As couples therapists, we work with people who are focused on improving their relationships. While important work is done during our sessions, it’s limited to 50 minutes every 1-2 weeks. If you aren’t attending regular couples therapy sessions, but still want to work on your relationship, there are many books available to help couples learn new ways to examine and strengthen their relationships. These books describe philosophies, tools, and techniques that couples can also practice between counseling sessions.
Here are 4 of my top picks of books to help you improve your marriage or relationship.
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert
By John M. Gottman PhD & Nan Silver
John Gottman is a total rockstar in the couples counseling world and has done such extensive research that he has been able to observe the habits that can make—and break—a marriage. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is a culmination of his research, and it covers the seven principles that guide couples toward harmonious and long-lasting relationships. The book is very straightforward and teaches couples the principles, as well as new approaches for resolving conflicts, finding new common ground, and deepening intimacy.
By Sue Johnson
Dr. Sue Johnson is another lead researcher in the world of marriage counseling. She’s also the developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy. Emotionally Focused Therapy views the love relationship as an attachment bond, an idea that was once controversial, but is now supported by science and widely popular among therapists.
In Hold Me Tight, Dr. Sue Johnson presents Emotionally Focused Therapy to the masses. Johnson teaches that the way to save and enrich a relationship is to reestablish safe emotional connection and preserve the attachment bond. With attachment bonds in mind, she focuses on key moments in a relationship and uses them as the basis for seven healing conversations. The book includes case studies from her practice, helpful advice, and practical exercises for couples to learn how to nurture their relationships and ensure a lifetime of love.
The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships
By Suzanne Stabile
We love the Enneagram at Austin Relational Wellness. The Enneagram is a powerful and dynamic personality system describing nine distinct and fundamentally different personality types. The nine types have different patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting. As you discover your personality type and how it colors your view of the world, you’ll also discover what motivates you, your coping strategies, and keys to personal development.
The Enneagram becomes especially handy in relationships when we are stuck feeling so different from our partners. This book from Suzanne Stabile is on the nine Enneagram types and how they behave and experience relationships. This book will help you understand more about yourself, your type, and others’ personalities so you can have healthier and more meaningful relationships.
By Amir Levine and Rachel Heller
We approach marriage counseling using an attachment theory lens. Through this lens, we look at relationships with caregivers to see the ways we carry patterns of these relationships with us into other adult relationships. So, is there a science to how love works?
In Attached, Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel Heller scientifically explain how these evolutionary influences continue to shape who we are in our relationships. According to attachment theory, every person behaves in relationships in one of three distinct ways: anxious, avoidant, or secure. This book helps you discover how an understanding of adult attachment—the most advanced relationship science in existence today—can help us find and sustain love.