Top Ten Relationship Experts
Most couples will admit that it takes work to maintain a healthy relationship. During those exciting early stages of dating, everyone is sporting their best party manners. It can be hard to find fault with each other. Those minor character flaws may come across as endearing or quirky at first. Six months later, they are called perpetually annoying habits or unbearable irritants.
When two people try to build on that initial happiness, problems can and do arise. Compromise becomes a necessity, and the dazzling reality of imperfection shines like a spotlight. Relationship experts say that people are rarely emotionally stuck, even when they are half of the ideal partner. Combine the challenges of routine life with some unavoidable surprises and the most stable couples can sometimes find that they need help.
Where do they go most often for relationship advice? After confiding in a trusted friend, but before seeking full professional advice, many will head straight to the self-help aisle of the bookstore. It’s an incredibly successful multi-billion dollar industry aimed specifically at doling out advice to the lovesick, loveless, or heartbroken.
The business now caters to relationship seekers, recovering divorcees, and every other imaginable aspect of the mating dance. There’s a DIY book for all things relationship. Add in seminars, retreats, radio and TV shows, websites, and audiobooks, and you have a full-fledged empire.
Naming the most effective relationship experts would be difficult and subjective; but over the years a “Who’s Who” list has emerged. Each one has a unique style and a different claim to fame. His devoted audiences are as varied as his credentials and techniques. From the conventional to the unusual, here is a list of the world’s most recognized names in the relationship counseling industry:
o Dr. Ruth Westheimer
The diminutive 80-year-old psychosexual therapist, known simply as “Dr. Ruth,” was one of the first people to bring frank discussions of human sexuality to the front and to the living room. Her radio show, Speaking Sexually, which began as an “after-hours” call-in show for listeners, first aired in 1980. Since then, this icon has written numerous books, hosted her own television show , has released a number of games and videos, and still operates its very popular website.
Dr Philip McGraw
“Dr. Phil” will surely go down in history as a no-nonsense relationship expert and the epitome of personal branding at its best. McGraw emerged onto the national scene by making frequent guest appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, where he was an instant hit with the audience. His common-sense approach to couples counseling, his colorful euphemisms, and his “average guy” appeal have earned the bestselling author a household name and the status of king of daytime television.
or Dr John Gray
It first taught us that Venus and Mars were much more than planets and the mythological figures we thought they were. Her relationship philosophy and his advice revolves around a basic premise: that men and women are inherently different and the key to solving relationship problems lies in understanding and respecting those differences. According to his website, more than 40 million copies of his Venus-Mars book series have been sold worldwide, printed in 45 languages.
or John Welwood, Ph.D.
Welwood’s signature style for unraveling the mysteries of intimate relationships integrates traditional Western psychology with Eastern spiritual wisdom. He spent his early years as a philosophy student, including two years at the Sorbonne in Paris studying existentialist thought. In addition to being a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, Welwood is the award-winning author of a series of books on relationships. Journey of the Heart, Ordinary Magic, and Perfect Love, Imperfect Relations: Healing the Wound of the Heart are among the most famous.
or David Deida
There’s no doubt that this New Age relationship guru has his share of controversy. His best-selling book bears a title that practically jumps off the shelf: The Way of the Superior Man. One reviewer praised it, calling it “an amazingly practical guide to living a masculine life of integrity, authenticity, and freedom.” Another summed it up as “misogynistic nonsense.” But Deida’s biggest critics point to his lack of credentials and insist that he has no formal degrees from an accredited institution. However, the fans remain loyal. Deida spirituality-based relationship seminars for men, women and couples continue to sell out.
Dr John Gottman
Dr. Gottman is one of the most academically credentialed therapists on the list. As co-founder of the Gottman Institute in Seattle, he and his wife, Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, seek to help couples and make the institute serve as a training ground for mental health professionals. The media dubbed his lab at the University of Washington the “Lab of Love” because of his research on couple interactions. His scientific approach to predicting marital success is remarkable: Gottman is able to predict with over 90% accuracy which couples will make it and which will not.
o Dr. Laura Schlessinger
“Dr. Laura” is a favorite of the most controversial psychotherapists to ever hang a tile. Some say she epitomizes anti-feminism, but after 30 years as a radio talk show host, she remains immensely popular. The listeners she calls are familiar with her confrontational style of giving advice and her books are equally straightforward. Eleven of them have regularly appeared on the NY Times bestseller list. The first, 10 Stupid Things Women Do to Ruin Their Lives, debuted in 1994. The Brooklyn native earned her Postdoctoral Certification in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling from the University of Southern California.
Dr Gary Smalley
He is the founder of Today’s Family and the Smalley Relationship Center, a multipurpose marriage and family counseling center with a 14-point mission statement based on Christian doctrine. Over the past 35 years, Smalley has written books, conducted hundreds of marriage seminars, and reached conference audiences now numbering in the millions. His famous award-winning infomercial, “Hidden Keys to Relationships,” has been featured by celebrities including Dick Clark and Frank and Kathie Lee Gifford.
or Dr Neil Clark Warren
Many know Dr. Warren as the founder and spokesperson for eHarmony, but before launching the dating website in 2000, he spent 35 years practicing clinical psychology. After counseling thousands of married couples, he believed there was a better way to find a life partner without leaving it up to fate. Years of research in collaboration with Dr. Galen Buckwalter led to the widely publicized Compatibility Matching System. According to a 2007 Harris Interactive Study, 236 eHarmony members get married every day in the United States after being matched on eHarmony.
Dr Gary Chapman
This marriage counselor, Baptist minister, and radio host has written more than 20 books since 1979. Of these, The Five Love Languages is the most famous. He argues that as givers and receivers of love, each of us expresses emotion in a different way. Chapman identifies those five “languages” as quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and physical contact. Therefore, understanding the love language of a partner will lead to effective communication. It is also the basis for his radio show, “A Love Language Minute,” which airs on more than 100 stations in the United States.