The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert

by John M. Gottaman, Ph.D and Nan Silver
Filled with exercises and questionnaires, this book by the country’s foremost expert on thriving relationships is filled with helpful thoughts on predicting divorce and improving marriages. Gottman discusses in detail the so-called Four Horseman, the four obvious signs of an unhappy relationship: criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling.  However, Gottman’s approach is not to dwell on the negative.  He writes, “So although my Seven Principles will also guide you in coping with conflict, the foundation of my approach is to strengthen the friendship that is the heart of any marriage.”  Other chapters tackle solvable problems, overcoming gridlock and nurturing fondness and admiration.

Should I Stay or Go? How Controlled Separation Can Save Your Marriage
by Lee Raffel, M.S.W.

There are a lot of ways to live a life and many of those lives don’t mirror what we learned while growing up.  It’s tough to leave a relationship and this book helps couples with the dilemma about walking away from a marriage.  The author writes, “Let me assure you that what you are going through in your situation is normal.  Most people have an extremely hard time with such decisions.  The stress component is immense.  Even if you possess very effective decision-making skills and use them successfully in business, they may not work well in this highly personal, everything’s-at-stake crisis.  You are too close to the situation, too emotionally involved.”   Raffel advocates controlled separation, defined as “a powerful impetus for partners to rethink their options and get one another moving.”  Time apart, she argues, is essential for the clearing of heads.  The book covers ground rules, money, children, forgiveness and examples of couples who decided to get divorced and those who chose to remain married.