Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot of requests for lists of the best marriage books and the truth is . . . I haven’t read a lot of marriage books.
But earlier this summer, the question came up again and I opened up a question box on Instagram asking for recommendations for books about marriage and I got a flood of responses and an almost equal number of requests to share the suggestions.
So here are those most recommended marriage books!
Of course, a caveat that every marriage is different and what works for your marriage might be wildly different than what works for someone else’s. And some of the authors of these books or their take on marriage might not sit well with you, while it might be just the answer someone else was looking for.
(That disclaimer reminds me why I’ve avoided putting together a list of marriage books before – people are touchy and opinionated about relationships!).
Anyway, if you’re looking for some relationship books, I hope you’ll find some of the books on this list helpful.
25+ recommended Marriage Books
What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp
Marriage often doesn’t turn out to look quite like what you expected while you were dating or engaged. This book is designed to help readers manage changing expectations and find grace in their marital relationships.
The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman
This was probably THE most recommended marriage book and it’s really great for every kind of relationship. (We received several copies as a wedding gift!) It’s sold millions of copies for good reason and it’s a quick, engaging read.
The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships by Anger is a powerful emotion that can destroy relationships, but it can also be a useful tool – if you can identify the root causes of anger it can be an effective vehicle for creating change. Dr. Lerner masterfully teaches both women and men how to turn their anger into a constructive tool to reshape their lives.
This is How Your Marriage Ends by Matthew Fray
Little habits can drive your partner insane and sometimes lead to divorce. Matthew Fray takes a humorous approach to sharing his own raw and uncomfortable experiences being a bad husband that eventually lead to the end of his marriage. This book is meant to help readers identify relationship-killing behaviors and offers solutions to break free from destructive cycles.
Why Marriages Succeed or Fail by John Gottman
If you’re looking to self-diagnose problems in your marriage, this book is for you. It is a great tool complete with quizzes, practical exercises, tips and techniques to get your marriage back on track. There probably isn’t a better known marriage expert than John Gottman (you also might check out his newer book, Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love).
How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids by Jancee Dunn
If your relationship needs a little help, I love this practical and completely readable book about how to improve so many aspects of your marriage. I ALLLLLMOST picked this one for the January book in the 2019 Everyday Reading Book Club, but swapped it at the last moment, mainly because I worried that some of the language in this book would be a turn off to some readers. Other than that, though, I love this book and think it’s so helpful for basically every relationship, including parents, siblings, bosses, and friends. (Full review here)
Becoming Us: Using the Enneagram to Create a Thriving Gospel-Centered Marriage by I admit I have never figured out my enneagram number (despite the fact that I get asked about it on IG at least monthly), but this book sounds intriguing enough that I might want to finally do it! Becoming Us addresses marriage relationships from a Christian standpoint and applies the Enneagram to help couples understand themselves and each other.
Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage by Madeleine L’Engle
This is a touching memoir from Newbery Medal winner Madeleine L’Engle. It is her most personal work and chronicles her life, including her forty-year marriage to her husband. They evolve from struggling artists to a family that has both professional and personal fulfillment.
The 80/80 Marriage: A New Model for a Happier, Stronger Relationship by In a marriage, couples often chase the idea of “fairness” with the idea that things should be 50/50. This book tosses out that mindset and encourages couples to look at a new 80/80 model for balancing career, family and love. Husband-and-wife team Nate and Kaley Klemp share personal experiences and draw from interviews, business, pop culture, scientific studies and ancient philosophy to create an equation for success for a modern marriage.
Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love by This book offers a very insightful look at the science behind love by examining attachment theory. Our need to be in a close relationship with another individual is embedded in our genes and people are predisposed to behave in one of three distinct ways: Anxious, Avoidant, or Secure. If you want a scientific look at love, give this book a try.
Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Sue Johnson
Hold Me Tight is about examining your emotional attachment to your partner in regards to being soothed, nurtured and protected. Dr. Sue Johnson offers seven conversations for couples to have that can be both healing and formative in creating a strong and lasting bond.
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert by John Gottman is an expert marriage therapist and this book is the culmination of his work. He has summarized his years of experience and study of couples and the habits that can make or break a marriage. Gottman teaches strategies and provides resources to help couples communicate more effectively to resolve any problem and a straightforward approach.
His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage by Lots of people recommended this marriage book and mentioned that the subtitle about affairs can be off-putting, but is worth reading anyway! Willard F. Harley, identifies the ten most vital needs of men and women and shows husbands and wives how to satisfy those needs in their spouses. He offers guidance on be more creative and sensitive and avoiding extramarital affairs.
Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
This book teaches how defining healthy boundaries in marriage can make a good marriage better and even make a less than happy one be saved. Learning when to say yes and how to say no are essential for any relationship and this book will help you develop these skills.
The Great Sex Rescue: The Lies You’ve Been Taught and How to Recover What God Intended by Intimacy is a vital part of marriage, but it’s no secret that it can be one of the most contentious points in a relationship. The Great Sex Rescue takes an in-depth look at misgivings and issues with marital sexual relations from a Christian perspective. It is based on a survey of over 20,000 women and highlights the problematic teachings that can wreck sex for so many couples.
Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live) by I read this a couple of years ago and I still think about it regularly. It’s all about how to divide up household and family responsibilities between two parents and it was fascinating and eye-opening. (Fair warning that it has quite a bit of swearing).
The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Pretty sure everyone who recommended this said something like “I know you want to roll your eyes at the title and the author. . . but it’s really good!” Dr. Laura Schlessinger offers real-life examples and real-life solutions on how women can be happier in their marriages. She teaches simple principles on how to increase satisfaction in sexual pleasure, intimacy, love, joy and peace and create a relationship that can thrive.
Feeling Good Together: The Secret to Making Troubled Relationships Work by David D. Burns M.D.
Some people are just more difficult to get along with than others. That seems to be a fact of life. It might be a friend, a colleague, a neighbor, your boss, or a loving, but irritating spouse. Dr. David Burns introduces Cognitive Interpersonal Therapy, an approach that will help transform conflicted relationships into happy ones. The book is filled with examples and tools that can help you resolve even your toughest interpersonal conflicts.
Three To Get Married by Reverend Sheen shares touching real-life stories in this book about how people’s lives were changed for the better through marriage. He approaches his discussion of marriage from a Christian Faith-centered perspective and shares really great solutions to common marital crises.
You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy
I read this on a trip with Bart a few years ago and talked his ear off about it the whole time – it’s such a great fundamental look at why listening to someone else matters so much and how you can get better at it (spoiler: most of us aren’t great listeners).
The Art of Forgiving by Lewis B. Smedes
The Art of Forgiving is a little more broad than some of the other marriage books on this list but so many people suggested it when I asked for marriage book recommendations. The author outlines a step by step path to forgiving those who have hurt or betrayed you. He teaches about why we forgive, what we do when we forgive, whom we forgive and how to forgive.
I Want This to Work: An Inclusive Guide to Navigating the Most Difficult Relationship Issues We Face in the Modern Age by Elizabeth Earnshaw
This is a really great book by the influential Instagram therapist @lizlistens (Elizabeth Earnshaw). She gives a modern take on relationships that is culturally inclusive and applicable to married and unmarried couples alike. It’s a very positive narrative with a modern vibe and one that provides great tips for successful and healthy relationships.
Bonds that Make Us Free by C. Terry Warner
This relationship book requires a serious self-assessment of your emotions- especially the negative ones and how they impact your relationships. You’ll learn how to address your negative emotions at the root cause and by doing that, progress to a place of peace and happiness in your relationships with friends, spouses, colleagues and family members.
The Hard Questions: 100 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Say “I Do” by Susan Piver
Getting married is a pretty big commitment and there should be lots of things discussed prior to taking that leap. This book outlines 100 thought-provoking questions for couples to ask each other that range in topic from professional goals to social media, to children to intimacy. This is a great guide for couples to get to know each other better at any stage- dating, engaged or even married!
Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life by I’m pretty sure every person on Instagram has recommended this book (it’s included on Scribd!). Emily Nagoski uses groundbreaking science and research to debunk common misconceptions surrounding the female sexual experience. This book really dives into how things like stress, mood, trust and body image play into a woman’s overall sexual wellbeing.
Real Love: The Truth about Finding Unconditional Love & Fulfilling Relationships by Greg Baer finds that “secret something” that people are searching for to make their relationships work and talks all about it in this book. He explains what he calls “real love”, breaks it down into four steps, and guides the reader to finding it in their own relationships.
Any other favorite marriage books or relationship books to recommend? I’d love if you shared them in the comments!
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