Making Marriage Better

Written by Kaley Morgan

This Valentine's Day, I want to direct your focus on making your marriage better. Happy marriages don't happen by accident. They require ongoing intentionality in order to be the way God intended.

Whether you'd describe your marriage as mediocre right now, or maybe it's hanging on by a thread, there's ways to improve, things to learn, and things to do to position yourself to make your marriage better. If your marriage is thriving right now, recognize and cherish the beauty of that reality and keep working to make it even better.

Not married yet? Whether dating or single, you can be intentional now to prepare yourself for your future spouse.

I've gathered a list of books from Pastor Phil, our Marriage & Family pastor, that he recommends for making your marriage even better.

Cherish
by Gary Thomas

"Thomas shows that although there are a countless number of marriages consisting of two people just going through the motions, there are real ways this pattern can be reversed: when husbands and wives learn to cherish one another in proven, loving, and everyday actions and words. Thomas will show you how going out of your way to notice them, appreciate them, honor them, encourage them, and hold them close to your heart will bring hope, light, and life into your marriage."

Vertical Marriage
by Dave & Ann Wilson

"For anyone who is married, preparing for marriage, or desperate to save a relationship teetering on the brink of divorce, marriage coaches Dave and Ann Wilson offer hope and strategies gleaned from personal experience and Scripture that really work. Vertical Marriage will give you the insight, applications, and inspiration to transform your marriage into everything you hoped it would be."

The Way to Love Your Wife
by Clifford L. & Joyce J. Penner
[for husbands]

"Sex matters in a marriage―a lot! Yet many men secretly wonder:
  • Is she really satisfied?
  • What do we do when our desires don’t match?
  • How can we get back the passion we used to feel?
The Way to Love Your Wife will tell you what you really want to know: how to make sex meaningful to your wife, build desire, get past sexual problems, and enjoy guilt-free sex.
Noted sex therapists Clifford and Joyce Penner also unveil the mystery of “what women want” and show how simple it is to boost your love life by letting your wife lead. Their candid, clear style will encourage you to make great sex happen―or happen more often―in your marriage."

Love Is: Meditations for Couples on 1 Corinthians 13
by Les & Leslie Parrott

"For those who want to grow in the art of loving well Reflections on 1 Corinthians 13 featuring 16 different translations and paraphrases of the Bible's beloved 'Love Chapter'"

100 Things I Love About You Journal
by Cara Kovacs

"Create a heartfelt keepsake for your partner with this guided journal. Every significant other deserves to know how much they’re loved. 100 Things I Love About You makes it easy to show affection and appreciation thanks to compelling prompts that are laid out in a fun journal format."

52 Simple Ways to Say “I Love You”
by Stephen Arterburn & Carl Dreizler

"Provides fifty-two simple ways to tell the important people in your life how much you love them"

You and Me Forever
by Francis & Lisa Chan

"Marriage is great, but it's not forever. It's until death do us part. Then come eternal rewards or regrets depending on how we spent our lives. In his latest book, Francis Chan joins together with his wife Lisa to address the question many couples wonder at the altar: “How do I have a healthy marriage?” Setting aside typical topics on marriage, Francis and Lisa dive into Scripture to understand what it means to have a relationship that satisfies the deepest parts of our souls."

7 Secrets to an Awesome Marriage
by Kim Kimberling, PhD

"All of us want an enduring marriage, a beautiful marriage we can believe in. That kind of marriage happens through intimacy. Intimacy requires hard work and a guide. Dr. Kim Kimberling is that guide, and this book and its tools will show you how communication and intimacy in marriage can be yours. "

We Should do THIS More Often: A parents’ guide to romance, passion, and other prechild activities you vaguely recall
by Lorilee Craker

"In a recent poll taken by Parents magazine, 87 percent of moms admitted they don’t make love as often as they did before having kids, while one-third confessed their love life has taken a “major nosedive.” Experts say a whopping majority of moms suffer from low libido, and many of the reasons aren’t biological. So how can you get your mojo back and start to love making love again? Get the scoop on these and other extremely hot–and often hilarious–topics, including:
• Timing that works for everyone (we’re not talking the next decade)
• Keeping the ankle biters in their beds when you desperately need them out of yours
• Why you need to make the effort (if not for your marriage, at least for your sanity)
• Reclaiming your sexual self (she’s not gone forever, but is probably sleeping every chance she gets)"

The Five Love Languages
by Gary Chapman

"Dr. Gary Chapman identifies five basic languages of love and then guides couples towards a better understanding of their unique languages of love. Learn to speak and understand your mate's love language, and in no time you will be able to effectively love and truly feel loved in return. Skillful communication is within your grasp!"

Love Talk Starters: 275 Questions to get Your Conversations Going
by Les & Leslie Parrott

"Love Talk Starters is the perfect tool for better understanding each other. Each page offers creative, surprising, fun, and deep questions designed to engage couples in the romance-building conversations every thriving marriage needs."

Rekindling Romance: Loving the Love of Your Life
by Dennis & Barbara Rainey

"Deep within every marriage is a God-given desire for intimacy. By God's design, romance is supposed to be the flame in the fireplace. It includes warmth, security, and, of course, sexual intimacy. Rekindling the Romance is organized into a collection of short, easy-to-digest, biblically based chapters. Packed with practical insight, this tastefully candid and inviting resource provides the Christian couple with the keys to unlock their relational and sexual intimacy."

9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesn’t Happen by Accident
by Sheila Wray Gregoire
[for wives]

"The solution to a happier relationship is not found in being a more patient, more perfect wife, but in taking responsibility for what you can do - and especially for how you think about your marriage. She challenges you to replace pat Christian answers with nine biblical truths that will radically shift your perspective on your husband, your relationship, and your role in God's design for marriage, including:
  • My husband can't make me mad  
  • Being one is more important than being right  
  • Having sex is not the same as making love  
With humor and honesty, Sheila invites you to believe that God wants to bring oneness and intimacy to your marriage - and challenges you to partner with him in that process by changing the way you think."

The Song of Solomon Bible Study (video series)
by Tommy Nelson
[this is great for singles too]

"Tommy Nelson teaches through the book of Song of Solomon. No matter what stage of romantic life you're in or not in, this exegetical study follows Solomon's relationship from attraction to dating and courtship, marriage and intimacy, to resolving conflict, keeping romance alive, and committing to the end."

FOR SINGLES

For Women Only
by Shaunti Feldhahn

"Discover the truth he wants you to know! The man in your life is keeping secrets. They’re so deep inside he barely knows they're there, much less how to talk to you about them. Yet he genuinely wants you to "get" him - to understand his inner life, his fears, his needs.... In her landmark best seller For Women Only, Shaunti Feldhahn reveals what every woman - single or married - needs to know."

For Men Only  
by Shaunti & Jeff Feldhahn

"Finally, you can understand her! If you're like most men, you've burned up lots of energy trying to figure out what a woman wants, what makes her tick, and how to make her happy. The good news: success is simpler than you thought. In their groundbreaking classic, For Men Only, Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn reveal the eye opening truths and simple acts that will radically improve your relationship with the woman you love."
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