4 Outstanding Relationship Books You Must Read

My eyes and fingers join forces as they wander the wall of shelves in The Nest, my quiet counseling office / serene treetop haven.

And if you joined me there, tapped me on the shoulder, and told me I could choose only four of the absolute best books on relationships, these are the ones I'd reach for.

In a heartbeat.

The great thing about these selections is that they are all-purpose.  They're not one-facet books that simply focus on friendship or marriage, parenting or the workplace or the ministry arena.  Their messages are applicable for wherever you find yourself and whatever challenges you're facing.


Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life
~ Henry Cloud & John Townsend
I can't think of one person that couldn't use a bit of help when it comes to the whole issue of boundaries.  Originally penned in 1992, this is the book I've recommended most to clients over the past 15 years.  A readable, practical classic for sure, having sold millions of copies ... and the good news is it's just been updated a few weeks ago for this social media age we now live in.

Love, love, love this book, these Christian psychologists, and their selection of Boundaries books that were authored following this game-changer.

The Emotionally Destructive Relationship: Seeing It, Stopping It, Surviving It
~ Leslie Vernick
When you begin to read Leslie's wise words, you'll praise God that someone's finally put a name to the sometimes subtle yet always devastating travesty of abuse.  Leslie hits the nail on the head, naming sinful relational patterns in all their various forms, and guides the reader toward hope, healing, and freedom.

Biblical, enlightening, and spot on.  Her 2013 follow up book on marriage is an absolute keeper as well.

The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction
~ Adam McHugh
Last June, I knew this would end up being my 2016 favorite-book-of-the-year ... and many of you read it, posted on it, and loved it as much as I did.  Not too far into Adam's pages, attentive readers get a wake-up call as we begin to realize how seldom we truly listen to the hearts of others.

He writes, 'The question that drives this book is, how would our relationships change, and how would we change, if we approached every situation with the intention of listening first?  What if we approached our relationship with God as listeners?  What if we viewed our relationship with nature as one of listening?  What if we approached our relationships using our ears rather than our mouths?  What if we sought to listen to our emotions before we preached to them?'

This, a simply splendid soul-searching adventure, ended up as one of Christianity Today's 2016 Books of the Year.  And it would be a perfect Christmas gift for someone {or two} on your list.

The Bible
Since way back in 1989, I've been using the same NIV Study Bible.  Held together by layers of clear packing tape, the leather is cracked and worn ... and it remains one of my most prized possessions.  Some of the pages are stained from spills and tears, and many margins are filled with notes from godly pastors, teachers, and professors God has brought into my life in the past 28 years.

When it comes to relationships, learning how to love God and others well, understanding the vast mercies of forgiveness and grace and kindness ... no other book will ever come close to the Holy Scriptures.

The sacred, precious truth of God's Word stands forever.

'Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path' {Psalm 119:105}.

I'd love to hear your recommendations ... 
and if you've written a post on a beloved relationship book, 
please feel free to link up that post as you join the conversation.


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