As I continue writing these posts, I have been thinking about how different books will speak to different people because we are each so unique - not only in who we are, but in the various problems we have picked up from past experiences, our current phase of life, etc. The parent of a young child might really need some parenting self help, but before their child was born, maybe they gobbled up books about confidence or career. Wherever you are, I hope that introducing you to these three books about healthy relationships and the ones before will spark inspiration and hope in your life one way or another.
Boundaries: When to Say Yes How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
This is the second book (of many that I love) which I've listed by Cloud and Townsend, and it has become a reference book in my household. In my mind, it is the definitive guide to healthy interaction with the outside world. And you know those interactions that you walk away from feeling yucky but you can't put your finger on why? This book clarifies and lays out the solutions for those types of situations. Basically, Boundaries teaches how to take responsibility for yourself and let others take responsibility for themselves, complete with examples for how that looks in action. This might be my favorite book of all the ones I've recommended so far because it is so fundamental and incredibly practical. Again, Cloud and Townsend come from a biblical standpoint, and again, the principles can be applied universally.
Friendships Don't Just Happen!: The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of Girlfriends by Shasta Nelson
favorite aspect of this book is that it puts into words the principles that most of us know intuitively about
friendships but haven't explicitly heard before. One epiphany for me
was that there are different roles for different types of friendships.
Some friends are valuable as contacts, but you won't necessarily have a
deepening relationship with them, while there are a select few who will
become your best friends for life - and then there are those that fall between. Reading
this book inspired me toward cultivating old and new friendships, and
certainly didn't leave me without the tools to do so more successfully
than before. This one is for women, but the author advocates the
importance of close male relationships, and men could benefit from the
information as well. However, they might prefer a female friend to
share the information rather than doing the reading themselves... this
book is pretty touchy-feely!
Love & Respect: The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs
This book was a paradigm shift for me! Based on the Bible verse Ephesians 5:33, it is for both husbands and wives, but in my mind, the focus is really on what respect is, and how wives can shift from speaking the language of love to that of respect for their husbands. Reading this book feels like getting inside the head of my husband and finally understanding where he is coming from when he reacts to my disrespectful behavior - which, magically, I can now identify! This is a great companion to How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, which I wrote about in part 1, because you can combine the knowledge of Love & Respect with the practical approaches of How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It and avoid twice as many scuffles with your spouse. If you were sitting across from me and telling me how you don't understand your husband (or wife), or about the problems you've been dealing with, I would say "Trust me. Read these two books. Just do it."
This sums up my posts about self-help! As I finished up adding in links to the catalog, it occurred to me that these books I've been sharing are not technically self-help, but more along the lines of "relationships" or "personal growth." Looking at their catalog records and back covers, I found that this was pretty much true! So if you hate the idea of self-help (and if you are crazy enough to have read three posts about it), then rest easy - we can call it something else. Whatever you call it, I'd love - as always - to hear your favorites and/or the most useless books you've read in your personal growth reading adventures.