Originally published Monday, 22 February 2016.
I never wanted to get married.
Growing up, I knew my parents were committed to each other, but the marriage they modeled wasn’t anything I wanted to experience in my life. So I thought I’d be a single missionary like Amy Carmichael and invest my life in the poor of the slums.
Except God had other plans. (I can still hear Him laughing His good-natured chuckle. Child, you think you know what’s best for you, but My plans are higher than your plans, and I have another thing coming!)
Long story short, my freshman year of college I fell in love with a boy I first met in sixth-grade camp, and I’ve been head-0ver-heels for him since. Sure, we’ve had our share of ups and downs, and five years in, I still feel like we’re new at this whole you-and-me-forever thing. But I wouldn’t trade him for the world, and I’m so SO glad God didn’t follow my plans. *smile*
Key to our happiness has been learning from other older couples what it means to love and serve one another in marriage. We’ve been blessed with several godly couples who spoke truth into our lives at key moments, but in between, books have mentored us into a healthier marriage.
When it comes to marriage books, there are a LOT I’ve read and a whole lot more on my reading list. Some books I’ve revisited several times, like seeking out a good friend for a cup of coffee, and some books still sit on my bookshelf, asking me to take them out and spend some time together.
Below I’ve included my top picks for Christian marriage books. These are gems you’ll want to revisit again and again, and your marriage will be the better for it.
1. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Thomas
My top pick, this book has given Flaviu and me a vocabulary to express our need for love in specific ways. It’s also given us a non-confrontational way to address times when we’re feeling unloved, or when our “love bank” is running low. Hands-down, this is my top marriage book for anyone looking to immediately improve their marriage. (Find it on Amazon.)
2. The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian
I started reading this book while we were engaged, and I’m still challenged each time I pick it up to devote more time to praying for my man. The goal here, I learned, isn’t to change him into what I want but to ask God to pour forth all He has for my husband’s life and to use me as a conduit for blessing. (Find it on Amazon.)
3. For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhahn
I was shocked when I read this book as a newly-engaged woman and learned that the sexual temptations we struggle with before marriage follow us into marriage. If you want a peak into your man’s mind, this book will help you understand him, empathize with him, and better love and serve him. (Find it on Amazon.)
4. The Love Dare by Alex and Stephen Kendrick
About three years into our marriage, I felt like we had hit a rut, so I picked up this book after watchingFireproof, and it helped me change my perspective to look for ways to serve instead of waiting to be served. The daily challenges are easy but thought-provoking, and it’s the perfect way to infuse your marriage with a little extra oomph. (Find it on Amazon.)
5. Passion Pursuit: What Kind of Love Are You Making? by Linda Dillow and Dr. Juli Slattery
If you feel your love life has fizzled out, this Bible study may help you rediscover your passion for your husband. I’ve found this is best done with a group of trusted friends, but let me tell you: expect both tears and laughs. There’s healing in bringing our sexuality before God. (Find it on Amazon.)
6. Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages by Darlene Schacht
Sadly, too many marriages today feel like they’re beyond hope, but this book helps guide readers to see the beauty of the everyday mess. Darlene is honest, frank, and transparent, and you’ll find her writing refreshing. (Find it on Amazon.)
7. Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs
You’ve probably heard this by now, but women most need to feel love while men need to feel respected. But if you’re wondering what exactly that looks like in the day-to-day grind, you’ll find direction and actionable steps in this book. (Find it on Amazon.)
The idea that marriage is meant primarily to sanctify us has changed my entire view of marriage. God redeems the hard parts of our lives to make us more like Him, and that’s a beautiful way to approach those hardships we all experience in marriage. (Find it on Amazon.)
9. The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis
Oh, C. S. Lewis. If you enjoy deep, rich, philosophical writings, this book by C. S. Lewis will be right up your alley. Writing from a scholar’s perspective, Lewis dives deep into ideas that will leave you marriage for the better. (Find it on Amazon.)
10. Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage by Kevin Leman
Hollywood would have us believe that the best sex happens in unattached, spontaneous hookups, and for the longest time I believed them. But what this book has helped me discovered is that sex gets better with time and effort, and it’s a beautiful thing to see unfolding in your own marriage. (Find it on Amazon.)
11. This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence by John Piper
Every time I read a John Piper book, I feel like my brain is overloaded, but in a good way, because his writing helps me think of things differently and always unpacks weighty Bible texts. This book is not for the faint of heart, but if you wade through it, you will come out with a deeper understanding of how God intended marriage to reflect eternal realities. (Find it on Amazon.)
12. What’s It Like to Be Married to Me? by Linda Dillow
This book’s cover alone made me laugh when I first saw it because just toothpaste and toilet paper is enough to spark controversy. Truth be told, I’ve spent too much time looking at my marriage from my own perspective; this book helps us see life through our spouse’s eyes. Refreshing and fun. (Find it on Amazon.)
13. You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis and Lisa Chan
This husband-and-wife team share that the best way to have a healthy and happy marriage is by not focusing on marriage. Eye-opening, thought-provoking, and life-changing. (Find it on Amazon.)
14. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Timothy and Kathy Keller
I love that this book combines Tim’s insightful understanding of Scripture with his wife’s realistic commentary. I’ve realized we all believe certain lies about marriage, and we can only grow as we confront them and replace them with God’s Truth. (Find it on Amazon.)
15. His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage by Willard F. Harley, Jr
This classic will help you understand your spouse’s top needs and how they’re different from your own. I’ve found that too often I expect my husband to behave the way I do and want the things I want, but we are fundamentally different, and that’s a good thing. (Find it on Amazon.)
What books have you read and enjoyed on the topic of marriage?