Jan. ’21 Friday Favorites: Marriage Books

Hey friends, I hope you had a great first month of 2021! I know I did 🙂 If you missed it, I released my new book, Rhythms of Relationship on Monday and I would love for you to check it out! In keeping with the marriage theme, I thought for this month’s Friday Favorites I would share some of my favorite marriage books. There are some other great resources I share in my book as well.

1. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman and Nan Silver

I read this book while doing research for Rhythms of Relationship, and I thought it was a very unique take on marriage. If you’re not familiar with John Gottman, he is a therapist and researcher who has spent 40 years studying marriage. He is famous for conducting research in “the Love Lab” at the University of Washington. What’s interesting is that his approach to improving marriage is very scientific, with data to back up his claims. One of the concepts that stuck with me the most from this book is “‘bids’ for each other’s attention, affection, humor, or support. Bids can be as minor as asking for a backrub or as significant as seeking help in carrying the burden when an aging parent is ill. The partner responds to each bid either by turning toward the spouse, or turning away.” Since reading this, I have been more conscious of when Matt is making a bid, especially in the middle of a tense conversation or argument, and choosing to turn toward him rather than away. I’d highly recommend this interesting yet practical book on marriage.

2. Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage To Make Us Holy More Than To Make Us Happy? By Gary Thomas

This book has some great solid theology on marriage and its purpose. I am always convicted reading this book and reminded about the ultimate goal of marriage. If I’m not diligent, I can fall into the trap of thinking my husband is not working hard enough for my happiness, comfort, security, etc. This book is a great reminder that marriage is not about my happiness at all, but my holiness. I love this quote: “If you want to be free to serve Jesus, there’s no question—stay single. Marriage takes a lot of time. But if you want to become more like Jesus, I can’t imagine any better thing to do than to get married. Being married forces you to face some character issues you’d never have to face otherwise.” Thomas doesn’t shy away from the fact that marriage is hard work, but he also points to the eternal rewards of that work that will pay off.

3. Marriage on the Rock 25th Anniversary: The Comprehensive Guide to a Solid, Healthy, and Lasting Marriage by Jimmy Evans

We used this book in our medical school marriage group last year, and I really enjoyed the concepts presented. Pastor Jimmy Evans shares about how to have a marriage centered on Christ with warmth and humor. Evans provides practical concepts for building and strengthening a solid foundation for your marriage, no matter how long you have been married. This book is great to do with a group of couples.

4. Marriage Forecasting: Changing the Climate of Your Relationship One Conversation at a Time by Tim Muehlhoff

I had the pleasure of having Dr. Tim Muehlhoff as one of my professors in college, and he is one of my favorite authors on communication. Muehlhoff discusses the different factors of the communication climate in a marriage and what you can do to make your climate warm instead of frosty. He describes a communication climate as “the overarching sense of value and satisfaction individuals feel as they interact with each other and go about daily activities.” In his book, he discusses four elements of a communication climate: acknowledgement, trust, expectation, and commitment. This book is an excellent one if you’re looking for a marriage book specifically related to communication.

5. The Circle Maker: Praying Circles around Your Biggest Dreams by Mark Batterson

While this book is not strictly related to marriage, it has had a big impact on our marriage. Mark Batterson showed us how to pray big prayers full of faith, which is something we did early on when we were praying about moving across the country and applying to medical school. As I note in my book, praying with and for your spouse is crucial to having a successful faith-filled marriage, and this book will help you do exactly that! There is also a version specific for marriage called Praying Circles Around Your Marriage. While I haven’t read it yet, I’m sure it’s as fantastic as the original Circle Maker!

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