While going through divorce, several self-help divorce books were instrumental in supporting me through the process. I’ve compiled this list, below, of the most useful texts I read over the past two years on this topic.
My hope that some of these books about divorce provide you — or someone you know in the middle of a marriage separation — with comfort and increased understanding of the stages one goes through. I also hope that these texts provide guidance on how to make the transition as smooth as possible, especially when kids or difficult finances are involved in divorce, and that they assist in healing in order to powerful begin the next chapter of life. Ready for the list? Let’s begin.
Note that some of the links here are affiliates, which means I earn a small commission upon purchase, at no extra cost to you.
1. Conscious Uncoupling
The famous text, Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After, by Katherine Woodward Thomas is the #1 book about divorce that I’d recommend. It helped me so much, with its good-spirited, positive, and practical advice! I listened to it in audiobook, and found it deeply soothing in terms of affirming that divorce can be conducted in a way that is ultimately healthy and happy for everyone involved. It’s an excellent tool in thinking through, “Should I get a divorce?“
2. Mom’s House, Dad’s House
The book Mom’s House, Dad’s House: Making Two Homes for your Child by Isolina Ricci was recommended by our therapist as we began the process of my co-parent moving out, and us setting up our separate homes, as well as crafting our Separation Agreement. This text was particularly useful in guiding our geography choices: making sure our homes remained easy for the kids to access on their own by public transport. Its emphasis on kindness and workability is wonderful, and its suggestions practical.
Here’s a tip related to the title of this book: Referring to each our our two houses by the name of its street instead of “Dad’s House” or “Mom’s House” has been central in supporting our kids in the move, because it’s less divisive. For example, we might say: “You’ll be at Maple Street tonight, and Walker Street tomorrow so we can celebrate your birthday twice!”
3. Power of Two Workbook
When we started couples therapy, it turned out that we’d been speaking all wrong. What do I mean by that? Our methods of communication — even when meant in the best possible way — were landing poorly, and causing more problems. Hence, our therapist had us turn to the Power of Two Workbook: Communication Skills by Susan Heitler.
This book has been instrumental in making my speech more effective… not just in home relationships, but at work and in everyday life as well. I found this book fascinating, and highly recommend it, especially in navigating co-parenting after divorce.
We were also recommended the related book, 4 Essential Keys to Effective Communication, which didn’t resonate with me as much, but could appeal to others. It’s certainly shorter!
4. Helping Children Cope with Divorce
The text, Helping Children Cope with Divorce (Revised Edition) by Edward Teyber was also recommended by our therapist because it has sample scripts about how to share the news about the separation with kids, and also goes in detail about how kids process the separation at different stages of life. It’s one of the famous books about divorce that people tend to refer back to over time.
I didn’t love this book as much as #1 on this list, but it had some helpful parts. In particular, I would say that instead of using the scripts in the book, you might check out the detailed instructions for how to tell kids about the divorce provided by our counselor, a child specialist.
5. The Art of Stillness
Divorce means you may be spending more time alone than before — but that doesn’t have to mean loneliness. A friend gave me The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Ayer, and I found it life-changing in terms of how it reframes the idea of being alone in one place.
I now see solitude as a regenerative gift. It doesn’t have to be sad or boring! Oh, and the book is super short, so you can read it in less than a day, which is useful, since divorce can feel like a full-time job.
6. Anything by Ester Perel
Ester Perel is an absolutely brilliant and ground-breaking author who focuses on relationships. I’d recommend Mating in Captivity and any of her other books in order to understand the interplay between closeness and separation that happens in all relationships.
It’s by another author, but Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller is similarly vital in analyzing your past relationships and planning your future ones, including co-parenting partnerships.
7. How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen
How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen by Joanna Faber has been a wonderful resource in continuing my parenting journey to support our kids: both before and during our transition to two homes. This highly useful book, as well as The Whole Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel, teach how kids’ brains work, emphasizing the importance of making youth feel heard before diving in to deal with issues.
9. The Highly Sensitive Parent
I’ve mentioned several times that I’m an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) and that it’s had a huge impact on my life, but haven’t elaborated much about how it’s affected parenting. The book The Highly Sensitive Parent by Elaine Aron perfectly sums it up, and gives a number of solutions.
One of my big takeaways from the text is that a 50-50 custody schedule can actually be a highly beneficial structure for HSP families, because it provides clear pauses and ample space for all. There are also books by the same author about HSP kids, partners, and other permutations.
10. Books for Enjoyment
In order to make it through a time of major life transition, it’s vital to also read books for enjoyment in order to gain perspective, and get your mind onto other things. To this end, I particularly adored In Every Mirror She’s Black by fellow travel writer, Lola Åkerström, and Another Appalachia by my esteemed neighbor, Neema Avashia.
I also got a ton out of The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield, though its style of New Age adventure story may not be a match for everyone. A Gentleman in Moscow made me smile, and anything by Mindy Kaling (especially when she reads it on audiobook) lifts my spirits!
An Important Note:
Now, a quick caveat: books alone are not enough to navigate one’s way through a momentous life change like divorce. If you haven’t already found a therapist (ideally both individual and couples, since the latter is key to setting up co-parenting powerfully), please do. With insurance, many therapists are less than $20 a visit, and can do online remote Zoom support.
Also, make sure to be reaching out to friends, family, and loved ones, as well as practicing as much self-care as possible: meditation, exercise, time outside, healthy food, and good hydration and sleep. The passage of time helps a great deal, as well!
Divorce Books, in Sum
As you can see, this is just as tiny fraction of the divorce books that are out there to help with the transition — especially when kids are involved — but it’s a place to start. I also hope it helps expand your thinking on what constitutes a helpful text on marriage separation; sometimes the book’s topic doesn’t have to be specifically about divorce to provide helpful insight.
What books on this list have you read, and what did you think of them? Which texts would you add, that aren’t on this list that can help with divorce logistics and emotions? Do share!
Want more self-help reading to live better during times of transition? Check out “Navigating the Divorce Process” (my full account of the 14 months of it), plus “How to Stop Drinking Alcohol” — a very personal but hopefully useful post.
The author, Lillie Marshall, is a 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 4.2 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!