Book about relationship expectations and groundrules?
November 30, 2011 5:42 AM   Subscribe

Do you have a recommendation for a book about relationship ground rules and agreements in marriage? I'm interested in a book that might help someone to consider how they want to be treated, how to set reasonable expectations for interaction, and how to define what would constitute a good relationship for them.

This is for someone married and in couples counseling who wants to do homework on her own expectations about her relationship.

I'm less interested in prescriptive books, but if that's all you can think of, that's ok too. A workbook type of text might be good.
posted by OmieWise to Human Relations (7 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You might try Harville Hendrix's workbook for How to Get the Love You Want or some of Gottman's books.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:56 AM on November 30, 2011

Response by poster: The Hendrix book is an interesting idea, but the Gottman books are not quite right. This is more about something to help her figure out what's important to her, not what the research says constitutes a good working marriage.
posted by OmieWise at 6:05 AM on November 30, 2011

Best answer: You might take a look at Willard Harley's Five Steps to Romantic Love, which is a workbook that covers the nitty gritty of His Needs, Her Needs (figuring out the good stuff you need to do to make your partner feel loved) and Love Busters (figuring out the bad stuff you need to knock off that is making your partner feel unloved). I think the workbook provides enough framing information that it can be used fruitfully without the other two, more narrative, texts.

It's even got a sample formal contract to be signed by the partners hereby agreeing to knock that bad shit out and start doing the other good shit. offers a preview of the TOC so you can get a sense for the things that are addressed in the various questionnaires.
posted by drlith at 6:10 AM on November 30, 2011

The Five Love Languages is a great book on figuring out how you want to be shown love and how you can show love to your partner.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:28 AM on November 30, 2011

Hold Me Tight by Dr. Sue Johnson.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 6:53 AM on November 30, 2011

It's not so much about the mechanics of day-to-day interpersonal interaction, but we found the Nolo Press book on prenups fascinating reading because it looked at so many of the cultural expectations we have around marriage (especially given the 3 different ways that different states treat marriage). I think going through it and looking at each of the points it brings up is a fantastic couples process, but doing that solo might also help her understand various expectations about coupled relationships, and see where some of the patterns are coming from.
posted by straw at 7:43 AM on November 30, 2011

I recently completed a marriage prep course and Gottman was mentioned quite a few times, but it sounds like that is not quite what you're looking for. I can take a look at the papers I got from the course when I get home this evening and see if there are any other authors listed.

Erikson's stages of psychological development may be relevant as a way of thinking about "what stage should I be at as I enter into a marriage." But, this is more of a secondary resource.
posted by asnider at 9:15 AM on November 30, 2011

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