relationship books

Attached – Amir Levine + Rachel Hellyer

Attachment theory explains that we all have a distinct attachment style that impacts how we behave in relationships: anxious attachment, where you have a difficult time feeling secure in a relationship and your partner’s feelings for you; avoidant attachment, where you often push people away to protect yourself and your independence, and secure attachment, where you feel comfortable with intimacy and have an easy time connecting with others.

Attached can help you determine your attachment style—and consequently where your relationship struggles might come from—and shares effective strategies and techniques to move forwards.

Mating in Captivity – Esther Perel 

The one lesson in this book that really stuck with me — that I always share with the couples I work with — is that space creates intimacy and growth for the relationship. 

Too much togetherness dilutes the curiosity needed in a relationship for it to thrive and grow. 

In essence, space provides closeness and intimacy. 

Couples need time apart not only for personal growth but to maintain a healthy dose of independence within the confines of a relationship. 

And quoting Dr. Perel, ‘When intimacy collapses into fusion, it is not a lack of closeness but too much closeness that impedes desire. Our need for togetherness exists alongside our need for separateness. Thus separateness is a precondition for connection: this is the essential paradox of intimacy and sex.’ 

I love that! What I love about her writing is that she is real. She gets it. She has spoken to hundreds of couples and really is an expert.

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman, Ph.D.

If you haven’t heard of him, psychologist John Gottman is one of the foremost experts in marriage.

He’s written or co written over 200 published academic articles and more than 40 books and, together with his wife, Julie Gottman, co-designed the national clinical training program in Gottman Method Couples Therapy, an approach studied by many couples therapists. 

Which is all to say that he’s a big deal and his work is worth reading. 

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work is perhaps one of his best-known books and something of a culmination of his research. 

Despite the title, many readers find it to be a helpful blueprint for all kinds of committed relationships, not just marriage.

All or Nothing Marriage  How the Best Marriages Work – Eli J Finkel

This book  combines a historical overview of marriage from 1620 to the present with practical hacks to improve communication and responsiveness — as one of their favourite books on improving romantic relationships. Esther Perel put it in her top five, as did Dr. John Gottman, Dr. Alexandra Solomon, Eric Klinenberg, Susan Gadoua, and Daniel Gilbert. “Experimental psychologist Eli Finkel is the nation’s preeminent scholar of relationships,” says Gilbert. “His book explains how marriage has evolved over centuries, why the best marriages today are better than those of the past, and what people can do to increase the odds that their marriage will be one of them. 

No one knows more about this topic than Finkel, and his data-based prescriptions are both important and provocative.” Says Gottman: 

“The book surprises us with the history of relationships, and helps us see how they have evolved today. The new challenge is to be able to support our partner’s dreams.”

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown

You might know Brown from her viral TED Talk, “The Power of Vulnerability.” 

If you do, you know that her wisdom around vulnerability goes hand-in-hand with authentic relationships. Daring Greatly is about all that and more, and I recommend it to anyone whose fear of getting hurt, facing rejection, or looking less-than-perfect has stood in the way of forming meaningful bonds.