Did you know that the most popular theory of the origin of Valentine’s Day dates all the way back to the third century in Rome?
The story goes that Emperor Claudius II didn’t want Roman men to marry during wartime. However, Bishop Valentine went against his wishes and performed secret weddings. For this, Valentine was jailed and executed, and there was born a martyr and the story of St Valentine.
Whether you buy in to the romance of the day that is annually celebrated as Valentine’s Day, or you decree that it is a day for greeting card companies and florists to cash in – there are few of us who would deny the deep value that relationships hold in our lives.
It is human nature to love and to create these social connections. However, it is not all flowers, cards and chocolates. Anyone who has ever been in a romantic relationship also knows that a healthy relationship takes a lot of hard work, compromise and growth.
In keeping with that theme, here are six of my top recommended books that will help to improve all of the relationships in your life, intimate or otherwise.
Originally published in 1988, Getting the Love You Want has been a go-to for decades for couples who want to create more loving, supportive and conscious relationships. Dr Harville Hendrix (author also of ‘Keeping the Love You Find’), gives us an insightful account of what he has learned about the psychology of love during more than thirty years of working as a therapist. Using psychological theory and case studies, Dr Hendrix explores the ways in which couples can learn to coexist within their relationships in more satisfying ways. Most importantly, he dives deep in to the relationship that we have with ourselves; where it all starts and how to understand yourself better so as you can be the best partner that you can be. Included in the book is a series of exercises that couples can use to work on improving their relationships.
Wired for Dating: How Understanding Neurobiology and Attachment Style Can Help You Find Your Ideal Mate
Wired for Dating is an exploration undertaken by psychologist and relationship expert Stan Tatkin (author also of Wired for Love), using neuroscience and attachment theory. Stan Tatkin combines all of his knowledge to explain how you can find a compatible partner and go on to create the relationship that you want. He describes important concepts in regards to the brain and the nervous system which help the reader to understand attraction, commitment and conflict within relationships, so as they can learn to apply these understandings in their real life relationships.
Published first in 1995, The 5 love languages has had renowned success in helping couples to maintain lasting and satisfying relationships. Using advice which is as practical as much as it is insightful, this book assists the reader to understand themselves as well as their partner on a deeper level, using the ‘love languages’. At the foundation of the concept of these love languages is the knowledge that we all give and receive love in different ways. Becoming attuned to the ways that you and your partner give and receive love is an important key to maintaining a lasting and loving relationship. Included in the book is the Couple’s Personal Profile assessment which will help you to discover your love language and that of your loved one.
Though this one is not specifically a book about intimate relationships, I thought it was an important one to include on this list. Daring greatly is a book which will help you to take every relationship within your life – whether it’s with an intimate partner, your kids, your family, your friends, or even colleagues – to the next level. Brené Brown is an American scholar, author, and public speaker, who over the last fifteen years has focused her research on topics such as vulnerability, courage, shame, and empathy. Through her work she shows us how taking the risk to be vulnerable is an expression of courage. She demonstrates that when we take the chance in doing this, we create the potential to transform our relationships and bring more meaning and purpose to life.
In his provocatively titled book, ‘How to Think More About Sex’, Alain de Botton helps us to navigate the exciting, yet sometimes confusing and difficult subject of sex. Covering all matter of topics from intimacy and commitment, to love and desire, to fetishes and pornography, de Botton gives us a modern day take on the ways in which we can think about sex, and ultimately, how to come to the right conclusions for you and in your sex life. This book is part of a series of books from The School of Life, launched in May 2012, which explores a range of topics that affect most of us in the modern day world.
Act with Love : Stop Struggling, Reconcile Differences, and Strengthen Your Relationship with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Dr Russ Harris (author also of ‘The Happiness Trap’) brings us Act with Love: Stop Struggling, Reconcile Differences, and Strengthen Your Relationship with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
The principles of this book are based on the principles of ACT – acceptance and commitment therapy. At the core of acceptance and commitment therapy are mindfulness based practices, which teach us that we can all learn to handle painful or disruptive thoughts and emotions in an effective way. When put in to practice, these teaching allow us to let go of conflict, create more intimacy and connection and form better relationships with ourselves and with others.