Relationship Books: Why "Love Sense" Stands Out
My Number 1 recommendation among all the many relationship books is Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Love Relationships(Little, Brown 2013). Author Dr. Sue Johnson is the primary creator of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, the most successful method of helping couples renew connection and resolve conflict.
I strongly suggest couples who work with me read Love Sense during the course of counseling because they will be introduced to a new way of understanding their relationship. I even tell them that they'll probably save money because they may need fewer sessions with me.
Now, I don't believe any of the relationship books will "save" a truly distressed relationship. Usually couples who seek counseling are needing professional guidance to reduce arguing and/or the increased distance that has come between them. For those with mild distress, however, Love Sense clearly offers key advantages. And, as part of therapy, it's an amazing eye-opener.
While the word "science" in the title may feel overwhelming, the book very approachable.
What Distinguishes "Love Sense" Among Relationship Books
First and foremost, this book is based on years of solid research presented in a very readable format that can be easily understood. Couples tell me, "I wasn't aware of a lot of what's in the book -- and it all makes so much sense."
Second -- and this is big -- the chapters walk you through the essentials of maintaining a healthy, loving relationship. The basic principles of the renowned Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy are woven into the text.
Love Sense encompasses the most important knowledge for couples into a single volume. Sue brings you an in-depth understanding of attachment theory, brain science and emotions in an understandable format with examples of couples whose struggles may seem familiar to readers.
Here Are Some of My Favorite Quotes:
"...it is not good sex that leads to satisfying, secure relationships, but rather secure love that leads to good -- and, in fact, the best-- sex."
"In terms of mental health, close connection is the strongest predictor of happiness, much more so than making masses of money or winning the lottery."
"At every age, human beings habitually seek and maintain physical and emotional closeness with at least once particular irreplaceable other. We especially seek out this person when we feel stressed, unsure or anxious. We are just hardwired this way."
"Nothing makes us stronger and happier than loving, stable long-term bonds with others."
"The greatest gift a parent has to give a child--and a lover has to give a lover--is emotionally attuned attention and timely responsiveness."
The Why and the What of Romantic Love
Each chapter is richly informative. You'll learn about the powerful force of attachment, the bond we form with our partner when we fall in love. Moreover, you'll learn that your childhood does matter: The quality of experiences you had within your family of origin (as well as previous relationships) can contribute to your attachment style in your adult relationships.
Rather than blame our parents, however, (which is fruitless), we can learn to deeply understand our own attachment style and that of our partner. Once we bring this to the surface, we can work toward healing and change.
Chapters on the brain and the body help us understand our emotional selves and our physical needs and responses. What's most important, I believe, is the concept of neuroplasticity. Sure, it's a big word, yet the concept is simple: Our brain can change as we grow and learn!
We are not locked into our beliefs or our current state of knowledge. I explain this concept to couples this way: Think about the last thing you might have learned: A new software program at work, a new process in your organization or a new language. Of course, we are constantly learning, even more so in our rapidly changing world.
As we learn more about ourselves and our partner, we can develop new habits, new ways of resolving issues and concerns and new ways of staying close and connected. Of all the relationships books out there, I feel this one offers, all in one volume, an overview of scientific research and day-to-day applications for couples.
Understanding the Unfortunate "Unraveling" of Your Relationship
Many couples wonder, and are baffled and troubled by, how their relationship went from kind and loving to distant and distraught.
Love Sense provides readers with insight into how loving connections can disintegrate. Couples tell me this section of the book helped them realize they are not alone if they are struggling and provides hope that they can work toward healing their relationship. Of the relationship books available, the science and easy-to-understand applications are masterfully blended here.
Additionally, the book provides insight into how love changes over time and how to keep your connection close and loving, even with the pressures of careers, children and extended family.
Love Sense is available in hardback, downloadable formats and the audio book is by Sue herself. Sue's first book for couples also is helpful as well: Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love (Little, Brown 2008).
Linda Schwartz is a Licensed Professional Counselor who works exclusively with couples and individuals on relationship issues. She uses Emotionally Focused Couple therapy, the most effective approach to helping couples recapture their close connection. You can learn to resolve issues through deepening your understanding of each other's needs. We also work to heal infidelity and any past hurts in the relationship. Linda offers a free, 15-minute phone consultation to answer your questions about the counseling process. She can be reached at (602) 882-0533 or .