* Please note that the following links are resources that I recommend and are affiliate links:
Resources are necessary for growth. While doing coaching, counseling, or events, I often get the question "How can I learn more?" or "How can I work on this?". Of course I get very excited about these questions as a great marriage takes work- often times hard work. We weren't born with the skills to have a healthy relationship, so why wouldn't we pick up a book or two to learn something new? These are some of my top picks for taking your marriage to the next level.
This is a hugely popular series. I encourage you to read the first book first, then move on to Boundaries in Marriage, Parenting, etc. I have also listed the Audiobook version fro those who are not readers. Either way... this is my number one recommendation.
Shaunti Feldhahn is a researcher- but don't worry, its not as boring as it sounds. Her books "For Women Only" (about men) and "For Men Only" (about women) are my favorites for understanding your spouse and also helping them understand the way you uniquely understand and receive love. I would highly recommend that you read the book about you FIRST. Take notes and write in the margins. Then, switch books. What this does is keeps your spouse from guessing throughout the book whether you relate to the chapter. It will make your conversations easier and much quicker. Feldhahn's "Through a Man's Eyes" is literally an eye-opener. For years, men have tried to explain what sexuality and visual attraction is to them and media and misunderstandings have largely skewed this natural side of him. I highly recommend EVERY woman read this book. Her book "Highly Happy Marriages" was the result of studying the happiest and most successful marriages. Spoiler alert- she found that all of them assumed that their spouse had their best interest at heart and was not out to hurt them.
The Eldredges changed the marriage landscape when they wrote these two books on how the male mind is different from the famle mind. More than just a nuerological perspective, these books will not only help you understand your spouse better, but is a GO-TO for parenting. If you have a son or daughter, these books will change the way you parent. "Wild at Heart" is about the mind of a boy while "Captivating" is about girls.
Planning to get married soon? Or maybe wanting a good healthy check up on your relationship? This husband and wife duo (both counselors) not only wrote a great book on how to take a look at key areas of your relationship and make them stronger. Even better, find a local SYMBIS counselor to dive even deeper into your assessment.
Sexuality is one of the top three topics brought into the counseling office. There are so many things that can go wrong in a couples life in the area of intimacy. With work and communication, though, it can be one of the most fulfilling areas- even after betrayal.
Unfortunately media and culture shape our understanding of intimacy more than they should- often resulting in major consequences and conflict in marriage. If you grew up in the Christian church, you likley didn't get much guidance other than to save yourself for marriage. Women especially are not taught about their bodies or sexuality. If you are struggling to embrace sexuality as something that was created for you to enjoy within your marriage, understanding your husband's perspective of intimacy, or seeing intimacy as a healthy aspect of your relationship- the following books are for you. " Passion Pursuit" was created by a team of women made up of three generations. It can be done solo or as a bible study group with videos to supplement by going to www.authenticintimacy.org
"Celebration of Sex" was written by my favorite team of sex therapy experts at Building Intimate Marriages in Atlanta, GA. They recommend reading the book together and even taking turns reading out loud to help you grow more comfortable with talking about sex, relating together, and communicating intimacy with each other.
If you have experienced betrayal- whether abuse in your childhood, problems with pornography, or infidelity- it can be one of the most painful issues to work through. Do I believe it is possible to experience restoration in the marriage? Absolutely- but not alone or without both parties working hard together. The following resources are my favorites for bringing healing into your relationship.
"Surprised by the Healer" was written by the women at Authentic Intimacy and is filled with stories about healing from sexual trauma, infidelity, and intimacy wounds in marriage. There is nothing more powerful than reading stories of hope and healing in the area that you are struggling with. The same team wrote "Pulling Back the Shades" in response to the Shades of Grey books and movies. They help explain why the book and movie series was so powerful and the danger of pornography for women as much as men.
"After the Affair" is my go-to if you have experienced betryal and you both are ready to do the hard work to restore the relationship. It will walk you through steps of communication and healing while also helping you process how betrayal entered the relationship in the first place. Of course the greatest healing will come when you have an expert helping you walk through the journey.
Read the book that started Lifegiver for me. It is a fantastic book on what it means to be a lifegiver to those around you- especially your marriage and family. Tammy Maltby provides perspective on the power we have to make our home a peaceful place, inviting, and making sure our soul can offer the same. This is truly where it all started for me.
If you are a woman, someone who works with women, or a leader, "Leading Women Who Wound" is absolutely amazing. It will help explain how women handle conflict with other women as well as men. There are very specific differences between men and women in how they handle conflict and this book upacks it in a beautiful way. It will help you be an amazing leader understanding those differences, how to handle cat fights, and set you up for success as a leader.
"Mission Ready Marriage" is a fantastic book if you are a new military spouse. Written by Claire Wood, the ups and downs of her first assignment will make you laugh and cry. What I also love about her book is how she concludes each chapter with what she would have told herself in hindsight. Not only that, she shares how she would encourage her marriage differently knowing what she knows now. Fantastic book!
"Present Over Perfect" is great for those who wish to find the permission to stop pleasing the world and focus on self care and your family. There is something freeing about the permission to sit back, slow down, and enjoy the one life you have.
"Uninvited" and "Ragamuffin Gospel" are great books for taking your spiritual relationship to a deeper level. Understanding the power of rejection and our acceptance with God is necessary if we are going to live a live that is focused on our true purpose. "Ragamuffin Gospel" is a bit denser of a read if you like to read a really "meaty" book.
The following books are those I would recommend if you want deeper dives in your faith and spirituality.
Ragamuffin: A classic for those who want to find a new "Adult" level of spirituality and understanding of God.
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos: A book recommended ONLY for those who are strong in their faith. Jordan Peterson is considered an agnostic, meaning he doesn't deny that there is a God- in fact he is extremely knowledgable about the Bible and applying scripture. However, he is so smart, in some cases I believe he believes in logic even more. But it is a fantastic book on faith, and the power of making changes in your life.
Most of what I do in coaching sessions is lead a marriage and family through the Gallup StrengthsFinder Assessment. I honestly find that it is the most powerful, positive tool for helping a couple (and family) work together as a team, reduce conflict, focus parenting, and heal wounds. Each of these books come with a code to take the assessment and will walk you through your results and how to use them. I definitely encourage a coach to help you. Most of the time we are used to reading an assessment on our own only to discover there are far more ways to apply it when we work with a coach. Do not short change yourself- invest in coaching through your strengths so you can truly understand your purpose!