In celebration of Valentine's Day, Elizabeth and I are going to do a Very Special Episode 260 of the Happier Podcast featuring listeners' best advice about relationships. It can be any kind of relationship—romantic, friends, family, work.
There are many terrific books on this subject, and if you're interested in reading more, here are some of my favorites:
- The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman Ph.D. and Nan Silver -- This is a good overview of the key elements of a happy marriage. For instance, no eye-rolling.
- For Better: How the Surprising Science of Happy Couples Can Help Your Marriage Succeed by Tara Parker-Pope -- A focus on the research related to romantic partnerships
- Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love by Helen Fisher -- This is a fascinating examination of why we're attracted to the people to whom we're attracted. I truly fell in love at first sight, so was particularly interested in learning more about this mysterious phenomenon. How in the world did I know that Jamie was the right guy for me? And yet I did.
- Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic by Esther Perel -- If you're a fan of Perel's terrific podcast Where Should We Begin? (and who isn't?), you'll love her book.
- Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb -- In this blockbuster bestseller, Gottlieb—a therapist herself—writes about going to a therapist as she was dealing with a difficult break-up; she also writes about her experience as a therapist, so the memoir is about both romantic relationships and therapist-patient relationships.
- The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman -- When you figure out if your sweetheart is "Words of Affirmation," "Acts of Service," "Receiving Gifts," "Quality Time," or "Physical Touch," you're much better prepared to connect deeply. (I'm "Words of Affirmation," as I've explained to my husband many times.)
- On the other hand, if you're in a relationship that's breaking up, Divorce Busting: A Step-by-Step Approach to Making Your Marriage Loving Again by Michelle Weiner-Davis is an excellent book about going through separation and divorce.
- First Impressions: What You Don't Know About How Others See You by Ann Demarais Ph.D. and Valerie White Ph.D. -- I've read this book three times; I find it absolutely fascinating and insightful.
- Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond by Lydia Denworth -- A great look at the research about the importance of friendship. You can read my interview with Lydia Denworth here.
Relationships with children:
- How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish -- My very favorite parenting book, and all the suggestions apply just as well to adults. I even did an episode of "A Little Happier" based on their work: "The Right Thing to Say When Someone Says, 'Whom Do You Love More?"
- Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children by Michael Thompson Ph.D. and Catherine O'Neill Grace -- I've read many of Thompson's books. This one contains many insights about the nature of children's friendships and what we as parents should do when trouble arises.
- Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott -- Full disclosure, Kim is an old friend of mine—but I would recommend this book highly even if I didn't know her. Great for managers.
- The No A**hole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't by Bob Sutton -- Why it's so dreadful to work with jerks and why, in the end, it's not worth it on any level.
I can't resist mentioning a few of my own books, too.
Wherever I go, people tell me that The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too) has helped the relationships in their lives, by reducing conflict, promoting compassion, and generally helping people get along better. I know that the Four Tendencies framework has helped me understand my husband, my daughters, my friends, and the people I work with.
Want to know whether you're an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel? Take the quick, free quiz here. More than 2.5 million people have taken it.
If you'd like a one-pager on using the Four Tendencies in relationships, click here to download the PDF "Tips for Using the Four Tendencies with Spouses and Sweethearts."
Also, conflict in relationships often arises when one person is much tidier than the other. My book Outer Order, Inner Calm has a lot of ideas about how to navigate a situation where you and someone else have different ideas about the proper amount of order.
I could keep going...what am I missing? What are some of your favorite books about relationships? And what about novels? Pride and Prejudice, of course...and here are four more of my favorite novels about relationships.
One Last Thing
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