Think about how many books you read for your high school or college classes. Depending on the course, you may have read one, two, or three books to be successful in the class. And that's just for one class. Now think about how many books you've read for classes for your entire education spanning from high school and beyond. That's a lot of books! Now, compare that with how many marriage books you've read to be successful in your relationship. If you're like most couples, you probably haven't read any. No wonder marriage can be so difficult, you haven't done the required reading! Below is a list of the best marriage books to read for a successful relationship whether you're newlyweds or have been together for awhile.
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Top Five Best Marriage Books
Of course I'm biased because I wrote it, but I believe the Total Marriage Refresh is one of the best marriage books for couples. It's my seminar on steroids, including more insights, more tools, and more case studies. If you enjoyed my marriage retreat and would love to take the concepts deeper, I highly recommend this book. If you've never been to one of my seminars but would love to learn the top six steps to marital satisfaction, this is the book to get. The top six steps include establishing a covenant foundation, owning your brokenness, learning to share power, developing emotional attachment, cultivating sexual fireworks, and staying in love. The book is written for the entire spectrum of couples, from the newly engaged to those needing marriage counseling. Check out the clip below on the top four reasons to read the Total Marriage Refresh.
The Total Marriage Refresh took me around a year to write and is the product of the following four sources.
First is my own marriage since 1999. As I've shared elsewhere, my own relationship has been to the brink of divorce and back because of trauma from my wife's upbringing interacting with turbulence from mine. Combined, we developed several vicious cycles early in our relationship that severely strained our relationship. Thankfully, we reached out for help and began a multi-year journey of healing and recovery. I share a lot of my journey in the book so you know I can relate to your challenges on a very personal level. I know what it feels like to have your needs unmet, to feel hopeless, and to be filled with resentment. However, I also know what it feels like to heal, to develop hope, and to fall back in love.
Second is my personal research on marriage. Being married myself and working with couples in my practice created many reasons for me to continually read marriage books and articles. Each time I would slowly process through the key concepts, reflect on their merit, modify them, and test them out. Doing so allowed me to continually refine my methods and approaches to helping couples. So, some of the ideas in the Total Marriage Refresh build upon previous concepts covered in other marriage books but with new directions and fresh insights.
Third is my clinical work with couples in my private practice since 2004. Every week I sit in my counseling chair and hear couples describe what is making them unhappy in their marriage. I hear about their trauma being activated, needs going unmet, communication being blocked, and feelings of despair and hopelessness. Working with couples all these years has been a tremendous privilege, which has allowed me to continually look into the intimate workings of relationships. Doing so has helped me draw careful conclusions on what people need in marriage to have successful relationships and what can easily ruin them as well.
Fourth is my Total Marriage Refresh seminar, which I've been providing since 2012. I've always enjoyed public speaking and helping couples so providing a marriage conference felt like the perfect combination. My first seminar was a humble class of 8 couples. However, over time it has grown to hundreds of couples meeting in hotel conference rooms several times a year in various states. The experience providing it has been invaluable because it's allowed me to continually refine my content. After each seminar I grab some food and sit for hours looking over the feedback forms to discern what everyone enjoyed and what could be improved. This ongoing refinement process has allowed me to narrow down the exact content that should be included in a marriage book.
This excellent marriage book is considered a classic because John Gottman is the godfather of marital research. However, many people feel discouraged during the first third of the book as he discusses everything you're doing wrong in your marriage that could lead to divorce. He also toots his own horn quite a bit in the beginning with how powerful his research is. However, the remaining 2/3 of the book covers all the right things to start doing to put your relationship on the path to success and longevity. The book is also filled with a multitude of helpful activities and exercise to do as a couple.
This classic marriage book is known by many. It goes through the top five love languages including quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation, physical touch, and gifts. Gary Chapman says we all have a primary and secondary love language and it's vital to understand what they are because we tend to love our partner in the way we want to be loved. For example, if our primary love language is gifts we'll give our partner gifts. However, what if gifts isn't your partner's primary love language? They won't feel loved. Therefore, learning to love your partner through their love language not yours is vital for a successful relationship. One caution with this book is the author assumes everyone falls into these five love languages but that may not be case. Therefore, while reading the book consider other love languages that may fit you better than the ones covered.
This helpful marriage book walks you through the top needs men and women have in marriage. In a way, it's similar to the love languages book discussed above but lays out different ideas about the top needs for males and females in marriage. The author does a wonderful job discussing the importance of meeting your partner's top needs to keep them happy. However, some people have criticized the author's views on what the top needs are for men and women because everyone is different. Therefore, as you read the book consider his views on needs for men and women as suggestions rather than absolutes and feel free to substitute your top needs instead.
This isn't usually classified as a marriage book but it should be because it explores female sexuality in depth, including how to understand and enhance it. Most sexual problems in marriage center around a lack of education about how sexuality works for both genders. This book does an outstanding job unpacking all the underpinnings of female sexuality so couples can move forward in their sexual relationship with increased insight, intentionality, and pleasure.
So there you have it, the five best marriage books for couples. Remember, to pass a class successfully you have to do the assigned reading. View these books as your assigned reading to have a successful marriage. Start ordering them today!
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