When beginning couples therapy, couples often ask for suggestions on books that couples should read together. I want to recommend a few that I often suggest to clients when they come in for couples therapy.
The books below are great for couples needing a refresh or for people who are currently single, and want to understand more about the way they approach romantic relationships. There are a lot of great reads out there about relationships, but here some of my favorites:
Attached by Amir Levine, M.D. and Rachel S. F. Heller, M.A.
One of the most important books for couples I have ever read. Attached explains different attachment styles and how they impact our experience in romantic relationships. Most people fit into one of three basic attachment categories: anxious, avoidant, or secure. Figure out which one you identify with most and also understand your partner’s way of relating. This is essential reading.
Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D.
Hendrix is considered by some to be the grandfather of couples therapy. He explores a “conscious marriage” and “unconscious marriage” and offers a guided 10-week course you can do together. It is somewhat technical, but offers valuable insight into the type of relationship you want to create.
This book has the best reviews in NYT and Time magazines- considered as having the highest success rate for helping couples understand their attachment bond and offers useful emotional tools for improving relationships. This is a particularly good read for high conflict couples.
Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel
This book is considered somewhat controversial which is part of the reason I recommend it. Perel does not toe the line when talking about sex in long term relationship. If you want something edgy, erotic and groundbreaking for couples, read this book.
Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships by John Welwood
This book dives into our core wounds around love and how they impact our romantic relationships. It offers a lot of transformative, psychological depth and is better for those couples who have been in therapy with a mindfulness-based therapist for at least a year.
The Relationship Cure by John Gottman
Gottman is a prolific writer and expert on relationships. His longitudinal studies of couples have provided incredibly valuable data for couples therapists world wide. This book focuses on the “bid for connection.” Gottman explores how this fundamental skill is a defining characteristic of successful couples and shows you how you to get better at it.
Pick one together to read over the next few months, ideally it would be in conjunction with couples therapy. Maybe read a few pages together in the evening before bed or bring it along during a vacation.
Just the fact of reading a book together can bring shared meaning back into your relationship. Remember that time spent nurturing the relationship will yield emotional dividends that you can’t live without.
About the Author
Cameron Yarbrough, LMFT is a therapist, executive coach and founder of Well Clinic.