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Best Books for a Better Marriage

Every few years, a book comes out that gets people talking and changes how they think about life. These books have had that effect on the way couples approach marriage.

Every few years, a book comes out that gets people talking and changes how they think about life. These books have had that effect on the way couples approach marriage. That's why the editors of Marriage Partnership recommend them as essential reading for every committed couple.

  • AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE, by Walter Wangerin, Jr. (Thomas Nelson). Back when Alan Alda was still thought of as the model "sensitive male," a Lutheran clergyman was writing the story of his marriage—examining both its joys and its difficulties. Walter Wangerin's compelling narrative, coupled with his honesty and vulnerability, invest his teachings with great power and persuasiveness.
  • COMMUNICATION: KEY TO YOUR MARRIAGE, by H. Norman Wright (Regal). Two words say it all: "communication" and "key." Before you can solve any marriage problem, you first need to talk about it. Norm Wright, the dean of Christian marriage experts, shows you how.
  • FIT TO BE TIED, by Bill and Lynne Hybels (Zondervan). In writing this book, Bill and Lynne Hybels were unusually forthright about their own struggles. Such candor goes a long way toward freeing other couples to confess and correct their own failures.
  • THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES, by Gary Chapman (Northfield). This isn't the first book to point out that what communicates love to you might not mean a thing to your mate. But Gary Chapman says it the most clearly, and most convincingly. His well-defined languages explain why so many well-meaning spouses find expressions of love so frustrating.
  • FORGIVE & FORGET, by Lewis B. Smedes (HarperSanFrancisco). When it comes to how-to books, clarity is a plus, but good writing is almost too much to ask. Not so with Lewis Smedes, a fine writer who makes the complex understandable. He acknowledges the difficulty of forgiveness while helping us take the necessary steps that will heal our marriages.
  • HIS NEEDS, HER NEEDS, by Willard F. Harley, Jr. (Revell). Most of us bristle at the idea that we can be sorted and labeled like groceries on a shelf. That's one reason Willard Harley caused such a stir when he said he had identified the top five needs of husbands and wives. Call it stereotyping if you want, but people who read the book agree that Harley's lists are right-on.
  • I MARRIED YOU, by Walter Trobisch(HarperSanFrancisco). Walter and Ingrid Trobisch wrote about marriage after years of ministry in Cameroon, West Africa. While the illustrations come out of Africa, this book goes beyond most others in giving body and definition to a word that gets twisted in every language: "love."
  • INTENDED FOR PLEASURE, by Ed and Gaye Wheat (Revell). Until the Wheats' book came out, many still viewed sex as an act intended primarily for procreation or as a marital necessity much better suited to the enjoyment of husbands. The Wheats' forthright teaching freed Christian couples to enjoy sex as a mutually pleasurable experience designed to bring them together in oneness.
  • MARRIAGE SPIRITUALITY, by R. Paul Stevens (InterVarsity). Most couples find the idea of developing their individual spiritual lives somewhat intimidating, which can make a shared spiritual life seem like an impossible dream. Paul Stevens helps by showing that spirituality is part of every day's activity, not a separate compartment of life.
  • PLEASE UNDERSTAND ME, by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates (Prometheus Nemesis). If you're tempted to think your mate does certain things just to annoy you, here's the answer. Keirsey and Bates provide a simple quiz to help you get the inside track on each other's personality types. Understanding your partner creates an atmosphere where grace and acceptance can grow.

READERS' TOP PICKS

We asked Marriage Partnership readers which books, other than the Bible, have helped their marriages the most. Here are the top 11 vote getters.

  1. HIS NEEDS, HER NEEDS, by Willard F. Harley, Jr. (Revell)
  2. INTENDED FOR PLEASURE, by Ed and Gaye Wheat (Revell)
  3. THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES, by Gary Chapman (Northfield)
  4. LOVE FOR A LIFETIME, by James Dobson (Multnomah)
  5. LOVE LIFE FOR EVERY MARRIED COUPLE, by Ed Wheat, M.D., and Gloria Okes Perkins (Zondervan)
  6. THE ACT OF MARRIAGE, by Tim and Beverly LaHaye (Zondervan)
  7. COMMUNICATION: KEY TO YOUR MARRIAGE, by H. Norman Wright (Regal)
  8. LETTERS TO KAREN, LETTERS TO PHILIP, by Charlie W. Shedd (Vine)
  9. MAKING LOVE LAST FOREVER, by Gary Smalley (Word)
  10. THE MARRIAGE BUILDER, by Lawrence J. Crabb, Jr. (Zondervan)
  11. TRAITS OF A LASTING MARRIAGE, by Jim and Sally Conway (InterVarsity)

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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