When I work with couples, many want to know what they can do in between sessions to deepen the impact of counselling. For others, because things feel so strained, it’s difficult to even to contemplate doing that. Sometimes, only the counselling room with the support of counsellor feels safe.
So, I usually see clients for 60 minutes a week; but what happens in between?
Is a Self Help Book That Helpful?
Reading a self-help book on relationships can be a supportive thing to do. A good book can let you see that you are not alone and give some insight on what you are going through. It can also challenge you, and you provide tools and techniques to practice.
They’re also great if you’re not quite ready for counselling, but you’re curious about how it can help and want to find out more.
But with so much choice how do you choose? I entered ‘couples, self-help’ on Amazon and 2856 search results popped up. A little overwhelming. So out of that, here are 5 great books that I recommend. I have read and enjoyed all of them.
5 Essential Books to Help Heal a Broken Relationship
1. The Eden Project: In Search of the Magical Other by James Hollis.
James Hollis is a Jungian therapist and a superb writer. I adore all of his work that I have read. This book is no exception. The Eden Project is beautifully and sensitively written, but none the less challenging. I say challenging because it asks you to reflect on idealised notions of romance and love. So if you’re a romantic, it may irk.
He brings you into connection with the very unconscious drive to seek out the ‘magical’ other person in our life, narcissistically to acquire a sense of self. Hollis argues that romantic love is a way to avoid fully accepting and owning who we are in the world. Inevitably, in a relationship this strategy, doesn’t work.
When this becomes apparent, the relationship is faced with a very necessary and often painful disillusionment. Hollis poignantly asks:
What is it that we ask from the other that actually, we could do for ourselves?
2. My Lover, Myself: Self- Discovery Through Relationship by David Kantor.
This is another book by a Jungian therapist. My Lover, Myself, uses the personal stories of couples to provide precious illustrations to help you understand and relate to the points he is making. In the book, he outlines how your childhood story influences your adult relationships.
He places particular emphasis on the role of your Shadow, the uncomfortable parts of you that you unconsciously disown. You are guided to reflect on how your mythology and that of your partner intertwine.
Kantor also describes the necessary disillusionment phase, and he goes on to explain that it’s how we use our disappointment that makes the difference. He reflects that by allowing our partners to mirror back to us the parts of ourselves that our hidden, intimacy and desire although a distant memory, can be restored.
3. Your Brain on Love; The Neurobiology of Healthy Relationships by Stan Tatkin
I listened to Your Brain on Love as an audiobook. This is a handy insight into the role that attachment plays in our relationships. First of all, Taktin describes the neurobiology of falling in love. It’s an interesting read because as it allows you to make some sense of the initial infatuation phase of love which often feels like it makes no sense at all.
Tatkin then goes on to describe the three main attachment styles in some detail and, what I thought was particularly useful, how they show up as behaviours in relationships. He then explains how these might lead to conflict, particularly if you have different attachment styles. Crucially he offers strategies for how to manage these conflicts.
In conclusion, this is a helpful book on the ebbs and flows of relationship with the addition of some great communication tools.
4. Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix
Getting the Love You Want is another book which explores the unconscious motivations behind relationships, the impact on romantic love and the power struggle that often develops between couples. Outlining his Imago technique, Hendrix explores how the adult in a relationship is often looking to have their unmet childhood needs to be met.
The book contains exercises which you can complete as a couple at home or with a counsellor. These help you to develop an understanding of yourself, your unmet childhood needs, your partner and what’s going on in your relationship.
The exercises are well explained and aim to form the basis of an ongoing conversation with your partner. If you download the audiobook version, Finding and Keeping Love, there are some helpful guided meditations to help ease you into the exercises and get the most from them.
5. Intimacy & Desire: Awaken the Passion in Your Relationship by David Morris Schnarch
If you’re struggling with sexual intimacy and desire Intimacy & Desire is a very supportive book. Schnarch lets you know that you’re not alone and that this is a widespread issue.
He outlines some useful thinking on sexual power struggles and actually who is in control….it might surprise you which partner it is. And through case studies, he shows how conflict is essential to personal power, development, growth and intimacy.
Furthermore, as a practising couple’s therapist, he includes lots of great ideas on how to have the sex life you want.
Over to you
Self-help books are not a replacement for couples counselling. A book on its own is unlikely to repair your relationship. I believe talking things through in a space such as counselling is invaluable.
Self-help books do have a place. They can be a useful guide and a helpful place to start deepening understanding of what’s going on in your relationship. These 5 essential books to help heal a broken relationship are a great place to start.
To find out more about how couples counselling can support your relationship get in touch and book your FREE 15-minute phone consultation to discuss your situation and how I can help.
Or call me today on 07535 864836.
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© Sandra Harewood
Soul Centred couples counsellor Sandra Harewood specialises in working with couples and single women with childhood wounding that impacts their adult relationships. Sandra provides a soulful space for her clients to explore and discover creative solutions to their difficulties and create great relationships.