This past week my family has enjoyed a beach vacation to the Outer Banks. I always bring the stack of novels and therapy books that have been piling up at home (no e-reader for me yet) and look forward to quiet hours with a chair by the ocean’s edge. This year, with my one year old son with us, I didn’t get as much reading done as I might have in the past. But one of the books I was sure to make time for was “What Makes Love Last? How to Build Trust and Avoid Betrayal” by Dr. John Gottman and Nan Silver.
Many of us couple and family therapists use Dr. Gottman’s classic book, “The Seven Principals for Making Marriage Work,” in our work with couples. This newer book is an extension of his theory of a sound relationship house, mixing the mathematics of game theory and new assessment measures into core constructs like the Four Horsemen and attunement. His central idea is that betrayal is the central problem of every failing relationship. And he doesn’t just mean infidelity–pervasive coldness, selfishness, forming a coalition against your partner, and breaking promises are all examples of destructive behaviors that betray marriage vows. The antidote to betrayal’s dangerous relationship poison is, not surprisingly, trust. Mutual trust enables partners to feel safe with each other, deepen their friendship, and remove stress.
Although several of the chapters focus specifically on recovering from an affair, I anticipate using this book much more often to help couples struggling to heal from other types of betrayal. The step-by-step instructions for communicating with intimacy and constructively processing conflict, the helpful self-assessments for relationship trust and sexual passion, and his illustrative examples of real couples’ conversations, together make this a valuable and accessible book for our clients. But maybe what resonated with the most was the clear, hopeful tone– it’s written in a voice that truly believes in couples’ ability to solve their problems and reestablish connection.
Have you read any great therapy books this summer? Please share titles and reviews in the comments! Here’s to summer reading 🙂
If you’d like to check the book out on Amazon.com, click here.
Emily T. Cook, Ph.D., LCMFT
President-Elect, Middle Atlantic Division AAMFT