A couple of weeks ago, I initiated a twitter conversation asking what kinds of resources other married and partnered folks use to support their relationships. I notice that almost all of the blogs I read where families write about how they support the spiritual, ethical, and organizational foundation of their families are intimately woven with Christianity. I was surprised at the responses. Only two people had a book recommendation! So, I thought I’d pull together a list of books that have been inspiring and useful for us.
I saw a good friend reading this book when I was 18. Back then, I thought it was just extra and silly to read books about relationships. A few years later, I finally read it and the way I view my intimate relationships with everyone, husband, family members… has changed. In The Spirit of Intimacy, Sobonfu Somé shares wisdom from her people, the Dagara of Burkina Faso, West Africa on the connections between people and how to honor them through joy, conflict, and even separation. It’s a quintessential text on relationships that EVERYONE should have and reference.
OK, you’re probably wondering what any part of this title has to do with marriage and relationships. Well, in the Bantu-Kongo worldview, each individual’s capacity to be a healthy and loving person is both physical and energetic (for lack of a better word). We had the opportunity to convene a workshop with Baba Fu-Kiau a few years ago where he used his writings here to explain how critical harmonious relationships between people and within communities is critical to our physical and emotional well-being. Baba Fu-Kiau was THE foremost authority Bantu-Kongo philosophy and modern thought before falling upon serious illness. Read more about him.
This book is a solid reference for so many things. Because it’s all about living more authentically and connecting with others and the world around us more deeply, you can find endless reasons for finding yourself looking through this book. For the purposes of this list, you’ll get guidelines for practical rituals that can be used to heal rifts, balance oneself, or feel more connected to our deceased loved ones. This book is also the first book I would recommend to anyone interested in exploring indigenous African perspectives on nature, community, and spirituality.
So, my list isn’t exactly the stuff of romance or really focused on marriage or partnerships at all. But, I think that one thing that’s often missing from lists like these and talks about having meaningful intimate relationships is paying attention to one’s own journey to life fulfillment. Happy people have to love better, right?
What books on intimate relationships or marriage do you recommend?