Tim and I worked really hard early on in our relationship to communicate well and openly, so it hasn’t been too difficult for us to be kind and loving 90% of the time. Throw in three moves, two babies and a little sleep deprivation, living in one room and being isolated in the woods, and suddenly our communication skills could use a little polishing.
So we asked around on Facebook for favorite relationship books. The response was interesting. Some people said “this is what works for us” and some “try this book”, and others said “don’t read books, just trust yourselves”. Some responded differently or just avoided the topic. I find it so fascinating that some people pretend we don’t all have issues, struggles, or funks. It’s pretty universal to the human experience, and I’ve never met a married or committed soul who didn’t have some downright shitty moments. It happens. I am grateful to have a husband who is, above all else, willing to do the work with me to make our life and relationship a worthwhile, enjoyable one. Being willing is something that I really value and love in him, and I know a lot of people don’t have that in a spouse.
We got some good recommendations for books and some good words of wisdom. We like learning new things and are a little nerdy, so we don’t hesitate to head to the library and see what we find. We ended up with three books and chose to read And Baby Makes Three by John and Julie Gottman.
The funny part is I got this book right after we had Silas and we never got around to reading it. We should have. We loved this book! The first bit is about parenthood, but the rest is really just about marriage in the midst of life. You parents with small children will especially appreciate the perspective.
Things we liked about it:
They get what it’s like to have small children. In fact, they validated how busy we feel and really get how hard it is to keep a healthy relationship alive while juggling diapers, messes and snack times.
It is direct, science based, and easy to apply to our own life. They give you statements like “the three things the happy parenting couples had in common were _____” so you don’t have to focus on broad, vague intentions about being less of an ass during conflict. That format was helpful and very bottom-line-oriented, which I love.
It is clear about how to change arguments by approaching them differently, clinging to humor for dear life, and recognizing how you naturally react right now (and why you react that way).
It has tons (TONS) of provoking and meaningful questions to ask your partner in several different lists. They recommend taking them with you on date night, which sounds like a nice idea to us. We ended up talking through many of them and it was revealing and fun.
They bring up what you saw growing up, what you do now, and what you wish you did instead. They also give you scenarios of how arguments went and how they could have gone.
Tim and I read this book in one sitting. We got the babies to bed at 7 and read it out loud on the couch until almost midnight on Saturday. It was the most enjoyable and helpful conversation we have had in months. If you are looking for a book to help you stay in a good place while you wield diaper bags and sippy cups, try it out.