Highly Recommended Books on Marriage that Emphasize the Gospel & Scripture:
Each For the Other: Marriage as it's Meant to Be by Chapell, Bryan (1999) Chapell offers the best nontechnical statement of the Bible’s teaching on marriage. The book explores the teaching of Ephesians 5 with great wisdom and skill, challenging both the tendencies of our culture to reject the divinely ordained pattern of marriage while at the same time challenging the distortions that are common in the church. This book will challenge the reader to live out the biblical principles for marriage in a way that depends on the grace of God. If you are confused about the place of authority and submission in marriage, this is the place to begin reading.
Intimate Allies: Rediscovering God's Design for Marriage and Becoming Soul Mates for Life by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman (1995) Excellent study of God’s created design for marriage that explores how modern middle-class marriages both work against that purpose and can move into a deeper realization of God’s design for intimacy. The questions at the end of the chapters are vital to gaining the full benefit of this book. More insightful in setting the larger framework in which marriage should be viewed. You must work at applying this in practical ways to your marriage. There are various formats available for group discussions.
Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and Sarah Eggerichs (2004) Discover the single greatest secret to a successful marriage. Psychological studies affirm it, and the Bible has been saying it for ages. Cracking the communication code between husband and wife involves understanding one thing: that unconditional respect is as powerful for him as unconditional love is for her. It's the secret to marriage that every couple seeks, and yet few couples ever find. Today, you and your mate can start fresh with the ground-breaking guidance that Dr. Emerson Eggerichs provides in this book. His revolutionary message, featured on Focus on the Family, is for anyone: in marital crisis, wanting to stay happily married, who's feeling lonely. It's for engaged couples, victims of affairs, pastors and counselors seeking material that can save a marriage.
The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Tim Keller and Kathy Keller (2013) Based on the acclaimed sermon series by New York Times bestselling author Timothy Keller, this book shows everyone—Christians, skeptics, singles, longtime married couples, and those about to be engaged—the vision of what marriage should be according to the Bible. Modern culture would have you believe that everyone has a soul mate; that romance is the most important part of a successful marriage; that your spouse is there to help you realize your potential; that marriage does not mean forever, but merely for now; and that starting over after a divorce is the best solution to seemingly intractable marriage issues. But these modern-day assumptions are wrong. Timothy Keller, with insights from Kathy, his wife of thirty-seven years, shows marriage to be a glorious relationship that is also misunderstood and mysterious. The Meaning of Marriage offers instruction on how to have a successful marriage, and is essential reading for anyone who wants to know God and love more deeply in this life.
This Momentary Marriage: a Parable of Permanence by John Piper and Noel Piper (2009) Reflecting on forty years of matrimony, John Piper exalts the biblical meaning of marriage over its emotion, exhorting couples to keep their covenant for all the best reasons. Even in the days when people commonly stayed married "'til death do us part," there has never been a generation whose view of marriage was high enough, says Pastor John Piper. That is all the more true in our casual times. Though personal selfishness and cultural bondage obstruct the wonder of God's purpose, it is found in God's Word, where his design can awaken a glorious vision capable of freeing every person from small, Christ-ignoring, romance-intoxicated views. As Piper explains in reflecting on forty years of matrimony: "Most foundationally, marriage is the doing of God. And ultimately, marriage is the display of God. It displays the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his people to the world in a way that no other event or institution does. Marriage, therefore, is not mainly about being in love. It's mainly about telling the truth with our lives. And staying married is not about staying in love. It is about keeping covenant and putting the glory of Christ's covenant-keeping love on display." This Momentary Marriage unpacks the biblical vision, its unexpected contours, and its weighty implications for married, single, divorced, and remarried alike.
The Mystery of Marriage: Meditations on the Miracle by Mike Mason (1985) This book offers profound reflection on how our marriages are a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. Very challenging book about our tendencies to hide and be selfish in marriage. This is not a handbook filled with exercises and loads of practical suggestions. It offers you the opportunity to meditate on God’s purpose in marriage and both why and how we tend to evade those purposes.
Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More than to Make Us Happy by Thomas Gary (2000) Your marriage is more than a sacred covenant with another person. It is a spiritual discipline designed to help you know God better, trust him more fully, and love him more deeply. Scores of books have been written that offer guidance for building the marriage of your dreams. But what if God's primary intent for your marriage isn't to make you happy. . . but holy? And what if your relationship isn't as much about you and your spouse as it is about you and God? Everything about your marriage--everything--is filled with prophetic potential, with the capacity for discovering and revealing Christ's character. The respect you accord your partner; the forgiveness you humbly seek and graciously extend; the ecstasy, awe, and sheer fun of lovemaking; the history you and your spouse build with one another--in these and other facets of your marriage, Sacred Marriage uncovers the mystery of God's overarching purpose. This book may very well alter profoundly the contours of your marriage. It will most certainly change you. Because whether it is delightful or difficult, your marriage can become a doorway to a closer walk with God, and to a spiritual integrity that, like salt, seasons the world around you with the savor of Christ. This book has a workbook and DVD series.
What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp (2012) Marriage, according to Scripture, will always involve two flawed people living with each other in a fallen world. Yet, in counselor Paul Tripp’s professional experience, the majority of couples enter marriage with far different expectations. These unrealistic expectations leave them unprepared for the day-to-day realities of married life. This unique book introduces a biblical and practical approach to those realities that is rooted in God’s faithfulness and Scripture’s teaching on sin and grace. “Spouses need to be reconciled to each other and to God on a daily basis,” Tripp declares. “Since we’re always sinners married to sinners, reconciliation isn’t just the right response in moments of failure. It must be the lifestyle of any healthy marriage.” What Did You Expect? presents six practical commitments that give shape and momentum to such a lifestyle. These commitments—ranging from “We will honestly face our sin, weakness, and failure” to “We will change our agenda” and “We will protect our relationship”—will equip couples to develop a thriving, grace-based marriage in all circumstances and seasons of their relationship.
When Sinners Say I Do: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage by Dave Harvey (2007) Marriage is the union of two people who arrive at the altar toting some surprisingly large luggage. Often it gets opened right there on the honeymoon, sometimes it waits for the week after. The Bible calls it sin and understanding its influence can make all the difference for a man and woman who are building a life together. When Sinners Say "I Do" is about encountering the life-transforming power of the gospel in the unpredictable journey of marriage. Dave's writing style embraces the reader as he speaks honestly, and sometimes humorously, about sin and the power of the gospel to overcome it. He opens the delightful truth of Gods word and encourages the reader to see more clearly the glorious picture of what God does when sinners say "I do."
Books that seek to integrate the Bible with insights from Psychology – these books are written primarily by Psychologists.
The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Dr. Gary Chapman (2010) Unhappiness in marriage often has a simple root cause: we speak different love languages, believes Dr. Gary Chapman. While working as a marriage counselor for more than 30 years, he identified five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. In a friendly, often humorous style, he unpacks each one. Some husbands or wives may crave focused attention; another needs regular praise. Gifts are highly important to one spouse, while another sees fixing a leaky faucet, ironing a shirt, or cooking a meal as filling their "love tank." Some partners might find physical touch makes them feel valued: holding hands, giving back rubs, and sexual contact. Chapman illustrates each love language with real-life examples from his counseling practice. How do you discover your spouse’s – and your own – love language? Chapman’s short questionnaires are one of several ways to find out. Throughout the book, he also includes application questions that can be answered more extensively in the beautifully detailed companion leather journal (an exclusive Amazon.com set). Each section of the journal corresponds with a chapter from the book, offering opportunities for deeper reflection on your marriage. Although some readers may find choosing to love a spouse that they no longer even like –hoping the feelings of affection will follow later– a difficult concept to swallow, Chapman promises that the results will be worth the effort. "Love is a choice," says Chapman. "And either partner can start the process today." --Cindy Crosby. Chapman is a prolific author and has many titles related to love and marriage.
How We Love: Discover Your Love Style, Enhance Your Marriage by Milan Yerkovich and Kay Yerkovich (2008) This is a popular treatment of Attachment theory as applied to marriage by a husband who trained as a pastor and his wife who is a licensed marriage and family therapist. There is a workbook built into the book and a separate workbook to take you deeper. They have produced a DVD for a small group interaction. They look at common patterns in relating that are rooted in the imprint of how we learned to love in our families of origin. The ability to comfort others, speak what you are feeling and be present with them in the pain are basic skills that many of us should have gotten at home but did not.
A Lasting Promise: The Christian Guide to Fighting for Your Marriage by Scott Stanley, Daniel Trathen, Savanna McCain, and Milton Bryan (2014) For more than fifteen years, Scott Stanley's A Lasting Promise has offered solutions to common problems—facing conflicts, problem solving, improving communication, and dealing with core issues—within a Christian framework. Thoroughly revised and updated, this new edition is filled with sacred teachings of scripture, the latest research on marriage, and clear examples from the lives of couples. The book's strategies are designed to help couples improve communication, understand commitment, bring more fun into their relationship, and enhance their sex lives. This book is a comprehensive guide to prepare couples for marriage and a resource to assist them in deepening intimacy. Each chapter has excellent exercises to help couples put what they have learned into practice.
The Marriage Builder: Creating True Oneness to Transform Your Marriage by Dr. Larry Crabb (1982) Cuts to the heart of the biblical view of marriage: the "one-flesh" relationship. He argues convincingly that the deepest needs of human personality—security and significance—ultimately cannot be satisfied by a marriage partner. We need to turn to the Lord, rather than our spouse, to satisfy our needs. This frees both partners for "soul oneness," a commitment to minister to our spouse's needs rather than manipulating them to meet our own needs. With "soul oneness" comes renewed "body oneness," where couples enjoy sexual pleasure as an expression and outgrowth of a personal relationship. The Marriage Builder also identifies three building blocks essential to constructing marriage: the grace of God, true marriage commitment, and acceptance of one's mate. Discussion questions are included to aid couples who want to dig into it and apply the principles to their own lives and marriages. The Marriage Builder is for anyone who longs to transform marriage from trial to triumph. The Marriage Mender: A Couple’s Guide for Staying Together by Thomas A. Whiteman and Thomas G. Bartlett (1996) This book is the next best thing to meeting with a skillful counselor who knows how marriages go sour and can offer a practical guide on the steps you can take to solve the most common problems. The authors offer the reader a rare combination of insight about the patterns marriages tend to develop and then some clear steps to making changes that can in a very short time make a big difference in day to day living.
Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts: Seven Questions to Ask Before and After You Marry by Dr. Les Parrott and Dr. Leslie Parrott (1995) This work is highly practical, succinctly written and carefully illustrated with life examples . It explores the dynamics of relationships bringing the powerful insights of family systems to light. If you know you had a less than healthy family background this book offers the recipe for change. It has an accompanying workbook that is essential for getting the full value of the material. It does not address the issue of God’s design for marriage, nor does it explore the Bible’s teaching in any depth.
Sex in Marriage
The Act of Marriage: the Beauty of Sexual Love by Tim LaHaye and Beverly LaHaye (1976) A less technical and very practical book on sex in marriage, placing sex in the larger context of the relationship. It offers biblical principles, goals, guidelines, and charts to help couples enrich their physical relationship.
A Celebration of Sex for Newlyweds by Dr. Douglas Rosenau (2002) Answers specific, often unasked questions about sexual topics, and presents newly-married couples with detailed techniques and behavioral skills for learning sexual pleasure and intimate companionship. An excellent tool for premarital counseling and a wonderful gift for the newly-married, this book offers invaluable information in a professional yet sensitive style.
Getting Your Sex Life Off to a Great Start: A Guide for Engaged and Newlywed Couples by Dr. Clifford L. Penner and Joyce J. Penner (1994) Many couples put more planning into the wedding ceremony than they do for what comes after the wedding. Intelligent, deliberate preparation for a lifetime of sexual leasure is a worthy investment you won't regret. In Getting Your Sex Life Off to a Great Start, renowned sexual counselors and best-selling authors Clifford and Joyce Penner guide you through an encouraging process that begins by dispelling sexual myths and then guides you in getting to know yourself and each other emotionally and physically. With reassuring enthusiasm and straightforward advice, the Penners show you how to clarify your expectations and pursue the joyous marital passion described in Scripture. Creative, step-by-step exercises and easy-to-understand examples are included.
Intended for Pleasure: Sex Technique and Sexual Fulfillment in Christian Marriage by Dr. Ed Wheat and Gaye Wheat (2010) This updated edition of a classic for over thirty years, Intended for Pleasure is an easy-to-read reference book that combines biblical teaching on love and marriage with the latest medical information on sex and sexuality. This popular resource gently encourages married couples to make their sexual relationship the fulfilling experience it was meant to be. This is a complete sex manual, with basic facts, illustrations, and frank discussion of all facets of human sexuality. A perfect gift for newlyweds and a source book for pastors and marriage counselors, this book has helped more than a million people understand and enjoy the gift God intended for pleasure.
The Heart of Remarriage by Dr. Gary Smalley and Dr. Greg Smalley (2010) Drs. Gary and Greg Smalley partner with remarried couple Dan and Marci Cretsinger to offer this marriage-changing idea: No matter what circumstances or challenges a remarried couple and their stepfamily face, the solution starts in their hearts. Remarried couples will learn how to examine their own hearts and heal them from the hurts of the past, so that they can be filled with God's love and let that love overflow to their family members. The Heart of Remarriage teaches readers how to create emotional security for every family member and offers practical ideas for connecting at the heart level with their spouse, children, and stepchildren. Couples will be encouraged to keep their hearts open and challenged to leave a family legacy of love.
The Remarriage CheckUp: Tools to Help Your Marriage Last a Lifetime by Ron Deal and David Olson (2010) Ron L. Deal, the leading Christian remarriage authority, and David H. Olson, a seasoned marriage and family expert, give couples hope that they can have strong, healthy marriages. Their advice grows out of the National Survey of Couples Creating Stepfamilies, the largest study of its kind (more than 50,000 couples) ever conducted. As couples work through the book in conjunction with an online Couple Checkup, they'll discover ways to improve all aspects of their marriage and build on its strengths. A free online Couple Checkup is included with each book.
Saving Your Second Marriage: 9 Questions to Ask Before and After You Remarry by Dr. Les Parrott and Dr. Leslie Parrott (2001) Relationship experts Les and Leslie Parrott show how you can beat the odds with flying colors and make remarriage the best thing that’s ever happened to you. Do you have the skills you need? Now is the time to acquire them--and build a future together that is everything marriage can and ought to be. Also available: men’s workbook and women’s workbook.
Other Valuable and Worthwhile Books on Marriage (from a Christian perspective) Include:
The Heart of Commitment: Cultivating Lifelong Devotion in Marriage by Scott Stanley (1998) A fine treatment on the nature of marital commitment and how it works in marriage from one of the nation’s premier marriage researchers. The book is intended to help those who are struggling with commitment issues to renew their dedication to the challenging work of being married.
His Needs Her Needs: Building an Affair Proof Marriage by Willard F. Harley (2011) A look at the felt needs that most couples have. Harley offers a realistic look at how these needs often go unmet and how they are given as the stated cause of affairs. He points out how the deception of appearing to be one person when you are courting, and reverting to the real you later often leads to significant dissatisfaction.
How Do You Say, “I Love You” by Judson J. Swihart (1997) A very practical look at the different love languages we speak and how to get in tune with your spouse’s language.