Self-isolating has freed up just a bit more of my time and that’s led to lots of good things: longer walks, more hula-hooping in my living room, and more time with my husband.
That extra free-time has also led to some not-so-good things: spikes in anxiety, restlessness, an existential state of dread, and… more time with my husband (who is dealing with his own set of pandemic-related stressors).
He is an endlessly patient man and, more often than not, we bring out each other’s kinder side. But we have come to the realization that productive communication can be hard when we’re both feeling so tightly wound.
We also know that this is very normal and a great opportunity. So, we thought: Why not take some time now to learn how to better communicate with each other?
Being the total English Majors that we are, we hit the books and came up with a list of titles to read/listen to, together or separately, to help us navigate our relationships near and far during self-isolation.
Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle
By Emily Nagoski PhD. and Amelia Nagoski DMA
Using science, wit, and humor, this book lays out the case for why women face burnout at higher rates than men and what you can do when you start to feel like you’re just completely overwhelmed.
By understanding our natural, biological stress cycles and spending dedicated time to rest and pleasure, we can learn to live a more balanced, less-stressed life. You’ll learn how to befriend your inner critic and use her to help understand yourself better, preventing burnout in the future.
Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less
By Tiffany Dufu
There’s been a lot of pressure to be doing things during quarantine, but Tiffany Dufu would argue that doing too much makes us our own worst enemy.
Learn how to let go of the fantasy of doing it all. Dufu is here to let you know that no one can do it all, and, more than that, asking for help and making time for ourselves allows us to flourish in ways we never thought possible, in our careers, family life, and relationships.
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High
By Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler
When our emotions get involved, it can be hard to have productive conversations with the people around us. The authors of Crucial Conversations are here to walk you through some of the best practices when it comes to communication.
It’s not just full of tips that can help you with your personal relationships; you can take the insights from this book into the workplace or other public spheres.
I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships
By Michael S. Sorensen
In the mood for a lighter read? This breezy book gives you an easy way to bring more empathy into all your conversations.
It really can be as simple as saying “I hear you,” but there’s just a little bit more to it than that. Learn how active listening can help prevent arguments before they start and build trust in relationships.
Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment
by Gay Hendricks PhD. and Kathlyn Hendricks PhD.
Written by two therapists who happen to be married to each other, this book has been called the “relationship bible” by many experienced counselors. Its timeless and practical approach to emotional self-exploration, communication, and our own harmful patterns has helped thousands.
Not in a relationship right now? Lots of folks report that the exercises, stories, and advice in the book were just as helpful for them. Definitely a must-read for those of us looking to dig deep and build stronger relationships from the inside-out.
Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence
By Esther Perel
This title seems especially apt these days, doesn’t it? In this witty read, Perel uses her decades of experience as a couple’s counselor to help folks in long-term relationships create (or recreate) the sex they desire.
This book has been recommended by sexperts across the board, such as sex advice columnists Dan Savage and Stoya, who say that it provides straightforward guidance on how to navigate sex when you’re in it for the long haul.
Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship
By Stan Tatkin PsyD
We all come into relationships with our own baggage and needs, but we still can struggle with figuring out what that means when it comes to navigating a conflict. Tatkin uses the most up-to-date neuroscience research to guide readers through understanding how their own brains are wired for love.
Tatkin teaches you how to strengthen your relationship by “becoming the expert on what makes your partner feel loved” and learning how to work through conflict without worrying about winners and losers. Sounds like a win/win to me.
Modern Love, Revised and Updated: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Redemption
Edited by Daniel Jones
Taken from the pages of the New York Times “Modern Love” column, this book of short essays is perfect for sharing with your loved one to spark a conversation about your relationship.
You can even read on your own for some moving and insightful relationship inspiration.
Stories are poignant, beautifully-written, and relatable, and at times, they’ll make you think oh I’ve been there before. A more light-hearted approach to improving your relationship EQ.