Relationships: self-help books

Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations For A Lifetime of Love
Author Sue Johnson, 2011.

'Compassionate. Helps identify negative patterns and forge an emotional bond using Emotion Focused Couple Therapy'. 

Review: This is a compassionate book that emphasises the importance of emotional bonds. The author explains emotional connection in terms of being attached to another person. We reach for this person when we are upset, we miss them when we are apart and we hope they will be there for us when we go out into the world on our own. This book is structured in seven conversations that can be had in the lifetime of a relationship. For example, conversation one helps you identify the negative patterns that lead to an emotional disconnection. The author calls these patterns 'Demon Dialogues' and helps you identify your own dialogues through case examples and exercises. Chapter two focuses on 'Raw Spots' in your relationship and chapter five focuses on forgiveness. Both these chapters help you identify hurtful events that have occurred in your relationship. Through exercises, the author encourages both partners to hear the other's experience of the hurtful event and respond in a compassionate and soothing way. This helps forge an emotional bond. This is a comprehensive book that might act as a nice reference, dipping in and out of each conversation as required. 

ACT with Love: Stop Struggling, Reconcile Differences and Strengthen Your Relationship with Acceptance Commitment Therapy
Author Russ Harris, 2009

'Warm, compassionate and engaging. Uses Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (CAT) to foster connection and intimacy in romantic relationships'. 

Mindfulness approach
This book may help a couple (or an individual) make room for relationship struggles such as 'stuckness' and conflict. A key message in this book is that no relationship is perfect. Couples fight and feelings of love can be transient, however, this does not mean a relationship cannot be fulfilling. This book focuses on managing your own acceptance and also questioning your expectations of your partner. It will help you understand the problems in your relationship, teach you strategies to stop struggling with painful thoughts and feelings, help you learn to accept and re-connect with your partner and identify your values. It's easy to skim and find the most interesting topics. This book to an individual or a couple with an openness and willingness to improve their relationship. 

Women Who Love Too Much
Author Robin Norwood, 2008.

'To anyone who has known the pain of destructive relationships and self-destructive behaviour patterns, this self-help book may prove a catalyst to change'.

Review: This book was written for women who find themselves struggling in unhealthy relationships. In particular, the book speaks to women who become caregivers in a relationship, trying to fix things for emotionally unavailable men.  The author illustrates that such behaviour and thought patterns perhaps developed in childhood experiences of parenting "where one's emotional needs were not met". The book refers to dysfunctional homes, abusive parents, alcohol abuse, as well as less overt neglect caused by parental disagreement and argument, resulting in one's emotional needs being insufficiently met. Norwood also points out the fear of abandonment faced by such clients in adulthood, where the need to be helpful and thereby control relationships, overshadows the need to attract stable, reliable partners. This book is well-researched and clearly written.