Top 10 Books to Read in 2014 to Boost Your Marriage

Top Ten TuesdayIt’s Tuesday, so it’s time for a Top 10 list! And today I thought I’d share a list of the best Christian marriage books that will help your marriage this year.

I asked a while ago on my Facebook Page for recommendations for great marriage books, and so many of you left great suggestions. I’m sorry I couldn’t include them all! You can go over and read those suggestions here.

But I’ve included the ones that resonated the most with me. I didn’t include the “typical” marriage books, though–the ones that everyone has already heard of, like The 5 Love Languages, and Love and Respect, and Sacred Marriage. These are great books, but I talk about them enough that they’re everywhere, so I figured they’re already on your radar. I wanted to include books that likely weren’t.

Now, ladies, I’m not doing this to overwhelm you. I’m not saying, “you need to go out and read all ten of these books RIGHT NOW!”

I’m saying that we could all grow a little bit in our marriage this year, and that’s a great goal. So I’ve divided these books up into different categories, and why don’t you pick a category that you need to grow in the most, and then pick one book? Just one.

Decide to read one book this year and then actually put it into practice. That’s better than reading ten, anyway! So choose one book in an area that you know you need, and I know you’ll see some real benefits.

 10 Christian Marriage Books to Help Your Marriage Thrive

Christian Marriage Books To Grow a Healthier Marriage

1. Boundaries in MarriageBoundaries in Marriage

Drs. Cloud and Townsend open their book with a great story of two different couples. Both have been married for over thirty years. One couple is at a buffet restaurant with one of the authors, and when the husband is finished his main course, he gestures to his wife, and says, “Doris, dessert now.” He wants her to go get him dessert. She’s embarrassed but she does it. The other couple takes pains to care for each other. They don’t walk all over each other. They treat each other kindly, and marriage is a joy.

And yet both marriages started out on very similar footing. In both marriages she did most of the work, and he thought he should get the perks. But only one marriage ended up happy, because in only one marriage did the woman learn how to draw boundaries effectively so that they were each treating each other with respect, in a Christlike manner.

Most couples have no idea how to draw boundaries and how to resolve conflict. This is a really practical book, and it will open your eyes to some of the roots of conflict in your marriage. I highly recommend it!

Emotionally Healthy Woman2. The Emotionally Healthy Woman

Sometimes in order to build a great marriage we need to start saying “No”–no to overfunctioning, “no” to caring what other people think, “no” to feeling guilty. In The Emotionally Healthy Woman, Geri Scazzero tells the story of how she was way too busy. She did too much in her husband’s church. She allowed her husband to never be home because she felt that’s what a good Christian wife did. She pushed herself to her emotional and physical limits because she thought her only role was to pour herself out for everybody else.

And in the process she made herself miserable and her family miserable. Their family only started to heal and grow together in a healthy way when she started learning to say “No”. A great book for any woman who feels exhausted and wonders how to stop the frantic pace of life!

 Rocking the Roles3. Rocking the Roles

What does it really mean to submit? To love your wife as Christ loved the church? To be a leader in marriage? Robert Lewis and William Hendricks tackle that huge can of worms in this supremely practical book, filled with lots of examples.

Here’s what I really appreciated about the book: they didn’t just say “here’s what the wife should do” or “here’s what the husband should do”. They also provided a blueprint of what a spouse can do when the other ISN’T fulfilling their role. And I really appreciated the end of the book where they give some concrete examples of how church leaders should help when roles are going really unfulfilled–something I commented on in my post Are You a Spouse or an Enabler? Sometimes I think we look at roles in a vacuum–you have to submit, period. But what do you do if you’re in an impossible situation? They offer some help that is sorely needed.

Mystery of Marriage4. Mystery of Marriage

When I was compiling this list of ten books, I asked my agent, who has read every Christian marriage book under the sun, what book stood out to him. And he said, without hesitation, “Mystery of Marriage”. It’s twenty years old now, but still highly relevant. Mike Mason writes meditations on what marriage really means, and what intimacy really means. It’s highly readable, in a first person account, that will open your eyes to the deeper significance of marriage and propel you to make your marriage the best it can be!

Chip says, “It’s just really, really good.” And when he says that, it’s high praise.

Christian Marriage Books To Grow Your Sex Life

Good Girls Guide My Site5. The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex

If sex has never been that stupendous in your marriage, you need this book! We were created to enjoy sex, and to have it unite us physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it’s not doing that in your relationship, don’t settle for that. Embark on a really fun research project to make it wonderful in your marriage, too!

I deal in this book with why God made sex the way He did, and then I look at how we can have great sex in each of the three areas: physical, emotional, and spiritual. In a survey I did recently of my regular readers, I found that 80% had not actually purchased any of my books yet. So I know many of you reading this have heard of this book but haven’t bought it yet. There’s so much more in it than is in the blog, and I know that it will bless your marriage!

Sex Savvy Wife6. The Sex Savvy Wife

J from Hot, Holy and Humorous has just come out with this gem–The Sex Savvy Wife: A Lovemaking Guide for Christian Women. It’s great paired with The Good Girl’s Guide. J gets supremely practical, and deals with the “how-to” of everything you can imagine in the bedroom. It’s more detailed in that sense than my book. It’s even got–gasp!–some diagrams.

I love that she went where many are afraid to go, and I’m happy to carry her book in my store, too. If sex has seemed awkward, and you just don’t know if you’re “doing it right”, J helps you figure it out and make it amazing. And it’s only $4.99!

Books to Grow Your Prayer Life in Marriage

Praying Gods Word for your Husband7. Praying God’s Word for Your Husband

I just love Kathi Lipp! And in this amazing book she helps us be our husband’s best cheerleaders by showing how we can pray God’s word in specific areas of our husband’s lives to support them, encourage them, and help them thrive.

I love this approach because it gets our eyes off of what we want and it gets our eyes back where they belong–to what God wants to do in our husband’s lives. And Kathi writes so simply, and with such passion for marriages. I’ve spoken with her at MOPS conventions before, and she’s such a great, godly woman. All of that shines through in this book. If you’ve wanted to pray more deliberately, and to see great changes in your husband, pick this one up!

Little Book of Powerful Prayers8. Little Book of Powerful Prayers

It seems odd to put this gem in a list of marriage books, but I truly believe this will help your marriage!

Stormie Omartian has written a little book with prayers from each book of the Bible–and several from a few. So as you pray through it you see the story of God unfold throughout its pages.

But here’s the reason I love it for marriage: I think many of us have difficulty getting a prayer life going with our husbands. We’re not necessarily comfortable praying out loud, and we don’t know when to pray or how to pray. This book has awesome prayers that you can pray together. Just keep it by your bedside, and every night hold each other’s hands and one of you pray the prayer. Then the other can add something if they want to (but they don’t have to). I think praying together, even just for a minute or two, can add so much to a marriage. And if you don’t know how to start, this book can be your guide.

 Christian Marriage Novels to Help Your Thought Life

A Time to Dance 9. A Time to Dance

Novels can sometimes teach us truths in a way that a nonfiction book can’t, and so I’ve decided to highlight two novels (although there are many more that are uplifting for marriage!). I have to admit I don’t love ALL of Karen Kingsbury’s books, but I really loved this series. It follows a middle-aged couple who have drifted apart. Everyone thinks they have the perfect marriage, but years of not paying attention to that marriage have led to potential emotional affairs, lots of retributions, and distance.

How do you find your way back when you’re not even sure you like each other anymore? In this book the couple has decided to divorce, but they decide not to announce it until after their child’s wedding. And as the wedding approaches, they realize how much they actually do have to lose if they split up. It was uplifting, and it reminded you of the importance of working on your marriage so that drift didn’t happen. A great read!

Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers10. The Scarlet Thread

I love Francine Rivers’ books, especially the Mark of the Lion series. Or should I say, I love MOST of Rivers’ books (more on that in a minute). Rivers started out as a romance writer, and then was saved. So her books changed. But I think she writes of marriage so realistically and beautifully. And this book shows a woman who is doubting her marriage who finds an old diary, and in it she starts to see the hand of God in her ancestor’s life and marriage, and then begins to see it in her own, too.

And her marriage changes when she gets a new attitude and starts learning to love. It’s really quite beautiful.

One caveat, though: I really didn’t like And the Shofar Blew by Rivers. In that book, a pastor grows increasingly away from God as his church grows, and he eventually falls into an affair. Yes, he’s restored at the end and yes, their marriage is saved, but I felt that the wife was a complete doormat. If she had spoken up when her husband started to fall, and taken her concerns to the elders of the church, much of the heartache could have been avoided. I’m afraid that this particular novel tells women to do absolutely nothing when your husband is in sin, and that is not the message of the Bible that I see. So while I love The Scarlet Thread, and I absolutely adore the Mark of the Lion series, I’m not as fond of all of her marriage books.

So there you go–a list of ten books to help your marriage thrive this year. Why not choose one, in an area where you know you need to grow, and read it and put it into practice!

And leave your suggestions for great Christian marriage books in the comments!

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  1. I was so shocked and thankful to see fiction books in your list! I love to read good Christian fiction (and have read both of your suggested books). In absorbing characters for 30-45 minutes each evening when I read before bed I do tend to absorb their good (or not so good if it isn’ t a good book!) character traits. :)

    • I think a fiction book can stay with you and “haunt” you in ways that a nonfiction one can’t. I know I’ve read plenty of Christian fiction that has inspired me to be a better wife, a better mom, a better person. Fiction has its place for sure!

      • I totally agree! Christian fiction shows us how to put into practice what the Bible says.

        Thank you for all your encouragement, guidance and direction to help us be the best wives God meant for us to be <3

  2. I don’t know if this one was on the facebook list, but here’s a great new one about being friends in marriage: My Beloved and My Friend by Hal and Melanie Young. I got to review an advance reader copy and the book officially launches for Valentine’s Day, but I think it’s already available.

    For more info, you can check out my review:

    Sheila, I hope it’s OK to include a link to my review. If not, please remove the link and just post the rest of the comment, because it’s truly a wonderful book and people should know about it.
    Annie Kate recently posted…Top Ten Books of 2013My Profile

  3. Thank you for posting this great list of books, Sheila! Some of those are new to me.

    If I could offer two additional suggestions: Timothy Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage (for its picture of what a Christlike marriage looks like) and Gary Thomas’s Sacred Influence: How God Uses Wives to Shape the Souls of Their Husbands (for its practical suggestions for changing and refining a wife’s attitude toward and love for her husband).

    I think we have similar tastes in fiction (I adore Francine but am underwhelmed by most of Karen Kingbury’s novels, except for the one you noted above and the Redemption series she wrote with Gary Smalley). However, I have a different perspective of the wife in Francine River’s And the Shofar Blew. Considering the elders that her husband had surrounded himself with, I’m not sure any would not have listened to her. I think she did the most powerful thing she could do for her husband: she prayed. It took a lot of pain, but the Lord did answer her prayers.

    Finally, I’d like to suggest another fiction author who writes stories of characters overcoming real struggles in real marriages: Lynn Austin (book suggestion: Eve’s Daughters). Also, Robin Lee Hatcher recently published a redemptive marriage novel (A Promise Kept) that is based on her own marriage struggles, although I haven’t read it yet.
    Angela recently posted…Living the Christian life as an introvert: My struggles and victoriesMy Profile

    • Angela, thanks for those! I love Gary Thomas’ Sacred Marriage and Sacred Search, and I’ve mentioned them both a ton on this blog, but I’ve never read Sacred Influence. I’ll have to!

      And I absolutely LOVED Eve’s Daughters! Thanks for reminding me. Maybe I’ll have to write a follow-up on the 10 best novels.

      • Sacred Marriage is my favorite marriage book, and Sacred Influence is definitely a winner too! From a Biblical standpoint on marriage roles, he spends a few chapters telling wives they need to recognize who they are in Christ and that they aren’t anybody’s doormat, then he gives practical advice on specific situations.

  4. There is another book I would love to suggest it is by: Paul David Tripp “What did you Expect?” Redeeming the realities of marriage. It is really deep and to the point. We are teaching it in our marriage classes at our church, it is very convicting no matter where you are in your marriage. Very life changing for sure.
    Janet Surrett

  5. Sheila:

    Thanks so much for adding this list and descriptions for the books. I’m always looking for more resources!

    So far, the only one I have read from your list is the Boundaries book. It is really good! I’ve been meaning to read your book for a while since it was recommended to me. I will be getting it soon.


  6. The book Love and Respect absolutely saved our marriage. We buy it and The Good Girl’s Guide for everyone we know who is getting married! I’ve read a couple of these and will put a couple of them on my wish list. Thanks for compiling this!
    Megan G. recently posted…you know you have an awesome social worker when…My Profile

    • Love and Respect is a great one, too! I guess I didn’t mention it because I feel like so many people have read it already. I was trying to stay away from The Five Love Languages and Love and Respect, etc. etc. But it is amazing! And thanks so much for buying my book for bridal showers! I appreciate it!

  7. How delightful to be in this list with such fabulous authors (including YOU, Sheila!). I see a couple here I definitely need to add to my reading list for the year. Thanks!
    J (Hot, Holy & Humorous) recently posted…Intimacy Books I’m Reading in 2014 (and Sex Savvy News)My Profile

  8. I am dismayed that no one has suggested Love & War by John & Stasi Eldredge! We read it when we were dating and then did it in a small-group a year later. We give it as a wedding gift to all our engaged friends.
    D recently posted…it’s not about meMy Profile

  9. I was going to ask – I have two nieces that are getting married this year. One is younger, definately Christian, but VERY immature and shows no respect for her husband, even now. The other is a bit older (30), falling from the church, and I’m not sure on relationship, but from experience…I know being the breadwinner makes it hard on the relationship. For both, I am very worried for their relationship, and wanted to buy them a book for the couple for their wedding.
    From the above, it sounds like “Love and War” from one of the comments would be appropriate. Are there any other suggestions for couples starting out?

    • Tammy, great question! I think Love and Respect would be a good one, especially for your immature niece. That explains what each spouse needs and alerts you to some of the conflicts you’ll likely encounter. It would likely work for the other couple, too. And, of course, I always recommend The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex to any new couple, even if they’ve had sex before marriage, because it explains how it’s all supposed to work once you are married, and helps people see what true intimacy is, which they were often lacking before marriage. Love and War would also be good, and maybe Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti, because that one’s just fun!

  10. shannon mitchell says:

    Love this!

  11. Friends and Lovers by Sam and Geri Laing; I Choose Us by John and Karen Louis – two of the best we’ve read in our 18 years of marriage!

  12. MrsSasquatch says:

    This is a great list! However I want to present a little different opinion about the statement about the Francine Rivers book. Maybe a story is just a story – and maybe she isn’t telling someone how they should live out a similar scenario. Seems like she’s telling how one person did and it didn’t work out so well. It’s one thing I dislike about the *Christian fiction* genre is that everyone is expected to do the perfect and right thing all the time. That isn’t true of the Bible or real life. We dumb down rich and interesting stories of real people who are muttling through the best they can when we make them all robots.

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