20 Best Marriage Books for Couples (to Read in 2024)

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Marriage is not always bliss.  With problems and misunderstandings, how can one keep the love burning?

Whether you are happily-married or planning to get hitched, check out this list!

We’ve gathered the best marriage books for couples to read in 2021 as recommended by 11 experts.

See them below.

Here are the most recommended books for couples:

  1. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert by John M. Gottman, Nan Silver
  2. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman
  3. The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman
  4. Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs
  5. Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson
  6. Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel
  7. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Timothy J Keller
  8. Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
  9. Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix
  10. Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by John Gottman Ph.D. (Author), Julie Schwartz Gottman Ph.D. (Author), Doug Abrams (Author), Rachel Carlton Abrams M.D.
  11. Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
  12. Relationship Goals: How to Win at Dating, Marriage, and Sex by Michael Todd
  13. Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts by Les Parrott and Leslie Parrott
  14. The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity by Esther Perel
  15. Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship by Stan Tatkin
  16. Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray

Table of Contents

Jason B. Whiting, PhD, LMFT

Jason Whiting

Professor, School of Family Life, BYU

No one has done better research or spent more time in the lab with couples than John Gottman.

For over 40 years he has studied what predicts marriage breakdown and success, and these are his practical and time-tested descriptions of what keeps couples on track.

Warner is a philosopher but packs his book with stories that are both familiar and startling. His work invites readers to think deeply about their own commitments to being their best self, and to each other.

This book contains the what I think are the very best research and stories to show how easy it is to shift out of honesty and become deceptive in marriage.

It discusses anger, rationalization, blame and gives suggestions on how to step back, see more clearly, and choose honesty and be authentic together.

Debbie Rivers

Debbie Rivers

Relationship Expert | Founder, Dare2Date

Study after study has found that a strong relationship will keep you healthier and living longer.

A recent study of 309,000 people found that a lack of strong relationships increased the risk of premature death from all causes by 50%. That’s the same risk as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and more than obesity and physical inactivity!

The best thing you can do to avoid illness, have healthier habits and live longer is to have a strong partnership.

The quality of relationships matters. Troubled relationships tend to cause stress and weaken the immunity. 

My favourite book on marriage is ‘The Seven Principles of Making a Relationship Work by Dr John Gottman’.

I love the work of the Gottmans. They carried out 40 hours of scientific research on relationships to see what does and doesn’t work.

In fact, Dr. Gottman can predict with 90% accuracy which marriages will work and which marriages won’t.

This book provides everything a couple needs to have the best marriage. With around 50% of first marriages failing it is a great investment.

Charlie Worrall

Charlie Worrall

Hatton & Co.

Although it sometimes refers to ‘old-school’ stereotypes, this book offers a little insight into your partner’s wants and needs that they may not want to tell you about.

While you may think you know all there is to know about your partner, this book could be a helping hand.

This book offers an insight into what a same-sex wedding would be like. A simple, clear guide that utilises the author’s anecdotes and her experiences negotiating the world of lesbian wedding planning, all while offering a humorous tone.

She’s included advice that covers everything, from the wording of the wedding invites to the way you manage the analytical side of things.

The way in which this book tackles the correlation between children and marriage offers an easy read created by snippets you can read between your busy schedule.

Read related article: Best Parenting Books

It’s great for both expecting couples and parents due to the advice from the author’s experiences (they have children).

In addition to this, they don’t pretend to be perfect and have the answers to everything.

Kim Leatherdale, LPC, ATR-BC, DCC, NCC

Kim Leatherdale

Author | Therapist, Creating Rewarding Relationships

This book shows couples the ways their partner expresses and needs to be given love.

What most people don’t understand is not everyone recognizes the same acts of love or needs the same ones; this one teaches couples how to ‘fill each other’s love tank.’

I have to say I love recommending a book which has robust  longitudinal research to back it up! 

Gottman looks at the attitudes and activities that either make or break a relationship in a clear, easy to understand, yet meaningful way.

Perel hits the nail on the head around the struggle in a marriage between domestic stability and passionate desire. 

A book that gives hope that long term relationships can maintain ore even increase desire as well as provide grounding.

Carrie Krawiec

Carrie Krawiec

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Birmingham Maple Clinic

This is my most commonly referred to book for couples in counseling.

It is based on decades of scientific research and gives real-life couple examples along with behavioral exercises that a couple can use.

I have yet to find a couple who feel like they cannot gain some new skill or perspective from this book.

This is a helpful guide for couples who may feel disconnected or not very loving toward one another.

Especially to strengthen some of the Gottman notions of a 5:1 ratio of positives and negatives. This helps couples tailor their positives to their partners desires love language.

For example giving a massage to a person who likes physical touch, saying “you look great” to a person who likes words of affirmation or picking up the kids to a person who likes acts of service.

As you are more aware for your language and your partners you can generate more expressions of your love that are less likely to be lost in translation.

This is an excellent resource for helping couples understand the relationship needs and patterns they developed in the families they grew up in and how they put these unmet needs on their partner and set them selves up for disappointment and frustration.

14 Days of Foreplay Helps couples to improve physical and emotional intimacy with sweet not raunchy conversation starters and exercises to reintroduce playfulness and flirtation into a marriage.

Jenna Miller

Jenna Miller

Creative Director, Here Comes The Guide

The top recommendation would be The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

It’s a classic for a reason. If you can show love in a way your partner can most readily receive it, marriage will be a lot easier and more fulfilling.

A close second is The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin.

This book helps readers understand how he or she meets expectations.

If you know your partner is an Obliger and needs accountability, you can help provide that.

But if he or she’s a Questioner, you’ll know they need data and research before they’ll be convinced of something. Two very different approaches, but knowing the right one is like unlocking a magic box.

Deborah Lucero

Deborah Lucero

Founder, Live Your Full Life

This book helped me realize how to give and receive love according to the five love languages! It helped me find hope and purpose in my marriage.

It helped me realize that I was not just butting my head up against a brick wall. There is a process involved.

Even though this book is not specifically related to marriage it has a deep message about mindset and how to use it to improve every area of your life!

Mr. Kiyosaki says, “To improve your marriage, it is better to improve yourself” and, “Don’t work on the other person, work on your thoughts about the other person.”

It helped me realize you need the RIGHT mindset to release thoughts not serving you and you must change old programs.

Kerri-Anne Brown, LMHC

Kerri-Anne Brown

Licensed Mental Health Counselor | Founder, Healing With Wisdom, LLC

This book is helpful for all types of relationships, not just for couples.

It provides some good insights into how successful relationships work as well as tools to improve the quality of your relationships.

Dr. Johnson, who is widely known for her development of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, teaches in this book that the key to a lasting relationship is being open, attuned and responsive to our partners.

This book talks about eliminating the negativity from daily interactions between couples. If you want to improve your understanding of intimate relationships, add this to your collection.

Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C

Raffi Bilek

Couples Counselor | Director, Baltimore Therapy Center

This is a book written by Sue Johnson, who created Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy, one of the most evidence-based and successful forms of couples counseling developed.

She helps couples understand the patterns that are being repeated in their marriage and teaches how to come together to fight against them, rather than each other.

This is a really great book for understanding how your attachment needs play out in your relationship and learning how to get around problems that seem to keep coming up in your marriage.

“Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” sparked a whole series of books that help men and women understand the differing ways they perceive and react to the world.

This installment specifically addresses the challenge of sustaining a long-term relationship, and offers helpful advice about how men and women will approach that differently.

The Mars-and-Venus perspective can be eye-opening to anyone who feels like they just can’t understand their spouse!

I am recommending my own book , LOVING PROMISES: The Master Class For Creating Magnificent Relationship, because it is a truly great one. It has won two prestigious book awards in the category of Relationships, Communication and Marriage — The Silver NAUTILUS BOOK AWARD, and the Silver LIVING NOW BOOK AWARD.

This unique book is a thoughtful inquiry into the deepest incarnation of love, a love story and a description of the behaviors the reader can actually do to create a great relationship.

The author has looked back at his 34 year blissful marriage as a living laboratory to research the elements that compromise a truly loving partnership and discovered 39 behaviors called Loving Promises, that are the actual behavioral components of deep, abiding love.

These are vows a person makes to him or herself — not to their partner — as to how they will behave in the relationship. These Promises are a profound path to transform a good relationship into a magnificent one.

Saeed Salehian

Saeed Salehian

Nature and Travel Photographer

When you are in a relationship and thinking of marriage, you are going to make one of the biggest decisions of your life and there is a huge possibility of choosing marriage on a whim or a bad reason rather than a genuine reason.

This book tells common relationship question and concerns from real life stories of people who might have been in the same position that you are now.

Every question comes up with Barbara’s answer helping you to understand your own situation and react to it in proper way.

Questions are also so useful to assay your relationship and partner.

Strong relationship and love is the source to give meaning to our life.

Love might seem easy and part of human nature, but sharing life with some one else is not that easy.

The rules of love help you make a strong, stable, and permanent relationship, not only with your spouse but also with family and friends.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can reading a marriage book help save a struggling relationship?

Reading a marriage book can be a helpful tool for couples who are in a struggling relationship. Through practical advice and guidance, a good marriage book can help couples overcome their problems and improve their relationship. However, it is important to remember that a book alone may not save a struggling relationship, and professional counseling may also be necessary.

Can marriage books be used as a replacement for counseling?

No, marriage books should not be used as a substitute for counseling. While they can provide valuable insight and guidance, they cannot replace the personal support and guidance that a professional counselor can provide. Marriage books can be a complementary tool for couples in counseling or those who want to work on their relationship on their own. Still, they should not be used as a substitute for professional help.

Can reading a marriage book be helpful for couples who have been together for a long time?

Yes, reading a marriage book can be helpful for couples who have been together for a long time. Even couples who have been together for many years can benefit from learning new communication skills, relationship strategies, and ways to rekindle the spark in their partnership. Refreshing your relationship with new tools and insights can help keep it strong and healthy for many years.

Are there marriage books that are recommended for couples from other cultures?

Yes, there are marriage books recommended for couples from different cultural backgrounds. These books often address the unique challenges that multicultural couples may face and offer guidance for dealing with cultural differences in a relationship. For couples from different cultural backgrounds, finding a book that addresses their specific needs and helps them build a strong and inclusive partnership is important.

How can marriage books help couples improve their communication skills?

Marriage books often offer practical advice and techniques for improving communication in a relationship. These may include active listening, effective conflict resolution, and strategies for expressing needs and feelings healthily. When couples learn these skills and apply them to their relationship, they can improve communication and build a stronger partnership.

Are these books appropriate for all couples, regardless of their relationship stage?

These books are appropriate for couples at all stages of their relationship, whether you are just starting out or have been married for many years. They can provide valuable insights and advice for anyone who wants to strengthen their bond and build a loving partnership. If you wish to improve a troubled relationship or simply maintain a strong connection, these books can help you achieve your goals.

Can I read these books alone, or should they be read together as a couple?

Both options have their advantages. Reading books together as a couple can provide a shared experience and open and honest communication. It can also help you understand each other’s perspectives and work together to address issues you may be facing. On the other hand, if you read the books alone, you can reflect on your thoughts and feelings and consider how to apply the advice to your relationship. Ultimately, the best approach will depend on your individual circumstances and preferences.

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