. . . unless you really intend to read them!
“The man (or woman) who does not read good books has no advantage over the man (or woman) who can’t read them.” – Mark Twain, Author and Humorist, 1835 – 1910
If your marriage is teetering on the brink of divorce, or your relationship is in breakdown mode, don’t expect a relationship book to fix it! YOU have to do that. Not much communication from your partner? A relationship book cannot do that for you. Have you gone to marriage counseling but failed? Do you fight constantly? Is all the trust gone from your marriage? Or worse… has your spouse told you they love you, but they are no longer in love with you?
You can build better relationships by READING relationship books! However, reading a relationship book is just the beginning. While it’s true that a book cannot fix you, when you read about what you want to know more about, you can pick up some tips that might just turn your relationship around. AND you have to have a specific intention to change your thinking about your partner or relationship, change your behavior and then watch what happens. Books don’t work! People in the relationship have to do the work. I repeat. . . YOU have to do the work.
“In the case of good books, the point is not how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” ~ Mortimer Adler, American philosopher, 1902 – 2001
Books can be a best friend. They can provide comfort in times of need. They can introduce you to things you may never know. They can take you to levels of relationships that you could never imagine. Reading is not running your eyes over a book. Read it actively and enjoy it completely. I believe that people who read a lot are able to articulate their feelings with greater clarity. That can give you an advantage in a relationship. Reading will help make you a much better, more complete, and happier person.
Find your favorite “reading spot.” A reading spot is a place where you can be comfortable and read, where there are no distractions and where you can focus on what you are reading. Sometimes soft, instrumental music may help you focus. If you don’t know what your ideal conditions are, try reading in different locations. When you’ve found the ideal conditions, you’ve found a reading spot. Settle into a comfortable chair. Have a lamp on the back of you, lighting the area where you are reading. Make sure the TV is off and anything else that could distract you is attended to. Take the phone off the hook, put earplugs in. Some people will set a timer for an hour or so.
If you are reading a chapter at a time, when you finish one chapter, read the first few pages of the next chapter, then place your book mark at the end of the last chapter. The next time you begin reading, this tip will help you pick up where you left off.
“Books support us in out solitude and keep us from being a burden to ourselves” ~ Jeremy Collier, 1650 – 1726
A relationship book can offer tips, suggestions, old ideas expressed new ways, perhaps even a few new thoughts and if you are reading with an open mind; a mind that is ready to change its way of thinking, you might even find the inspiration to begin to reinvent the relationship you have to make it better.
By the way, smart people do not wait until their relationship is taking a dive before they do something about it. Preventive maintenance works. They read. They attend personal growth seminars together. They learn to talk so their partner will want to listen and they actually begin to LISTEN to what their partner is saying. It is a continuing process; one that should never have an end.
Unless both partners are willing to make some changes about the way they are being in the relationship, generally speaking the relationship will either continue in its “do nothing” rut or one partner will outgrow the other and eventually leave.
How sad to do nothing and allow the relationship to suffocate and die a slow agonizing death; both being miserable all the while and each partner remaining too stubborn to be the first one to take a step in the right direction. That’s called stupid! You must both take the first step while you are still afraid.
“It is a well-known fact that when there were no televisions or computers, reading was a primary leisure activity. People would spend hours reading books and travel to lands far away-in their minds. The only tragedy is that, with time, people have lost their skill and passion to read. There are many other exciting and thrilling options available, aside from books. And that is a shame because reading offers a productive approach to improving vocabulary and word power. It is advisable to indulge in at least half an hour of reading a day to keep abreast of the various styles of writing and new vocabulary.” ~ Damian Sofsian
All the tips and suggestions about relationships in all the relationship books you can read will not change a thing. Words alone cannot change anything. It takes action. Unless you are inspired to do something different; unless you change your way of being in a relationship your relationship will not get better. Simply reading a book won’t do it.
Does this mean that there is no hope? The answer is no. The hope lies in being willing to take what you read to heart and then doing the work necessary to make the relationship a healthy one.
Relationships are something that you must work on all the time, not only when they are broken and need to be fixed. Many times we turn to books at a time of crisis. Often this is too late.
What happens when your partner will not read a book with you? Let me put it this way, it is a far better thing to be working on your relationship alone than to do nothing and allow your partner to pull you down to their level.
“But,” you say, “how can the relationship get better if I am the only one working on it?” The overall relationship you have together may or may not improve, however your own attitude about it will. This alone is a positive step in the right direction.
You cannot make someone else do something that they do not want to do and expect good results. Until most people recognize the benefits of working together on the relationship, nothing happens.
Remember this: The most important relationship you have is the relationship you have with yourself. Often when couples are together they forget to continue to take care of themselves thinking and hoping that either their partner will do this for them or that if they work much harder on the relationship everything will be okay. Wrong!
You must take care of yourself. Put yourself first. Your partners responsibility is to do the same. TOGETHER you take care of the relationship. A partner who neglects their own well being is demonstrating disrepect for the relationship.
Your partner cannot possibly know what is best for YOUR well being as well as you, therefore it is YOUR responsibility to take care of you. The same is true for your partner. Two broken people cannot fix each other or the relationship.
Working and reading together is the key. Respecting your partner and the relationship enough to study the psychology of having a healthy love realtionship together must be your highest priority.
When you work together as a team, great things begin to happen. Learning to be a support to your partner in the relationship can work miracles. Lending a helping hand; offering to go the extra mile; walking hand-in-hand, together and being your partner’s best friend in the process is certainly a much better option than doing nothing. Right?
What if you are in a “Long Distance” relationship? It’s simple. Buy two of the same book then both of you read the same book and share what you learned by telephone or e-mail. It really helps to have regular conversations about relationships.
Some people read for pleasure, to learn new things, to keep up on the latest trends, for self improvement and to keep your business approach fresh.
So, your question might be. . . How do you get the most from reading a relationship book?
First of all, head for the local office supply store and buy two colored highlighters. Why two? Because the best way to benefit from reading a relationship book is to read it together.
While YOU are reading it, mark the passages that are important to you with a bright YELLOW (yellow) highlighter. Then give the book to your love partner requesting that he or she do the same, marking important passages as they read with a light BLUE highlighter.
Why? Because when there are areas in the book that are important to BOTH of you and the highlighters overlay, you will see GREEN. Yellow and blue make green. When you see green this time, it does not mean envy! Green means “Go!” It means these are the areas of the relationship that are important to both of you.
It is always a good idea to begin with areas that you agree upon. Knowing where you stand and what you both hold to be valuable to the relationship is a must. Some couples never stop long enough to consider how important this kind of information can be.
Next. . . take some time to carefully review the passages your partner has marked with their own color; make notes of what is important to him or her. These are the areas of the relationship that need your careful attention. Do your best to focus on what is important to you and to your partner. You need to know what is essential for your partner’s happiness and to care enough to do your best to provide it.
The next step is to openly and honestly discuss what you have read TOGETHER! What you cannot talk about keeps you stuck! Make a new agreement to talk about anything and everything all the time. Make it a promise you both keep. It may be one of the most difficult promises to keep, however the benefits are worth it.
Caution ~ Resist the urge to mark the passages you KNOW your love partner NEEDS to read. When the student is ready, the teacher appears! Let the teacher be the book. . . not you. Let your love partner read and get from the book what he or she needs to learn. It rarely helps to push your own stuff on someone else. It often only causes resentment or drives a person further away.
By the way, any reluctance or refusal by your love partner to FULLY participate in WORKING TOGETHER on your relationship, regardless of the way you BOTH choose to do that (counseling, attending relationship & personal development seminars together, implementing this idea of reading and discussing the relationship book together, etc.), is a RED FLAG!!!
If this is the case, relationship coaching is always a wise choice.
QUESTION: What is the best relationship book you’ve read? Please take a moment and post a comment below and be sure to list your favorite relationship book!
Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and a nondenominational minister. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere. Something NEW about relationships is posted every 4th day on this Relationships BLOG.
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