Improving Communication and Closeness with your Partner


When I ask couples why they've come to therapy, most use the word "communication" in their response.  Human beings struggle mightily to understand and be understood, and when talking with someone extremely important, the stakes are higher and the difficulty increases. From a young age, we are taught to choose and then defend a position, and to the degree we can do this well, we succeed in school and at work.  But this strategy of arguing for a position (as if your partner is an adversary) damages trust in a love relationship. 

It isn't compatibility that predicts happiness; it's how well, how positively, you manage your differences. These authors help us to remove the "static" from communication so that pure waves of meaningful dialogue are more easily achieved. 

CLICK HERE for: More about John Gottman and the Gottman Institue
John M. Gottman, PhD is a leading relationship expert who reveals the surprisingly simple secrets of successful marriages, based on his four-decade research. In 1994, Dr Gottman found he could predict with 91% accuracy which marriages would succeed and which would fail based on watching a couple talking an area of disagreement for a few minutes. These predictions came from 40 years of scientific observation and analysis in the Love Lab research facility in Seattle.

Dr. John Gottman and his wife, Dr. Julie Gottman, are world renowned for their work in marital stability in all kinds of relationships. Dr. John Gottman has written over 200 academic articles and 40 books and has appeared on Good Morning America, Today, CBS Morning News and Oprah.

John and Julie Gottman have been written about in the New York Times, Glamour, Psychology Today and dozens of other publications. The couple founded The Gottman Institute where I acheived certification as a Gottman Method Couples Therapist. Here are their best books for couples in order of publication.


Ten Lessons To Transform Your Marriage
by: John & Julie Gottman

(2006) Drs. John and Julie Gottman use everyday language to describe some of the most useful techniques for how to turn a failing relationship into a successful one. The conversations of ten couples before and after counseling demonstrate how to work through hard problems together.

Dr. John Gottman is a leading relationship expert and in this video he reveals the surprisingly simple secrets of successful marriages, based on his four-decade research project.
Browse & Buy: Making Marriage Work

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work
by: Dr. John Gottman

(book or DVD) (1999) At the beginning of treatment I ask couples to complete a Gottman Relationship Assessment and to watch the Seven Principles DVD so that when I give them specific feedback about their relationship they can conceptualize it in the Gottman Sound Relationship House model. The book includes and explanation of Gottman's theory, relationship findings, and the components of a successful relationship. Many couples tell me they enjoy the DVD for Dr. Gottman's deep knowledge combined with warmth and humor.

Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: and How You Can Make Yours Last
by: Dr. John Gottman

(1994) This book helps to normalize conflict as an inevitability and focuses on the ways to argue constructively. Through self-tests you'll become more aware of the “Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse” (defensiveness, stonewalling, criticism and contempt), which is the first step to managing differences positively. The antidotes to each of these "horsemen" is provided. The book includes a four step program for breaking through the kinds of negativity that make divorce likely.

The Relationship Cure:
A Five Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family and Friendships

by: Joan De Claire & Julie Gottman

(2002) This book reveals the key elements of an enduring and healthy relationship. Through the concept of making and responding to "bids," emotional connection is established. Learn how to achieve emotional connection by recognizing and responding to emotional bids, and processing failed bids.

Some of the couples that engage in Gottman Method counseling augment their therapy by traveling to Seattle for the 2-day workshop with Drs. John and Julie Gottman which is 26 hours of psychoeducation and therapy in one weekend. Can't make the trip now, but need the workshop? Here is a home study set with a video of the workshop and all the tools, card decks and templates provided at the live workshop.

Principia Amoris: The New Science of Love
by: Dr. John Gottman

(2014) This is one of Dr. John Gottman's latest books which reveals previously unpublished mathematical principles of love. (Gottman was a mathematician before he turned his eye to social research.) These principles are made easily understood through diagrams.  Covering topics like emotional inertia, steady states, attractors, repellors and influence functions, the book may be geared toward clinicians, but makes good reading for anyone who wants to know more about the math involved in why love does or doesn't last.

The Man's Guide to Women:
Scientifically Proven Secrets from the "Love Lab" About What Women Really Want

by: Drs. John and Julie Gottman

(2016) Written for a male audience, this book impresses upon men in heterosexual relationships how pivotal their role is.  Though it is most often women who buy and read self help books and bring up relationship issues, research tells us that men's engagement in the emotional life of the couple is highly predictive of its long term success. These pages are of great assistance to men in revealing what the data says women really want in dating, sex and everyday interactions. 

After the Fight
by: Daniel Wile

After a fight, do the two of you bravely put it behind you and hope it doesn’t happen again, or try to rework it only to have the same fight all over again? Gottman considers Dan Wile to be one of the best marriage counselors today. This books helps couples to make sense of the disruption that happened between you so that you can use your differences as a tool to build a stronger relationship with more intimacy.

After the Honeymoon
by: Daniel Wile

John Gottman considers Dan Wile to be one of the best marriage counselors. Wile teaches couples how to use their fights as a strength to build intimacy in their relationships.

Hold Me Tight
by: Susan Johnson

I wish every couple I see would read this book. Susan Johnson’s Emotionally Focused Therapy model shines a light on the destructive patterns couples unconsciously co-create and feel victimized by. Rather than defend yourself against your partner, the two of you can buffer the relationship from the pattern. The conversations in this book provide eye-opening insights into how to co-create and benefit from a secure and lasting bond.

Getting the Love You Want
by: Harville Hendrix

Harville Hendrix first published this book in 1988 and it has sold millions of copies. His “imago” concept explores how our choice of partner is the person perfectly suited to develop the emotional tasks that may have been left behind in childhood. The exercises in this book lead to a more evolved, conscious relationship.

Mistakes Were Made
(But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts

by: Carol Tarvis and Elliot Aronson

One of the primary goals I have with many couples is to help them drop defensiveness, because being able to do so is a cornerstone of getting closer. Backed by years of research, this book is an engaging exploration of why we work so hard to justify ourselves. Tavris and Aronson offer a fascinating explanation of self-deception—how it works, the harm it can cause, and how we can overcome it.

Take Back Your Marriage:
Sticking Together in a World that Pulls Us Apart

by: William Doherty

This updated edition by world renowned family therapist William Doherty includes his unfolding revelations about how to keep marriages rock-solid despite the common traps confronting couples today. This has the latest information on marriage and health, how divorce affects kids, the impact of new technologies on family life, and more.

Conscious Loving
by: Gay and Katie Hendricks

The Journey to Co-Commitment by Gay and Katie Hendricks This husband and wife team has come up with some of my favorite communication tools for couples. They include The Blame Eliminator, The Four Pillars of Integrity, and the Openness to Learning Scale. Their tools are wonderful for helping couples to take responsibility, identify unspoken agreements and make unarguable statements during conflict so that there is a much deeper capacity for love and joy. Google the Hendricks Institute; these authors have so much more to offer than this book.

Nonviolent Communication:
A Language of Life, 3rd Edition: Life Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships

by: Marshall Rosenberg

I promise you that if the two of you adopt the four components of nonviolent communication, the flow of empathy, care, courage and authenticity will increase between you. Learn how to incorporate the four elements of observing, feeling, needing and requesting into communication that does no harm. There have been more than a million copies of this book sold and it has been translated into more than 30 languages. It is that effective.

The Intentional Family: :
Simple Rituals to Strengthen Family Ties

by: William Doherty

I often tell families that one of the things that create lasting bonds is ritual. Ritual is what children and couples crave, but in our overpacked days, all we get sometimes is mind-numbing or stressful routine. Doherty explains the difference between ritual and routine and provides small but meaningful ways of building family bonds.

The 5 Love Languages: The Secrets to Love that Lasts
by: Gary Chapman

If you are giving a lot but it doesn't seem to be helping, and you continue to feel less and less appreciated, it could be that you don't really know your partner's "love language." Sometimes we give the "gift" we'd like to get rather than give the one our partner wants or needs. Take the quizzes in the book together and reach out in ways that really do count. Over 11 million copies of this book have sold in its 25+ years of publication.