Self Help & Marriage

I have a confession to make: I love self help books.

Especially relationship books.

Oh, and domesticity books. The two topics are surprisingly related, at least for me, at this point in my life. High five to all the 'housewives' out there! But that's another thought for another day.

I've been reading self helpy books for a while now. I probably started really reading self help books in college, though if you want to get technical, I started in about the 7th grade when I started reading devotional books and magazines.

I come across the self help books, especially the relationship ones, in different ways. Some books catch my eye in the book store. Some are recommendations from friends. Some get a lot of buzz on TV or blogs.

Many of the books I've read are not memorable, because they don't tell me anything I didn't already know. And a few of the highly buzzed about and recommended books did nothing for me *cough Captivating cough-cough Love&Respect ahem* despite guarantees that they would be life-changing. There's nothing wrong with these books, they just didn't hit me where I needed to be hit, I guess.

Every now and then I come across a self help book that I find to be very helpful and worthwhile. Most of these are marriage-related - or at least relationship-oriented. The first one, though, is NOT. The title of the book is It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken. I read this when I was going through a particularly bad (read: devastating) breakup, and it was just the kick in the pants I needed to get over the guy and get on with my life. That book empowered me to take and event that could have been months or years of agony and listlessness, and turn it into a major growth period instead. Three months after the breakup, I met Brian; less than a year later, we were married. If I hadn't have read this book, I wouldn't have been ready to notice the man who became my husband. A lot of my healthy self-esteem and unwillingness to be anyone's doormat can be attributed to this book, as weird as that sounds. NOTE: This book has some attitude. It's for grown-ups. There are bad words in it. Not gratuitous profanity, but there is some. If you don't like that, don't read it.

Some of the other marriage books that I've read and thought were helpful are the classic Mars/Venus (If you haven't read it, finding a good summary would probably be enough. It is a little repetitive and probably 75-100 pages too long, although the concept is really strong if you can get past the corny metaphor.) and His Needs, Her Needs. I'd recommend these to just about anybody. Other greats include the Love Languages (also: the 5 Languages of Apology, also great...I need pretty much all of them to consider an apology an apology, hah) and Boundaries, though these two are the foundations of some 'sets' of books and are not strictly for marriage relationships (though some of the subsequent editions are).

All of the books I've mentioned so far appear pretty often on the shelves of thrift stores I frequent. The links are to Amazon pages, where they are also pretty cheap. And in case you're wondering, I am NOT an Amazon affiliate because I live in Colorado and Amazon hates Colorado.

I also recently read Sacred Influence (aimed at wives) and thought it was great, and I'm hoping to read Sacred Marriage (the precursor) next. My dear friends Dave and Angie gave us Sacred Marriage when Brian and I were engaged. I wanted us to read it together, but that never happened. I started to read it myself, but it kept bugging me that Brian wouldn't read it with me (something about grad school and internships and no mental stamina or something, mumble mutter) that I put it down. I'm over it (the being bugged, I mean) and will start reading it once I get back from an upcoming trip. It's high time.

For some reason I can no longer recall, in mid-May I went on some kind of Marriage Book Library Binge and I got a ton of marriage books from the library. I've been poking around at them for a little while, but I've only finished one so far. And it was, in my opinion, GREAT. It's called Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage. The title is a little misleading, I think, because it's not as much about using laughter to improve your marriage (I had images of lots of variations on the Have Fun! theme) as it is a marriage self-help book written with humor. And it's a really good one. In the first half, I had lightbulb moment after lightbulb moment. This is a book I plan to buy and re-read eventually, so I can make all my little notes in the margins. The second half-ish deals with specific issues that face marriages, and since a lot of these issues aren't relevant to us, I didn't glean as much from those chapters, which, I mean, is fine. They would still be helpful to people in those situations, I'm guessing.

So in short: if you're looking for a self help book, particularly a marriage or relationship book, I'm your gal :)

Do you read self help books? If so, what are some of the ones you've really liked or found to be helpful?

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