This is the second post in our series of must read books for Christians. If you missed our first post, Four Must Read Finance Books for Christians, be sure to check it out. This post is all about the four books married Christians must read.
Marriage is tough. My husband and I do a lot of counseling with couples who are having marriage problems because, as I mentioned, marriage is tough.
If you break it down, two strangers meet, get to know each other, and decide to live together for the rest of their lives. Sometimes they decide to really mix things up and they raise tiny humans together.
That’s kind of crazy and tough.
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So it’s no real surprise that many people struggle in marriage.
From what we’ve seen, people have difficulties in their marriage in one (or more) of the following four areas: spirituality, finances, intimacy, and/or parenting.
To help people avoid these difficulties we recommend these books to help in each of those areas.
To focus on spirituality in marriage, read Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
Chip and I got to go through a group study of this book last winter, and it was great.
Gary focuses on marriage as it’s modeled in the Bible. Which is obviously good, but sometimes I forget to go to the Bible first. I want to Google the answer and get it quick instead of seeking it out through prayer and meditation in God’s word.
Gary points out that people often get wrapped up in the feelings of love with marriage instead of the sacred commitment we make when we get married.
It’s good stuff y’all.
Another thing that will help you and your spouse reconnect spiritually is to read the Bible together. There are a couple of ways to do this successfully.
One option is to simply read through the Bible together each day for a set amount of time and then discuss what you’ve read. This can be kind of overwhelming because the Bible is a very large book so make sure that you have an easy to understand translation. Our favorite translation is the New Living Translation because it is translated from the original manuscripts but instead of being translated word for word, it’s translated thought for thought making it much easier to understand.
Another option would be to do a devotional together. There are lots of great devotionals out there. Here are a few we recommend:
To focus on finances in a marriage, read Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey
I previously wrote about this book and how my husband made me read it in our post, Four Must Read Finance Books for Christians, but I think it’s worth mentioning again.
People often cite money problems as a reason for divorce, but if you really dig down to the root of it the problem isn’t money. Honestly, if money is the problem then divorce is the worst possible answer. They are expensive and often end up ruining your credit for years.
The problem isn’t money. It is how couples communicate about money.
Financial Peace lays out a clear path for handling your money in a way that honors God. If that’s your priority, then all the other pieces will fall into place. Honor God with your finances and it will block out potential conflict with your spouse.
For more great books to read about honoring God with your money, check out the first post in this series, Four Must Read Financial Books for Christians.
To focus on intimacy in a marriage, read Under the Sheets by Kevin Lehman
Married people have sex. Or at least, they’re supposed to.
Do not deprive one another sexually–except when you agree for a time, to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again; otherwise, Satan may tempt you because of your lack of self-control. – 1 Corinthians 7:5
What Paul means is that married people should be having sex regularly unless they agree to take a break to pray about something. So it’s okay to have a planned fast from sex, but at the end of it, you are suppose to start having sex again.
Sometimes though, intimacy gets complicated. Maybe you’re exhausted from work and kids and housework. Maybe he is too stressed about things at work to look at you twice. The hurt feelings that spring from these situations can create lasting issues.
Dealing with those issues and a thousand others is what Under the Sheets is all about.
Lehman writes in a mostly question and answer format to deal with a vast array of sexual questions, situations, and problems. What’s more, he writes in a way that is humorous without being vulgar and scientifically accurate without being boring. One warning- the content of this book is for married couples. It is not for teaching children or teens about sex. Lehman doesn’t sugar coat anything or hold back.
Here is the thing married people have to remember – God gave us sex.
He gave us the desire for sex, and He gave us the perfect container for sex – marriage. And just like any other appetite it grows based on how you feed it.
Here are links to Under the Sheets and a couple of other books that we highly recommend. Remember, while they have a Christian perspective they are very direct and applicable. These are not Bible studies.
To focus on parenting and marriage, read Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul David Tripp
This recommendation is more difficult because there’s no one right way to parent.
Our primary goal should be to raise godly kids. This can be done in several ways, but every godly way will have some common principles.
The main reason that marriages suffer because of parenting disagreements is a difference of priorities.
So if you and your spouse can agree that raising Godly children is the first priority, then you simply need to work together to figure out a method of doing what you both agree on.
We read To Train Up a Child when our first born was a baby and decided that was the parenting philosophy we could MOSTLY agree on. We don’t agree with everything in this book, nor do we agree with each other completely. We’ve followed these methods for the last 9 years, and they work really great for our family because they mesh with our efforts to parent deliberately.
This approach works for us, but it may not be the best method for your family.
There are lots of other parenting philosophies that are really great.
What is most important is that you expose yourself to some philosophies and choose to adapt one to the DNA of your family. And as long as you and your spouse keep your focus on raising godly children, the methodology that’s used will be easier to agree on. (BTW- It is best to discuss parenting philosophies and methods away from the carnage of parenting. Don’t decide whether you will spank or use time out while the living room rug is on fire.)
Here are some other good parenting books:
I hope you can take the time to read, enjoy, and learn from these resources, but you may not have the time right now. You may be in a spot where your marriage is hanging by a thread and just getting through the day without a fight is all you can hope for.
If you only have time or resources to apply one thing in your marriage let it be this:
Work every day to become more like Jesus and to help your spouse be more like Jesus.
If you can do that, the fighting will stop being hurtful and start being productive. You will have less competition and more cooperation. You will have less selfishness and more selflessness. If you can seek after those two things for each other, your marriage can work.