Self-help books can be a great way to help enhance your marriage. Although they shouldn’t be considered a replacement for traditional marriage counseling, they can certainly be very helpful to people struggling with specific marital issues or for people who want to strengthen and enhance their relationship.
However, it can be difficult to know where to begin looking for a book that is likely to be helpful. If you look on amazon or enter any bookstore (if you can still find one) and you’ll find thousands and thousands of books on marriage. So, how do you know which books are really going to be helpful in improving your marriage or preventing problems? Here is a list of books that I often recommend to couples that I work with in counseling.
General Books on Marriage
This is an excellent book that is written by the founder of cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy helps a person change their thoughts, which in turn changes their behaviors and feelings. This book helps people understand how their expectations and beliefs about marriage and their spouse may lead to a lot of irrational thoughts. This can lead to feelings of resentment, misunderstandings, and disappointment about the relationship. The book includes many practical ideas to change your dysfunctional thoughts and improve your marriage
2. Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You can Make Yours Last by John Gottman
Just about any book by John Gottman is good. John Gottman’s books are based on much research and observation about marital success. He even is the head of the Relationship Research Institute. This is a great book because it includes some self-tests to help you identify areas that may be strengths and areas of the marriage that may be a weakness. He provides practical information and strategies to help keep your relationship strong.
3. Couple Skills: Making Your Relationship Work by Matthew McKay, Patrick Fanning, and Kim Paleg
This book provides an overview of many skills that are necessary in a successful marriage. Communication, conflict resolution, problem-solving, and acceptance are a few of the important skills discussed in detail. The information on communication seems to be very helpful as it really breaks down how to improve your communication with practical strategies to help you listen more effectively and talk to your partner more openly.
Dealing with Infidelity
1. Getting Past the Affair: A Program to Help You Cope, Heal, and Move On — Together or Apart by Douglas Snyder, Donald Baucom, and Kristina Coop Gordon
Written by a team of therapists, this book provides advice on how to deal with the trauma after discovering your spouse has been unfaithful. The book discusses the healing process that is needed to rebuild the relationship after an affair and offers hope for couples to move through the painful process of rebuilding trust. It also provides realistic information about how some marriages do not survive affairs and provides information on how to cope if your marriage cannot be salvaged.
2. Not “Just Friends”: Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity by Shirley Glass
This book can be a great tool for any marriage as it discusses how even good marriages can be at-risk for infidelity. The author describes how many people enter into emotional affairs under the premise of just being friends, especially in the workplace. There is a guide to how to deal with the trauma of an affair and strategies to help you recover when an affair occurs.
Books for Financial Issues
1. More Than Enough: Proven Keys to Strengthening Your Family and Building Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey
Dave Ramsey’s books and radio shows are geared toward helping people learn how to get out of debt and build wealth. In this book, he provides practical lessons to help couples learn how to get along and work together as a team when it comes to money. This book also helps couples teach children about money.
2. You Paid How Much for That?: How to Win at Money Without Losing at Love by Natalie H. Jenkins, Scott M. Stanley, William C. Bailey and Howard J. Markman
This is a great book that helps couples uncover some of the more hidden meanings that money can have in a relationship. For example, when money seems to mean power or freedom, and how this can signal problems for a couple. This book offers some excellent strategies to address these problems while developing a deeper understanding of how your views on money may differ.
1. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
You certainly don’t have to be a Christian to appreciate this book. The author provides a great explanation of the different ways people offer and receive love. Learning to recognize what your spouse needs in order to feel loved is essential and this book explains how to discover ways to show one another true love.