1st Edition

The Socio-Emotional Relationship Workbook for Couples Closing the Gap Between the Relationship You Want and the Relationship You Have

By Carmen Knudson-Martin Copyright 2025
    138 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    138 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This supportive and empowering guide helps readers identify and build on their relational values, which the dominant culture tends to minimize, inhibit, or disparage.

    Written in an engaging, easy to read and use format, this workbook offers clear case examples and activities that readers can apply to their own relationships. The introductory chapter describes the problem––how unrecognized power imbalances in who notices, accommodates, and attends to one another make attaining satisfying, mutually supportive intimate relationships difficult. Chapters 2-5 introduce practices that help readers recognize the connections between their social worlds and how they engage in their relationships, with exercises that facilitate this personal awareness and enable them to share these experiences with their partners. Chapters 6-10 guide readers through assessing reciprocity in their relationships and exercises to apply each of the four components of the Circle of Care (mutual vulnerability, attunement, influence, and relational responsibility) and strategies for maintaining commitment to their relational goals over the long term. In each chapter, exercises are structured to first teach personal socio-emotional awareness, followed by relational practices that facilitate engagement based on mutual attunement and shared commitment rather than debate.

    This book views emotion and meaning as the link between individuals and the larger society and helps readers develop awareness of their social contexts and societal power processes that work against relationships.

    1.     Why So Many Relationships Fail—and the Secret to Success

    2.     Center Relationships

    3.     Develop Socio-Emotional Awareness

    4.     Appreciate Emotion

    5.     Explore Relational Power
    6.     Express Mutual Vulnerability

    7.     Attune to One Another

    8.     Open to Influence

    9.     Share Responsibility for the Relationship

    10.  Oh No! Not Again: Persistently Return to Your Relational Goals


     Dr. Carmen Knudson-Martin served as a director of masters and doctoral marriage, couple, and family therapy programs for 33 years and is currently professor emerita of marriage, couple, and family therapy at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, USA.

    “Partners who use this extraordinary workbook embark on a remarkable journey of depth and clarity as they develop interactions that promote a relational framework for their lives together. Carmen Knudson-Martin distills her lifetime of work as a therapist, researcher, teacher, and supervisor into practical exercises that help couples recognize cultural messages that laud the myth of individualism over egalitarian relationship-building skills—often sources of disconnection. This work emerges from watching hundreds of hours of therapy sessions both live and through scholarly coding video replays that reveal how unequal patterns in our surrounding culture affect couples' intimacy.” 

    Douglas Huenergardt, Ph.D. Clinical Professor Loma Linda University School of Behavioral Health and Co-founder of Socio-Emotional Relationship Therapy

    “Unearned social power significantly influences our ability to cultivate security and love in intimate relationships. Sadly, books written to help couples improve their relationships rarely give this issue the attention it deserves. This highly readable and engaging workbook centralizes understanding and working through power dynamics to help couples nurture greater intimacy and connection. Dr. Knudson-Martin’s warmth, wisdom, and nonjudgmental tone guide readers to meaningful self-reflection and dialogue as they begin to dismantle destructive dynamics of power in their relationship.”

    Tim Baima, Ph.D., LMFT

    Recognized worldwide as a prominent figure in couple therapy, Carmen Knudson-Martin has written an insightful, timely, and practical workbook on couple relationships. Psychology and the field of couple therapy increasingly recognize that society profoundly shapes intimate relationships, often outside awareness. This relevant, engaging, and highly readable guide uniquely informs couples about what it means to care for each other and how societal forces and messages may infiltrate intimate relationships and impact emotion, intimacy, and communication, getting in the way of partners attaining the relationship they desire. This useful workbook is a must for anyone interested in understanding and strengthening their intimate relationships.”

    Olga Smoliak, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Guelph, Canada and a practicing psychologist and couple and family therapist.

    “Carmen Knudson-Martin’s workbook is a remarkable achievement, a beautiful step by step description of socio-emotional relationship therapy. It includes explanations, examples, and exercises that make visible cultural messages and assumptions about identity and hierarchy. It offers practices that help couples challenge these messages in favor of intimacy, and fosters emotional openness, responsiveness, equality and mutuality. This guide will be helpful to couple therapists as well as couples themselves.”

    Carol Becker, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Therapy Training Boston, Masters Series in Couple Therapy; Public Conversations Project, and Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

    “A groundbreaking resource for couples seeking to cultivate a relationship that aligns with their values, The Socio-Emotional Relationship Workbook for Couples provides practical tools and insights to help overcome communication challenges and build deeper connections. This book is a must-read for anyone looking to bridge the gap between the relationship they want and the one they have.”

    Dr. Diane Gehart, author Mindfulness and Acceptance in Couple and Family Therapy and Professor, Marriage and Family Therapy, California State University Northridge

    “Although most couples desire emotional connection, too often partners struggle to recognize and overcome social influences that perpetuate power imbalances, hinder vulnerability and mutual trust, and ultimately detract from deep intimacy. Knudson-Martin’s Socio-Emotional Relationship Workbook promotes partners’ understanding of these influences and specific skills for developing self-awareness, emotional attunement, relational responsibility, and long-term commitment. This unique resource empowers partners to free themselves from roles that constrain them and co-construct the intimate and caring relationship they long for. Every couple could benefit from the vital insights and skills cultivated by this workbook.”

    Douglas K. Snyder, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Texas A&M University (College Station) and co-author of Getting Past the Affair and co-editor of the Clinical Handbook of Couple Therapy and What Happens in Couple Therapy: A Casebook on Effective Practice.