There are many excellent Christian books on marriage and family, but I've narrowed it down to 5 books that I've found invaluable. Not only have I turned to these time and time again in counseling couples within my church, but they've personally blessed my marriage.
The Meaning of Marriage, Timothy Keller
As Keller states in the introduction, the purpose of the book "is to give both married and unmarried people a vision for what marriage is according to the Bible." Keller is an eloquent and articulate spokesperson for a robust, Christ-centered theology of marriage. Whether your thinking about getting married, in the middle of a marriage relationship crisis, or just want to strengthen your current marriage, the solution begins by understanding marriage's purpose and meaning.
The Marriage Builder, Larry Crabb
Although I tend to lean more on the 'Nouthetic' side of the counseling scale, I've long valued Larry Crabb's counseling books. Crabb loves God's Word and seeks to base his counsel on Scripture, which is clearly evident throughout the book. One of the highlights of the book is that he demonstrates that our deepest emotional needs as humans (security and significance) cannot ultimately be satisfied by our spouse. We need to turn to the Lord, rather our spouse, to satisfy our needs.
The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman
An immensely practical book that has helped thousands of Christian couples. Scripture repeatedly calls upon believers to love one another, and Chapman seeks to give practical advice as to how married couples can live out that command. Using the unique metaphor of "love language", Chapman guides believers to show love and affection in real, genuine ways that your spouse can understand and appreciate.
The Excellent Wife, Martha Peace
Going against the feminist mindset of our day, Martha Peace calls upon married Christian women (or those considering marriage) to allow Scripture, not culture, to define who they are as women and wives. At times I do believe Martha Peace wrongly confuses biblical teaching with old fashion patriarchy. For example, she is totally against women working outside the home and at one point she describes the husband/wife relationship in military terms saying "You are like the soldier who stands at attention, salutes and says 'Yes, sir!' to his superior officer." Statements such as these seriously detract from what is otherwise an excellent book.
The Exemplary Husband, Stuart Scott
Scott calls Christian men back to their high calling as the spiritual shepherds of their home. In this practical, applicable book you will learn that not only must a husband be a man who is growing steadily in his relationship with Christ, but he is also called to lovingly and gently lead his wife and family towards holiness.
There are three other books that receive honorable mention:
- This Momentary Marriage by John Piper. In fact, this book is so excellent it was almost painful not to include it in the above list. In many respects, this is one of the best descriptions of marriage from a Gospel perspective every written. One minor quibble is that Piper holds to a "no divorce under any circumstances" view.
- The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis. A classic book that explores the depth and joy of giving and receiving radical love. Lewis discusses the four types of love (affection, friendship, passion, and charity) and how each are to apply to our lives.
- Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs. Perhaps one of the most solid and inspirational outworkings of Ephesians 5 in print. The subtitle of the book says it all: "The Love She Most Desires; The Respect he Desperately Needs". I wish I had read this book my first year of marriage.