Judy’s Book Recommendations

Lori Gottlieb

  • Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough

This book has generated a fair bit of controversy because to some people it seems to be suggesting that women should “settle” in relationships rather than try to find a partner who fulfills all of their needs. I didn’t take it this way and actually thought it offered a lot of sensible considerations on mate selection. Gottlieb did her research and provided insights from well-respected couples’ therapists, matchmakers, relationship coaches and actual people. What it all boiled down to is that we often look for the sparks of early love and passion to indicate real love and a good match. Unfortunately those are usually short lived. Gottlieb suggests that it is better to focus on shared goals and beliefs as well as good old-fashioned traits such as kindness, compassion and commitment.

John Gottman

  • The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide the Countries Foremost Relationship Expert
  • Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: and How You Can Make Yours Last
  • The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening your Marriage, Family and Friendships
  • And Baby Makes Three: The Six-Step Plan for Preserving Marital Intimacy and Rekindling Romance after Baby Arrives

What I like about the Gottman books is that they are easy to read and to relate to. His theories are based on observations and interactions with real life couples going through normal everyday challenges that couples face. He provides exercises for self-discovery and connection with your spouse as well as suggestions on how to strengthen the things that you agree on and negotiate the ones that you don’t. Most people seem to recognize themselves in these pages and find strategies for growth. The advice is straight-forward and easy to apply to all relationships.

Harriet Lerner

  • The Dance of Intimacy
  • The Dance of Anger: A woman’s guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships.

I like both of these books because of the way that they describe communication and interaction as a dance with both people contributing the steps. Many times people seem to feel that they are powerless to change difficult relationships. Helping them to identify their part in the dance helps them to connect with their personal power and influence and perhaps to learn new ways to express themselves. As Lerner points out when you change your part of the dance your partner has little choice but to change their part too, sometimes without even knowing they are doing so.

Martha Stout

  • The Sociopath Next Door

While disturbing, this book gives a name to those people we read about or sometimes encounter who don’t seem to be bound by the same rules of morality as the rest of us. Quite often, when dealing with these types of people we tend to second guess and blame ourselves, largely out of ignorance that someone could actually behave the way they do. The Sociopath Next Door, helps educate the reader that sociopaths really aren’t playing by conventional rules and are, therefore, largely immune to pleas for compassion or cooperation.

Sandy Hotchkiss

  • Why is it Always About You?: The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism.

I have shared this book with many of my clients. Their most typical reaction is to be blown away by its accurate description of someone they are dealing with in their real lives. The book does a good job of describing narcissism, its roots and expression as well as helping the reader build strategies for dealing with narcissists in his/her personal life as well as in the workplace. Hotchkiss helps liberate the reader from trying to reform a narcissist - something that she says is highly unlikely to happen.

Terrence Real

  • I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression

This is a good book that helps unpack male depression as something that reveals itself in different ways than what we typically expect to see, which he identifies as a more female experience. Through the use of personal reflection as well as research findings Real suggests that men frequently mask depression with anger and addictions, as these are more socially acceptable ways for them to express sadness, dissatisfaction and hopelessness.

  • How Can I Get Through to You? Closing the Intimacy Gap Between Men and Women

In this book Real attempts to break down the different communication styles and goals of each sex and how they can get in the way of effective interactions.

  • The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need to Know to Make Love Work

I like this book because it looks at the radical changes that have happened in gender roles over the last few decades and how these complicate relationships today. While women have taken on greater education and careers and are spending less time in the home, men’s experience has not changed a great deal. They are still compelled to get jobs to provide for their families. However, now with their wives also going out to work and contributing financially, men are being expected to share more in the running of the household and in child rearing. Little in most men’s upbringing has prepared them for this and so real life demands bump up against each sex’s expectations of what their partner should be and do. A very thought provoking book.

Edwin S. Shneidman

  • The Suicidal Mind

I found this book to be very helpful when working with a client who chose to end her life. Rather than thinking of suicide as a cop-out or selfish act this book clarified for me that suicide is a final response to unremitting pain that seems to have no hope of abating. It helped increase my compassion for people who are suffering from chronic depression or other debilitating illness.