Jill: We’re often asked what the top books are that we read for our marriage. To be honest, initially I was the reader in the relationship. I would summarize to Mark what I’d read. In fact, I actually wrote my Is There Really Sex After Kids book that way! Mark wrote a summary at the end of each chapter for husbands. So the wife reads her four pages and he reads his four paragraphs and they’ve read the book “together!”
Mark: It’s true. I initially wasn’t a reader at all. However, I’ve become one in the last 10 years as I’ve become serious about the God-Tool of wisdom Jill and I talk about in our No More Perfect Marriages book. I am now a voracious reader, surpassing Jill in the number of books I read in a year.
Jill: As Mark and I talked about our top marriage books, you’ll notice that some of them aren’t specifically marriage books. There are several books, especially for Mark, that were transformational for him personally. We always say, “When I’m a better me, we’re a better we,” and that’s why we believe these books belong in this list!
Mark: So here you go…here are our Top 10 Books That Have Influenced Our Marriage
True North. Wisdom. Hope. Help. That’s what God’s words are for our marriage. Song of Solomon is a beautiful book for the sexual relationship in marriage. Philippians shows us how to live. Romans is rich with wisdom on how to love well, particularly Romans 12:9-21. When we read the gospels–Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John–we learn about how Jesus lived life God’s way. He went ahead of us to show the way of humility and servanthood which are desperately needed in marriage.
How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich
This book was a game-changer for our marriage. It looks at your home of origin and the way you were taught to relate to other people, where you look for comfort in this world (it’s either in people or things), and how to learn to love and relate in a secure way. Mark and I learned that we didn’t have a Mark and Jill problem. We had a damaging vacillator/avoider dance we did in our relationship. The more we understood where we were and where we needed to be relationally, we began making changes in how we related to each other. We also both worked to being secure connectors. Now we describe ourselves as a “recovering avoider” (Jill) and a “recovering vacillator” (Mark). We highly recommend this book!
The God-Empowered Wife by Karen Haught
Mark and I have found that when a man doesn’t know what to do he’ll do NOTHING. When a woman doesn’t know what to do, she’ll do SOMETHING…whether it’s the right thing or not. When this happens the woman is prodding, pulling, and pushing to get movement in the relationship. That was us for sure. This book addressed the strong woman/passive man dynamic in our marriage. It was a book I read during our separation that was not only very convicting but incredibly practical as well. Karen not only shares her story but hits the nail on the head with her descriptions of her thoughts, feelings, and actions that were hurting her marriage. I re-read this book annually and have for the past 7 years. I’ve also taken over two dozen women through it in one-on-one coaching and it speaks volumes to every strong woman who reads it.
His Needs…Her Needs by Willard Harley
This is a book we read years ago, but we still apply the wisdom of every day! While we’re not big on gender generalizations in marriage (after all in our marriage Jill is the logical thinker and Mark is the emotional feeler), we do find that the research Harley did is spot on to identify 10 needs every spouse has. It’s the priority of those needs where we usually run into challenges. My top five needs are Mark’s lowest needs and his top five needs are lowest on my priority list. It’s a great read!
Fathered By God by John Eldridge
Here’s one of those titles that isn’t a marriage book but it still had a great impact on our marriage. When Mark left 8 years ago, I knew it wasn’t nearly about our marriage as it was about his wrestling with God. The father void in his life was huge with having a birth father who was really out of the picture most of his life and a stepfather who was abusive. He had trouble wiping the faces of those two men off the face of God. This book was a healing balm to his father wound. We highly recommend this for men who had a less than ideal father figure in their life.
Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray
This is also not a marriage book but it made a HUGE difference in our marriage. It wasn’t until I (Mark) surrendered fully to God, repented (made a U-Turn), and made Him LORD of my life, that our marriage even had the hope of restoration. This book helped me to understand what surrender looked like. I feel like Andrew Murray is a grandpa who puts his arms around your shoulders and whispers wisdom to you. I have read so many of his books since I came home. NOTE: Andrew Murray is an 19th century pastor–it’s best to get these books in updated English versions so you don’t have to trip over “thees” and “thous” as you read!
This was a very helpful book for me (Jill) in working through forgiving the infidelity. Cindy’s husband’s affair resulted in pregnancy and Cindy and her husband have not only restored their marriage, but also raised this beautiful child. Cindy is a beautiful teacher sharing both her story and the wisdom God taught her about forgiveness.
Unfaithful: Hope and Healing After Infidelity by Gary and Mona Shriver
We read this book together ALOUD after Mark returned home. We’d certainly never done that before, but it really helped us to process what we were feeling. We read it slowly–sometimes only 2 or 3 pages a night after we crawled into bed but before we went to sleep. We’d read a paragraph or two and talk about it. Then another paragraph or two and talk about it. It helped us know that our feelings were normal and helped us find hope and healing.
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
This foundational book helped us to better understand our differences and how to best speak love to one another. Before reading it, we were speaking foreign languages of love to each other and miscommunicating all the time. Even recently when we interviewed Dr. Chapman for our No More Perfect Date Night members, Mark was reminded that my request to walk together in the evening is far more about my Quality Time love language than it is about exercise.
No More Perfect Marriages by Mark and Jill Savage
It may seem odd to put our book in this list but the content of the book is what we lived out in the healing of our marriage. Identifying the seven slow fades every marriage experiences and the eight God-Tools that stop those fades was instrumental in our healing and our continued growth. We still refer to the fades and we still actively use our God-Tools each and every day.
We’d love to know…what are the top marriage books you’ve read?
(One more thing: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. You can read my disclosure statement here.)
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