Love is like a fire. It must be tended. But even if the fire goes out, the cold black coals can be reignited and fuel can be added and the flame can burn again.
My husband Ron and I have been married since 1991, we’ve been together since 1989. We’ve been through some rough spots. We’ve had arguments, suffered sorrow, endured sickness and pain, financial distress, and many trials. We’ve survived crisis in our marriage. We’ve been there and done that and couldn’t afford the t-shirt. On this page I would like to share some of the resources that have gotten us through the darkest days of our lives so that we can walk together into a brighter future.
This is a playlist of Marriage Help videos that I have collected on YouTube. By far the most prominent speaker in these videos is Jimmy Evans of Marriage Today. His videos helped me the most. He speaks from his personal experience of brokenness and how God brought him to healing. For a couple of months I did also subscribe to his $20 a month service on his MarriageToday website, and I tried to watch a video a day every day, two if they were short. This created a sort of self-directed Marriage Help boot camp in my living room. It did help. I can’t say that there was one specific video that helped more than others, marriage is complex, relationships are complicated, there are many facets to building healthy relationships and repairing broken relationships. It takes work, commitment, and perseverance, and there is no one magic pill to fix everything in a day. But it’s worth fighting for. Watch all the videos. Read all the books. Take the classes and attend the retreats that address your personal needs. Do all the things.
The Smalley Institute has a free Communication course on their website, one online class a week for 6 weeks. This online class did help some. http://www.smalley.cc/free-course/
They also have weekend “Marriage Intensives” for marriages in crisis. We could not afford to attend one of these events, but they are reported to have good success rates. I would think that a single weekend might not be the complete treatment, but would build a new foundation to build on for long term healing.
These are the books that I’ve read that helped in our marriage. If you click the links to Amazon and buy from my links I will make a microscopic profit (somewhere between 1%-4%) from the purchase. Every little bit helps.
The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
I consider this book to be foundational to all other Marriage Help books. If you haven’t read it yet, get this first! I find that the 5 Love Languages helps us in all areas of our lives, not just marriage but all relationships. I slightly disagree with the author that everyone has only 1 love language and that ones love language never changes. My personal experience is that a person’s love language can change, and it isn’t really that we have only one. I think everyone needs all 5, but there will be one that ranks higher than the others, so you may have a primary and a secondary and a tertiary, perhaps that fluxuate in which you need most in given situations. But having a love language in the 5th position, doesn’t mean that you can’t accept love in that manner, or that it is unloving to you, it just means that you need it less often. These are my opinions and observations and experiences, and they are in conflict with what the author says, so take it for whatever it’s worth. I still feel the book is very important to read and these concepts are critical to ALL relationships, not just marriages.
We took a 9 week marriage class that helped the most, “Dynamic Marriage” and I highly recommend you to find a class in your area you can attend. Counseling did not help us (may have even made things worse) but this class helped. It gave us real tools for fixing our marriage, not just pointing fingers at faults.
If you can not find a class in your area, the two main books they use are His Needs Her Needs, and Love Busters, and a workbook to go with them. You each need your own workbook.
This book (along with the workbook) will help give you the tools you need to create positive habits in your marriage that will meet each other’s emotional needs. It helps you focus on what your spouse needs that you can do for them, and to stop thinking so much on what your spouse hasn’t done for you. This goes way beyond 5 languages (though I did find that that book gave a good foundation for building on this one) and helps you learn specific details to work on to demonstrate love in your marriage.
The Dynamic Marriage Workbook.
(For use with both His Needs Her Needs, and Love Busters texts)
Get two. You each need your own workbook. Really. It doesn’t work to share them.
Plus this book also…
This book is a tough read. But important. The Dynamic Marriage class only had us read a few select chapters from this book, and that was hard enough. It’s critical to understand the concept of Love Busters, things that people do in marriage that damages the romantic relationship. You can’t fix what you don’t know or understand. Seek knowledge. Seek understanding. It’s imperative to the success of your marriage.
We read this book as part of our homeschool curriculum. Our society is sorely lacking in teaching young people about the most important relationship they will have in their entire life, second only to their relationship with God: the relationship they will have with their spouse, their life mate. In our homeschool we studied about all kinds of relatinships, including marriage relationships, to help better prepare our children for their future marriages in hopes that they would have a more successful life.
This book is specific to husbands, but it is very good. I read it to my children to prepare them for their future marriages, even to my daughter to teach her what kind of husband to look for.
If you would like to order a copy of Spit and Polish for Husbands direct from the author and ask to have it signed by him you can order it here from his own website. https://www.theauthorschair.com/shopping/product/spit-and-polish-for-husbands/
Another book that is not directly related to marriage, but is related to Fathering in particular, I believe also has some valuable lessons for relationships in it’s pages, is the book The Image of a Father by Bryan Davis. You can order it directly from his website here:
This book is sort of the 5 languages of apology. When people grow up in dysfunctional homes they do NOT learn how to apologize, they learn how to cope, to blame, to project, but not how to own a fault and make it right. This book really would be best if both partners read it. When only one partner reads it, you only get about 50% improvement and it helps at the least to model good reconciliation habits for your children, so THEY at least will learn how to apologize in a meaningful way, but for the marriage to fully heal both partners need to learn how to apologize in a meaningful way. It’s a painful book to read. But it does help.
I read this book on Kindle. There were a couple of chapters in this book that were unexpected for me. I learned some things about myself that I didn’t know were a core issue from my past that was damaging my present. Getting help for those issues is much more difficult, but now I know that there is a link between my childhood and my marriage that I didn’t expect to effect me my whole life. It does. It very much does. This book was helpful to me, painful, but helpful.
A high percentage of our arguments are about money. Every marriage has to come to terms with how they view money and how money effects their relationship. I read this book with my kids, again to help prepare them for their future marriages. (We also read the 5 love languages together, and When sorry isn’t enough together as part of our homeschool.) We all found it very valuable and have had many discussions about what “money type” we think different people are. If you can accept that your spouse views money differently than you do, but that their view of money isn’t necessarily wrong, just different (no matter the issue, we all tend to think our way is the right way) and accept their differences for the strength it brings to the relationship then you can have healthier discussions about money that don’t end in a bloodbath. This book helps you learn how to talk about money without fighting.
This one is not a book, but a movie. It DID actually help me, for a time. It doesn’t seem to provide a long term solution, but it can heal wounded hearts and inspire one or both partners to try harder, to give it your best shot, and to repair the damage and change bad habits. When changing a bad habit you must replace it with a good one, or a void will be created that does not help. The Dynamic Marriage class helped with that also, in learning how to replace bad habits with good habits. If you can, try the 40 day challenge “The Love Dare” that goes along with the Fireproof movie.
(Goes with the Fireproof movie)
There were two books written for Christian wives married to unbelieving husbands that I read that were noteworthy and encouraging.
This book is written by a woman, for women. It helped give me a better perspective on how to have a happy marriage in the absence of spiritual unity. It also helped me come to terms with the concept that GOD is love, and it is unfair to expect my husband to fill the role of God in meeting my need for love. My husband is just a man, not God, and he can not meet my need for God’s love in my life.
This book is also written by a woman, for women. It has been a long time since I read this book (I could likely read it again and learn things all over again that I’ve since forgotten) but as I recall it is written in such a manner that it can be used for personal study or for a group study. I read it by myself.
Spiritual warfare can often be a big part of our relationship struggles. Fighting the battle at the source can be a major component of winning the victory.
Breaking the Chains
This is a devotional that I wrote and self-published in response to one of the Marriage Today sermons on how to overcome the battle in your mind. He has a little book of scriptures that he meditates on to replace the bad habits with good habits. I couldn’t afford the book at the time but loved the concept of having a book of meaningful scriptures I could flip open and read in times of spiritual warfare, when sometimes it’s too hard to research a scripture, I need it to just be there for me! So I wrote this book. Later I was able to buy Jimmy Evans book and discovered it was quite different. So get both. They serve different purposes.
A Mind Set Free
Conquer addiction with Scriptural Meditation
There is a lot of helpful information out there. The saddest thing is that they don’t teach any of this to kids in school. People are somehow just expected to “know” how to have a good marriage without ever being trained in how to have a good marriage. Soooo very many people grow up in dysfunctional homes (more than 50% of kids grow up in a home where the parents are divorced, 25% of children will be sexually abused before they reach adulthood, an unknown -but very large- percentage of children grow up with parents who are addicted to drugs or alcohol). Healthy marriage habits are not being practiced in front of the kids, so they grow up with imprints of dysfunctional relationships being “normal” and have no idea how to actually have a healthy relationship. The schools barely even teach academics any more, all they teach is political correctness and liberal agenda. No one is being taught good character, good morals, and healthy relationships. So then we end up with multiple generations of people who get married and have kids of their own and have no idea how to have a good marriage or raise kids in a a healthy way. By reading the books, and watching the videos, and taking the classes, you’re making up for lost time, recovering the years of lost education so that your remaining years can be healthier, happier, and more fulfilling than your previous years. We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it.
If this collection of books and links has helped you, please consider making a donation to my efforts. Thank you so much for your contribution!