Relationships take work, but there is good news: unlike ever before there is a wide array of research material out there who have done the heavy lifting in exploring how we can connect with the people dear to us in our lives.
There is a lot of material out there and an increase in relationship counselling, however the best kind of changes and adjustments one can make by introspect, self-learning through a vast pool of resources on the internet and ín books. Edition has taken some of the best available resources to read which are not only increasingly important in romantic relationships but also amongst friends.
Establishing boundaries, transitioning into a new friendship, re-kindling and protecting old ones are important milestones in one’s life and it goes without saying that one would want to protect them and be able to nurture them in the best way possible. As most social scientists and married people would agree, one can arm oneself with information before reaching a particular milestone in one’s life, be it a relationship chosen, either biological or otherwise, however when one gets into a relationship in the practical sense, it can be a whole different ballgame and surprise. In order to mitigate this, we can do some research on the back end, as we can all agree that relationships are a little bit art and a little bit science.
You increase your chances of success by knowing more about your choices and how they contribute (or don’t) to a healthy partnership. To help inform you, we’ve picked our favourite books and podcasts for making and keeping better relationships. Some have been our favourites for a while; whilst others are newer because they’re newer in publication date or they finally came across my radar (usually thanks to a geeky friend/therapist/ relationship researcher).
Here are our six go to books on the topic:
1. The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family and Friendships by John Gottman and Joan DeClaire.
What we think: Any book by the relationship guru John Gottman is a book you’ll want to read. His research on marriage is considered to be the gold standard; he and his team can predict divorce with over 90 percent accuracy based on just a few key communication behaviours. In this book, Gottman has applied those observations – in practical, smart, easy to apply lessons – to help all of your relationships.
2. The Seven Principles for Making a Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert by John Gottman
What we think: As you may have already been able to guess, we are solid fans of Gottman’s greatly curated research on marriage and intimate relationships. This book makes you understand body language, tone of voice, word choices or even facial expressions to make your marriage more understanding and calm for both you and your spouse.
3. If You’re in My Office, It’s Already Too Late: A Divorce Lawyer’s Guide to Staying Together by James Sexton
What we think: You may wonder why we have this book as one of our favourites, are we trying to advocate for divorce? No, not at all.
Why we like this book: Sexton reverse engineers marriage success. He’s seen and experienced thousands of estranged couples come to him, and after being on the front lines of those marriage disasters, he’s able to capture exactly what the relationship researchers are suggesting, with his sharp writing, hard – hitting advice and heart warming clarity. He does so, we believe, in a way that will resonate with a lot of people – those especially who have huge egos and think divorce is the easy way out!
4. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
What we think: Radical empathy is what Strayed believes in. Packed into this tiny volume are not just her responses to various readers’ letters, but a potent light shone on our greatest human potential in relationship to each other, as she shows how there are opportunities to heal the greatest of injuries in and through our complex entanglements with others. This book is so incredibly impactful that it can be even be a light bed time read, one you can easily go back to regularly. As she responds to reader’s letters, she excavates their truths, offering a soul shifting dose of understanding. A book critic observed, “Sugar doesn’t coddle her readers – she believes them and hears the stories inside the story they think they want to tell.” While it may seem as though she is profane at times, and even though that may not be your thing, you will emerge from this book with a more profound relationship to yourself – and thus others. You and your relationships will be more beautiful, in the tiniest and largest of ways.
5. What Shamu Taught me about Life, Love, Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their Trainers by Amy Sutherland
What we think: Trust us, it will change not only your current and / or future marriage, but every encounter with every other human being in every context. It is absolutely brilliant and practical and so simple a read that it serves as a once – in – a – lifetime kind of eye opener about our own and others’ behaviour. It is also a book you can read in a couple of hours, although I like to re-read the chapters and refine my thinking and techniques.
6. I Only Say This Because I Love You: Talking to your Parent, Partners, Kids and Sibs when You are All Adults by Deborah Tannen
What we think: This book is one of our all time favourites. Tannen is a Georgetown University professor of sociolinguistics, and she’s been able to – with her witty writing and profound examples – explain exactly how it’s almost always how we say something, not what we say, that will make or break our relationships. It is possible that you may harbour the concern of everyone around you while reading: Most of us nod like bobble heads as we consume her examples and explanations.
Four Podcasts we like:
Perhaps you are not an avid reader? We’ve got you covered, and so does the world of podcasting. If you want better, wiser and / or more delightful relationships of many varieties, you’d be wise to stream these relationship enhancing podcasts.
1. Where Should we begin? A podcast hosted by Esther Perel
What we think: One word. Wow! Someone said it better than I ever could: “This podcast is free therapy.” Yes, Perel is a brilliant couples therapist. She manages to captivate her listeners in funny, heartwarming, powerful and heart opening ways – she invites her into her ongoing couple therapy sessions – obviously consented by the couples themselves. We can guarantee that if you listen to her podcasts, you will, somewhere along the way learn and think about your intimate relationships and marriages in a new way. Perel’s various TED talks are also available to watch on the Ted app or the website.
2. Dear Sugars, hosted by Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond
What we think: No one does radical empathy about life and relationships better than strayed. Together with Steve Almond and growing out of their advice column, the Dear Sugars podcast brings to your ears and heart their fundamental and formidable logic, their way of making raw sense of human emotion, and our often nonsensical, illogical complex relationship experiences. You’ll love their podcast, and learn from it.
3. Modern Love, based on the New York Times column
What we think: THIS podcast is one of our favourites! These are “stories of love, loss and redemption,” and while hosts Meghna Chakrabarti and Daniel Jones don’t know it yet. With episodes like “Single Woman Seeking Manwich,” When Mothers Bully Back” and “GPS For my Lost Identity”, who wouldn’t want to listen. As a bonus and if you have an Amazon Prime subscription, Modern Love have recently become a television mini-series – you’ll drool over the star studded cast, among them the funniest Tina Fey, Anne Hathaway, John Slattery and Dev Patel.
4. Hidden Brain, hosted by Shankar Vedantam
What we think: Although this may be a less obvious choice. But we cannot stop listening to it; we once listened to more a dozen episodes back to back on a flight. The intersection of neuroscience and social science is not only absolutely fascinating, with every episode teaching us something – it may be indirect – but all of it helps us with human connections and relationships.
We hope you enjoy these as much as we did exploring and learning from them and remember, this doesn’t just apply for marriages and