We recently listened to Jesus' teaching on adultery, marriage and divorce in the Sermon on the Mount. A key 'take home' for those who are married was: invest in your marriage. A great way to do that is to read a Christian book on marriage. Here is a brief review of three that I have found helpful
The Meaning of Marriage, Tim and Kathy Keller (2011)
Three foundations underlie this book: A 37 year marriage, 20 years of pastoral experience, and a life time of careful and thoughtful reflection on the Bible’s teaching. The result is a cracking book.
It’s lofty in its scope, helping me to see how marriage fits in to God’s eternal purposes: “ Keller asks, “
It is culturally aware, helping me to see how contemporary culture can often give me a very different message about marriage than that of the Bible.
It’s practically rooted, grappling with issues such as commitment, forgiveness, sex, and singleness
A Lasting Promise, Stanley, Trathen, McCain, Bryan (2002)
If, like me, you need as much help as possible getting from theory to practice, this book is just brilliant. Written after 20 years of professional research on marriages by a group of Christians, it is full of conversation scenarios (ALFRED: You left the car our again. EILEEN: Oh. I guess I forgot to put it back… ALFRED: I guess you did. You know how much that irritates me… They would be corny, if some of them weren’t so close to the mark…), real life examples, and practical exercises to work through.
What most commonly leads to friction in marriage? 4 key patterns are identified.
How can we communicate better? One particularly helpful technique is suggested.
How can we identify and manage different expectations in marriage? Exercises are given to help you make a start.
It’s not all fire-fighting either. The book ends with great chapters on preserving friendship, having fun together and developing spiritual intimacy.
This Momentary Marriage, John Piper (2009)
This is the shortest and perhaps the easiest read of the three. John Piper writes as a preacher- which means clear headings, short sentences, and lots of repetition! “You cannot say too often that marriage is a model of Christ and the church” says Piper’s wife Noel, and that is certainly the big take home point of this book: marriage is designed as a lived out visual aid of how Jesus relates to his people.
It elevates marriage beyond the tiffs and relational scuffles that we can focus on, to God’s grand and glorious design for marriage.
There are straightforward explanations of what the Bible means by ‘headship’ and ‘submission’, and how those can play out in marriage.
It’s realistic about the difficulties of marriage, but with confidence in God’s power to bring us through those:
Someone once told me and Lucy that it’s not a bad aim to read one book on marriage together each year, as a kind of regular MOT. Sound advice which we've not followed! But perhaps you could start by picking up one of the above and giving it a go?