Top 10 Marriage Books Reviewed

Categories: Coaching,Counseling

Top 10 Marriage Books Reviewed

Save your marriage by reading this.

Top 10 Marriage Books Reviewed

We surveyed 100 marriage therapists and compiled a list of the Top 10 Marriage Books Reviewed.  When your marriage is in trouble or needing some enrichment, check out these Top 10 Marriage Books Reviewed.  These books provide many practical ideas, assessments, lists, exercises, and insights to help your marriage.

We expect leaders to be well read in their area of expertise.  As a married man or woman you are making marriage an area where you lead.  You have taken on the burden of responsibility for making your marriage what it is.  As a married man and therapist I would encourage you to read a book on marriage or attend a marriage enrichment seminar each year for the good it can produce in learning and growing.  You can learn how to be married successfully.

Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was the first “self help” book I ever read.  Early on in the book I was shocked to realize that people talked about how to be effective, communicate, manage time, set priorities, and succeed.  Up to that point I thought it was trial and error.  I didn’t know there were such practical and intentional lessons on personal leadership.  Since then, I have read a steady stream of books for such insights in business, leadership, marriage, family, and personal problem solving.

Recently I have become intrigued by which books are recommended by experts in various fields.  As a marriage therapist I have an interest in what my colleagues recommend and that is how I came to the Top 10 Marriage Books Reviewed.  So I surveyed 100 marriage therapists who encourage clients to read a marriage book, and asked them which books they most frequently recommended.  I have made a list of the Top 10 Marriage Books Reviewed.  Follow the links to read the full review and learn what leaders need to know on marriage.

Relationship Rescue: A Seven Step Strategy for Reconnecting with Your Partner by Dr. Phil McGraw

Dr Phil's Book

Copyright 2000.  In typical Dr. Phil style he tells you to stop blaming your spouse and take some responsibility.  This book is packed with lists, exercises, questions, tasks, and other activities to rescue your relationship.  Bottom line: you are responsible for your relationship.  According to Dr. Phil, If your relationship is on the struggle bus you are doing it wrong.  The first list is a series of processes you must accept IF you are going to be an agent of change in  your relationship. Relationship Rescue requires you to complete two jobs.  Job #1 is to make your needs known.  Job #2 is to work to discover the needs of your partner.  This will involve a lot of soul searching and skillful execution.  For a full breakdown of the book including the big ideas, and some fun activities check out Relationship Rescue: Full Review.

Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Dr. Emerson Eggrichs Book

Copyright 2004.  This book suggests a direct connection between the emotional needs of men and women and Ephesians 5:33, that when adhered to, can strengthen and transform relationships. This book is hard to accept if you have been trained by our modern culture on marriage.  The reality is there are unresolved and unsolvable issues in marriage.  This book is a practical theology for how we live with the unsolvable and the unresolved in ways that enrich our marriages.  This book will help you understand why your efforts and arguments do not produce what you intend.  The key to understanding why our arguments don’t work is in understanding our gender differences.  For example, “men hear criticism as contempt. Women feel silence as hostility.”  Doing what is in this book requires specific values and commitments.  For a full breakdown of the book and a list of “how to” tips check out Love & Respect: Full Review.


The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman

How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate

Copyright 1992.  This book has been around the block.  The University of Tennessee has taught on the subject and many people who come in for therapy are vaguely familiar with it, especially if they are active in Christian community.  “If you express love in a way your spouse doesn’t understand, he or she won’t realize you’ve expressed your love at all.”  This book seeks to teach the languages of love.  Many couples understand and agree that the things in this book are helpful but they don’t stick with them enough to become fluent or comfortable speaking in a secondary love language.  They choose to give the gifts they want to give rather than the one their spouse wants or needs.  The first hurdle to loving well is our own self-centeredness.  After learning the 5 Love Languages and identifying your own and your spouses, there are some minor points worth major emphasis.  For a full breakdown of these ideas check out The 5 Love Languages: Full Review.


How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It by Patricia Love and Steven Stosny

Dealing with Shame and Fear in marraige

Copyright 2007.  “Men are right. The “relationship talk” doesn’t help.” This book answers the question; how to love beyond words.  This book seeks to educate couples on a pattern that most couples engage in and has the power to destroy their relationship.  This pattern comes out of our gender differences and needs.  Love and Stosny do a good job of explaining how fear and shame have kept couples from getting what they most want from their lives together and how to use the vulnerabilities of fear and shame to draw more closely together without talking about it.  I found this to be one of the best books at explaining the worst arguments.  You know the one, she feels anxious and insecure about the relationship and he feels like a failure.  The more they try to talk it out the worse it all gets.  For a more complete summary of ideas check out How To Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About it: Full Review.

Fighting for Your Marriage by Howard Markman, Stanley, and Blumberg

Copyright 2010. Fighting for Your Marriage comes from 30 years of experience and research in relationships.  This research and experience led to PREP (Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program) an evidence based program listed on the national registry.  This may be a great program but if a professional therapist is working hard to get through the material, then how will a couple in crisis find the time to read AND implement it.  It’s over 400 pages of detailed insights on marriage.  Fighting for Your Marriage illustrates several important concepts like: 5 Steps to Save Your Marriage, The Pursuit Withdrawal Pattern, The Speaker Listener Technique, 10 Hidden Issues, and Ground Rules for Fighting Fair.  While these are useful they are only the tip of the iceberg.  This was an overwhelming amount of information to digest, it covers everything, or at least if feels like it.  Check out our useful summary Fighting For Your Marriage: Full Review.

Boundaries In Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

Copyright 1999. Boundaries In Marriage is the follow up for Boundaries.  If you are unfamiliar with what a boundary is and how they are good for you, I suggest you choose the original Boundaries over this one.  There was a fair amount of good material that can help increase ones insight and that can be useful in the process of changing.  The message with boundaries is this: you are responsible for you and in order to exercise your responsibility you must choose your feelings, thoughts, behaviors, limits, desires, etc.  There is a good section on values conflicts that includes how “happiness” is dangerous and alternatives that are more enduring and satisfying.  I found several concepts very helpful which will be in the Boundaries In Marriage: Full Review.

For Women Only, What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldham

Copyright 2004. For Women Only comes from the authors research for a character in a novel.  Her research led to insights about men that transformed her understanding and led to some powerful findings.  This is an important book in an age where gender is under attack.  Society has been sending a message about how wrong a man is in the way he operates in relationships.  This book tells women the reality of how men are.  It was interesting as a man reading a book for women about men.  I became aware of my own identity in ways that I have never been able to so clearly express.  Several times I had a “yea, that’s what it is” moment.  These insights naturally led to conversations with my wife.  I imagine that if my wife were reading the book it would be even more powerful in creating conversations.  For the most powerful elements of this book: how a women can be in her man’s corner, check out For Women Only: Full Review.

The Sex-Starved Marriage: Boosting Your Marriage Libido by Michele Weiner-Davis

Copyright 2003. The Sex-Starved Marriage tackles a sensitive and all to common problem known as the desire gap.  Michele Weiner-Davis is a long time practitioner of solution focused therapy. In The Sex-Starved Marriage she takes a solution focused approach to closing the desire gap.  The powerful thing about a solution focused approach is that it is so practical.  “A marriage void of sexuality and intimacy is a marriage doomed to fail.” She talks to both partners in such a way that they become a team working to enhance the love in their marriage.  Some of the work is for the low desire partner and other work is for the high desire partner.  Sex is the least talked about and one of the most common problems within marriage.  At the very least this book will invite you to talk with your spouse about sex.  For a more complete summary check out The Sex-Starved Marriage: Full Review

Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples by Harville Hendrix

Copyright 1988. Getting the Love You Want is a program designed to help couples eliminate negativity, create safety, and develop intimacy in a 10 session timeline.  There are issues and themes explained here that resonate like many of the other books in the Top 10 Marriage Books Reviewed.  What is helpful is this: within marriage you have the opportunity to heal your hurts, serve one another, and become whole in ways that no other relationship will facilitate.  Most people are too fearful to take on such a task so their marriages never fulfill their healing potential.  If you are willing to press into your fears this book has some useful insights.  For a more complete summary check out Getting the Love You Want: Full Review.

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

Copyright 1999. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman and Nan Silver is nothing short of revolutionary.  Their research has influenced most of the books on The Top 10 Marriage Books Reviewed list.  Their research at the Love Lab led to observations about the habits that can make and break a marriage.  This book is packed with insights and how you can incorporate them into what you do.  There are two types of problems in marriage: solvable and perpetual.  Gottman helps you tackle both types in such a way that you can stay connected and make your marriage work.  For more details check out The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: Full Review.

At Leadershop Ministries we help you win the fight of your life, and we recognize how difficult that is when you are fighting for your marriage and it seems like your spouse is the enemy.  Books are great but their application in times of stress can be limited.  Visit our Services Page to learn more.



Author: Todd Davis, PhD, MFT, LADC

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