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New in Self-Help: Love Lessons

4 books on how to make your relationship hot and happy (and when to give up trying)

Two white-gloved hands holding together a broken heart-shaped cookie

Gallery Stock

Whether you have a broken heart or a healthy relationship, there are lessons to be learned in a series of books.

Making It Hot

Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long-Lasting Relationship

By Stephen Snyder, M.D.

Snyder's a pretty frank guy, but his book is not exactly the Kama Sutra. A couples therapist and psychiatrist, he focuses on the emotional side of intimacy rather than technique; much of physical pleasure, he emphasizes, depends on having the right mind-set. He uses composites of many different patients to illustrate common roadblocks to good sex (when one partner wants it and the other doesn’t, for instance) and possible solutions.

Best advice: Dessert isn’t the most important part of the meal. “In my experience, the couples that have the best sex are the ones who don’t set orgasm as a goal. They just enjoy it — if and when it comes.” Why? “Eros,” he writes, “doesn’t like goals.”

Book cover of Love Worth Making by Stephen Snyder. A sunset view of the ocean from a shore

Macmillan Publishers

Keeping It Upbeat

Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts

By Suzann Pileggi Pawelski and James O. Pawelski 

This husband-and-wife team are positive psych experts who are, naturally, wildly upbeat about how fantastic your relationship can be. Trying new things together and maintaining your own strong sense of self are some of the “healthy habits” that they consider part of your “relationship gym” (because “relationships need work, just like muscles”).

Best advice: Try “mindful savoring” — actively, consciously valuing your partner and expressing appreciation for the things you find yummy about them. 

Happy Together by Suzaan Pileggi Pawelski. Blue book cover with two folded paper hearts

Penguin Random House

Weathering the Hard Times 

The Rough Patch: Marriage and the Art of Living Together

By Daphne de Marneffe

Nobody said marriage was going to be easy (nobody smart anyway), but this thoughtful couples therapist says she often sees “a hitting-the-wall unhappiness in the middle slice of life.” She gives a chapter to describing key challenges — health issues, empty-nest tensions, affairs, financial worries — and ways to tackle them. 

Best advice: Real self-awareness — “making the effort to look within, and to struggle with your own demons” — is the first step toward a more fulfilling relationship.

Book cover of The Rough Patch by Daphne de Marneffe. Simple illustration of a long table with two chairs and a short table with two chairs


Breaking Up

Stay or Go: Dr. Ruth’s Rules for Real Relationships

By Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer

The world’s most famous sex therapist says a relationship can’t survive on passion alone. Ever practical, Dr. Ruth wants to help you figure out whether you have enough of the whole package — love, lust, trust — to make the union worth saving. First, consider the “flavor” of your partnership: "Dark Toxic" (get out now), "Rocky Road" (you’ve got some serious problems) or "Merely Troubled" (not the most tasty-sounding, but the most hopeful). 

Best advice: “Put an egg timer filled with sand on your desk to remind you not to let your relationship suck the life out of you one grain at a time.”

Book cover of Stay Or Go by Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Blue background with black lettering and two overlapping red hearts

Amazon Publishing