can do to keep yourself safe. I’ve recommended this book many times, and often people will come back and tell me they realize they have been an unsafe person and they want to change it.
There are many more great books on marriage which are not included in this list, but this should at least be able to get you started if you’re interested in improving your marriage. One of the keys to a great marriage is good communication. Even though my husband and I have a great marriage, there are times when we hit rough spots where communication seems off and is difficult or it takes us awhile to get on the same page. And once we do, everything else in life gets so much easier. I see any marriage book, podcast, workbook, etc., as an investment in your marriage as there is always some bit of wisdom to glean from others.
If you think you might be in need of counseling or coaching, please feel free to contact me at 317.496.0456 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to hear what is happening and help you find the right fit for counseling or life coaching. If you are looking for help with burn out, depression, anxiety, trauma or behavioral concerns, you can read more about how I can help at my website peacefamilycounseling.