This list reveals the Christian Classics on Marriage that have made a difference in my wife and I’s marriage. They are not necessarily in order of importance, but these are a must-read for Christian couples.
Top Two Classics
- Sexual Intimacy in Marriage by William Cutrer and Sandra Glahn (updated March 2020). This is the sex book that all Christian couples need to read. The book covers many medical concerns as well as emotional concerns when a married couple comes together sexually. I see this book as an updated version of Dr. Ed Wheat’s Intended for Pleasure: Sex Technique and Sexual Fulfillment in Christian Marriage (updated 2010). Giving couples the encouragement to think about the likes/dislikes and desires/needs of each spouse in a considerate manner. Each marital relationship has the authority to establish sexual preferences for their exclusive relationship.
- The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy and Kathy Keller (2011). The practical meaning of marriage that this book presents is how to love one’s spouse better. What does marriage mean to you? The book affirms marriage as a sacred bond established and guided by God. The book deals well with submission in that both spouses seek to sacrifice for each other. With headship, they said, “While Paul writes that the husband is ‘head’ of his wife, whatever it means cannot negate the fact that he is also his wife’s Christian brother and bond-servant, according to Galatians 5:13. Husbands and wives must serve each other, must ‘give themselves up’ for one another. That does not destroy the exercise of authority within a human relationship, but it does radically transform it.” The Meaning of Marriage, New York: Penguin, 2011, 52
I hoped the book would define marriage more by defining key marital terms, but this was not the focus. However, the presentation of marriage for a believing community in the secular world hit the nail on the head. They write apologetically, and their illustrations will help each of us as better spouses.
Other Classic Christian Marriage books
- Love Life: For Every Married Couple by Ed Wheat & Gloria Okes Perkins (1980). When my wife & I married, we read through this book together. As newlyweds, the material gave us many hours of discussion on how we love each other. I am sure when some of Dr. Ed Wheat’s books first came out, his sincerity opened the door to discussing sex more honestly. As any Christian Classics on Marriage should be, if needed, one can re-read this book to rekindle the pleasures of marriage.
- So You’re Getting Married by H. Norman Wright(1997). During our engagement, our pastor recommended we go through this book. We felt pretty frustrated with the book and said Norman Wright is always right! Our frustration was that he made us work to grow deeper in our relationship through the exercises and questions he asked. Each chapter starts with the word commitment, and he heavily stresses this for one’s marriage – in communication and working through our views of marriage. I believe without this book, we would not have seriously talked about how to communicate, children, or life values.
- The Heart of Commitment by Scott Stanley (1998). The subtitle says, “Compelling research that reveals the secrets of a lifelong, intimate marriage.” This book brings out research to help many couples commit to their relationship. A key to the book defines commitment in two ways: Commitment is dedication that “implies an internal state of devotion to a person or project.” Moreover, commitment is a constraint that “brings out the sense of obligation.”Scott Stanley, The Heart of Commitment, 11 Thus, much practical advice and counsel fill the pages; for those who have read it before, a re-read soon needs to take place. The research is unmatched by any other marriage book.
- The Power of a Praying Wife/Husband (2014) by Stormie Omartian – As a newlywed couple, we lived in Central Asia away from a Christian community. We did not have opportunities to attend couple retreats or hear sermons for believing couples. In our location, we felt oppressed by the spiritual forces at work, especially in our relationship. These books became our prayer lists for each other. How to pray for one another came alive when we read, meditated, and re-used these books. If you are at a loss in how to pray for your spouse, buy this book and start praying.
- The Five Money Personalities – by Bethany and Scott Palmer (2012). After being married for over 20 years, we sat in our organization’s financial office, discussing our pensions and funds. The director of finances looked at how we were communicating about finances, and we were debating each other’s viewpoints. Our financial director smirked and said, “I think this book may be a help to you.” What a treasure this book was to us. How do you, as a couple, talk about finances? This book will take you down that path and give an illustration of how we look at money differently – whether spending or saving it. I recommend reading this book out loud to each other (Unfortunately, I do not see an Audiobook available) and pausing to talk about each section together. How we spend, save, and view money – The Five Money Personalities will expose these ideas in your marriage, and hopefully, you will be richer because of it.
Notable mentions: Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas, and Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman (a classic and best-seller).
In all my reading, I learned practically from these top Christian Classics on Marriage, because each is diverse enough to help with certain areas of our marriage. In researching marriage, I realized I needed to contrast Christian covenant marriage with Islamic contract marriage. This task required me to really think about how to define marriage since it is virtually impossible to contrast something when one does not know what that thing is. Defining Marriage: Sketching the Difference between Covenant and Contract begins this endeavor and hopefully will inspire you to live out our Christian covenant identity in our marriages.