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Hello wise list,
My marriage is going through its trials and I've been returning
to my first love, fiction. I'd love some recommendations for
books about long term relationships that go through the flames
and work themselves out in the end. Any kindling to toss onto
Books were my first love
Books were my first love as well...
The Time Traveler's Wife is
one of my all-time favorites & has gotten me through some rough
relationship spots as well...
Wishing you well,
Wow, that's a really interesting question. I am an obsessive fiction
reader, but it's a challenge to think of books that meet your
needs--narrative tend to thrive on conflict, disruption, and loss,
alas. However, I do have a few ideas: first of all, anything by Laurie
Colwin (the two I have read are ''A Big Wind Knocked It Over'' and
''Goodbye Without Leaving''). She's one of the few authors I know who
writes about people actually finding happiness, in a smart, funny,
un-sentimental way. ''How to be Good'' by Nick Hornby definitely
chronicles a marriage that goes through the wringer and out the other
side, again in a smart and funny way. (His ''A Long Way Down'' is also
hilarious.) Scanning my bookcase, a few more suggestions: ''The Echo
Makers'' by Richard Powers, ''Empire Falls'' by Richard Russo.
Might want to look at Anne Tyler's work too...I'll re-post if I think
of more, and I look forward to reading others' suggestions!
The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. One of the best books I
read last year.
i am currently reading a book called Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth
Strout. It just won the Pullitzer. The book is about a long term
I highly recommend ''Necklace of Kisses'' by Francesca Lia Block - she
is a beautiful writer and weaves a wonderful story that I think will
fit your request quite well.
''Magical-realist-style-meets-Los Angeles'' (i.e. if Isabelle Allende
grew up in 80's punk & new wave scene in LA and was now looking back
over her marriage and children...) -An Oaklandish Reader
this isn't fiction (i didn't see the original post) but someone
recommended ''the marriage map'' on this network recently for someone
whose marriage was going through problems. and after reading the book i
wish i'd seen it years ago--it says that most relationships have to go
through rocky periods where people get over the idea of being one mind-one
heart whatever, to compromising, to being realistic and accepting your own
and their shortcomings to asserting your own independence in the
marriage...ending in something incredibly strong and rich in if you can
make it through. so maybe it is useful?
My husband and I recently had our second
child and have been fighting all the time. We'd like to see a therapist who
can help us develop tools to solve problems (not just listen to us talk).
We feel like we need an objective third party to help with some of our
arguments. Thank you!
I don't have a therapist to recommend, but I highly recommend
the book ''The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work''
by John Gottman, and Nan Silver. You can also check out John
Gottman's work on his website www.gottman.com.
Looking for some lite, well written/enjoyable to read romance novel recs -
to help me, a middle-age woman get more in the mood for sex - and to feel
sexy...Nothing too out there. Now I understand why my Grandma loved her
Harlequin, I guess.
need some sexy inspiration
Try Anais Nin (author).
Try Herotica. They've published a series of books of short story erotica
specifically for women.
Pleasurable reading to you!
Anything by Stephanie Lauren is going to be super-sensual, if you can
ignore the choppy writing.
But... my favorites are by Christina Dodd, Julia Quinn, and Eloisa James.
Zebra & Kensington are decent publishers owned by the same company --
Zebra I think is mostly Regency/Historical.
The Nerd books are fun, and also look for anything by Jennifer Crusie.
My mom and I have both REALLY enjoyed the Outlander series by Diana
Gabaldon. I finally gave in and stopped rolling my eyes at the romance
novel aspect of it, about a quarter of the way through the first novel (of
six). It's got really good plot - historical, engaging, mysterious - and
it is certainly steamy. Enjoy!
Pretty much anything by Nora Roberts does it for me. (And I'm a guy! --
you know this is going to be anonymous!)
Try Amorous Woman, a new novel by local author Donna George Storey. It's
smart, sexy, and even educational, as Storey weaves in lots of fascinating
details about Japanese culture. You can order it at the author's website,
I'm in a ten-year relationship and we've both got some bad habits
around communication. I really want couples counseling, but my
partner is phobic. He's worried it will consist of a therapist
and me ganging up on him. I insist that it's mostly to find some
tools and get practice using them- relationship tools we really
need. Resistance persists. So now I'm wondering if there are any
good books that lay out techniques and tools for couples to
improve communication and intimacy. I'm thinking this could be a
valid first step. Thanks for your recommendations.
One book that may help is called Passionate Marriage : Keeping
Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships by David
Schnarch, PhD. It has some techniques and anectodatal stories
about couples and their relationship patterns. It may be
different than what you are thinking, but it might help.
I'm looking for some good books on working out communication
problems in a marriage...especially something my husband will
relate to and maybe actually read. Seems we're not listening
well to one another and we keep repeating the same
arguments/patterns. I think he's experiencing some of the same
problems at work, and he might be more likely to read a business
book on communication skills. But I welcome any recommendations
on the subject. Thanks.
Try ''You just don't understand: women and men in Conversation''
by Deborah Tannen. (Amazon link:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060959622/002-6721112-2173614?v=glance&n=283155&s=books&v=glance ). In this book, Tannen
talks about how men and women have different conversation styles
resulting from how we learned to converse within our same-gender
peer groups as children. It's a very interesting book based on
linguistic and behavioral research and will help each of you
understand where the other person is coming from. (It also
discusses conversation in the workplace which should help your
husband too.) This book has really helped me converse with my
husband and other men. Hope this helps!
I have the most amazing book to recommend to you -- something that helped my
husband and I in SO many ways (and it sounds like we were in a similar situation as
you). It's called ''Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples,'' by Harville
Hendrix. This is a lovingly and intelligently written book, with profound insights into
relationships, communication, and the patterns we fall into (and have fallen into
since childhood). Dr. Hendrix writes clearly and incisively about relationships, and
provides detailed, unbelievably helpful excercises in the back of the book. You'll
want to really commit to this -- my husband and I would spend a few hours on the
weekend working through the exercises and energy putting them into practice
during the week -- but it is WORTH IT, every moment. Our relationship is deeper,
healthier, more organic, more fresh and homey than it's ever been, and we've
learned to communicate SO WELL! It wasn't hard for either of us to read the book
because it is so RIGHT ON that you can't stop reading. Good luck! There's nothing
sweeter than true companionship with your partner.
happily in love again
I'm almost positive there was another question JUST like this
in the past, so first thing check the archives. The book we
have found profoundly helpful is by John Gottman - The Seven
Principles to Save Your Marriage. It's very straight-forward,
not too touchy-feely, and very easy to put into practice.
We used ''Getting the Love you Want'' or something like that - the
author is Harville Hendrix. It sounds very cheesy and
self-helpy, but it has some great exercises in there for learning
better communication habits.
-- I have read a lot of books aimed at helping people enhance
their communication skills and improve relationships at work and
at home. There are so many great ideas out there, and when you
find the right approach, it can really open up a new doorway.
Without knowing you and your husband personally, I can't say for
sure which might be a good match for you, but the one that came
to mind reading your posting is called ''Difficult
Conversations''. It gives a very concise and elegant breakdown of
the patterns and layers of communicating. And it provides
concrete and clear ideas about how to avoid the same old
problems. It covers work-related and relationship-oriented
domains, and so it may be a good resource for both you and your
-- Another book, ''Non-violent Communication,'' is also a great
look at how we do and don't talk to one another. My sense from
your description is that your husband may not take to the very
(VERY) earnest and ''touchy-feely'' approach of ''Non Violent
Communication.'' But again, I would not presume to know what will
work for each of you. It is a wealth of wisdom.
-- Best of luck to you both. It's hard work that really pays
off. As a therapist and life coach, I have seen a lot of couples
and individuals transform their lives by developing the very
skills and capacities that you and your husband are working on.
If you ever decide to try some couples coaching or therapy, or
if you just want more book recommendations, feel free to contact
I highly recommend The Relationship Handbook, by Dr. George
Pransky. This small volume is filled with stories of actual
clients being worked with using Principle-Based Learning, a
hopeful and powerful approach to life issues. I coach couples
using the Principles myself and have never failed to have this
little book be stunningly appropriate and effective. If follow
up in person would be useful, you can call me, Julie Gleeson,
The Art of Living, Inc., at (925) 256-7636. (And, my husband
and I are living testaments to it's effectiveness. We are still
married at 22 years and going strong, even though at year 5 we
were ready for divorce!)
Dr. Phil's Relationship Rescue....excellent if you both read it
and do the exercises...can save a marriage.
Jonathan Gottman's books for couples are very accessible to
both men and women. He has written several, but here are a
They are easy to read and very down to earth.
Pam Zelnik, MFT
Two books I found helpful, written by men, are How Marriages
Succeed or Fail by John Gottman, and Dr. Phil's Relationship
Rescue. Dr. Phil has a single page (near the end of the book,
I think) for reluctant men to read.
I would recommend a few sessions with a couples therapist. It is
a little pricier than buying a book but very effective. My
husband and I went to see Eike Diebold in Berkeley some time ago
and went for about four sessions and learned SO MUCH about how to
better communicate with one another. It did wonders for us -
something to consider...
My husband and I have been married for 16 years and are, by and
large, very happy together. We've been through a lot and really grown
as partners. But we seem to have persistent little communications
glitches that are really getting in our way and that lead to distance and
irritations that we'd really rather not have. It's frustrating to both of us
because we share a strong bond, but it's the little things that are wearing
us down. We don't have the time or inclination for therapy right now, but
would like to read a book together that could be helpful in this arena. I
tried to search for ''marriage/ communication'' books on Amazon.com,
but many of them seemed to come from a Christian perspective, which
made me wary. (we are not Christian) Any great relationship books out
there which BPN members have found useful?
There are several books by a guy named John Gottman that my
husband read and shared parts of with me. Gottman has a pretty
scientific approach --he gives results of a lot of studies which
purport to be very objective -- which seems to appeal to many
men (hopefully I'm not over-generalizing). I thought the books
were helpful to us (though we did then also go to therapy and
that was much more helpful). I'm not sure which one(s) to
recommend; you might just glance through a couple at the
bookstore and see if they appeal to you. Good luck.
I guess you will get lots of recommendations. Here is my list:
- Non violent communication workshops(www.cnvc.org/nvc.htm )
(books and local workshops available at www.baynvc.org )
- PAIRS couples communcation workshops(http://www.pairs.com)
- Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus by John Gray
All the best.
I have the perfect book for you: ''The Seven Principles for
Making Marriage Work: A practical guide from the counntry's
foremost relationship expert'' - by John Gottman, Ph.D. I
interpersonal communication to college students and have had
trouble, before this book came out, teaching about marriage and
family communication with any conviction. Most marriage
therapy teaches basic communication (which Gottman points out
is actually not very helpful or successful). Gottman's book
was written using 25 years of research in his ''love lab.''
book provides the only statistically proven methods for
improving communication in marriage, that I have found. My
students love this section of the class and it has also been
invaluable for my husband and myself. Gottman also provides
tools (actual activities) that help you both relate to each
other in a different and more fulfilling way. I highly
recommend it to anyone interested in making an active effort to
boost the nature of their committed relationships. Let me know
if you have any questions.
I would recommend the John Gottman book, ''Seven Principles for
Making Marriage Work'', and the book ''Passionate Marriage''. The
Mars/Venus book is also helpful -- John Gray.
While it is written from a Christian perspective, I would
recommend The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt
Commitment to Your Mate -- by Gary Chapman. Not identifying as a
Christian myself, I was able to overlook that perspective and
get a lot of really helpful information about communicating with
a partner. It is very insightful in helping you understand that
each of us communicates in various ways, assuming that everyone
else puts the same importance on the same things as us. I've
recommended this book to several people, and all have enjoyed
it. In fact, I'm thinking about buying it for my parents as a
Christmas gift because I think it's a book all people should
I once heard a tape of Harville Hendricks about marriage and
communication. His ideas made sense to me. He has retreats that
people go to, but I know that's not what you want. There must be
books out there. Good Luck!
If you are looking for an alternative book on communication, one
that has been helpful to me in many ways is, ''Teachings on Love''
by Thich Naht Hanh.
It is a book based on Buddhist ideas, but is written in a very
practical and simple way. It helps both me and my partner to
have more compassion toward each other and to listen without
judgement. My partner is not keen on traditional therapy or
books that are titled, ''communication for couples'' or the like,
so this was a perfect way to get him/us working on our
communication without being so overt.
trying to be mindful
I recently read ''Grown-Up Marriage.'' I don't remember the
author's name, but I found it at the local library. It doesn't
address communication issues specifically, but I thought it gave
some good perspectives and advice about the value of continuing
to work on your marriage even when you're not sure you want to
Here are some very helpful books on marriage, communication
etc., which I often use with clients as well:
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work : A Practical
Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert
by John M. Gottman (Author), Nan Silver
The Relationship Cure : A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your
Marriage, Family, and Friendships
by Ph.D. John Gottman (Author)
After the Honeymoon by Daniel Wile is good for those interested
in diving in a bit more deeply.
Best to you. Pamela Zelnik, M.F.T.
I think its neat that you and your husband want to keep
searching out new ways to grow together and improve your
relationship. I recommend Schnarch, ''A Passionate Marriage''.
Very good book re the underlying issues that cause communication
problems. Best book I have ever read on relationships -- has
really helped my husband and I (and has been recommended by many
people over time on this newsletter). I think that reading
something that helps you to understand why you
have ''communication'' issues might be much more helpful than a
book on differences in communication style between men and
women, or whatever. Just my opinion.
Married, happy, and always growing
There's a book called ''Fighting for your Jewish Marriage'' (in
case you're Jewish). It is by therapists and includes a chapter
on ''Creating a positive Jewish identity that supports your
marriage.'' The rest of the book is on communication. If you
aren't Jewish, it's still good, but you could also try ''Fighting
for Your Marriage.'' Joel Crohn, one of the authors of the
Jewish book and a local therapist, told me that his book uses
research to help focus on dealing with gender roles, work,
raising children, how to ''fight right'' and overcoming
disagreements. He sometimes speaks locally. One thing he told
me is that research shows that being a part of any spiritual
community supports marriage and increases the likelihood that
you'll stay married. Basically we don't ''do'' community much
anymore, and that structure of extended human support takes
pressure off your partner to be all things to you, which is
humanly impossible, thus supporting you and your marriage.
I know that you really want a book and don't have the time for
therapy sessions. However, one time-saving aspect of the
sessions I offer is that I will come to you so you can both be in
a familiar, comfortable environment. I offer mediation and good
communication techniques which I can teach you without it taking
a lot of time. Testimonials from satisfied couples available. I
charge $75 for a full hour. Please call or email if you would
like to further this conversation.
here are some books i've liked:
fighting for your marriage
the new couple
getting the love you want
he's scared she's scared
the seven principles for making marriage work
(the last i haven't read fully but you find they all tend to say
the same thing).
also negotiation books are good (getting to yes, for instance).
they help, good luck!
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