12. What is Marriage? by Sherif Girgis, Robert P. George and Ryan T. Anderson
Originally published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, What Is Marriage? identifies and defends the reasons for the historic consensus on marriage being a male-female union, and shows why redefining civil marriage is unnecessary, unreasonable, and contrary to the common good. This is not a long book, and is more academic as it was written by a Rhodes Scholar. Nevertheless, it is helpful in forming a foundation to think through marriage in our cultural context.
11. Wired for Intimacy by William M. Struthers
In this book, neuroscientist and researcher William Struthers explains how pornography affects the male brain, and what we can do about it. Because we are embodied beings, viewing pornography changes how the brain works, how we form memories, and make attachments. By better understanding the biological realities of our sexual development, we can cultivate healthier sexual perspectives, and interpersonal relationships. Struthers exposes false assumptions and casts a vision for a redeemed masculinity, showing how our sexual longings can actually propel us toward sanctification and holiness in our bodies.
10. Culture of Honor by Danny Silk
In my opinion, one of the most challenged relational mandates in Scripture is to ‘honor one another’. In no other relationship is this challenge so revealed as in marriage. Creating a culture of honor in your marriage is imperative to a healthy relational environment.
9. God Loves Sex by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman III
What an excellent book. It is written from a practical theology as well as a counselor’s perspective. I found it helpful in challenging ‘cultural Christianity’ mindsets that are different from what is found in Scripture. God Loves Sex uses a story throughout the book to help the reader track with the concepts.
8. Your Money Counts by Howard Dayton
Christy and I read this book in our first year of marriage - and it was very helpful. Honestly, any book that you read on finances will be helpful for your marriage IF you humbly and patiently talk about your finances, and develop a financial plan.
7. Passion Pursuit by Linda Dillow and Dr. Juli Slattery
This ten week Bible study is for women and aims to help reclaim God’s design for sex and make your marriage come alive – who doesn’t want that! This has been my wife’s favorite Bible study on the Song of Solomon.
6. You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan
I appreciated the eternal perspective that Francis and Lisa Chan gave in You and Me Forever. The Chan’s address the question many couples wonder at the altar: How do I have a great marriage? Setting aside typical topics on marriage, Francis and Lisa dive into Scripture to understand what it means to have a relationship that satisfies the deepest parts of our souls. This is a quick read, and they give away all their proceeds from the book to gospel causes.
5. Body and Gift by Pope John Paul II
Suggested to me by a mentor friend Ray Mayhew, this short book was originally written by Pope John Paul II, and has been adapted for all readers. As a series of reflections on creation, it goes back to Genesis and God’s original intent for marriage.
4. StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath
This may seem odd to find on a marriage book list, but few things have helped our marriage more than discovering our strengths, honoring them, and not being threatened by our spouse’s strengths, but learning to celebrate them. If you are not familiar with Strengths Finder, no problem - it is an assessment tool that will give you your top strengths for an investment of 30-45 minutes of your time -- well worth the investment.
3. A Celebration of Sex by Douglas Rosenau
To me, this is the gold standard in the realm of marital sexual intimacy. Period. (His newer book Total Intimacy is also very helpful.) This is a very practical book that includes exercises for couples.
2. Secrets of Your Family Tree by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
Your family of origin is a powerful formation tool; there is a better response than to neglect this topic out of discomfort, anger or indifference. This team-written book (by many well-known authors) provides helpful talking points for couples on a variety of family of origin issues.
1. The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller
Bar none the best marriage book I have read. Why? Because Keller gracefully touches on foundational themes like covenant from a pastor-teacher-theologian perspective, while providing real life stories along the way. 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.