The Best Relationship Books for Couples


Are you looking for books with ideas and strategies to strengthen your marriage?

Of course, if you haven’t read it yet, I’d like to first point you toward my own book, Strong Women, Strong Love: The Missing Manual for the Modern Marriage. I’m very honored that Strong Women, Strong Love won a 2014 Indie Excellence Award in the Marriage category.

In my book, I reveal the information most therapists use to help people improve their marriages. I show you how to build a great marriage without compromising your self-confidence and strength as a woman. You also discover specific ways you can reduce the very real risks that stress and recent changes in gender roles bring to your marriage.

To help you continue learning about what it takes to have an incredible marriage, I’d like to share my personal list of favorite marriage books, many of which you will find referenced in Strong Women, Strong Love. I believe so much in the importance of regular care and maintenance of your relationship. These particular books will add to your knowledge of the most vital ways to nurture the bond between you and your husband.

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman

In the field of marriage research, Dr. John Gottman’s work has been seminal in helping us understand exactly what makes a marriage succeed or falter. Gottman is well known for being able to predict with fairly high accuracy which couples will divorce. He observes that when the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” (criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling) take residence in a marriage, it’s a strong signal that the marriage is failing. Gottman states that whether you have conflict in a relationship is far less important than how you manage it. If you want to get a handle on the key research findings about marriage, you must read this book.

Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Sue Johnson

Dr. Sue Johnson is the founder of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) which emphasizes the importance of creating a marriage that is an emotional safe haven. Johnson teaches how to step out of common relationship dances (such as desperately chasing your partner or avoiding him) so that the two of you can meet each other’s needs for connection, comfort, and caring. This book will help you understand your partner’s emotional needs at a much deeper level.

Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples by Harville Hendrix

Getting the Love You Want is a classic in the field of couples therapy. Dr. Harville Hendrix is well known as the creator of Imago Relationship Therapy. He believes that you subconsciously choose your partner because he is the right person to help you heal from the emotional hurts you carry from childhood (and vice versa). Hendrix suggests that once the glow of romance wears off, it’s important for a couple to deal with whatever emotional baggage shows up. This book teaches you how to deal with each other’s emotional hot buttons so you can eventually have a deeply satisfying relationship.

Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and Coupled Up by Harriet Lerner

You may be familiar with Dr. Harriet Lerner’s classic book The Dance of Anger. Lerner is a distinguished psychologist who has an amazing ability to translate her many years of clinical experience into wise, practical, helpful advice. In Marriage Rules, she gives readers 100 insightful “rules” for improving your marriage. I think you’ll find this book useful no matter how long you’ve been married.

The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need to Know to Make Love Work by Terrence Real

As I do in my book, Terrence Real (a family therapist with a focus on men’s issues and couples therapy) gets into the issue of how gender roles have changed and how that affects marriage. One of his most useful pieces of advice to women is to avoid “losing strategies” with men, such as needing to be right, controlling your partner, and withdrawal. If you are looking for a better understanding of the male perspective, this book can be tremendously helpful.

We Love Each Other, But … Simple Secrets to Strengthen Your Relationship and Make Love Last  By Ellen Wachtel

This book is a little under the radar, but it has lots of smart advice about the trouble spots that marriages can hit. Dr. Ellen Wachtel, a marriage and family therapist, knows what works, whether your issue is disagreements about parenting or a sex life that’s gone cold. Her core message is that you can keep love, warmth and good feelings alive in your marriage for the long haul.

These are a few of the best books about marriage out there. Please check back periodically as we add reviews of other books that can help you keep your relationship solid.