YourTango’s Best Relationship Books of the ’00s list — while not a complete disaster — strikes me as funny for two reasons:
- The coveted top two spots are occupied by books written by…comedians. Hey, if I want to be lectured by some smart-aleck goofball about my love-life, I’ve got my bathroom mirror, thank you. The credentials of the other authors are a little shady, too: reporters, secrets-revealing “playas,” and Harvard MBAs, but only two actual relationship counselors.
- Only a few of these “relationship books” are about, well, relationships. The bulk are basically how-to books (for straight women) to snag a mate, please a man, or foil those slippery guy-tactics that, allegedly, all men employ, at all times.
A decade is a long time, and surely there have been more subtle, less condescending, and more realistic books written about love that don’t nakedly play into women’s fears and insecurities, nor into the myth of male weakness that says all straight guys, harboring endless secrets, are afraid of women. So! What are your favorite relationship books of the past ten years? (Aside from THE OBVIOUS, of course.) Alternate perspectives (LGBT, non-marriage-oriented, bridge-lovin‘) encouraged! My list would include:
- Love in the Present Tense: How to Have a High Intimacy, Low Maintenance Marriage by Morrie & Arleah Schechtman. This slim volume contains some of the most useful relationship advice I’ve ever read, and much of it is counter-intuitive bordering on heretical. The Schechtmans — marriage counselors with backgrounds in business — argue convincingly against ideas like “couples need to love each other unconditionally,” “relationships are hard work,” and “conflict is always a sign of trouble.”
- How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving by David Richo. It’s easy to fall into unconscious childhood patterns when we are in the vulnerable position of loving someone. Psychotherapist David Richo — an uncommonly poetic writer — emphasizes mindfulness and a spiritual approach to partnership, avoiding the manipulative strategies that we almost all fall into when we aren’t careful.
- And Tango Makes Three. This important book based on a real gay penguin couple who “adopt” a baby both raises the profile of New York’s Central Park Zoo and teaches kids (and reminds adults) that a family is based on love, not a template. Sure, they conveniently omit mention of Gus, the depressed polar bear, but that story’s been covered elsewhere.
So what else, bookworms?