The 5 Marriage Books You Absolutely Need
I wasn't destined for a happy marriage, but God changed my life. Partly through people, but mostly through quiet meditation with a set of poignant books -- books I cried into and giggled with, and then allowed to change me. God transformed me from my broken way of serial dating to having the happy marriage I THRIVE IN today.
If you knew my relationship with Russell AND you knew my life before Russell, you would think I sold my soul to the devil for a good marriage. It's so much better than what I expect or deserve! I don't mean this in a self-deprecating way. I just mean that based on the fact that we both come from divorced parents, we statistically don't deserve a happy marriage.
Thank the Lord for grace!! Grace will always overcome statistics!
I really didn't have a choice in the early relationship habits I cultivated, but God showed me something recently that I think will have a tremendous impact on you if you'll let it soak in. So read this slowly:
It's one thing to be rescued from a poisonous environment, but it's another thing entirely to rid the poison from your mind.
The poisonous environment I was rescued from was a family where my parents' marriage was over before us kids were born. My brother and I witnessed and were victim to these insane fights that only mirror the level of crazy you would see in a Hollywood production. We were terrified on a regular basis. What's worse is we thought this was the normal...as in, even our own marriages would one day turn out like this.
The family I grew up in, with its daily raging fights and hatred for each other...it's not exactly the foundation for my own "Happily Ever After" fairytale.
That's where God came in.
When I moved out from my father's house, I was adamant that I would NEVER EVER EVER have a home like the one I grew up in. I thought I was so damaged, I would probably never even get married. At least that meant I wouldn't live everyday fighting with someone.
But God changed me, He repaired me, and He healed those old wounds. Today, I'm happily married. I can count the fights we've had on one hand. And I'm confident enough in our marriage to bring kids into the world...one day ;)
There are two things I can point to that absolutely, radically, turned my broken mindset on its head:
married couples + books
While I'd love to give you the phone numbers of my favorite married couples who LIVED love everyday, and by default became the inspiration for my marriage, I doubt they would consider that a good repayment for their help.
Instead, I give to you...
THE 5 MARRIAGE BOOKS YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED
- The Meaning of Marriage
- You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity
- The 5 Love Languages
- Sex is not the Problem (Lust Is)
- Swipe Right
Before you read on, let me clarify what I mean by YOU. Because I would hate to have you read this list from the perspective of a "single woman with no good prospects...who doesn't need to learn this for awhile"... Or a "married woman...it's too late for me to change the course of my marriage"... Or a "divorced woman...it's WAY too late for me to change my marriage".
This list is for anyone who would respond to "Hey YOU!"
If you are single, but you feel God is going to give you a husband one day (fingers + toes crossed)...
If you are married, and things aren't quite as happily ever after as you expected...
If you are divorced, but you hope to one day be married again... I'm writing to YOU!
Now that that's settled, let dive into the five marriage books that changed my life!
NOTE: You can click on the book icons below to go directly to the Amazon page to order them. For full disclosure, I am an Amazon affiliate* and will receive a commission based on your purchase, with no extra fee tacked on to your bill. I worked hard on this, and I hope it is VERY helpful!
The Meaning of Marriage
Shortly after meeting my (now) husband, I realized he was The One. And as any rational woman would do...I panicked.
What if he's an amazing husband, but I'm an awful wife?! What if, like my parents, our marriage ends in misery and flames, with only carnage to show for it?!
I was spewing these worries at a friend of mine, and he calmly suggested I read The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller. This friend is happily married and has been for 3 decades. I trusted his recommendation because of his strong marriage, so I immediately opened my Amazon app to ship this book to me...PTL for Prime!
I DEVOURED it. It was life-giving, mind-changing, biblical truth on marriage with practical tips. Before I read this book, I thought marriage was destined for disappointment and hate, because the two people involved were imperfect. After I read it, I learned that marriage is God-ordained to make us BETTER in ways that single life never can (...for those called to marriage).
I loved it so much, I've since gifted it to a handful of friends, both single and married. No matter if you've been married for years or single AF (and fiiiine), you should read this book. If it's anything less than helpful to your marriage, I will buy it back from you. Seriously - I believe in this book THAT much!
You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity
The biggest flaw in marriages these days is that we think marriage is designed to make us happy right now.
He won't freakin pick up his clothes!
She spends money like you wouldn't believe...
He doesn't pay me attention anymore.
And all of us have heard our friends talk about their bad relationships with jaws dropped, completely stunned. If you're single, maybe that made you never want to get married, and to that I say, "Word up." Who would want to risk being that miserable?! Thanks, but no thanks.
Instead, this book asks that we view "marriage in light of eternity". That's the position taken in You and Me Forever by Francis + Lisa Chan (who have been happily married for 2 decades!). What if marriage was designed by God to help us become the Heaven-dwellers that we will be forever and ever...and ever? There's so much more to marriage than romantic dates and guiltless sex. It's a daily challenge to forgive quickly, speak love daily, and yes...pick up after someone else. But if we rise to this challenge, and spend our lives getting better at simply loving our best friend? What amazing people will we become in the process! What a dream, right? I'm telling you right now that I'm living the dream in my marriage. Buy the book. K?
The 5 Love Languages
If you've ever said or heard someone say...
I don't want more presents...I just want you to spend time with me!
I love you, but I just need like an hour of me-time.
My husband and I really need to talk out our problems, but he thinks sex is going to fix them.
You should read this book twice. First, for literally every close relationship you have. Secondly, very specifically read it to apply it to your marriage. Because your spouse is probably trying to love you, but you're speaking different (love) languages. Or maybe one of you stopped trying, because "it wasn't working". What he perceives as fixing problems and communication might not at all be communication to you.
My husband's love language is physical touch, whereas mine is quality time. So while he's trying to quietly snuggle, I'm talking his head off! LOL! I guess I can see where that causes some issues.
If you're like us, let this book guide you to speaking your mate's love language - so when you SAY "I love you", he actually HEARS "I love you".
Sex is Not the Problem: (Lust Is)
If you jumped to this title from the list above...HAHA! GOT YA! Sex is soooo...sexy. It can be so mysterious and elusive...ooh, even that sounds sexy. It would be no headliner to say that our society has an infatuation with sex.
Within churchy circles, sex is so hush-hush, it's actually very dangerous. Because if you're curious about something, and you're not getting the answers you're seeking, you will go elsewhere. To Cosmopolitan. To the movies (Ahem, 50 Shades!). To your NOT-Christian friends. Anywhere.
It's totally fine to be curious, and I think it would be super weird not to be. Weird...or a lie! But the "churchy" response to infatuation with sex has been to condemn any talk of it, to under-educate youth about sex, and to take the freakin fun out of the thing God created for husbands and wives to become one (see Mark 10:8). No wonder Christians are looking outside of Christianity for some answers!
Let me debunk the myth. SEX IS GOOD! Of course, I mean married sex. :P Open up this book and let's debunk all the myths about sex and sexuality. Let's reclaim our sexuality in the way God created it: to be enjoyed!
To be perfectly honest, this book came out a decade after I needed it. I wandered around from bed to bed looking for love. What I got was endless headaches with boys that just wanted a body...any body.
The one thing about sex that I wish I would have known when I was younger is that saving sex for your marriage is the way you learn sexual self-control, which trust me, is even more vital to practice when you're married than when you're unmarried. How many marriages are ruined by affairs, pornography, masturbation, prostitution, and more? See, when we hear someone is "divorced", it's so easy to be quick to blame someone for stepping out, but the truth is usually hidden behind some other small issue that slowly, but steadily grew into a big, hairy uncontrollable monster.
I remember several years ago, I had a female, married, Christian friend who was having an inappropriate relationship with another woman. When I confronted her with her behavior, she broke down. Like sloppy-crying-messy-break-down. After what seemed like hours of crying, she revealed her husband had a porn addiction and she felt like a literal piece of random roadkill during sex. She felt dirty, and she was just the victim of his warped mind. So she turned to someone who would make her feel human again.
See, we have to quit saying, "Don't have sex. Don't commit any sexual sins. Just don't." because it is both short-sighted and misdirected. What's the reason people seek sexual pleasure from the wrong people? For women, it is almost entirely due to a lack of feeling loved.
It was for me.
All the crappy sexual sins I repeated were due to a lack of love, which I can trace back to my childhood, being neglected. But to repeat what I previously said,
It's one thing to be rescued from a poisonous environment, but it's another thing entirely to rid the poison from your mind.
It's one thing for me to say, "I'm no longer a sexual deviant." It's another thing to de-contaminate my mind from the residual poison of that lifestyle.
I loved journeying through this poignant book with Levi. It's not a condemning book, it's a "let's live better" book. It was the feeling of belonging to God that I needed. And from that place of belonging, my sexual life has become pure again.
If you're sexually wrecked, you are neither alone nor abnormal. If Christians were honest, most of us would admit we are/were sexually wrecked. So I'm being honest with you right now. You need to get this book and reclaim your sexual purity. Life is better this way! Guiltless sex is waaaaay better! Being able to face yourself in the mirror with love and acceptance is SO MUCH BETTER! Buy the book.
That's it then! The secret to a happy, loving marriage contained in 5 books. They changed my life from broken-hearted, selfishly living, sexually wrecked girl to a godly wife THRIVING IN the loving, happy marriage that's better than she ever imagined.
I hope the same for you, which is why I wrote this post. No matter where you are or have far from goodness you've wandered, God is out searching for you (see Luke 15:20). He wants to find you -- all of you, even the parts you don't like -- and He wants to restore your life back to goodness. If I can pray with you or you just need a friend to listen to you with no judgement, please let me know. I'd love to grab coffee and talk REAL LIFE with you!
P.S. All these photos (besides my iPhone shot on the couch) are from the phenomenally-talented Benjamin Hewitt, linked here.
P.P.S. If you want to read more about the ways we practice all this knowledge in our marriage, read this post: Reflections on our first year.
*Disclosure: Priska Jordan is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.