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18 Best Marriage Counseling Books That Every Couple Needs To Read

If you’re searching for books that you can read alone or together with your spouse, then check out this list filled with the best marriage counseling books! 

Marriage counseling books are wonderful because they allow you and your spouse to work on your issues so you can get your relationship back on track.

Read on to discover the absolute best selling marriage books that will help you save, strengthen, and improve your marriage!

In a hurry or just plain curious? 

✅ Buyer’s Tip: These specific books are the most popular amongst our readers and can help couples overcome communication problems, trust issues, intimacy set backs, and much more!
best marriage counseling books for couples to read together

Table of Contents

Why Marriage Counseling Books?

Most couples only see their therapist once a week or every other week for an hour or so, which means there’s plenty of downtime to stray from the advice of the therapist between sessions.

Also, having the right marriage counseling books will allow couples to work together from the comfort of their own home.

By reading aloud from the book to one another, couples can create their own mini therapy session and discuss what the author says in discussion.

Lastly, a great marriage counseling book will offer couple’s additional information that can help save and improve their marriage.

This additional information will help couples to see the bigger picture and be proactive in addressing their marriage’s flaws.

Okay, now that we’ve discussed how important these books are, let’s dive right into the recommendations! 

The Top 17 Best Marriage Counseling Books

The following marriage counseling books are authored by elite authors and include some of the best selling books in their industry and online.

These marriage help books offer stellar marriage advice and are perfect for couples to read together.

Regardless if you’re a newlywed or instead have been married for years, both men and women alike can benefit from reading any of the following books about marriage.

“The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work:  A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert” By: John Gottman and Nan Silver

This book is intended for stagnant couples looking to intensify intimacy, connection, and communication.

Gottman was the first practitioner to conduct scientific research on relationships by observing the behaviors and routines of married couples via clinical study and quantifiable data.

Outcomes of this research are highlighted in the seven principles for healthy marriages, some of which include fostering admiration, solving problems, and re-investing in the relationship.

These seven principles seek to build love, enhance mutual respect, and strengthen underlying friendship within the marriage.

Three Reasons to Consider this Book:

1. Exercises are offered throughout the book to assist couples in creating connections and improving communication and emotional expression.  These exercises serve to strengthen both the individual and the couple as a whole.

2. Couples are assisted in identifying areas of their relationships needing improvement, along with support, guidance, and intervention.

3. Myths about marriage are demystified and individuals obtain information about why some marriages are unsuccessful.

A Marriage of Equals by Catherine E. Aponte

This book presents a vision of how to create a committed, vibrant, sustainable, and equal marriage through collaborative negotiation.

Dr. Aponte lays out how negotiating collaboratively leads to gaining respect for one another as well as building trust in each other and the relationship.

Collaborative negotiation is a new way to achieve individual and marital goals, to create and sustain a satisfying sex life, to figure out where you stand on fidelity, to think about having and caring for kids, and to have a committed and satisfying family life.

Catherine Aponte is clinical psychologist who is married to a clinical psychologist. She trained as a psychologist at both Duke University and Spalding University, and worked with couples in her private practice for more than thirty years in Louisville, KY.

During her professional career both as a clinician and an associate adjunct professor of clinical psychology at Spalding University, she made numerous presentations about her work with couples.

Throughout her career, she has been devoted to helping couples create and maintain a committed and equitable marriage.

Three Reasons to Consider This Book

1. The book lends itself to being read together by husbands and wives, sharing their insights as they read and reflect. Reading the book together supports conversations between partners and leads to greater marital satisfaction. The ‘Takeaways’ at the end of each chapter are one-page recaps that can promote these discussions.

2. Sharing the chapter on “Taking Care of Your Personal Issues” is eye-opening. There is a “Taking Things Personally Inventory” that facilitates this process. Aponte guides the reader through an understanding of the importance of self-awareness, distinguishing
between needs and wants, and negotiating around key issues through honest communication.

3. As Americans attempt to strengthen equality in all areas, compromise and negotiation skills become important. Aponte explores the importance of equality in marriage, frankly discussing its challenges and opportunities.

“The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to your Mate” by Gary Chapman

This book can be utilized by couples looking to strengthen their relationship, or for couples in distress.

This resource focuses on communication and asserts that relationship problems stem from the fact that expressions of love are not universal.  Chapman explains that partners misunderstand each other when their love is expressed differently.

“Quality Time”, “Words of Affirmation”, “Gifts”, “Acts of Service”, and “Physical Touch” are the five love languages that Chapman identifies.

The book depicts how couples can become confused, angry, and resentful when their partner does not acknowledge or appreciate their attempts to show love.

Individuals can also become upset when they do not perceive that their partner is expressing love at all.

Chapman asserts that couples would have a better understanding of how their partner gives and receives love if they were familiar with their partner’s love language.

Three Reasons to Consider this Book:

1. Several questionnaires enable readers to identify both their love language and their partner’s love language. This provides individuals with insight on how expressions of love occur in their relationship.

2. This book stresses the importance of open communication, expression of feelings, listening and validating, and learning what your partner values.

3. Comprehensive details about love languages are provided, thus giving individuals the opportunity to explore and understand communication patterns in other important relationships in their lives, such as with parents, siblings, or past relationships.

“Getting the Love you Want: A Guide for Couples” by Harville Hendricks

This book explores relationships from a scientific perspective and is best utilized by couples in troubled marriages.

Hendricks asserts that couplings are not random, as individuals subconsciously choose partners with certain characteristics, ultimately promoting their own healing processes.

Hendricks further emphasizes that childhood pain is healed via interactions with their partner, simultaneously filling a void within themselves.

Three Reasons to Consider this Book:

1. This book promotes personal growth, individual development, and self-exploration by revisiting the past so that new, healthier response patterns can be learned.

2. Narratives from real-life couples are presented throughout the book and depict struggles, childhood pains, and healing processes.

3. This resource highlights the importance of communication, listening, and validation via exercises and guidelines.

“Fight Fair:  Willing Conflict Without Losing at Love” by Joy Downs:

This book educates individuals about healthy self expression during disagreements so that healthy resolutions can be obtained.

Downs explains that fighting at inopportune times, bringing up issues from the past, and making hurtful verbalization’s can cause irreparable damage to a relationship.

Furthermore, the author discusses how unproductive fighting is not conducive to conflict resolution and instead, perpetuates a negative cycle of fighting.

Couples are encouraged to “fight fair” and are educated about processes and coping mechanisms that lead to healthy resolutions.

Three Reasons to Consider this Book:

1. Realistic and sensible strategies for self-expression during arguments are offered and explained, while discussing the permanent damage that unfair fighting can cause to a relationship.

2. Comic strips, quotes, and scriptures appear throughout the book, which diversifies the reader’s experience.

3. Individuals learn how to strengthen conflict resolution skills across many different relationships and friendships.

“Intimacy and Desire:  Awaken the Passion in Your Relationship” by Dr. David Schnarch

This book outlines how mismatches with sexual desire can occur in both healthy and troubled relationships and assists readers in improving  intimacy, physical connection, and sexual desire.

Dr. Schnarch educates readers about the origin of sexual desire mismatches, explains how sex is directly related to intimacy, and provides interventions and solutions.

Three Reasons to Consider this Book:

1. The author is a psychologist and sex therapist and utilizes real life case studies throughout the book.

2. The concept of mismatched sexual desire, emotional balance, and connection are highlighted.  Differences between the “low desire partner” and the “high desire partner” are also delineated and explained.

3. This book debunks the myth that just engaging In sexual intercourse will solve problems and instead focuses on emotions, blaming, and changing thought patterns.

“Couple Skills:  Making Your Relationship Work” by Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning:

This book focuses on improving communication, increasing coping, healthy conflict resolution, and commitment and can be utilized by any couple.

Authors divide the book into four sections and focus on strategies and solutions rather than perceptions and opinions.

The four sections include basic skills, advanced skills, anger and conflict management, and problem-solving techniques.

Three Reasons to Consider this Book:

1)One does not have to read the whole book, as each chapter can exist independently.  Thus, a couple can seek counsel on one or two problem areas by just locating the appropriate chapter.

2) Exercises, journaling, logging, and workbooks in each chapter allow couples to practice the skills that are being taught.

3) Authors promote that all couples are unique and will not respond to solutions in the same manner.

“Deal Breakers: When to Work on a Relationship and When to Walk Away” by Dr. Bethany Marshall

This book speaks directly to women and focuses solely on the topic of emotionally unavailable men.

This resource assists women in identifying and determining “deal breakers” in a relationship.

Dr. Marshall likens a romantic relationship to a business relationship, as both are representative of long-term deals.

The book goes on to help women understand that they are in charge of their dating destinies, as they can end a relationship at any time if their deal breaker arises.

This book seeks to empower women to set healthy boundaries and to have an active role in determining the course of their relationships.

This book would be especially beneficial for a women considering, or struggling to leave a toxic relationship with an emotionally unavailable man.

Three Reasons to Consider this Book:

1) This book utilizes the unique metaphor of comparing romantic relationships to business relationships, along with deal breakers between them.  It depicts how businesses and individuals utilize similar principles to determine whether a candidate is worth “hiring” or dating.

2) This resource specifically targets women and seeks to empower them, strengthen their confidence, and to improve their resolve.  This book would be especially beneficial for a woman struggling to leave a detrimental relationship.

3) Women are encouraged to learn from past mistakes, as they are urged to explore past relationships, to understand pitfalls and to know when to walk away from a relationship.

“After the Affair:  Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When Your Partner has been Unfaithful” by Janis A. Spring

This book addresses relationships in crisis after a spouse has engaged in an extramarital affair and is beneficial to couples considering the prospect of working things out.

This resource teaches spouses how to heal, grow, and forgive, while exploring circumstances that led up to the affair.

Spring provides information and insight to assist readers in understanding why and how an affair occurs.

The book is targeted to assist both the unfaithful partner and the hurt partner by helping both parties to better understand how the other one feels.

Three Reasons to Consider this Book:

1) This book is written by a well-known therapist and expert on infidelity, who has conducted extensive scientific based research.

2) The author attempts to assist both the hurt partner and the unfaithful partner by breaking down and clarifying information for both sides.  It also attempts to provide insight on partners’ actions, reactions, and means of coping.

3) Real life client stories and “success indicators” are discussed to help the hurt partner feel more secure that adultery will not occur again.

“Emotional and Sexual Intimacy in Marriage:  How to Connect or Reconnect With your Spouse, Grow Together, and Strengthen Marriage” by Marcus and Ashley Kusi

This book focuses on concepts of intimacy, re-connection, excitement, and romance and seeks to help disconnected couples to reignite passion and connection.

Authors discuss how a lack of emotional intimacy can lead to anger, bitterness, disappointment, and neglect and seeks to help readers to rekindle romance.

Three Reasons to Consider this Book:

1) This book can be utilized by any couple feeling like something is missing from the relationship and instigates couples to kick start a connection.

2) Authors address a variety of issues pertaining to intimacy including mismatched sexual desires, emotional vulnerability, anxiety, and how to overcome fear of intimacy.

3) Several companion resources are built into the book, including “5 simple things to do every day to strengthen intimacy” and “52 conversation starters for deeper conversations to build trust and intellectual and emotional intimacy.”

“10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage” by John Gottman & Julie Schwartz Gottman

This book discusses the importance of communication, mutual admiration, respect, and appropriate conflict resolution.

This book is unique in that it presents stories from twenty real life couples experiencing marital discord from various stressors, including adultery, employment, parenthood, and illness.

Each chapter details causes and precipitating factors along with interventions.

Three Reasons to Consider this Book:

1) This book documents the challenges and stories of twenty real-life couples, while including therapist thoughts and observation.

2) Quizzes are presented throughout the novel and assist readers in communicating openly and honestly, while instigating conversation..

3) Readers can likely relate to at least one of the real-life stories, thus infusing hope about their own relationships.

“How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It” by Steven Stosny and Patricia Edd Love

This book highlights the power of nonverbal communication, while suggesting that verbal communication can sometimes make marital issues worsen.

Authors suggest that gender differences are the cause of strained communication and assert that nonverbal communication can prompt men to feel more comfortable and to talk more.

This resource discusses how non-verbal body language, such as a hand gesture, can keep an argument from escalating, but asserts that this is only applicable for couples that are not already in crisis.

Three Reasons to Consider this Book:

1) The premise of this book promotes nonverbal communication before verbal communication, which differs from the majority of resources.

2) This book takes into account gender and scientific principles, such as stress response and emotional patterns.

3) Readers are provided with practical guidance, solutions, and case studies from real life couples.

“Sex Starved Marriage-Boosting Your Marriage Libido:  A Couples Guide” by Michele Weiner Davis:

This book presents that 1 in every 3 marriages struggle with mismatched sexual desire and discusses potential impacts on the marriage.

Davis highlights the importance of examining and understanding the perspectives of partners, while being open to change.

This resource assists couples in learning how physiological and psychological factors can impact low libido and presents helpful interventions.

Three Reasons to Consider this Book:

1) This book presents firsthand accounts from couples that have overcome sexual desire mismatches.

2) Authors discuss the common experiences of the high sex partner and of the low sex partner, thus allowing readers to easily identify with one side..

3) Physiological and psychological factors are presented to help readers to understand why and how low sex drive can occur.

Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Dr. Sue Johnson

If you’re looking for a book that takes a modern approach to healing and enriching a relationship, look no further.

This critically acclaimed book is revolutionary in its approach to couples therapy.

If you’re looking for one of the top relationship books for couples to read together, then you and your significant other will not be disappointed.

Three Reasons to Consider this Book:

1. In this book, Dr. Johnson shares her strategy of Emotionally Focused Therapy for the first time, a practice that is now considered one of the most effective in couples.

2. This book address the bond you and your partner have with one another and focuses on reestablishing an emotional connection.

3. This book also guides you and your partner through 7 key conversations that will help you heal the wounds of your relationship.

“The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships” by John Gottam

This book is great for anyone who is looking to improve relationships, not only with their spouse but others as well! There are many reasons why this book made the best relationship books for couples list.

Three Reasons to Consider this Book:

1. The concepts in this book are based around 20 years of research

2. Deconstructs and explains the subtle secrets hidden in our moment to moment communications with others

3. Offers 5 steps to help you build better relationships with anyone!

“When the Past Is Present: Healing the Emotional Wounds that Sabotage our Relationships” by David Richo

If you find yourself curious about how past experiences and relationships can affect our present, this book is for you!

Three Reasons to Consider this Book:

1. Discusses how to stop the destructive pattern of replaying our past in present day relationships.

2. Teaches you how to recognize when you are transferring past emotions, expectations, and feelings into your present.

3. Addresses how we can heal old wounds before they sabotage our relationships in the present.

 “I Love You But I Don’t Trust You: The Complete Guide to Restoring Trust in Your Relationship” By Mira Kirshenbaum

In this book, Kirshenbaum teaches you how to restore the trust you’ve lost in your relationship…regardless of how you lost it! This book personally worked really well for my husband and me during our marriage crisis.

Three Reasons to Consider this Book:

1. Teaches couples how to reestablish trust

2. Walks you through the stages of the rebuilding process

3. Instructs you on how to avoid the mistakes that hurt the healing process

“47 Little Love Boosters For a Happy Marriage: Connect and Instantly Deepen Your Bond No Matter How Busy You Are” by Marko Petkovic

This book by Marko Petkovic is amazing if you’re looking to bring the spark back into your relationship.

Petkovic discusses how to keep the fire burning between you and your partner, regardless of how long you’ve been together or how dull the relationship has gotten.

This book is a must have for any relationship and in it you will…

1. Learn how to reignite the spark through easy, fast, free, and effective gestures you can make everyday at home.

2. Be offered straight-to-the-point advice from the author

3. Be given a checklist to help keep track of your progress

Marriage Counseling PDF workbook

There is a free PDF version of a marriage counseling work that you can download here.

It is a 34 page eBook that covers important topics such as conflict resolution, communication, and marriage expectations which are crucial for the success of any marriage!

This marriage counseling workbook is an excellent alternative to a marriage counseling book for those looking for something they can use for free.

So there you have it!

These are just some of best marriage counseling books for couples that can help you save, strengthen, and overall improve your marriage!

 Let us know what your favorite marriage counseling book is in the comment section below!

Photo of author

Tracy Smith, LPC, NCC, ACS

Tracy Smith, LPC, NCC, ACS is a Licensed Professional Counselor in New Jersey, a Nationally Certified Counselor, an Approved Clinical Supervisor, and a mental health freelance writer. Tracy has fourteen years of clinical and supervisory experience in a variety of mental health settings and levels of care.

8 thoughts on “18 Best Marriage Counseling Books That Every Couple Needs To Read”

  1. Excellent list. At the same time, I would love if you would consider adding my book and workbook called The Power of Two: Secrets to a Strong & Loving Marriage.

    One more thought. If you should do a similar list of online marriage-help programs, please check out the website based on my marriage skills books: poweroftwomarriage.com.

    Thank you,
    Susan Heitler, PhD

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