Relationships are central to the human experience.
They can be the source of great joy, but also great pain.
Whether you are in a romantic relationship, a family member, or a friend, they all require effort to maintain.
The books on this list will teach you about different types of connection, how to communicate effectively, and how to resolve conflict, essential skills for any type of relationship.
Let’s take a look.
The Best Books on Relationships
1. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert by John M. Gottman and Nan Silver
John Gottman and Nan Silver set out to create a guide for making marriage work by exploring the science on marriage and relationships.
Gottman is a well-known researcher in the academic field, while Silver is a journalist who has covered Gottman’s work.
The book is based on Gottman’s “Marriage Clinic” at the University of Washington, which is a program designed to help couples improve their relationships.
The first principle is that successful marriages are built on a foundation of positive emotions.
Gottman and Silver say that happy couples have more positive than negative interactions, while unhappy couples have more negative than positive interactions.
They identify five positive emotions that are important in marriage: admiration, love, joy, interest, and serenity.
These emotions can be fostered by taking time for each other, sharing common interests, and being supportive during difficult times.
The second principle is that successful marriages are characterized by a high degree of mutual respect.
This respect is based on both partners feeling like they are equal in worth and importance.
Gottman and Silver emphasize the importance of not taking each other for granted and of always behaving with integrity.
The third principle is that successful marriages are maintained by a strong emotional connection, based on both partners frequently sharing loving thoughts, feelings, and actions with each other.
Happy couples also have rituals and traditions that they share together regularly.
The fourth principle is that successful marriages are resilient and adaptable, meaning that couples can weather storms together and come back stronger than before.
Gottman and Silver say that effective problem-solving skills are essential for this resilience.
The fifth principle is that successful marriages are tolerant of differences.
Everyone has different likes, dislikes, needs, and wants, and it’s important for spouses to accept these variances and to not try to change each other.
The sixth principle is that successful marriages are balanced and fair, meaning that each spouse has a say in decisions made about the relationship and that both spouses contribute equally to the relationship.
The seventh principle is that successful marriages are fun!
Couples should make time for fun activities together and should laugh together often.
2. Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love by Amir Levine and Rachel S.F. Heller
In their book, the authors explain what attachment theory is and how it can be used to help people find and maintain healthy relationships.
According to attachment theory, humans are hardwired to need close relationships in order to thrive emotionally.
People form attachments to others based on their interactions with them, and these attachments can be categorized into one of three types: secure, anxious, and avoidant.
People with a secure attachment style feel comfortable being close to others and are able to rely on their partners when things get tough.
People with an anxious attachment style often feel insecure in their relationships and constantly worry about whether their partner loves them or not.
People with an avoidant attachment style tend to push others away and avoid getting too close.
The authors argue that understanding your attachment style is crucial for having successful relationships.
They offer a quiz to help people determine their attachment style, as well as advice for how to deal with any issues that may arise from it.
Overall, “Attached” is an informative book that explores the science of adult attachment and offers helpful advice for anyone looking to improve their relationships.
3. Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic by Esther Perel
Mating in Captivity discusses the challenges of maintaining sexual desire in long-term relationships.
The book is based on Perel’s clinical work with couples, and it offers her perspective on why sexual desire often fades over time.
Perel argues that the erotic and the domestic are two separate spheres that often conflict with each other.
The erotic is characterized by freedom, adventure, and novelty, while the domestic is associated with comfort, security, and familiarity and when these two spheres collide, it can be difficult for couples to maintain sexual desire.
Perel provides a number of strategies for reconciling the erotic and the domestic, suggesting that couples should create “erotic space” in their lives by scheduling regular date nights, experimenting with new forms of intimacy, and taking occasional trips away from home.
Perel also recommends that couples be honest about their needs and desires, and that they find ways to express their sexuality outside of the bedroom.
Overall, Mating in Captivity provides an interesting perspective on the challenges of maintaining sexual desire in long-term relationships.
Perel’s advice is thoughtful and practical, and her insights are sure to be helpful for couples who are struggling to keep their sex life alive.
4. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman
In The 5 Love Languages Gary Chapman covers five primary areas: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.
He explains that people speak different love languages, and that in order to have a successful relationship, you and your partner need to be able to communicate on the same level.
- Chapman begins by discussing words of affirmation, explaining that when someone gives you a compliment, they are speaking your love language. He says that giving and receiving compliments (a skill he covers) is a two-way street, and that you should always be sure to give compliments to your partner.
- Next, Chapman discusses quality time, arguing that this love language is all about spending time with your partner and giving them your undivided attention.
- Chapman then discusses receiving gifts, asserting that this love language is all about the thoughtfulness of the gift.
- Next, Chapman discusses acts of service, proposing that this love language is all about doing things for your partner.
- Lastly, Chapman discusses physical touch, suggesting that this love language is all about expressing affection physically.
At the end of the book, Chapman provides a quiz (for readers and their partners) to identify your love language.
5. Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Sue Johnson
In Hold Me Tight, therapist Sue Johnson discusses the importance of close, intimate relationships in order to maintain a healthy mental state.
Throughout the book, she outlines seven specific conversations that couples should have in order to foster a strong emotional connection.
The conversations focus on topics such as trust, commitment, and vulnerability.
According to Johnson, these conversations are essential for creating a deep emotional bond between partners.
She believes that such a bond is crucial for maintaining mental health, preventing divorce, and fostering a happy and fulfilling relationship.
Johnson provides numerous case studies to support her argument, as well as exercises that couples can use to improve their communication.
Overall, Hold Me Tight is an informative and insightful look at the importance of close relationships.
Summary – Creating Close Connections
Healthy relationships are the foundation of a happy life.
If you’re looking to improve your romantic and platonic connections, these five books are a great place to start.
Each one offers valuable insights into the dynamics of relationships and provides practical advice on how to improve them.
Whether you’re struggling with communication, sexual desire, or respect, these recommended reads offer you the guidance you need to build a healthy and happy relationship.