I’m a serious bookworm who will read just about anything, but ever since we’ve been married, I’ve added marriage books for couples to my reading list. I’m really not into the super cheesy marriage books, so I tend to stick to marriage counseling books and marriage self help books that veer on the non cheesy side of things. There are a lot of marriage books for couples out there that are smart, well written, and funny. You can learn things from marriage books like improving your communication, improving your sex life, or even what the best marriage advice is from around the world. While nothing can top seeing a marriage counselor, some marriage counseling books can be extremely beneficial for a relationship.
All of the books on this list are great books for couples to read together, although I read the majority of the marriage books on my own. Bassam isn’t a huge reader, so I usually just give Bassam the highlights that I think will appeal to him. Every once in awhile I can get him to read one if I think it’s a priority book for couples to read together. He usually prefer to listen to the marriage book on audio while we’re on a road trip together. If you or your significant other is more of a listener than a reader, we also have a list of the best podcasts for couples.
You’ll find that many of the books on this list of best marriage books for couples are actually books to improve you as individual. I often find that improving yourself as a person has the direct effect of also improving your relationship and how you show up to your relationship. So often we focus on improving others, when really we should spend more energy and time on improving what we really can control – ourselves.
One piece of advice when reading these relationship books for couples, or digesting any sort of content- ask yourself, “how can this apply to me”, rather than “this doesn’t apply to me”. You may find a valuable piece of information that you can adapt to fit your own unique relationship needs when looking at it from a perspective of curiosity.
Here is my list of what I think are the best marriage books for couples that aren’t cheesy. I’ve also included the marriage books that are on my reading list that I’ve yet to read, some of my favorite marriage workbooks, and tips to make reading relationship books together more effective. I hope you’ll find a few relationship books here that interest you!
The Best Marriage Books for Couples That Aren’t Cheesy
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My favorite marriage books for couples:
Is any list of the best marriage books complete without The Five Love Languages? This is one of the best selling marriage help books and for good reason. I had taken the quiz years before I ever read the book, thinking there wasn’t much this top relationship book for couples could really elaborate on. I was so wrong. There is a reason it’s a top selling relationship book!
The book goes into a lot of really great detail regarding the love languages and can help you understand them better. I was always confused by my love language being “gifts”, because it wasn’t specifically gifts that I wanted. The book explained what exactly gifts mean and it including things like someone being there for you in your time of need, which is really big for me.
What I thought was especially helpful with this relationship book, is that it went into detail about what to do if your partner refuses to try to speak your love language. I often find that usually only one person in a relationship is initially motivated to do things to improve the relationship. I thought it was really empowering that it only takes one person’s effort to make a difference when it comes to love languages.
This is one that I think is a really important relationship book for couples to read together. I’ve found from speaking to many couples that reading this book helped their partner who previously resisted love languages to actually give it a try.
Speaking each other’s love language can be a game changer in a relationship. We’ve talked a lot about our own struggle with speaking each other’s love language and even feature it in our free 6 week relationship challenge. We’ve recently been seeing some success with it and it’s really impacted our relationship in a positive way.
Just trust me, that this marriage book is a must for couples to read.
I haven’t read this version so I cannot personally vouch for it, but there’s also a version of the book written specifically for men. I want to read it myself before making this claim, but I’ve heard people say it’s one of the best relationship books for guys.
This book was so fun to read, while also providing great reflections on what it means to have a successful marriage. The author meets and marries the love of her life, then finds herself full of questions about what it means to be a strong independent woman in a successful marriage. She spends a year traveling around the world to find out modern marriage secrets from a variety of cultures.
It was interesting to see how the basics of a great marriage are similar across the world: trust, respect, communication – while each country has their own specific spin and style on things. I really enjoyed the read and highlighted several parts to ponder on later.
If you’re someone who loves to travel, this book marriage book is a must!
While Dare to Lead isn’t technically a marriage book, it’s a book on leadership, I still think it’s a great book for couples to read together. All relationships have aspects of leadership, including marriages. Both partners in a healthy relationship take turns leading, depending on the context, and it’s important for both to have good leadership skills.
In this book, Brene Brown discusses how to bring vulnerability to leadership and how to communicate effectively. While I didn’t initially read it with the intention of it being a marriage book, I learned so much from the book that I applied to my relationship. I love taking inspiration from lots of different things and marriage is similar. Solid relationship advice doesn’t just need to come from a marriage counseling book and this leadership book is evidence of that.
Stay tuned, I have a blog post coming soon with my top take aways from Dare to Lead as it relates to romantic relationships.
I’m always surprised that this book doesn’t get recommended more as one of the best marriage books for couples to read! It’s extremely smart, well researched, and interesting to read. The premise is that marriage doesn’t have to be this complicated thing, but it’s actually very clear cut when you look at this through the lens of an economist.
The authors are two journalists who go on a mission to interview economists and learn how to leverage limited time, money, and energy into the best marriage possible. This marriage book makes it on to my non cheesy list, because it takes the emotion out of things and approaches relationships from a very practical level.
It’s a fresh twist on marriage and I think advice that can benefit any relationship. If you or your spouse are very rational minded people, I think this marriage book will especially appeal to you. If not, I think it’s still very approachable and helpful!
Written by a couples therapist, Esther Perel, this book on sex is extremely well researched and smart, while still being a light and easy read. Perel explores modern relationships and how lust can still play a role in a committed long term relationship, answering the question “can you want what you already have?” Fortunately the answer is yes, but like anything else in a relationship, it takes work.
Esther describes what factors make up intimacy and what factors make up desire. Although different, they can still work in fusion with each other, making for a strong relationship and a strong sex life.
This relationship book for couples is very enlightening and may be a good book for couples to read together, as it may spark some interesting topics of conversation.
I know the title of this book is a bit off putting, but approach it with an open mind. The content of the book is not cringe worthy like the title is. I really feel this is an amazing marriage book for all couples to read. I was not initially interested in reading this book, as I never considered myself to be a co dependent person. I’m a very independent person who has a strong sense of self, so I was really surprised to find that I actually display some co dependent behaviors.
Something that I’ve struggled with for a long time in my marriage is not letting Bassam’s mood affect me and not being so quick to try to fix everything for him all the time. I always chalked this up to the fact that I tend to be a bit of an empath. I thought this would always be the way things are for me, but when it really started to decrease my happiness and quality of life, I realized I needed to do something about it.
Someone recommended this relationship book to me and while I initially resisted it, I found it so beneficial. I think every person can display a little bit of co dependency, whether they realize it or not. If you often find that you take on other people’s problems, this relationship book may be worthwhile for you to check out. It almost doubles as a relationship workbook, as it includes questionnaires and exercises for you to complete.
All of John Gottman’s books are highly recommended by marriage therapists and I know many people who say this one is his best. This is the only one I’ve read so far and I think it’s really beneficial for every couple, no matter what stage of their relationship they are in.
Gottman has spent his career researching what makes marriages successful and this marriage book explains the seven essential strategies of a thriving relationship. What I especially like about this marriage book is that it’s almost like a marriage workbook, as it contains questionnaires to fill out with your partner and exercises to do.
Other marriage books by Gottman on my reading list:
Marriage books for couples that are on my list to read:
These are the marriage books for couples that are on my reading list that I haven’t read quite yet. They all have amazing reviews and have been highly recommended to me. Once I’ve read them, I’ll update this post with my thoughts.
I loved don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, and have had his relationship books on my list for a long time now. Many people say that this book transformed them and how they show up to both themselves and their relationship. A big emphasis of the book is on first learning to love yourself, then learning how to love another. Ruiz challenges fear based beliefs that most people have and teaches how to recover your own emotional wounds so you don’t bring it to your relationship.
Other relationship books by Ruiz on my reading list:
This marriage book landed on my reading list after I saw the amazing reviews it had on Amazon. Touted as a marriage self help manual, the book explores creating a morning and evening routine as a couple, learning how to fight effectively, and learning how to make your partner feel loved. The topics sound a bit basic, but the theories are derived from neuroscience research findings, which was what really appealed me.
This marriage book is a bit unique, as it’s written by a divorce lawyer. It covers everything he wishes he could tell his clients BEFORE they get to his office. Bassam and I listened to a podcast he was a guest on and we really enjoyed it, which is why I’m interested in reading his marriage book. His style is very straight forward and be a bit brash at times, so if that would offend you, this book may not be for you. I like a straight forward style, so I enjoyed his podcast interview and am anticipating I will enjoy the book too.
Written by a divorce coach, this marriage help book explains all the reasons why NOT to get divorced and an inside scoop on what divorce looks like from her personal and professional experience. I’ve heard it’s a very light hearted and funny read, while providing really great insight and food for thought.
When Brene Brown says, “this is the marriage book we’ve been waiting for” you know it has gotta be a good one! Written by a clinical psychologist who has appeared on Oprah, this is a marriage rule book full of practical and tactical advice. Many of the reviews state that it’s an essential book for ALL relationships, not just marriage.
This relationship book has been on my list to read for a long time now and I can’t believe I haven’t read it yet! Written by anthropologist Helen Fisher in 1992, the book quickly became a classic in the relationship book category. It has since been updated and republished.
If you ever read Cosmopolitan magazine, Fisher’s name might sound familiar to you. She was often a relationship expert interviewed for the magazine’s articles on how to make love last and keep long term relationships exciting. She has a fantastic way of making research findings sound fresh, exciting, and sexy. She is now the chief scientific adviser to Match.com. If all of that doesn’t convince you to check out this or any of her other relationship books, check out one of her popular Ted Talks.
Other relationship books by Fisher on my reading list:
I’ve had this book come highly recommended to me many many times. If you take a quick look on Amazon, you’ll see this marriage self help book has 4.5 stars and almost 3,000 reviews. The book outlines a 40 day dare to teach spouses how to demonstrate unconditional love towards each other. The only reason I haven’t pushed it to the top of my reading list yet is that it seems to be a bit on the religious side. While that I wouldn’t stop me from reading it, I also don’t tend to gravitate towards extremely religious marriage counseling books. If that doesn’t bother you, then this might be the ideal marriage book for you. If it does, either read it with a grain of salt or skip it.
Many people cite this relationship book as one of the best marriage counseling books – almost better than a counselor. Sue Johnson presents the strategies of Emotional Focused Therapy, a form of relationship therapy that’s touted as one of the most effective. Johnson teaches that in order to have an exceptional relationship, you need to create safe emotional connection and preserve the attachment bond. There are tons of great exercises for couples to do together to strengthen their bond.
This relationship book for couples is a quick read about the what, hows, and whys of a simple but effective communication tool: validation. The wonderful thing about this marriage book is that once you learn the skill you can use it across all your relationships, not just your marriage. The book is a quick and easy read.
My favorite marriage workbooks and activity books for couples:
Besides reading marriage books, I also love marriage workbooks and activity books for couples. Here are a few of my favorites, all of which Bassam has enjoyed as well.
We received this book as one of my bridal shower gifts and it has been such a fun relationship and marriage workbook to do together. The book almost acts like a marriage time capsule in a book. Each page includes a question a day for a year and includes space for two people to write their answers. Each question then repeats itself 2 more times to take you the course of three years.
Even though it takes under 5 minutes to fill out, we haven’t been very consistent with ours. We go through long periods of time where we don’t fill it out and then we pick back up whenever we remember. It’s always so nice to look back and see what our answers were and how they’ve changed and how they’ve stayed the same. Many of the questions also open up great topics of conversation and are things that we would never think to ask each other.
This book makes for a fantastic gift idea for a couple in your life!
This relationship help book is actually a self help workbook! The whole thing is full of activities and exercises from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy that you can do by yourself or with your partner. It teaches you how to accept painful experiences and redirect to your values, communicate effectively, and learn the effect language has on yourself and others.
While this isn’t necessarily a marriage workbook, I always find that improving yourself as a person helps you to improve your relationship. I cannot more highly recommend this workbook. I use it for a variety of different situations and often use it to help my clients at work. It’s really for any challenges in life.
The workbook has actually been awarded The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Self-Help Seal of Merit ― an award bestowed on outstanding self-help books that are consistent with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) principles and that incorporate scientifically tested strategies for overcoming mental health difficulties. If you’re someone who is skeptical about where the advice you’re getting is coming from, you can feel really comfortable with this book.
This is probably the most fun marriage book we have on our list! My sister gifted it to us a few years ago and we love working through it together. The book is full of fun date ideas paired with delicious recipes. None of the dates are too over the top, complicated, or cheesy. They are perfect for real life and real relationships.
The premise of this relationship book all about nurturing your relationship through fun, quality time, and great food. I think this book + one of the more counseling type books would make for an amazing combo or gift idea.
I personally believe cookbooks geared towards couples make for wonderful relationship books for couples to read together. Cooking together is a wonderful date idea as it’s a great way to work together and improve teamwork and communication. Plus, there’s something so intimate and sexy about cooking together.
Pick up this cookbook, full of recipes geared towards couples, and aim to complete one recipe a week together. You’ll have a built in date night, while also strengthening your relationship. Some of the recipes are easier and others are a little more challenging. We really messed up the gnocchi recipe, but it led a hilarious memory that we still reminisce fondly about.
Marriage workbooks on my list to read:
These are marriage workbooks that I haven’t personally read, but have amazing ratings and are on my list to check out. As I read them, I’ll update this post to let you know my thoughts.
Just a note – There are TONS of marriage workbooks on the market that are NOT on my list, because they are based on someone’s personal opinion and may not be as helpful as they claim. I prefer to choose workbooks that are based in science and effective forms of therapy. I also tend to avoid religious workbooks for that same reason.
This marriage workbook walks couples through an 8 step structure that marriage therapist Emily Cook uses in sessions with her clients. It’s basically DIY marriage counseling.
Like the book, Hold Me Tight, that is also on my reading list, this marriage workbook is based on Emotionally Focused Therapy. I don’t have any experience in EFT, but I’ve heard great things and I’m very curious about it. This workbook is also great for DIY marriage counseling.
How to make reading relationship books together more effective
It doesn’t matter how amazing a book is, if you’re not getting anything out of it to improve your relationship. Here are some tips on getting more out of reading relationship books together.
1. Make it fun
Everything better when it’s fun! Rather than making reading marriage books together a chore, make it something pleasurable that you look forward to. Here are some ideas:
- Have your own book club! Pick one marriage book a month or quarter to read and then have a fun dinner discussing it together
- Invite friends to join your book club! This could be a great date idea for a few of your couple friends
- Turn it into a fun date night
2. Don’t force it
If your partner is not interested, that’s okay! Don’t force it. Read the books on your own. You can implement what you learn on your own, you don’t always need your significant other to do it too in order to see a difference. This will also be a great way for you to have new topics of conversation to bring up. Eventually your partner may be interested or they may not. A big part of a healthy relationship is respecting differences between people.
3. Read what you’re each interested in
You might not both be interested in the same relationship books and that’s okay! Don’t feel like you both have to read the same thing. It might actually be nice to each read different books so that you have something unique to bring to the table and discuss together. It’s even okay if one of you doesn’t want to read marriage books at all! As I mentioned previously, you can get great marriage inspiration from other types of books as well.
4. Try audio books
Listening to marriage books on audio can make reading an interactive experience together! Listen on road trips, while doing things around the house, or even in bed. It can be a really nice ritual to listen together for a little bit every day. We tend to do audio books together when we travel and we really look forward to what we’ll read each trip. We use this headphone splitter so that we can both listen at the same time.
Something that has really helped improve our relationship in the recent years is that we’ve adopted an attitude of “experimentation”. We try different things and strategies together and it’s all an “experiment”. This takes the pressure off because it doesn’t matter if it works or not. The point is just to be curious and see what happens.
Adopt your own mentality of experimentation and aim to try at least one thing from every marriage book your read or at least one new thing a month. You’ll never know how something will work for you or if it’ll be effective for your relationship until you try it!
6. Trust yourself
No one knows your relationship better than you and your partner do. Read all the marriage books, but take everything you read with a grain of salt, rather than treating it like gospel. Be curious and ask how can this work for me? Experiment and see how it can work for you. But never be afraid to ditch things that just don’t work for you or adjust them to make them work for you.
The most magical thing about relationships is that none of them are exactly the same. The blend of you and your partner together is its own unique mix and nobody will ever have what you have or understand what you have. Do what you know is right for you, no matter what anyone else says.
I hope you enjoyed this list of marriage books for couples! Did you find any relationship books that you’re interested in reading? I would love to know if you have any other marriage book recommendations for me to add to my reading list!