Recommended Reading

Helping Couples Negotiate
Work/Life Balance

Prepared by The Center For Work And The Family

Berg, Adriane G. How To Stop Fighting About Money and Make Some: A Couples' Guide to Personal Harmony and Financial Success. New York: Avon Books, l988.

The author believes most money fights are not actually about money, but about fuzzy goals, confusion over choices, insecurity and blame. She identifies four problems which are most likely to derail couples' efforts to deal effectively with money matters: inequality, conflicting priorities, dashed expectations and/or failure to communicate. She offers clear and practical conflict resolution strategies for dealing jointly with money management.

Betcher, William M.D. and Macauley, Robie. The Seven Basic Quarrels Of Marriage. New York: Ballantine, 1990.

Beneath simple day-to-day arguments may lie deeper resentments and concerns that, because they are not recognized or addressed, appear again and again in different forms and different fights. Betcher identifies and offers insight into seven fundamental areas of conflict: gender, loyalties, money, power, sex, privacy and children.

Carter, Betty and Peters, Joan. Love, Honor & Negotiate: Making Your Marriage Work. Pocket Books, 1996.

Carter asserts that marriage contracts need to be negotiated, not once, but periodically throughout the life cycle. Work/family tensions, the arrival of children, and income differences between spouses can skew the power balance in a relationship. Carter describes a renegotiation process which can help any couple sustain a vital and egalitarian marriage.

Cowan, Carolyn Pape and Cowan, Philip A. When Partners Become Parents: The Big Life Change For Couples. Basic Books, l992.

Focuses on the challenges of succeeding as a couple after becoming parents. l00 couples are followed through their transition to parenthood; poignant stories illustrate important themes. The Cowans look carefully at "Who Does What" in caring for household and children and thoughtfully explore their finding that couples rarely share equitably in caretaking tasks despite their expressed intentions to do so.

Fisher, Roger and Ury, William. Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. New York: Penquin, 1983.

As useful for couples as for corporate executives, this guide to "win-win" negotiation based on the Harvard Negotiation Project, outlines a method for negotiating personal or professional disputes. Steps include: separate the people from the problem; focus on interests, not positions; establish precise goals; work together to create options; negotiate successfully with more powerful or difficult opponents.

Gottman, John Ph.D. Why Marriages Succeed Or Fail. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994.

This book reports on twenty years of marital research. Three marital styles are described: validating, volatile and avoidant. Four highly destructive forms of communication are identified: criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. The key to marital success lies in a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. Specific recommendations for improving marital communication are outlined.

Gray, John Ph.D. Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. New York: Harper and Collins, 1992.

This book supports the idea that when men and women talk, they are dealing with "cross-cultural" communication. The author explores the ways men and women react and relate differently and the resulting potential for misunderstanding. He offers advice on how to avoid unnecessary arguments, ask for support and communicate difficult feelings.

Hochschild, Arlie. The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution At Home. New York: Viking, l989.

A brilliant and illuminating explanation of the "Stalled Revolution" - Hochschild's term for the huge influx of women into the paid labor force without accompanying social and structural changes. Combining the skills of sociology and cultural anthropology with considerable psychological insight, Hochschild reports on her in depth study of 50 Bay Area couples and how they are coping with the combined responsibilities of employment and family life.

Hochschild, Arlie. The Timebind. New York: Metropolitan Books, 1997.

This book describes an unexpected and disturbing trend: home is feeling more like work and the workplace is feeling more like home. In a vicious cycle, the more hours we work, the more stressful our home lives become; the greater the tensions at home, the more we escape into work. Our families and especially our children are the potential losers unless important changes take place.

Lee, Deborah. Having It All/Having Enough: How To Create A Career/Family Balance That Works For You. New York. Amacon 1997

In-depth interviews with couples who are suceeding in balancing work and family life reveal the challenges as well as some of the best coping strategies. Chapters focus on identifying needs and priorities, developing a positive relationship to limits, taking care of yourself, embracing change, negotiating for change at work, negotiating shared roles at home, and building support networks.

Lerner, Harriet Goldhor Ph.D. The Dance Of Intimacy. New York: Harper and Row, 1989.

Lerner describes the subtle balance between respect for separateness and achievement of intimacy. Although geared toward women, this book is valuable reading for men or women.

Lerner, Harriet Goldhor. The Dance of Anger. New York: Harper and Row, 1985.

This is a classic for those who deal with anger by either holding it in or lashing out (or alternating between the two!) Lerner clarifies both the value of anger and its harmful effects. She offers practical strategies for managing this powerful emotion. This book is written for women, but again is useful for men or women.

Mahony, Rhona. Kidding Ourselves: Breadwinning, Babies, and Bargaining Power. New York: Basic Books, 1995.

The author asserts that babies and the current division of labor at home are major factors preventing women from achieving economic equity with men. She believes that women reduce their bargaining power by certain attitudes and life choices. A lawyer and negotiator, Mahoney spells out how women can increase their bargaining power and negotiate for more equitable sharing. If women ardently want men to participate as primary parents, they will make choices which maximize their bargaining power. These include choosing high earning careers for themselves, marrying equal or lower earning partners, and giving men lots of solo time with their babies from the very beginning.

Schor, Juliet B. The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure. Basic Books, l991.

This best seller by a Harvard economist confirms what so many of us are feeling. We are overworked! Never before in the history of civilization - except for the Industrial Revolution- have human beings worked such consistently long hours as do employed Americans in the 1990's. Continuing high productivity is being translated not into leisure time but into ever increasing consumerism. Consumerism is great for capitalism, but not necessarily great for families. Schor proposes strategies for "exiting the squirrel cage" of constant working and spending.

Schwartz, Pepper Ph.D. Peer Marriage: How Love Between Equals Really Works. New York: Free Press, 1994.

This book defines and describes a "peer marriage," differentiating it from traditional or "near-peer" relationships. Special attention is focused on the rewards of deep friendship in peer marriages, the risks to sexual passion, and the experience of sharing the provider role and the care of children. A frank look at the rewards and challenges inherent in a truly egalitarian marriage.

Stelck, Lisa and Newman, Cheryl. The Working Relationship: Management Strategies For Contemporary Couples. New York: Villard Books, l986.

Step by step instructions on how to conduct a "Summit Meeting," a two day process for couples to take stock of their lives, plan for the future and evaluate their careers, children, finances and domestic responsibilities. This is a fine example of a process for dealing with the "big picture," separate from day-to-day logistics.

This book is out of print, but is available from the public library.

Tannen, Deborah Ph.D. You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men In Conversation. New York: William Morrow & Company, 1990.

This book contains a fascinating analysis of communication differences between women and men - differences in purpose and differences in style. Awareness of and sensitivity to these differences can be extremely helpful in creating understanding between the sexes as they attempt to communicate with one another.

©1999 The Center For Work And The Family