FAVORITE BOOKS FOR COUPLES
COMMITMENT AND LOVE
Love means different things to different people. Do you know what your spouse means by love? Do you know what it means to you? Gary Chapman presents the insight that there are at least 5 categories of "love languages", ways that people want or look for love to be expressed (Words of Affirmation; Quality Time; Receiving Gifts; Acts of Service; Physical Touch). He also addresses the distinction between the euphoria of "Falling In Love" (a time limited feeling), and building the long term love relationship. If you know your partner's "love language," then responding in this love language expresses commitment, and your partner feels loved.
Gary Chapman. The Five Love Languages. Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 1992, 1995. ISBN: 1-881273-15-6.
Fortunately we have research that to a high degree can predict success or failure in marriage. Dr. John Gottman and his team of clinical researchers placed couples in an apartment and videotaped and studied their every move and interaction (except in the bathroom) looking for the various contributions to their success or failure. His findings and suggestions are found in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Three Rivers Press, 1999. ISBN# 0-609-80579-7.
The work of Dr. Susan Johnson in developing Emotionally Focused Therapy looks at how marital problems get into cycles that often stem from attachment injuries which get activated in relationships and lead to feelings of sadness, hurt, fear, shame and loneliness. These are vulnerable emotions and we often react to them with anger, jealousy, resentment and frustration. These latter emotions tend to push partners away. Her book, Hold Me Tight, is a good presentation of her approach to marital success.
I often recommend one or more of the above books to individuals and couples as part of the work we are doing together.
The following three books all look at the patterns of behavior and relationships, and relationship expectations that we have grown up with based on our family of origin family patterns: our parents personalities, our relationship to them, our relationship to our siblings and other significant people in our lives. The patterns that we bring to a marriage can also be influenced by previous significant adult long term intimate relationships, married or not.
The hypothesis of these books is that we have internalized these patterns into our unconscious mind and that, without our awareness, these patterns are the largest basis of our mate selection and our interaction patterns with our partner. This makes the choice largely unconscious. For a relationship to be healthy we need to make our choice and commitments conscious. Thus the title of one of the books: Conscious Loving. Each of the books contain exercises for the reader that can help raise these patterns to conscious awareness.
Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. Getting The Love You Want: A Guide for Couples. New York: Harper, 1990. ISBN 0-06-097292-0.
Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. Keeping the Love You Find: A Personal Guide. New York: Pocket Books, 1992.ISBN 0-671-73420-2.
Gay Hendricks, Ph.D. & Kathlyn Hendricks, Ph.D. Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment. New York: Bantam Books, 1990. ISBN 0-553-35411-6.
Worry, by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., (New York: Ballantine Books. 1998. ISBN: 0-345-42458-1) is a very readable and informative book about the various kinds of anxieties that people can experience. He covers Generalized anxiety, phobias and panic, paranoia, obsessive-compulsive and post-traumatic types of anxiety, giving examples and anecdotes that people and identify with. The genetic, biological, and social/psychological components are described and suggestions for approaching and managing these "worries" include meditation, self-talk revision, medication, and increased connections in one's life. His last chapter is entitled "Fifty Tips on the Management of Worry without Using Medication." This is a book that I almost always recommend as additional reading for my clients who are dealing with anxieties.