As a church leader, you know recommending marriage books is tricky. Half of you will love this post and be inspired. The other half will hate it because I didn’t add your favorite book!
What follows is my attempt to merge some of the popular marriage books from over the last few years with books many of our followers recommended to us. We asked our followers, husband and wives, and many of whom may be in your churches, which books have been helpful to them at various stages in their marriages.
While not exhaustive and not in any particular order, this list can help you know what many of the husbands and wives in your church are or have been reading. If there’s some difficult doctrinal issue you find out of bounds in one of these books, just know, we didn’t write any of these books.
We’re not saying we agree or disagree with any single word in these books. What we’re saying is, these are a few the popular books and knowing about them will help you better serve the couples you’re trying to help.
In fact, many of the couples you serve have probably read these books. You should know what’s in them. Now, with that huge preface….
Here are twelve (12) marriage books you should know about:
#1 Marriage God’s Way
Full title: Marriage God’s Way
Author: Henry Brandt and Kerry Skinner
About: I was told to read this book by my pastor-friend while I was dating who would become my wife. I’ve now been married to that girl for almost 17 years, praise the Lord! I’ve read this book several times and used it to counsel many couples. Read it if you haven’t already!
Here’s the excerpt: Why do so many marriages today end in divorce? Because more and more people, even in the church, are following the world’s models of marriage instead of God’s ordained design. Avoiding all the pop psychology and media hype, Marriage God’s Way takes a fresh and frank new look at how to ease marital strife by considering marriage from a biblical perspective. It prepares young married couples for a happy life together, and helps those married longer to keep their love for each other fresh and vital.
#2 Sacred Marriage
Full title: Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?
Author: Gary Thomas
About: Gary Thomas uncovers how your marriage can become a doorway to a closer walk with God and each other. What if God’s primary intent for your marriage isn’t to make you happy…but holy? What if your relationship isn’t as much about you and your spouse as it is about you and God?
Sacred Marriage reveals how good marriages . . .
- Train us to love God and others well
- Expose sin and makes us more aware of God’s presence
- Foster good prayer
- Cultivate a sexual relationship that feeds the spiritual life
With discussion questions for couples and small groups, this book will help you and your marriage ministry.
#3 What Did You Expect?
Full title: What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage
Author: Paul David Tripp
About: Somehow, someway, every marriage becomes a struggle. Everyone’s marriage morphs into something they didn’t intend it to be. At some point you need something sturdier than romance. You need something deeper than shared interests and mutual attraction. You need changed expectations, you need radical commitments, and, most importantly, you need grace.
#4 The Meaning of Marriage
Full title: The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God
Author: Timothy Keller
About: 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.
#5 Boundaries in Marriage
Full title: Boundaries in Marriage
Author: Henry Cloud and John Townsend
About: Learn when to say yes and when to say no to your spouse to make the most of your marriage. Only when you and your spouse know and respect each other’s needs, choices, and freedom can you give yourselves freely and lovingly to one another.
Boundaries are the “property lines” that define and protect husbands and wives as individuals. Once they are in place, a good marriage can become better, and a less-than-satisfying one can even be saved.
Boundaries in Marriage will help you:
- Set and maintain personal boundaries and respect those of their spouse
- Establish values that form a godly structure and architecture for their marriage
- Protect their marriage from different kinds of “intruders”
- Work with a spouse who understands and values boundaries – or work with one who doesn’t
#6 Love & Respect
Full title: Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs
Author: Emerson Eggerichs
About: Reveals the secret to couples meeting each other’s deepest needs–without love she reacts without respect, and without respect he reacts without love, and a painful, negative cycle begins.
#7 God, Marriage, and Family
Full title: God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation
Author: Andreas J. Kostenberger and David W. Jones
About: In God, Marriage, and Family, Kostenberger and Jones explore the latest controversies, cultural shifts, and teachings within both the church and society and further apply Scripture’s timeless principles to contemporary issues. This book includes an assessment of the family-integrated church movement; discussion of recent debates on corporal punishment, singleness, homosexuality, and divorce and remarriage; new sections on the theology of sex and the parenting of teens; and updated bibliographies. This book is a valuable resource for personal and group study, counseling, and marriage and family courses.
#8 The Seven Principals for Making Marriage Work
Full title: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert
Author: John M. Gottman
About: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work has revolutionized the way we understand, repair, and strengthen marriages. John Gottman’s unprecedented study of couples over a period of years has allowed him to observe the habits that can make—and break—a marriage. Here is the culmination of that work: the seven principles that guide couples on a path toward a harmonious and long-lasting relationship. These principles teach marriages approaches for resolving conflicts, creating common ground, and achieving greater levels of intimacy. Gottman offers strategies and resources to help couples collaborate more effectively to resolve any problem, whether dealing with issues related to sex, money, work, family, or anything else.
#9 The Excellent Wife
Full title: The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective
Author: Martha Peace
About: Here is a scripturally based blueprint for the woman who really wants to be the wife God intended her to be. This book is based on Proverbs 31:10: “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.” Thousands of women have already discovered the worth of this volume and testify to lives and marriages changed because of a commitment to the principles presented here. If this is a commitment you have made, or want to make, The Excellent Wife answers the difficult questions facing you today.
#10 The Exemplary Husband
Full title: The Exemplary Husband: A Biblical Perspective
Author: Stuart Scott
About: The official companion book for The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace is a biblical blueprint for the mandate God has given to husbands in the covenant of marriage to love their wives, even as Christ loved the church. Dr. Stuart Scott has responded chapter by chapter to the biblical teaching put forth in Martha’s popular book. It is suitable for men’s small group Bible studies, or for couples prayerfully seeking God’s very best in marriage.
#11 Just for wives: The Power of a Praying Wife
Full title: The Power of a Praying Wife
Author: Stormie Omartian
About: I had to mention numbers 11 and 12 on this list. They each came up so much in my questioning husbands and wives!
Stormie Omartian shares how God can strengthen your marriage as you pray for your husband concerning key areas in his life, including…
- his spiritual walk
- his emotions
- his role as a leader
- his security in work
- his physical protection
- his faith and his future
You will be encouraged by Stormie’s own experiences, along with the Bible verses and sample prayers included in each chapter. Join the millions of women who have been blessed by this life-changing look at the power of a wife’s prayers.
#12 Just for husbands: The Power of a Praying Husband
Full title: The Power of a Praying Husband
Author: Stormie Omartian
About: In The Power of a Praying® Husband, you’ll find the excitement and hope that come from inviting the God who hears and answers prayer into your marriage. Packed with real-life examples and refreshing honesty regarding her own marriage, Stormie encourages you to lovingly intercede for your wife in every area of her life, including her
Each chapter features comments from well-known Christian men, biblical wisdom, and prayer ideas. The warm and easy-to-read book includes a foreword by Stormie’s husband, multi-Grammy winning music producer Michael Omartian. It’s a resource that makes a great gift to husbands from wives and is also an excellent study for men’s groups wanting to develop the discipline of prayer.
I hope this list is encouraging to you. Perhaps you’ve read several books from this list. Maybe one or two are ones you’ve heard about but never read. Let this list inspire you to have the next book you pick up be about marriage.
Ryan Sanders is a native Tennessean living in Washington, DC. He has been married to Tonia for almost 17 years and they have three children. He is currently ThM student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he received the Master of Divinity. He is a Fellow at The Colson Center for Christian Worldview and serves as Lay Pastor at McLean Bible Church.