Marriage Help Books: 5 Tips for Picking Good Self-Help
Sometimes you just have to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself. Fixing your marriage can be that kind of project. Lots of people don’t want to sit in a room with a total stranger and talk about their marriage. And marriage counseling can be expensive, hard to schedule, and often one’s spouse just isn’t interested.
When looking around for marriage help books, how can you tell what to buy?
Of course, you can't go wrong buying Dr. Susan Heitler's Power of Two book or workbook. But here’s some pointers to help you evaluate all the options:
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1. Look to change yourself, not your partner.
Relationships tend to be like mirrors. As you begin interacting more positively, your spouse is likely, gradually, to do the same.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. If you partner is an alcoholic or other kind of addict, marriage help books probably won't be enough. These issues will need to be addressed before you’ll be able to change your marriage. And if there’s domestic abusive, you should pursue immediate help (check out the National Domestic Violence Hotline at http://www.thehotline.org/ ). Still, in both cases, your job will be primarily to learn what you yourself can do differently if you want your relationship to change.
2. Look for specific skills, not just general ideas.
Lots of marriage help books talk about “commitment”, for instance. Being committed is an important part of high quality marriages toward which every spouse needs to aspire. Aiming for more commitment though is not going to make either you or your spouse a more pleasant companion at breakfast. For real change most spouses need specific tools that help them to talk about differences without arguing and keep you both feeling heard.
3. Look for help with the process of interacting, not just the content.
The process of interacting is how you interact, how you talk about touchy issues. Content is what you talk about—in-laws, money, where to live. Yes, a marriage help book with ideas on the differences between men and women, on division of labor, on good sex, and on handling in-laws may have some helpful ideas. But if you're really looking for how to fix a relationship in a way that will last, you will need specific how-to techniques to improve how you and your spouse talk with each other.
4. Look for genuine expertise.
Celebrity does not equal expertise. Look for marriage help books by writers who actually work as therapists with real couples, day in and day out. They are most likely to have the deepest understanding of what enables marriages to change — and for the improvements to stick.
5. Marriage help books often end up just sitting on people’s nightstands without ever getting read.
Consider joining the Power of Two Online instead of just buying a book. Power of Two is all of the things above, and a whole lot more. It’s engaging videos, interactive activities and worksheets. And you have access via email to a live Power of Two relationship coach, who can answer your questions and who will recommend specific activities that apply most to your specific situation.
And, you can work through the program on your own (your spouse can join too if they want, but they don’t have to), you get 24x7 access, and it’s very affordable since the program was developed with grant funding from the Federal Department of Health and Human Services.
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