Whether you’ve been in a relationship for a few months or a few decades, there are always ways to work on yourself and your relationship with your partner. Sometimes that means reading books that were written for that express purpose. Here, 11 relationship books that can help strengthen your partnership, according to experts in the couples therapy field— including one that a therapist says has actually saved her clients’ marriages.
11 Relationship Books That Are Actually Helpful, According to Marriage & Family Therapists
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Meet the Experts
- Meaghan Rice, PsyD., LPC, is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor and Talkspace provider with more than ten years of experience. She's a military spouse and parent, and has found her niche helping people move through their most challenging moments and embrace their inherent strengths.
- Cynthia Catchings, LCSW-S, LCSW-C, CMHIMP, CFTP, CCRS, is a Virginia and Texas Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Talkspace provider with more than ten years of experience in the mental health profession. She's also the Executive Director at the Women’s Emotional Wellness Center, with offices in the DC metro area and in Texas, and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Texas RGV, School of Social Work.
- Liz Colizza, LPC, is the Head of Couples Therapy at Lasting, a service that provides individuals, couples and families with easy access to emotional and relational health resources.
- Dr. Cheyenne Bryant is a Psychology expert, author and life coach. She is also a community activist who sits on many community and collegiate boards such as Los Angeles Harbor College, University of West Los Angeles Law School and many others.
- Rachel O'Neill, PhD., LPCC-S, isan Ohio-Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with Supervisory Endorsement. She is a therapist for Talkspace, Core Faculty in the graduate clinical mental health counseling program and co-owner of a mental health consultation company. She has over 20 years of experience in the mental health profession.
Best for: Couples Who've Been Together Forever
Rice tells us, “Longer term relationships take the lust right out of the equation if we aren't mindful of its departure. This book is amazingly creative in terms of the skills we need to bring back the sex, the hype and the chemistry that originally existed in the honeymoon phase.”
Best for: Couples Considering Going to Therapy Together
John Gottman has conducted relationships and couples research for decades. Of this book, Catchings tells us, “I like this book because it has actually saved marriages.” She adds, “Although there is not one book that can save all relationships, since all couples and individuals are different, this one is very close to it. It shows some empirical basis and allows the reader to learn and share information as well. For that reason, this book is considered a gem in the therapy world and my number-one as a clinician. Definitely worth reading.”
Best for: Anyone with Boundary Issues
“This book equips you to set healthy boundaries which are key to connecting with yourself and to ensuring that your relationship is supportive and caring,” raves Colizza.
Best for: Folks Who Feel Stuck
Bryant tells us that this is one of the best books she’s read, hands down. Why? “This book teaches you principles that awaken your soul and shift your perception to a non-judge mental unconditional loving space,” she says.
Best for: Couples Who Have a Hard Time Listening to Each Other
“It’s so easy to get to a place where we are inattentive and reactive,” Rice tells us, noting that we especially see this with friends, family, kids, and especially our intimate relationships. “But the items we need to put in place to truly understand, listen, and support our loved ones,” she says, “that's the good stuff that this book offers.”
Best for: Couples in Which One Partner Is Struggling
When you’re in a bad place, it can be easy to blame your partner for everything that goes wrong rather than looking inward. Colizza tells us that this book is a reminder that, often, your partner is not the enemy; your negative cycle is your enemy.
Best for: Anyone Who's Ever Been in a Toxic Relationship
Of her own book, Dr. Bryant says that it’s meant to promote awareness around the differences between healthy and toxic relationships. She adds, “It teaches the reader the importance of self-care and self-love in order to obtain a sustain healthy relationships.” Two things many folks could use some more of.
Best for: Couples Looking to Spice Things Up in the Bedroom
Over the course of her career, O'Neill has worked with couples on issues related to sex and intimacy. Two books that she loves on this topic are Come as you Are and Better Sex Through Mindfulness by Lori Brotto. “Both books can be helpful for couples who may be interested in exploring ways to cultivate shared sexual intimacy,” she says.
Best for: Visual Learners
More interactive than a typical relationship book, this workbook has practical exercises that help you move from insecurity to security in your relationship, and is a favorite of Colliza’s.
Best for: Couples Who Feel Like Their Date Nights Have Become Stale
“I like this book because it involves the readers, inviting them to have eight dates to discuss and improve their relationship,” Catchings notes. “Each one of the eight dates covers one of the most meaningful topics that couples deal with. This is a must have; it truly strengthens relationships.”
Best for: Anyone Who's Experienced Trauma
Everyone experiences trauma in their life and trauma impacts people and relationships, Colizza stresses. “This book empowers you to understand your trauma stories and to work with your body toward healing,” she explains.