Improve Relationships

Every time I think I’m an expert, I see a new blind spot. These are the books that helped me stop being an idiot:

Keys to the Kingdom I didn’t know how to treat men. My daughter laughs at my long lists of boyfriends- I was good at attracting but not retaining. Reading this book helped teach me how I was scaring away men (in ways that weren’t obvious.) Men are just different than women-I didn’t understand the mystery. This book helped both me and my partner understand each other better, even though I was the only one who read it.

The Way of the Superior ManOn the other end, my husband read this book. He was able to see more clearly that what infuriates him about me would infuriate him about all women: that I change my mind a lot. The author describes women as mist- just when you think you understand them and try to give them what they want, they’ve changed. My husband learned how to not try to solve my every problem, and listen. It gave us both a lot of peace, even though he was the only one to read it.

Why Marriages Succeed or Fail Scientific approach to relationships-this is written by a psychologist who observed hundreds of couples over the course of twenty years- he describes what behaviors lead to lasting relationships. Fascinating and useful. Rather than anecdotal evidence of what someone thinks about men and women, this is cold hard data. I love cold hard data. But it’s still written in a way that can be understood by everyone and utilized in a very practical way.

The Female Brain A short read- this is written by a brain scientist. She’s a brain scientist who explains clearly that being male and female is at a cellular and at a basic brain chemistry level. It’s not guesses about gender roles formed by society. It’s not about anecdotes.

Men are from Mars, Women are from VenusIt’s a classic for a reason. I read this one in high school, and the knowledge is such a part of me. We re-read it parallel in the beginning of our relationship, and it gave us a common language to work out problems in the beginning of our marriage. Doesn’t the first couple years suck? This book decreased the suckiness by at least 25%.

Change Your Brain Change Your Life Dr. Daniel Amen is one of our families heroes. We choose him as a psychologist to our family when anything arises as an issue. This book is full of information on supplements to support your brain, which gives you the ability to be fully present in a relationship (and ALL of your relationships.) It also teaches you techniques to change patterns of negative thinking and behavior. Diet and exercise tips- the hows and whys- are all explained. This helped our relationship with each other and our teenage daughter. Bonus!

The Emotionally Unavailable Man If you’re a woman, don’t even try to get your man to read this. If you’re a man, and you’re ready to stop sabotaging all your relationships, this is a good read. It sounds sexist (and maybe it is) but I don’t tell my husband what to read. I tell him what I need from him, or from a relationship, and he figures out the details. He found this book on his own, and it changed his life. It made him more present in our relationship, and I’m forever grateful to the author and her thoughtfulness. I couldn’t even put my finger on the phrase, “I’m feeling like my husband is emotionally unavailable,” but when he started reading it, I saw it was a good fit. He read this the second year of our marriage, and now we’re on the happy middle of our sixth year. Again, I’m not an expert, but a consumer who sees results.

Enjoy reading all of these books, or select the ones that speak to you. Follow your own intuition, but also realize it won’t feel comfortable.

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