Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, which means husbands will be scrambling for babysitters, flowers, and chocolates. But more important than any material gift, the best thing for spouses (besides the word and prayer) is simply time. Time to talk, time to listen, time to read, time to reflect.

With that in mind, here are five marriage books worth reading (together or separately) and five questions husbands and wives can ask themselves and share with each other.

Five Books

  1. Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God (Dutton, 2011). Full of wisdom. Sneakily, a book about self-denial as much as it is about marriage. Keller is especially good at helping you see that the person you married is not the person you’ll be married to 20 years later.
  2. Paul David Tripp, What Did You Expect: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage (Crossway, 2010). As you would expect from Paul Tripp, this book has plenty of stories and plenty of direct hits right between the eyes. The title tells you what kind of help Tripp means to give.
  3. Jim Newheiser, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage: Critical Questions and Answers (P&R, 2017). Don’t let the prosaic title fool you. This book is an excellent theological and counseling primer on marriage, with 40 questions covering the waterfront: from conflict resolution, to sexual problems, to the portrait of a successful marriage.
  4. Walter Wangerin Jr., As for Me and My House: Crafting Your Marriage to Last (Thomas Nelson, 1990). One of the best books I read before I got married. Wangerin is a gifted writer and master storyteller.
  5. Elisabeth D. Dodds, Marriage to a Difficult Man: The Uncommon Union of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards (Audubon, 2004). History is one of our most neglected teachers. Read this book for a compelling picture of an unknown side of the great theologian. A detailed, realistic, and beautiful picture of the Edwards family.

Five Questions

You may choose to rework these questions and present them to your spouse to answer. But I usually find it easier to answer the questions for myself and then share with my wife (and I know my wife would rather talk about her experience than have me put her on the spot to talk about me).

  1. What is one thing your spouse does that always makes you smile or laugh?
  2. What is a good memory you have of the two of you from the last year? Feel free to share your answer for the last 5 or 10 or 50 years too.
  3. What is one thing you’d like to improve on, or one area of your character you’d like to see grow, in order to love your spouse better?
  4. Of the nine fruits of the Spirit, which one did you first notice in your spouse when you fell in love? Which one have you appreciated most in the past year?
  5. Even if it meant saving for 10 years, or finding a team of babysitters, what is one thing you’d love to be able to do (or a place you’d like to go, or something you’d like to experience) with your spouse in the future?

There you go. You have plenty to read and plenty to talk about. Now you just need to find 30 minutes to get away and be alone together. Better yet, find a few hours.

P. S. Not married? You may want to check out Sex, Dating, and Relationships (Crossway, 2012) by Gerald Hiestand and Jay Thomas. Are you married with single friends? You may want to read this post on what not to say to single women in your church (or to men for that matter).