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Marriage

Suggested readings about Marriage. Return to main Reading List page.

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. (1999) by John M. Gottman. New York: Three Rivers Press.

In contrast to marriage books based on what theories say are important, this is a solid, research based guide to marriage. In their Seattle lab Psychologist John Gottman and colleagues have been able to identify key principles that enable them to predict which marriages will work and which ones will lead to divorce. For example, did you know that all marriages, even the best ones, have two kinds of problems, solveable problems and unsolveable problems? A great deal of marriage conflict and gridlock involves trying to solve unsolveable problems. This book will teach you the fundamentals of successful relationships and help you avoid the behaviours that stifle marital happiness.

 

After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful. (1997) by Janis Abrahms Spring. New York: Harper Collins.

Arguably the most difficult crisis that can happen in a marriage is when one partner has been unfaithful. Dr. Spring sensitively and clearly helps both partners understand the crisis, guides them in the decision as to how to respond, and helps those who want to stay together as they work towards truly mending the relationship. The final sections cover such difficult topics as restoring trust, regaining intimacy, and learning to forgive.

 

Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples. (1988) by Harville Hendrix. New York: Henry Holt.

Dr. Hendrix approaches marriage from the perspective of unconscious processes. He effectively explains how unconscious issues from childhood play a role in romantic attraction and he carefully guides the reader through the journey of making these processes conscious and more under your control. The book also contains many exercises designed to translate your insight into skills that can enhance your relationship. A companion workbook is also available.

 

Fighting for Your Marriage: Positive Steps for Preventing Divorce and Preserving a Lasting Love, revised edition. (1994) by H. Markman, S. Stanley, and S. Blumberg. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

There are several approaches to marital therapy. One is to look at subconscious factors that each spouse brings from the past. A second is to focus on system factors that are at play to keep certain patterns in balance. A third approach is to target communication in the relationship. The authors of this book help you work on your marriage mainly from a communication perspective. That is, if couples were able to really discuss their difficulties in a non-aggressive, non-defensive, problem-solving way then most marital conflicts would be resolved. Probably the most important communication skill anyone can have is what is sometimes called active listening. The book calls this the speaker-listener technique and it presents this skill very clearly and effectively. It doesn't stop there, though. The book also helps you identify and work on core issues and guides you on enhancing things that help make relationships grow and last.

 

Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love. (2008) by S. Johnson. New York: Little, Brown.

Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, developed by Dr. Sue Johnson, is arguably the most scientifically backed form of couples therapy. This book is the self-help version of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy. Drawing on key psychological findings about how we form and maintain strong and satisfying bonds or connections with each other, Dr. Johnson guides the reader both in recognizing and in finding ways to avoid conflict patterns.