Recommendations for marriage counseling books?
February 25, 2016 8:10 AM   Subscribe

Please suggest in-depth, emotionally intelligent, not overloaded with cliches and gender stereotyping, books about: marriage, marriage therapy, the psychology of relationships etc.

I've read and really enjoyed John Gottman's The Marriage Clinic, Sue Johnson's Hold Me Tight, and Maggie Scarf's Intimate Partners.

I'm looking for more reading material along those lines.

What I'm not looking for is pop-lite, gender stereotyping type books. I've read Men are from Mars and His Needs Her Needs, and while there are some worthwhile paragraphs in those books, they're really not the kind of thing I'd like to spend any money on.

Similarly, while The Five Love Languages is an interesting conversation peace I was able to usefully discuss with dates, it doesn't really have the depth I'm looking for.

What I am looking for is books that address the big questions of what we hope for in our relationships, strategies we employ in getting it, and how those strategies play out for us, in as much depth as possible.

Ideally, I'd prefer books written with therapists as the intended audience, although that isn't critical. I'd really like a range across multiple schools of psychology and practice. I appreciate research based writing, but case studies from long experience in the field also works for me.

posted by Cozybee to Human Relations (12 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch
posted by crocomancer at 8:22 AM on February 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

Dean C. Delis, The Passion Trap.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:41 AM on February 25, 2016

I think you would enjoy the Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, also by Jon Gottman.
posted by pintapicasso at 8:44 AM on February 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

I really loved The New Rules of Marriage. The first chapter does talk about how shifting gender roles have set up many marriages for failure, the premise being that we are bringing 20th century gender assumptions and strategies to 21st century partnerships. So it does talk about gender, but in a less stereotypical way. The bulk of the book, however, is exactly what you asked for: a study about the (often negative) strategies we use to try and get our needs met in relationships and an exploration of more constructive strategies we can use that are much more successful in a partnership.
posted by missjenny at 8:58 AM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Aziz Ansari, Modern Romance. It's remarkably well researched and internationally focused - he worked with a sociologist and conducted focus groups about relationships with primarily 20-30 somethings but older people too.
posted by zutalors! at 9:39 AM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

My copy of How to Be An Adult in Relationships is dogeared and smudged with all the places I've underlined passages. It remains my #1 reference for any/all relationship problem I encounter--at the dating stage and before, serious relationships and commitment, and breakups. I can't recommend it highly enough.
posted by witchen at 9:43 AM on February 25, 2016 [5 favorites]

I rarely keep hardcover books that are not first editions (space matters) but one that I've kept since first reading it is Laurie Abraham's The Husbands and Wives Club which I think has a lot of truth and a lot of insight.

It began as a New York Times long form article so you can get a taste of it here: "Can This Marriage Be Saved?"
posted by janey47 at 10:05 AM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not marriage counseling per se, but very useful: Attached, by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller.
posted by chicainthecity at 10:44 AM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Love is Never Enough, by Aaron Beck, is a CBT approach to relationship issues. It talks a lot about hidden or unconscious motives behind behaviors in relationships. However, it's aimed at laypeople, not therapists.
posted by wyzewoman at 11:24 AM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Could I recommend forgoing the book in lieu of actually meeting with a relationship counselor? What we grok from books tends to be littered with confirmation and survivorship bias. An accredited third party is much harder to subconsciously game.
posted by analogue at 3:18 PM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

David Schnarch rewrote Passionate Marriage into a much more readable book called Intimacy and Desire. I'd join crocomancer in recommending his writing.

I also gained a lot from Love Without Hurt by Steven Stosny. You might find it too gendered for your taste, but my goodness, it sure made a lot of difference to me (and I think even to my ex husband.)
posted by Sublimity at 7:10 PM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: >Could I recommend forgoing the book in lieu of actually meeting with a relationship counselor?

Analogue, tbh I'm looking for recommendations for my own intellectual interest. I'm happily working in an unrelated career, otherwise I'd perhaps consider studying for an actual degree and hopefully getting hands on experience and decent mentoring. (maybe some day, if I decide to switch careers). Till then, books and whatever papers I can find on Google are what I have available* to feed the side of me that has always been fascinated with this.

*(although I'd consider subscribing to a professional magazine, now that I think about it. Need to look into what exists. Anyone know?)
posted by Cozybee at 8:27 PM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

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