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Reading Suggestions

Some of the Better Books in the Area of Relationships and Marriage Enrichment

in the opinion of Bea and Jim Strickland

We have been active in Marriage Enrichment for over twenty years. During that time, we have accumulated a number of excellent books. In addition, we have reviewed a number of others. These suggestions below are based on our likes and dislikes and may not apply to everyone.

We believe that every marriage can be better, that making it better takes work (sometimes a lot of work), and that reading is one of the ways to do that work. Books alone are not enough. Every couple should learn and practice good communications skills to work on the relationship, hence our interest in the Association for Couples in Marriage Enrichment, but books can be an excellent assist.

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  • The Best
    • Difficult Conversations - By Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen of the Harvard Negotiation Project
      A wonderful book that applies to all difficult conversations -- with your boss, your kids, your clients. But we find it to be full of insights that apply to our marriage and, we think, to all relationships.
    • The Seven Principles to Making Marriage Work - By John Gottman, Ph.D.
      One of the few research based books in the marriage field. Points out all the stumbling blocks and communication failures. This 1999 update to his previous work has excellent advice and exercises.
    • How Loving Couples Fight - by James L Creighton
      Good solid information on how to use conflict to make your marriage better.
    • Fighting For Your Marriage - by Markham, Stanley and Blomberg
      For your first or only book on how to improve any relationship (not just relationships that are in trouble.)
    • Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus - John Gray
      Gender differences made fun! Lots of generalities, but you will be surprised how many apply to your marriage.
  • The Top Books on Sex
    • Mars and Venus in the Bedroom - by John Gray
      More on gender differences, especially how they apply to making couples' sex lives the best that they can be. Very practical and fun to read. As a matter of fact, try reading this to your spouse.
    • The Joy of Sex (and or) The New Joy of Sex - by Alex Comfort
      This is the definitive "how to book" on sex.
    • Hot Monogamy - by Pat Love
      Excellent on how to keep a sexual relationship alive. Not just the sexual relationship, but the entire relationship.
  • Other books that we like
    • Dave Barry's Guide to Guys - by Dave Barry
      A very funny, quick read. Perhaps this is a surprising selection, but there are "guy" genes in every man and understanding the "guy" helps understand the marriage.
    • Divorce Busting - by Michele Weiner-Davis
      Suggests positive approaches to problem solving. Focuses on finding strengths.
    • Getting all the Love You Want - by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D.
      Childhood needs and patterns carry over to your marriage. We each seek someone to help heal our childhood needs.
    • You Just Don't Understand Me - by Deborah Tannen
      A key book on gender differences in communications.
    • That's Not What I Meant - by Deborah Tannen, Ph.D.
      It is often not the words that we say but the ways in which we express ourselves that cause communication problems. When the body language, tone of voice, pitch, rhythm or timing don't match the words the problems occur.
    • Stop Marital Fights Before They Begin - by Fred P Piercy, Ph.D. and Norman M. Lobsenz
      Excellent "circuit breakers" -- ideas for stopping fights.
    • 52 Dates for You and Your Mate - by Dave and Claudia Arp
      The title says it.
    • 1001 Ways to be Romantic - by Gregory J.P. Godek
      Many great ideas for finding ways to be romantic.
    • The Silicon Syndrome - by Jean Hollands
      Advice for the marriage of the "engineer type" to the "people type" of person.
    • Please Understand Me - by Kiersey and Bates
      An explanation of personality types, and how different types can understand each other and live and work together.
    • Male and Female Realities - by Joe Tanenbaum
      Good on gender differences.
    • Couples & Money - by Victoria Felton-Collins
      Money underlies many couple disagreements. Discusses how to agree on many money related topics.
    • 16 Ways To Love Your Lover - by Otto Kroeger and Janet M. Thuesen
      Excellent book for those who have are familiar with Myers-Briggs typing. This applies the typing to couple interactions with good suggestions on how to improve communications.
    • Lifemates - by Harold Bloomfield and Sirah Vetesse
      Emphasis is on becoming more loving.
  • Books for Leaders
    • The Good Marriage - by Wallerstein and Blakeslee
      Stories of successful marriages showing the many ways to achieve success.

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