Gospel-Centered Marriage and Marriage Counseling
A Word from Bob: You’re reading Part 4 of a blog “mini-series” on biblical marriage counseling: Gospel-Centered Marriage and Marriage Counseling. I’m starting with several posts on resources for counselors and couples.
Post # 1: 12 Gospel-Centered Books on Marriage and Marriage Counseling (Click here to read Part 1.)
These books provide a foundational biblical overview of God’s plan and purposes for Christ-centered marriage.
Post # 2: 15 Gospel-Centered Books on Communication, Conflict Resolution, and Forgiveness in Marriage (Click here to read Part 2.)
These books provide practical biblical principles and teaching on communication, conflict resolution, and forgiveness. They also help us to think through biblical principles of marriage, divorce, and remarriage.
Post # 3: 18 Gospel-Centered Books on Common Issues and Struggles in Marriage (Click here to read Part 3.)
These books provide practical biblical principles for dealing with specific issues and common struggles in marriage.
Post # 4: 13 Gospel-Centered Books on Pre-Marital Counseling
Preventative counseling and marital preparation are foundational to any healthy marriage. These books are the best of the best in pre-marital teaching, resources, and manuals.
This is my number one recommendation for pre-marital counseling. Tying the Knot offers soon-to-be-married couples a practical vision of Christ-centered marriage that is realistic, hopeful, and actionable. This nine-session study leads couples through issues like conflict, expectations, communication, finances, and intimacy, showing how each can be successfully resolved with Christ at the center of the marriage.
Marry Wisely, Marry Well: A Blueprint for Personal Preparation, by Ernie Baker
Does marriage matter anymore? If so, is it even possible to have a stable marriage? How do you choose the right one? Is there anything to work on now, even before being in a relationship? Marry Wisely, Marry Well teaches you how to start building your future marriage house even before you begin a relationship. Learn to make a wise choice of a spouse, and how to start preparing yourself for a future relationship that is truly built on Christ.
Preparing for Marriage God’s Way: A Step-by-Step Guide for Marriage Success Before and After the Wedding, 2nd Edition, by Wayne Mack
Preparing for Marriage God’s Way is a marriage counseling resource that uses thoughtful self-examination to reveal the personalities, background, and expectations that you and your partner are bringing to your union. Through rigorous Bible study, you will learn about God’s expectations for marriage and be equipped with His solutions for dealing with typical marriage conflicts. Three follow-up lessons after your marriage help you to reflect on all that’s happened after you said, “I do.”
Catching Foxes: A Gospel-Guided Journey to Marriage, by John Henderson
Catching Foxes has been written to help engaged couples prepare for marriage. Written in semi-interactive workbook format, it guides couples toward a Christ-centered and Christ-exalting paradigm for marriage. It lays a biblical foundation for marriage and helps couples better understand what God desires for them and from them in marriage. If you are a pastor or church leader charged with helping couples prepare for marriage, or if you are an engaged couple desiring to identify and catch the “little foxes” before they ruin the vineyard of your marriage (Song of Solomon 2:15), you will find this book very helpful.
Preparing for Marriage: Help for Christian Couples, by John Piper
Getting to know that special someone includes learning about family and friends and schooling and athletics, favorite pastimes, books, movies, life’s best moments and worst, the brightest places in our background and the darkest. But what about theology? Ever think to ask about that? And then there’s the questions about worship and devotion, and the roles of husband and wife—questions that far too many couples don’t think to ask. When preparing for marriage, or even in just beginning to consider it, it is of immense help to have the perspective not only of a seasoned husband of over forty years, but also a seasoned pastor and theologian.
Pre-Engagement: Five Questions to Ask Yourselves, by David Powlison and John Yenchko
How do you know if you’re ready to marry? What are the signs that a man and a woman are heading in the same direction and are right for each other? In this booklet, a biblical counselor and a pastor team up to offer five pertinent questions that will help couples decide whether to commit themselves to each other for life. These questions bring to light basic convictions, assumptions, expectations, priorities, and more. As couples think through and discuss them, they will get to know themselves and each other better-a wise investment toward building a marriage on a solid foundation, with Christ at the center.
Letters to a Romantic: On Dating, by Sean Perron and Spencer Harmon
Whether or not you’re currently dating someone, if you’re a young person thinking about romance, you probably have a lot of questions. Who should you date? How do you turn down an unwanted date, navigate a first date, or break up with someone? Is marriage really for you? The Bible is sufficient to help you to think through the concerns of singleness and dating, and it has crucial things to say about the thoughts, attitudes, actions, and situations that commonly arise in this exciting stage of life. In friendly, practical letters, Sean and Spencer (and sometimes their wives, Jenny and Taylor) explore God’s Word for answers on singleness, the start of a relationship, and tough dating situations, from breakups to broken boundaries. Their biblical insights will help you to make informed decisions on the road ahead.
Letters to a Romantic: On Engagement, by Sean Perron and Spencer Harmon
If you’re engaged, you already know a thing or two about navigating a relationship—but you’re probably finding that this in-between period raises new questions. Turning to God’s Word for answers, Sean and Spencer have written you short letters full of biblical, practical wisdom. Direct and to the point, they cover topics ranging from the details of wedding planning to the big picture of your future lifelong relationship. Find clarity amid engagement and come to your marriage prepared!
Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness and Dating, by Marshall Segal
Many of you grew up assuming that marriage would meet all of your needs and unlock God’s purposes for you. But God has far more planned for you than your future marriage. Not Yet Married is not about waiting quietly in the corner of the world for God to bring you “the one,” but about inspiring you to live and date for more now. If you follow Jesus, the search for a spouse is no longer a pursuit of the perfect person, but a pursuit of more of God. He will likely write a love story for you different than the one you would write for yourself, but that’s because he loves you and knows how to write a better story. This book was written to help you find real hope, happiness, and purpose in your not-yet-married life.
She’s Got the Wrong Guy: Why Smart Women Settle, by Deepak Reju
Why do the nicest women pick guys who let them down for one reason or another? The answers are not always straightforward. For some women, the issue is as simple as not really thinking through what they’re looking for or should be looking for in a man. Others feel they’d rather be with someone (and pretty much anyone will do) than be alone, while still others are unconsciously replicating patterns of bad relationships they learned in childhood or from traumatic experiences and don’t know how to stop the cycle. Deepak Reju, writing from his years of experience as a pastor and a counselor, shares his perspective on how to assess a relationship’s strengths from the beginning, how to identity possible pitfalls, and how to have the courage to not just settle but to wait for a relationship that will be a blessing to both of you.
Danger Signs of an Unhealthy Dating Relationship, by Lou Priolo
I know that the one I am thinking of spending the rest of my life with is a sinner. I am one too. I know that no two people are totally compatible, and in a marriage of two sinners, there will be difficulties. But sometimes I wonder if we will make it. There are issues over which we keep on stumbling. Am I being oversensitive? Am I worrying about nothing? Or, are my concerns about our compatibility valid? If thoughts and questions like this trouble you, this book will help. Here’s an inventory to help you decide if the light on the road before you is green, yellow, or red. It is designed to identify problem areas before you move forward with marriage plans—to serve as a useful tool as you seek godly advice from those who counsel you.
What if you stopped looking for a “soul mate” and started looking for a “sole mate”—someone who will live out with you the great purpose of God? What if dating isn’t about finding “the one,” but making a wise choice so you can better serve the One who loves you most? What if God didn’t design relationships to make you happy, but to make you holy? In The Sacred Search, Gary Thomas transforms the way you look at romantic relationships. Whether you are single, dating, or engaged, Gary’s unique perspective on dating will prepare you for a satisfying, spiritually enriching marriage even before you walk down the aisle. As Gary reminds us, a good marriage is not something you find—it’s something you make.
A Christ-Centered Wedding: Rejoicing in the Gospel on Your Big Day, by Catherine Parks
Wedding planning has spawned a major industry. The average cost of the occasion now exceeds $25,000, and societal pressure to create the “perfect day” is so strong that even Christian couples forget what God originally intended for the sacred marriage ceremony. While paying attention to the good fun that follows that special proposal (the dress, the flowers, the cake, the gatherings, etc.), A Christ-Centered Wedding first serves as a guide to believers who want their wedding to portray the relationship of Christ with the church and to reflect the gospel to all in attendance. From the start, this thoughtful book looks to the Creator of weddings for guidance in planning by emphasizing the sacrificial love of the Savior more than the modern world’s idealistic view of romantic love. There are chapters filled with practical information about everything from pre-marital counseling and choosing a wedding location to other resources like a planning checklist and timeline, music suggestions, guidance on potential issues of conflict, a listing of traditional financial responsibilities, sample vows, and other great ideas from couples who have successfully put together a Christ-centered wedding.
Join the Conversation
How did any of these pre-marital books impact your marriage? Your pre-marital counseling ministry?
What books would you add to this list?