Need marriage communication book recommendations
February 21, 2012 12:58 PM   Subscribe

Need book recommendations for improving communication in marriage as a substitute for therapy

My spouse and I have been fighting more lately, and we really need to see a couples therapist, but spouse absolutely refuses to try that. Spouse had terrible experiences with therapy as a teen, and just does not believe it will help, and moreover just does not want to share details of our marriage with an outsider.

But, we have these habits of communicating that have become ingrained over the years (we've been together 15 years) and have slowly become more and more of a problem. I constantly question with / argue about everything, and spouse constantly makes "jokes" that belittle me and expects me to know what is in spouse's mind without spouse having to say anything. We both feel like we're not respected, loved, or valued. When we fight, spouse yells, I get defensive and then so sad I can hardly talk, and we have the same fight over and over. We're getting worn down.

Spouse has agreed to read books and try to work on our problems that way. What books will help us?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (13 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

It wasn't really my speed, but "Hold Me Tight" by Sue Johnson was highly regarded by my own therapist.

John Gottman has written a lot of well-regarded books as well.

For you: find a therapist and go on your own if spouse refuses to go with you. It will still be helpful. Good luck.
posted by trunk muffins at 1:07 PM on February 21, 2012

"The 5 Love Languages" might get through to him.

Seconding the recommendation to go to therapy without him if he absolutely refuses. "Hey, let's read books about it" is pretty low stakes. But if he sees you getting in the car to go to the therapist, he might (might) begin to understand how unhappy you are - which I don't think he does.
posted by jbickers at 1:10 PM on February 21, 2012

Seconding Five Love Languages. It's a good tool for understanding some of these issues and opened my eyes to more than a few things relationship-wise.
posted by slkinsey at 1:16 PM on February 21, 2012

Harville Hendrix's Getting the Love You Want has a lot of helpful stuff in it.

A couple of my friends have found The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond, by Patricia Evans, useful.

Another vote for you getting your own therapy so that you can get coaching in how to address your spouse's inappropriate behaviors.

Best of luck to you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:20 PM on February 21, 2012

posted by ManInSuit at 1:41 PM on February 21, 2012

Divorce Busting.
posted by paduasoy at 1:44 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also... If your partner wants to avoid therapy, that doesn't necessarily mean books are your only option. may be options other than books. There are, for instance, videos (here's one by John Gottman, mentioned elsewhere in this thread). Or you could look for a weekend group workshop - depending on what that is, it might be more focused on building skills than on therapy as your spouse imagines it.
posted by ManInSuit at 1:47 PM on February 21, 2012

John Gottman, John Gottman, Books about Relationships, Marriage, Communication, Fighting

Is one (both) of you depressed, or having other problems? A change in the relationship can be caused by depression, illness, and other external factors. Good luck.
posted by theora55 at 2:50 PM on February 21, 2012

It's not specifically about marriage or communication, but When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron gave me some perspective when my relationship was going through a rocky period.
posted by peripathetic at 4:58 PM on February 21, 2012

Got on the thread to enthusiastically add to the chorus of JOHN GOTTMAN, and still say that, but peripathetic's suggestion of Pema Chodron is brilliant. Of course. After 30 years of marriage (but who's counting?) I am finally really learning that the only thing that I can change is my own heart, but once it does, even a little, miracles happen. Along with "When Things Fall Apart" I've found "The Places That Scare You" and "Start Where You Are" wonderful books.

Good luck.
posted by kestralwing at 6:15 PM on February 21, 2012

Harriet Lerner: The Dance of Anger and The Dance of Intimacy (not just for women, although they're billed as women's books).

Seconding Divorce Busting. I see the author has a blog as well.
posted by Amy NM at 4:47 AM on February 22, 2012

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