I’ve always loved reading, since becoming a mother it feels like I have less time to lie down and read a great book - I also feel we are so programmed to be distracted and busy at all times, I actually find it harder to concentrate and commit to spending the time to read an entire book. BUT I promised myself that I would try to get back into reading. I always have a few books going at once because I get bored easily and I thought I would share some books that I’m currently loving, I would also love to hear any recommendations on what to get into next!
I love to learn new things, learning how to be in relationship is something that is very interesting for me. Having been with my partner from a very young age, I feel it’s important to always keep learning and growing. Changing things up and learning new techniques on how to relate is something that I think is very important, to quote Esther Perel - “Today, we turn to one person to provide what an entire village once did: a sense of grounding, meaning and continuity. At the same time, we expect our committed relationships to be romantic as well as emotionally and sexually fulfilling. Is it any wonder that so many relationships crumble under the weight of it all?”
Marriage and being in a committed relationship can be hard and when we are living in a society where everything is portrayed as all good vibes all the time, you can sometimes feel that if you don’t have the perfect relationship, you’re failing. Reality is, there’s no such thing as the “perfect marriage”, but being able to open your mind up to new ways of relating is such a great tool to have.
So it will come as no surprise that the 3 books I will be sharing in this post are mostly to do with relationships, I also have a massive crush on Esther Perel, I have devoured all of her TED talks and podcasts and cannot wait for the new season to drop! If you don’t know of her, now you do!
Mating in Captivity - This book is a deep dive into intimacy and sex, it explains reasons why passion and lust can leave a long term relationship and also how to bring it back. A must read if you’re interested in sustaining desire. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading this and delving into the therapy sessions she has with other couples. You get an insight into other peoples relationships and it is amazing & beautiful that you can connect with so many peoples stories.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - I haven’t finished this book yet but I’ve started, and so far I love it. I found it extremely refreshing and I’m sure by the time I have finished the book I will have learnt a few valuable lessons. I am the type of person who gives way too many fucks and hopefully this book will help me to let that go - because having that attitude sounds extremely freeing!
The 5 Love Languages - I read this book about 10 years ago while Jon and I were organising our wedding day. It was recommended for us to read it as part of our marriage preparation ( I can’t remember why, but we had to sit a test to determine if we were compatible - luckily we passed!) We were so young when we read it and it all sounded great in theory but at that stage in our lives we hadn’t been through anything that would test our love for each other. The gist of the book is that we all have different love languages, mine for example is quality time - Jon’s is not quality time and here is where we run into trouble. Our arguments are always about the same thing, our needs not being met - I need quality time and Jon needs acts of service. We re- read this book every year or so when we feel we have dropped the ball and have reverted to showing love in the way we like to receive it. There is also a great little quiz in here that helps you figure out what love language you are, I have printed out a list of things that we can do for each other to fill up our tanks, had them framed and they sit next to our toothbrushes.
I’ve been asked quite a bit lately how Jon and I keep the spark alive in our marriage, and I would actually have to give a lot of credit to these books. The realisation that I should not expect Jon to be my entire world and fulfil all of my needs was a big one. Also learning why passion can leave a relationship, especially after having children and how to help bring life back to a marriage is something that would benefit a lot of people. To conclude, I’m just going to leave another Esther Perel quote, in case you needed a reminder that we’re all just doing our best in a culture where we put so much pressure on our primary relationship -
“...this is the first time in the history of humankind where we are trying to experience sexuality in the long term, not because we want 14 children, for which we need to have even more because many of them won't make it, and not because it is exclusively a woman's marital duty. This is the first time that we want sex over time about pleasure and connection that is rooted in desire.
So what sustains desire, and why is it so difficult? And at the heart of sustaining desire in a committed relationship, I think is the reconciliation of two fundamental human needs...
So reconciling our need for security and our need for adventure into one relationship, or what we today like to call a passionate marriage, used to be a contradiction in terms. Marriage was an economic institution in which you were given a partnership for life in terms of children and social status and succession and companionship. But now we want our partner to still give us all these things, but in addition I want you to be my best friend and my trusted confidant and my passionate lover to boot, and we live twice as long. So we come to one person, and we basically are asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide:
Give me belonging, give me identity, give me continuity, but give me transcendence and mystery and awe all in one.
Give me comfort, give me edge.
Give me novelty, give me familiarity.
Give me predictability, give me surprise.
And we think it's a given.”