Power of Two
This book is one of our favorites for any couple looking for ways to communicate better, decrease conflict, and improve their relationship. Includes exercises, lots of strategies for having good, productive conversations rather than angry fights that go nowhere, and ways to be supportive of your partner when things are difficult for one or both of you. This book is the relationships course that we all should have taken in high school. There is also a workbook (sold separately; see sidebar) available, to help you work through each section with deeper understanding. Highly recommended for anyone starting out in a new relationship, getting married, or just wanting to improve what they already have going.
295 pages. Author: Susan Heitler, PhD. 1997.
One of our reviewers had this to say:
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is in a long-term partnership or who would like to be someday. The author works from the premise that marriage is an important and powerful union that provides people with strength and opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise. The phrase ”power of two” comes from math (i.e. 10x10=10 to the second power); this metaphor is apt because ”a similar increase happens in marriage. When two individuals form a couple, their communal power becomes more than twice what they each held separately.”
The foundation of relationships is communication, and so Heitler provides practical, easy-to-understand, and useful tips for communicating with your partner to maximize the ”power of two” and solidify your partnership. It’s not simply a book of advice--lists of things to do and not to do. Instead, it’s more like a grammar book in that it provides a framework for communication: the kind of information that you can internalize and eventually use intuitively, like verb tenses and punctuation. Because good communication only happens with practice, Heitler includes lots of clear examples and concrete details that readers can apply to their own lives. She provides psychological reasons why some things work better than others and the effect certain interactions have on people. For example, I didn’t realize that replying with ”but” in effect negates what someone says, while replying with ”and” both acknowledges what they said and expresses your own view!
Sometimes I was reminded of ways my parents interacted while I was growing up (ugh!); this was especially interesting since Heitler discusses how family-of-origin conflicts play out in future relationships. I also recognized other couples I know, as well as ways that I tend to communicate. Heitler’s explication of an often-unclear topic set off lots of light bulbs in my head and enabled me to make some new connections. After reading this book, I found myself paying attention to the ways I converse with people. I started changing some of the ways I talk without being totally conscious of it! So, although this book focuses on marriage, its grammar of communication is applicable to all sorts of other interactions.