The Best Marriage Counseling Books For Your Relationship Troubles

By: Dylan Buckley

Updated August 17, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Karen Devlin, LPC

Marriage counseling is a great experience. Talking to a marriage and family therapist can offer you professional insight that you might not have otherwise thought of alone. Marriage counseling is a great way to not only explore aspects of yourself and your relationship, but it will aid in helping you gain insight into why your marriage is the way it is. Marriage and family therapists can help you better understand yourself and your relationship while giving you and your partner the tools you need to have a successful marriage. Some marriage and family therapists may provide extra resources for you and your partner to explore outside of the counseling sessions or perhaps you and your partner want to find more resources to learn more about your relationship. These resources could include worksheets, workbooks, or books that can give you more knowledge and insight about marriage. 

The good news is that you and your partner are appearing to be geared for success insofar as you have already taken the important step of recognizing and acknowledging your issues and the need to seek outside help to remedy those issues. Now that you've done that, you can start on improving the relationship and working your way through the struggles you're facing to achieve success and will fair better than most since you are already armed with valuable information and a strong desire to keep the marriage intact. Back to the main point of this guide, you can increase your abilities with some of the best marriage counseling books available, which will help you come to understand yourself and your partner a whole lot better than you currently do. Books about marriage are often more accessible than a marriage and family therapist, and the top relationship books can be almost as effective as marriage therapy. If you are really dedicated to boosting your marriage, you could even speak to a marriage and family therapist and use marriage counseling books in conjunction with your treatment. However, researching for the right book can be difficult, and we understand that you may be struggling to find great books. If you are having this issue and could use guidance, here are some of the best marriage counseling books on the market and what you will receive from them.

The Best Marriage Counseling Books

The Five Love Languages - Gary Chapman

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A book that helps you understand yourself and your partner better, The Five Love Languages looks at the things that each of you does to show love and the things that you want to feel loved. The truth is, not everyone feels or shows love in the same way, and the chances are that this love can get lost in translation. If you show love in a specific way, then the chances are that's how you also feel love. If your partner shows love in a different way that you aren't quite able to understand, this can lead to a disconnect between you and your partner and you may feel lost rather than together in marriage. You each think that you're showing love but are not receiving it from the other person, even though you're each trying to show that love to the other. You can’t fix your marriage without talking to each other in a language you both understand! By understanding this, it can help you communicate better on an equal field where you both understand each other's needs. If the issue is feeling unloved by someone who is supposed to be your spouse, this is the resource you should go to.

This marriage counseling book made our list because it’s like having your personal marriage and family therapist right on your book shelf. The concept of the five love language may sound simplistic, but it’s actually a quite advanced topic when you get into it. Read this book for marriage advice and relationship advice about not just how to understand love languages, but to find concrete methods about how you and your partner can better communicate in languages that both understand. Marriage therapists recommend this book to help manage marriage expectations and deal with troubled marriages between two people who just can’t get on the same page. After reading this book you may find yourself strengthening your marriage, family, and even friendships through healthy communication.


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Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married - Gary Chapman

Another book by Chapman, this book is about getting to know your partner a little better and making sure that you can survive the things that might tear apart another marriage. Specifically, it targets 12 main areas of stress that married couples will often encounter and it gives you a comprehensive overview of each and helpful methods that will allow you and your partner to tackle them better when they eventually show up in your marriage. By understanding your partner, you can make better choices and work through things easier, and this book will help you figure out just how to do that, which is important if you're trying to make things work but aren't sure how. These are the things you should be asking before you tie the knot, but if you've never thought about them, it's time to do the work now.

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The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work - John M. Gottman and Nan Silver

With this book, you'll find out about your partner and be able to improve your relationship through a series of different and revitalizing exercises that reintroduce the spark and sense of wonder and discovery to your marriage. As a prerequisite, you and your partner both need to be willing to work on things for this to be successful but you'll be able to help improve communication and a whole lot more if you just give it a chance. With just seven simple steps, you're going to be on your way to a healthier relationship already.

Interestingly enough, John M. Gottman is rather well-known in the marriage-based therapy space and has established his system of solving marriage issues that are based on a model known as the Sound Relationship House. Much like a house, a relationship only stands upright with the proper foundation and materials. Gottman believes that these materials include trust, commitment, building loved maps for better knowledge of your partner, sharing fondness and admiration for your partner, turning towards them instead of away from them, maintaining a positive perspective on everything that occurs within the relationship and in both of your lives, managing conflict that comes up during the course of marriage, making life dreams and shared goals come true, and creating a shared meaning that defines the marriage. If you're looking for supplementary material to accompany this book, Gottman's own methods would make a great addition.

This book is a detailed guide from the country’s foremost relationship expert. Gottman and his wife are famous marriage and family therapists, known for their ability to predict with stunning accuracy whether or not a couple will divorce after just one conversation. Marriage therapists recommend this book for both troubled marriages and healthy ones, as it can help you understand yourself and the love you share much better. Even if the book takes a few months to read, you be using the knowledge contained within for the rest of your life.

Love and Respect Workbook - Emerson Eggerichs


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There's actually a book (Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs) and a workbook to go along with this book set and if you read the book and then start the workbook to make sure that you finish the whole series that Eggerichs provides, you're going to have a whole lot of things to help you and your partner when you finally begin diving into all of the information that this book has to offer. Firstly, the book helps to give you all of the information necessary to understand how to better love and respect your partner. Then, the workbook is used during your reading as well as afterward and helps you through a series of different exercises that will help to strengthen your relationship and show you how to show love and respect to your partner (and it is aptly named because of this). This is extremely important in a relationship that's struggling, but if you go through the workbook, you'll find that the process of giving love and respect to your partner does not have to be difficult and is quite rewarding when you pour your effort and your soul into your relationship. It should be noted that this book is heavily based on Bible scripture and Biblical themes, and it is not recommended for couples who are not interested in this kind of material. (However, it could serve as a great lesson to treat your partner with love and respect if they are of a different religious group than you!) Marriage therapists recommend this book for anyone dedicated to the process of building up a successful marriage with consistency and care.

Emotional and Sexual Intimacy in Marriage: How to Connect or Reconnect With Your Spouse, Grow Together, and Strengthen Your Marriage - Marcus and Ashley Kusi

One area of marriage that often loses its luster and strength throughout a marriage is emotional and sexual intimacy, and it can often be difficult for people to talk about their loss of intimacy and seek the help they need. Even marriage therapists sometimes focus too much on familial love between partners, and forget the sexier side, which is exactly what makes a romantic pair different than any other type of relationship. 

In some cases, there may be sexual intimacy, but one partner is not receiving the satisfaction they need and is sparing the other partner's feelings by avoiding the topic and letting them think that everything is fine. While this is a noble act, it doesn't help to fix the marriage if there are any issues present and it can only add to the anger and resentment that currently exists and add to the growing pile of issues that are tearing a married couple apart. Intimacy, both sexual and emotional, is key to a healthy marriage, and some can lose their way and find it difficult to get back. With, "Emotional and Sexual Intimacy in Marriage: How to Connect or Reconnect With Your Spouse, Grow Together, and Strengthen Your Marriage" by Marcus and Ashley Kusi, the couple that used to be the married couple who had no intimacy will help you to foster more intimacy in your own love life by providing you with extraordinary insider knowledge and a wide variety of exercises that will get you back to being intimate inside and outside of the bedroom in no time.

For the sex starved marriage, boosting that marriage libido will make a world of difference in both your physical and mental health.

What we truly like about this book is that it can apply to all kinds of relationship dynamics rather than just heterotypical marriages as some books focus on. Regardless of whether you are a lesbian couple or a gay couple, these exercises will prove to be helpful within your marriage as well and can help you to accomplish your own intimacy goals.

Common Therapeutic Approaches For Couples

The Gottman Method

John Gottman talks about seven ways to improve your marriage. He believes that romantic relationships are based on communication, listening, and intimacy. John Gottman created a technique that provides the best marriage counseling. As mentioned above, Gottman talks about the "sound relationship house." Couples in romantic relationships develop shared meaning in their lives to understand and unite with each other. In his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert, he outlines how to speak one another's love language. The book presents theories about what makes marriages last. Many therapists practice the Gottman method and have helped a troubled relationship work. Gottman talks about seeking help early. If you're in a happy marriage, then you're doing something right. Relationships change over time. Don't wait until you're in a starved marriage to find a therapist. When you see a therapist who practices the Gottman method, you will be engaging in shared exercises with your partner. You and your partner will practice the skills you learn in therapy and outside of the session. 

EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy)

Sue Johnson is the author of Hold Me Tight Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love. The book presents strategies for problem-solving in marriages. Johnson created Emotionally Focused Therapy EFT is based on a nine-step model where the couples identify the problem and then work with the therapist to solve it. EFT focuses on the attachment bond between the couple. Men and women learn to fortify the bonds in their marriage. EFT helps people embrace personal growth. It can particularly help unavailable men access their emotions. EFT supports people to work through their own feelings and accept and embrace their partner's emotions. It's about communicating with one another, respecting the other person's needs, and fortifying a relationship. EFT can make a huge difference in a relationship where it feels like one partner is emotionally unavailable. If you want to make this type of treatment work, you have to be open to feeling your feelings and experiencing empathy for your partner. EFT is an excellent type of therapy for couples, and it has proven great results. 

Sex Therapy

A sex therapist works with couples on intimacy issues. A trained mental health professional can work as a guide for couples when their marriage is failing. When there are issues in the bedroom, it can be daunting. Maybe the couple believes there's no hope, and they can't fix their intimacy problems. A sex therapist is skilled at understanding physical intimacy problems. If your issues in the marriage are surrounding sexual and intimate relations, a sex therapist may be right for you and your partner. Initially, it could feel embarrassing to reveal intimacy issues to a stranger. You're sharing your personal sex life with someone who doesn't know you. But, that can also be freeing, and a therapist isn't going to judge you. They are there to help you navigate your sexual relationship with your partner. They can show you how to overcome intimacy hurdles and get to a place where you and your partner are both satisfied in the bedroom. A sex therapist is an expert in common intimacy struggles. It's likely that many couples have dealt with the type of sexual problems you are having in your marriage. You're not alone in your struggles. You may be worried about shocking your therapist, but it's unlikely you will do that. Regardless of whether your struggle is old or new territory for them, they want to help you work through it.

Saving Your Marriage

You have probably entered couples therapy because you're worried about the stability and long-term health of your marriage. If you want to work through your relationship issues, you're in the right place. Couples therapy isn't going to be easy, but it will be rewarding in the end. You will find ways to show your partner how you feel and accept how they are experiencing matters. When you're with a person for years, the resentment can grow. It can be challenging to work through these issues. Remember That a couple's therapist is an expert in helping partners navigate these challenges. They have seen many different dynamics and are available to help you through these complex problems. You have a shot at saving your marriage if you're willing to put in the effort. Both of you wouldn't be in couples therapy if you didn't want to believe that there was a chance to make things work. Congratulate yourself that you are both here, right now, and start to do the hard emotional work. A couple's therapist is in this profession because they believe in love and relationships. They're here to help you and your partner through these challenges because this is their passion. They're passionate about helping romantic relationships flourish. Sometimes it's good to get a couple's therapist who is just starting out because they're fresh out of school and ready to practice the techniques they've learned. They have a passion for the job and want to help you and your partner through challenging problems. Remember that no relationship is perfect. If you're having difficulties with your partner, the chances are that other people have experienced similar issues and have worked through them, maybe with the help of a couple's counselor. If you want a shot at saving your marriage, couple's therapy is an excellent place to start. You can try one of these types of counseling and see if it works for you. EFT, The Gottman Method, or Psychodynamic therapy, are all valid techniques for couples to try. Consider therapy as a way to work through challenges before calling it quits with your marriage.

Reaching Out for Help


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Let's imagine that you are reaching this guide as a result of researching for your DIY marriage counseling methods. Conducting your marriage counseling is an ambitious and commendable goal, but it may not always suffice if you are not able to properly implement the knowledge you are learning into your current relationship. If these books aren't doing enough for you or if they are working well but you feel like you might need a little more guidance in your efforts, you always have the option of seeking out professional help. A therapist, such as those available through ReGain, will be able to help you through your workbooks, your exercises and a whole lot more of both by helping you build up your relationship and understand the things that are and aren't working for you. Best of all, these online counselors are ready to take you on anywhere and at any time! Don't take extra time in your marriage to try to decipher these resources. Reach out to a marriage counselor today and receive the help you need to bring you and your loved one closer together.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the success rate of marriage counseling?

According to a recent article on Today.com, marriage counseling has a success rate that ranges from 70-80 percent. Couples therapy is a reliable way to save a relationship for many partners in real life. When it's emotionally focused, and the partners want to fix their marriage, it's likely there will be success. A couple's therapist will likely recommend books for the spouses to read to strengthen their bond. There are many books for couples that can help people learn to communicate, love, and trust each other. When you read about marriage, you will be surprised that many couples have struggled with similar issues. Marriage books can shed light on how challenging it is to have a long term partner in real life. Marriage counseling helps couples.

Does marriage counseling make things worse?

Sometimes problems get worse before they get better. Marriage isn't a storybook romance. It's a real life relationship where people have individual problems. When you go to marriage counseling, these issues are highlighted. Emotions are intensified. You could have conversations for a lifetime in therapy. Marriage counseling can illustrate relationship problems, but it's also a place where these issues can be resolved.

What is a good book for couples to read together?

There are many books for couples that they can read together in real life. One is called The Five Love Languages. It's a practical guide to how to communicate with your partner and demonstrate love. There are different ways that couples express love toward each other. A common way that people show they love each other is words of affirmation. It can be as simple as saying, "I love you." One way is physical touch. If you love to be touched, and it makes you feel loved, you may be thinking, "hold me tight." That provides you with the love you crave. Another way of showing love is through acts of service. Yet another way is spending quality time with your spouse in real life. Some people feel that their partner does tasks or takes actions for them. It's crucial to learn your partner's love language. That way, you understand how to show them you care about them. Your love language could differ from theirs. But, you can still communicate with each other and show that you love the other person. In couples counseling, you can transform your marriage by learning to communicate in each other's love languages. There's also a book called Attached. It promotes a lifetime of love. You can learn your attachment style and how your partner attaches. These books are not a relationship cure, but they can be fun to read together. 

What are the signs of a toxic marriage?

A toxic relationship or marriage has two partners who are fighting all the time. Maybe one partner cheated on the other one. There are many counseling books for couples that can shed light on whether or not your marriage has toxic qualities. Married life is full of challenging moments. But, a toxic marriage means that there is constant discord, fighting, or abuse. There are many books out there that can shed light on your marital issues. You might consider reading a counseling book to learn more about how marriages become toxic. Sometimes a marriage starts out healthy and goes downhill. A counseling book can be helpful to read to learn about case studies with real couples. You can also find practical exercises to practice with your partner. A counseling book doesn't need to be dry or boring. It can help you gain insight into your marriage. A couple's counselor may recommend a good counseling book. You can talk to a couples counselor about potential signs of toxic behavior in your marriage, and ask for ways to cope.

Do marriage counselors ever recommend divorce?

A couple's counselor is a relationship expert. They can recommend books and resources that will help your marriage. They can also teach your real life coping mechanisms for your relationship. Married life presents challenges, and couple's counselors can help. They have done years of research and know the signs that marriage is working, or if it isn't. Counselors can help you improve your marriage and support you in rebuilding trust with your partner. When you go to marriage counseling, your therapist can recommend good reading material for you and your spouse. There may be case studies in these books that talk about marriages that survive, and those that don't. One reason it is good to read these case studies is to see couples you relate to and can learn from in the book. Married life differs from relationship to relationship. A couple's counselor will work with you for a while before providing recommendations for your marriage. A couple's therapist is foremost a relationship expert. They will observe the interactions between you and your partner, and see if there are ways to improve communication. They can recommend ways to promote emotional intimacy. One of the issues that couples deal with is drifting apart. The emotional intimacy is gone, and the partners feel distant from each other.

What is the divorce rate for marriage counselors?

The national average for the divorce rate for marriage counselors is 22.49 percent. That shows that in real life, marriage counseling helps couples stay together. Your couples counselor can provide you a step guide to saving your marriage. You may work with a marriage counseling workbook. It can be helpful to have materials to guide you through the counseling process. A counseling workbook gives you and your partner a roadmap for treatment. It could be a 10 step guide to strengthening your marriage.

What should I not tell my therapist?

You get to decide what to tell your therapist, and what you feel comfortable with saying in therapy. Your counselor may provide you with helpful relationship books. These materials can give you a sense of what you want to work on in therapy. Relationship books are an excellent tool for couples to learn to communicate and work together.

Can I see a marriage counselor alone?

You could see a marriage family therapist or another type of therapist individually to discuss your relationship but for it to be considered marriage counseling, you and your partner would need to visit together. The reason being is that one of the key aspects of marriage counseling is that you hear both perspectives, and while you can attend individual therapy, it will lack the personal perspective of your spouse. You can read a marriage counseling book to see what the benefit of seeing this type of professional would be for you. A counseling book isn't just about techniques. Marriage counseling books are full of valuable information. You can read about case studies where couples have survived difficult times and made it through them. Marriage counseling books, in particular, will show you the value of couples therapy. You can learn what goes into saving your relationship. Marriage counseling books can have helpful couples communication exercises for you and your partner to try. But you can't attempt these without you and your partner in therapy together. It's crucial to read marriage counseling books when you are in couples counseling with your partner.


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