Unlike the grand statement about “all men” in the Declaration of Independence, not all marriage books are created equal. A couple of years ago the guys at IX Marks ministries published a list of brief but helpful reviews of several marriage books. As you can see from that list, some of the books on it are well worth worth reading and some are… perhaps less worthwhile.
The helpfulness of each book in the list is evaluated based on how God-centered (or gospel-centered) it is. I don’t know of any better way to evaluate anything. Obviously, there may still be a certain amount of subjectivity in the reviews, but I think overall they’re fair and accurate.
At least one exceptionally good marriage book has been published since the IX Marks list was created. Exceptionally good, mind you, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easy to read. If you’re as flawed as I am, you get your toes stepped on a lot when you’re reading an “exceptionally good” marriage book.
The book I’m referring to is What Did You Expect?by Paul David Tripp. My wife and I are slowly reading through it together. I may write a review of it when I’m finished, but for now I simply want to recommend it for its gospel-centered approach to marriage with this excerpt (from the section on building a “a sturdy bond of trust”):
When you are working on rebuilding trust, you need to place your hope not in your husband or wife but in the third Person in your marriage, the Lord Jesus. He is with you and for you. As the designer of marriage and the one who brought you together, He has more zeal that your marriage would actually be what He created it to be than you will ever have.
He has the wisdom you need. He has the strength you need. He offers the forgiveness you need. And He will not leave you when the going gets tough. Cry out to Him; He will never turn a deaf ear to you. Listen to His Word; there is wisdom there that has the power to restore.
And when you are discouraged and feel that you are all alone and no one understands, remember Jesus. He suffered rejection and mistreatment. He was not even able to trust His closest companions. On the cross, as He bore our sins, even His Father forsook Him.
It’s encouraging to know that in marriage, as in all things pertaining to our sanctification, God is more zealous for our good (Romans 8:28) than even we ourselves often are.