Reading Together

Screenshot 2016-01-13 10.30.06Hold Me Tight, Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love

Sue Johnson, Ph.D. Hold Me Tight, Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, Little Brown and Company, 2008

I have quoted Dr. Johnson from this new book, from the section about what she calls Synchrony Sex, which she distinguishes from Sealed-Off Sex and Solace Sex. This is a wonderful, intelligent book, that is full of heart. She brings all the wisdom of her practice life with couples to the page. This is one of the rare self-help books that actually has the potential to help a couple that takes the time to read it together. It is also available as an unabridged audio compact disc. You might listen to it together during your longer drives.


Screenshot 2016-01-13 10.31.11Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy for Dummies

Jim Furrow, PhD. and Brent Bradley, PhD., Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy for Dummies, John Wiley and Sons, , 2013

Here is my review from about this book at the books listing on Amazon, “I’ve been a couple therapist for more than 30 years and have been learning and working within the EFT model for 4 years. I’ve been giving books to couples for all of my practice life. I have given or recommended this book to every couple in my practice.The response has been consistently enthusiastic, and to hear ENTHUSIASM from women and men about a self-help book is a rare thing. I really want to under score this: The couples are really using this book.

The tone of the book is extremely accessible. It’s like a handy tool box to help couples relate to their own and their partner’s emotional life and to help them work together on their relationship.Here are some of the things I’ve heard from those I’ve given this book,”I can really see the impact I am having on my wife.” “I can see how my husband is hurting in a way I never considered.” “The book helped me slow down and look into my primary feeling. When I shared with my wife, there was no fight. She was receptive. I think this book is really going to help us.”

I think this is the perfect book for couples. I recommend it to EFT therapists, therapists interested in this model, and especially to couples who are looking for a book that can truly help them be more connected.”

Screenshot 2016-01-13 10.33.38101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married

Linda and Charlie Bloom, 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married Simple Lessons To Make Love Last, New World Library, 2004

This book is insightful, concise, wise, heart-opening. It’s a perfect book to read together, one or two pages at a time. I have given it to many couples.


Screenshot 2016-01-13 10.34.35After The Fight; Using Your Disagreements To Build A Stronger Relationship

Dan Wile, Ph.D., After the Fight; Using Your Disagreements to Build a Stronger Relationship, The Guilford Press, 1993.

Dan Wile’s book is widely recommended by couple therapists to their couples. Wile helps the reader follow the many turns toward reactivity in one evening in the life of a couple. Wile reveals the moment-by-moment thoughts and feelings that a hypothetical couple goes through as they fall back into and struggle out of reactive conflict. This book can help you develop more awareness of those moment-by-moment shifts in your experience of conflict. Wile points the way out of reactivity.

Screenshot 2016-01-13 10.35.28How People Change

Allen Wheelis, How People Change, Harper Colophon, 1975

Allen Wheelis’ book is a profoundly and beautifully written book on how we change. I was moved thirty years ago by how he treats the subject of “trying harder” and “trying differently” which he addresses in a number of ways throughout the book. In one place (page 89) he writes, “In a condition of struggle and of failure we must be able to say ‘I must try harder’ or ‘I must try differently’. Both views are essential: neither must take precedence by principle. They are analogous to the view of man as free and the view of man as determined. The two do not conflict, but reflect the interaction between man and his environment. A change in either makes for a change in outcome.” Dr. Wheelis’s book introduced me to the idea of trying harder or trying differently. I recommend his book to anyone considering the issue of how people change.

Screenshot 2016-01-13 10.37.27The Forgiving Self

Robert Karen, Ph.D., The Forgiving Self, The Road From Resentment To Connection, Doubleday, 2001

This is a profoundly moving and wonderful book that speaks to the complexity of forgiveness. The writing is beautiful as the author was a journalist before becoming psychotherapist.


Screenshot 2016-01-13 10.38.19The Lost Art of Listening

Michael P. Nichols, Ph.D, The Lost Art of Listening, The Guilford Press, 1995

Dr. Nichols writes beautifully about listening. He asks the question, “So why don’t we take the time to hear each other out?” He answers, “Because the simple art of listening isn’t always so simple. Often it’s a burden. Not, perhaps, the perfunctory attention we grant automatically as part of the give-and-take of everyday life. But the sustained attention of careful listening–that may take heroic and unselfish restraint. To listen well we must forget ourselves and submit to the other person’s need for attention.”

Screenshot 2016-01-13 10.39.24Tell Me No Lies

Ellyn Bader Ph.D., Peter Pearson, Ph.D., and Judith Schwartz, Tell Me No Lies, How To Stop Lying To Your Partner–And Yourself–In The 4 Stages of Marriage, St. Martin’s Press, 2000

This is a beautiful and compelling book. It is wise and well written. It speaks of the normalcy of lying and points the way in a compassionate and subtle way to help the reader understand how “truthfulness is the beating heart of a thriving marriage”. This is another book that reads well out loud and is easy to take in little by little.

Screenshot 2016-01-13 10.40.11Mapping The Terrain Of The Heart

Stephen Goldbart, Ph.D. & David Wallin, Ph.D. Mapping The Terrain Of The Heart: Passion, Tenderness, and the Capacity to Love, Jason Aronson Inc., 1996

The authors refer to their book as a “self-knowledge” book rather than a self-help book and they are correct. If you take the time, together, to read this book you will have knowledge that can help you make sense of how your relationship is doing. They do a great job of conveying how interpersonal experience in childhood is internalized and expressed in our adult relationships. The authors define and discuss six capacities for loving: “The Capacity for Erotic Involvement: The Role of The Body in Love”, The Capacity for Merging: The Role of Boundaries in Love”, “The Capacity for Idealization: The Role of the Romantic Ideal in Love”, “The Capacity for Integration: The Role of Acceptance in Love”, “The Capacity for Refinding: The Role of the Past in Love”, and “The Capacity for Self-Transcendence”. Our capacities for love are viewed as evolving and transformational.

Screenshot 2016-01-13 10.41.00The Tao of Conversation

Michael Kahn, Ph.D., The Tao of Conversation, New Harbinger Publications, Inc. 1995

I have been recommending that couples read this book to one another, one chapter at a time, for many years. It is a straightforward and inspiring book about the value of collaborative conversations, with a helpful chapter on the role of empathy in conversation. Dr. Kahn writes, “Psychotherapists have been concerned with the topic of empathy since the profession began. They defined empathy as the process whereby I make such complete connection with your feelings that I actually experience them, although at a lesser intensity. You can see why empathy has always been so important to therapists: it is the way they grasp the emotional experience of their clients.”

Screenshot 2016-01-13 10.41.58Crossing To Safety

Wallace Stegner, Crossing To Safety, Random House, 1987

I’m also recommending this beautiful novel by Wallace Stegner. The story conveys something important about the value of a community of friendships with other couples throughout the life of a marriage.