As I'll explain shortly, becoming an armchair relationship expert is actually one of the most important stages of your divorce prevention strategy, next to transforming your marriage into a "Hurt-Free-Zone."
No, I'm not suggesting that you actually learn or apply clinical counseling techniques. But I am suggesting that you really master some critical couple's communication strategies that the world's leading therapists would teach you if you were to attend marriage counseling.
What's the bottom line about saving your marriage? It takes some basic skills to safely operate and care for your emotionally healthy marriage, just like it takes some basic skills to safely operate and maintain your car.
What would happen if you were to drive your car on a busy city highway during rush hour if you had no idea how to drive yet? Hint: Crash=Divorce!
One thing I've noticed in my work with hundreds of couples and individuals on the verge of divorce is that just about all of them lacked these critical relationship skills. More importantly, every marriage that was saved was saved through making effective couple's communication a major part of who they are as couples.
What's the good news? Learning basic relationship communication techniques is way faster and easier than becoming an auto mechanic! And the benefits are extraordinary!
Just like picking a couple's counselor who will not do your relationship more harm than good, you also want to read marriage self-help books that will actually help you save your marriage rather than waste your time and money or even harm your relationship.
I strongly recommend that you both read what are arguably the top three relationship books on the market today. This way you'll start off and stay on the same page together, literally. You want relationship books that are deeply engaging, packed with relationship tips and strategies that give you real and immediate benefit by positively impacting the day-to-day functioning of your marriage.
I'm recommending the following three books because they are written by the world's leading relationship researchers and marriage counseling experts. They're rooted in the strongest relationship science and in the real life clinical experience of the authors:
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert by John Gottman
I placed John Gottman's book first on the list because he's the marriage researcher who can predict divorce with close to 100% accuracy based on how a couple communicates around their hot-button issues. This book will really help you have a deeper understanding of why setting up your hurt-free-zone is absolutely critical to saving your marriage.
The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman
Next, I recommend The 5 Love Languages. This book will give you some simple but powerful couple's communication tools and insights that will be very helpful to you as you begin to live in your hurt-free-zone and start granting the three simple wishes that will help save your marriage.
Hold Me Tight – 7 Conversations for a Life Time of Love by Sue Johnson
I've placed Sue Johnson’s book Hold Me Tight at the end of the list, even though it's probably the best relationship self-help book of the century. Why? Because this book will lead you and your partner through some very deep, laser-targeted and lasting emotional repair work.
Not only are these arguably the best relationship books currently available today, but you can usually find them in your local library or get extremely affordable new and used copies on Amazon.com
And of course you can instantly purchase the eBook version and read from your kindle, tablet, laptop or even your phone! There are also audio versions for easy listening.
When you're saving your marriage without a marriage counselor (i.e. through a divorce-prevention plan) it's often best to stabilize the relationship first for at least a 1-3 weeks. You want to get rid of as many external sources of hurt and frustration as you can before starting to really address and solve the deeper internal emotional challenges in your relationship.
But when you get to that point, when it's time to re-build profound intimacy as a couple again, Hold Me Tight will be the perfect book for you to read together. It will ask you both some of the most emotionally sensitive questions, while at the same time making it very easy and safe for you to answer them. You'll learn how to really hold each other and to share deep emotional soothing.
I recommend that during the first week or two, building your hurt-free-zone, you spend about one hour per day really delving into the first two books independently. It's important to help each other set up a distraction free time slot and environment for this independent reading and study.
After a week or two, once your Relationship-Love-Pulse starts to get back up 50-60 beats per minute, I recommend setting up seven date nights (in a row if possible) to read Hold Me Tight together as couple.
Just like you'll need to do for your weekly date night (also proven to help protect your marriage from divorce), it's critical to completely free yourselves as a couple from any distractions or stress.
Make sure you read together in a place that is very comfortable and relaxing. Take turns reading to each other 1 chapter at a time each night. Really think about and answer the questions at the end of each chapter together.
Make sure you have some Kleenex close by. And remember, hugs heal!
I want the very best for you, your partner and your family. I'd love to chat with you online. I'll answer your relationship questions and help you develop a quick start divorce prevention plan so you can begin the process of saving your marriage right away.
Make sure you start your question with "Dear David Akiva."
Break out the chalk and harness and head out for some vertical thrills. If you've never been "belayed" (aka the support system of ropes and pulleys that keeps climbers safe from falls) most climbing gyms offer reasonably priced beginner classes. Climbing is an ultimate partner activity, as your life depends on the trust and focus shared between "belayer" and "belayee."
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