Counseling Corner: Top 12 Books for Troubled Marriages

If you’re having problems in your marriage, it can be difficult and uncomfortable to talk about with friends or family. For couples in this situation, it is a good idea to seek the help of a counselor. Marriage counselors can offer guidance and advice to help couples through difficult times, as well as provide you with comfort and discretion. However, if seeing a counselor is not in your budget, there are some other helpful alternatives. Self-help books written by trained professionals can offer the same guidance through your struggle. These 12 books offer some of the best advice available to couples and offer a more affordable alternative to seeing a marriage counselor.

  1. The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman This is one of most talked about relationship books. It shows you how to be a better listener and air your own feelings to your partner. This is an fantastic book for any relationship, whether it’s on the rocks or not. There’s some Christianity chatter, but the material is so thought provoking that it’s a beneficial read for anyone who’s looking to show their love with more compassion.

  2. Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married by Gary Chapman This book from Chapman definitely packs in a scripture or 10, but it’s a great book for those at the beginning stages of marriage. It shows you how to express your love and sort through differences without running from marriage. The bulk of marriages that end in divorce, end within three years of getting married. If there are things you aren’t sure about with your mate, read this book and realize that it’s all part of the song and dance of marriage.

  3. Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples by Harville Hendricks, PhD This is arguably the best book on this list for a marriage in trouble. It looks at relationships from a more scientific standpoint than the previous two books on our list. It discusses relationships based on childhood pain that must be healed in order to become a better partner. In healing your partner’s childhood pain, you’ll fill the void in yourself, creating a safe haven for the marriage to prosper.
  4. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert by John M. Gottman, PhD and Nan Silver This is a great read for couples who need to put their relationship into high gear. The book offers proven exercises to create a bond between partners and it is a smart starting point for couples who need to improve communication skills ASAP.

  5. Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Dr. Sue Johnson For the couple that’s ready to dig deep, this book offers direction on conversations that will create a strong bond. It focuses on letting your partner see you in your most vulnerable state and pushing past pain together. Often past pain is what’s causing a chasm in a relationship. When this is repaired, partners find themselves able to open up to one another and be effective as a spouse.

  6. Love and Respect Workbook by Emerson Eggerichs This couples workbook comes from the marriage counseling book by the same name. You don’t have to have read the book to understand the workbook. The exercises will create a stronger bond between partners and show you how to illustrate your love and respect without coming off as phony or buttering your partner up. This is often a problem for married couples who are trying to rekindle their connection, since one partner usually is more needy than the other.

  7. Rocking the Roles: Building a Win-Win Marriage by Robert Lewis and William D. Hendricks The key idea in many marriage counseling books is sharing traditional roles so no one partner feels overwhelmed by these mainstream expectations. This book focuses on a Christian marriage with an emphasis on the Biblical principles of a partnership. For those who aren’t interested in a Christian marriage, the book brings up key points that will strengthen any relationship, as long as you can get past the scriptures and God references.

  8. Fight Fair: Winning Conflict Without Losing at Love by Joy Downs If your marriage is going to survive, it’s imperative you know how to fight fair. Remember that it’s about the issue at hand. There’s no reason to drag past resentments or other issues into a fight, nor is it productive to fight late at night or when you’re already in a bad mood. This book shows you how to have an argument that will hopefully reach a resolution.

  9. Turn Up the Heat: A Couple’s Guide to Intimacy by Dr. Kevin Leman This book is great for connecting in the bedroom and beyond. This book does have a Christian slant with tips on how to keep your sex life kickin’ even years after you’ve discovered each other. It also discusses having sex after children, which is an area that many couples struggle with.
  10. Intimacy & Desire: Awaken the Passion in Your Relationship by Dr. David Schnarch PhD This book is a fantastic read for those who want to look at sex in a new way. While the author does make some blanket statements we don’t necessarily agree with, the overall message of the book will benefit flailing marriages. Intimacy is an integral part of any strong relationship and it’s important that both partners realize this. Having intimacy means a connection with your partner that breeds a healthy sexual relationship that both parties willingly participate in on a regular basis.

  11. The Sex Starved Marriage: Boosting Your Marriage Libido : A Couples Guide by Michele Weiner Davis If one partner has a high sex drive and the other is working with zilch, there are probably many problems in the marriage. This book shows you how to look at things from your partner’s perspective and change your approach to get what you want. When you change the words and actions you use with your partner, you often see him or her change their own behavior towards you.

  12. Rekindling Desire: A Step by Step Program to Help Low-Sex and No Sex Marriages by Barry W. McCarthy and Emily J. McCarthy This book takes a scientific approach to no sex marriages. It talks about changing the dynamic of your sexual relationship by looking at yourself first. It’s never your partner’s job to turn you on or get your mojo going. You have far more control over your sexual desires than you probably think. This book is a smart read for those who want to re-examine their sex life and the vital role it plays in a fulfilling marriage.

Marriage isn’t an easy path, but there is plenty you can do to jump-start a positive relationship. There are no rules on how to live with another human being and be happy for life, but there are key communication tools that will ensure you’re always in tune and able to cope with your partner’s point of view, even if you don’t always understand it. For couples in marriage counseling, these books can serve as support that will help the process of connecting to your partner.