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When two sinners make a covenant before God, they make a big commitment.  They make a commitment that takes hard work, humility, and grace that cannot be mustered up by only saying nice things or buying flowers every now and then.  It takes the intricate work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to actually make marriage live up to the high roles that both husbands and wives are called to in Ephesians 5:22-33.  Though, we are not left to figure out the road to a godly marriage alone.  Below is a list of six books that The Owen Center counselors have put together.  These books serve as a great resource for building a healthy marriage, as well as restoring a broken marriage.

No Ordinary Marriage – Tim Savage

In No Ordinary Marriage, Savage gives a clear picture of what it looks like to actually live out the love of Christ in your marriage.  By giving “cruciform love” to one another, husbands and wives live out the event that happened on the cross, which takes the glory we want for our selves and gives it to God alone. He says, “We marry, not primarily for our own benefit and pleasure, nor principally for the comfort of mutual affection…we marry because in a work of unparalleled glory the Lord built this union.  We marry because of his glory.”

When Sinner’s Say I Do – Dave Harvey

When two Christians say “I do” on their wedding day, a common misconception is that they are speaking to a perfect ideal spouse.  This leads to unhealthy expectations and a usual shock in the first few months of their marriage.  Dave Harvey points out that they are saying “I do” to a fellow sinner.  He takes the common unrealistic expectations we have for a spouse and redefines them with the love of Christ.  In this book, Harvey shows how when two sinners are forged together in marriage, the beauty of Christ shines through our weaknesses when the right theology is applied to our everyday marriages.

What Did You Expect? – Paul Tripp

Even though this book is aimed at the seasoned marriage running up against age-old issues, Tripp’s book applies to all marriages, young or old. By giving a six-step framework that walks through confession, forgiveness, change of daily agenda, rebuilding trust, loving well, appreciation of differences and protection, Tripp helps one navigate the tough issues of marriage and learn how to rebuild the bond that is often broken in marriage. One of the best parts of this book is the redefining of love that he walks the reader through, showing that love can only be an act that is based on the event of the cross.

The Meaning of Marriage – Tim Keller

On the first page of his book, Keller writes, “While marriage is many things, it is anything but sentimental.  Marriage is glorious but hard.  It’s a burning joy and strength, and yet it is also blood, sweat, and tears, humbling defeats and exhausting victories.”  In this work, Keller dismantles the fairy tale marriage that many people often idealize and shows the underlying truth of how hard, but redemptive marriage can be for two people.  It is a wonderful resource for any couple that is considering engagement or a seasoned marriage that is looking to continue to grow in God’s grace.

Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage: Critical Questions and Answers – Jim Newheiser

Have you ever asked the question “How can you know whom you should marry?” Or what about the question of “How should you correct your spouse?”  What about the many questions that come up when one is caught in a situation that may cause them to consider a divorce or remarriage?  Jim Newheiser tackles the monumental task of answering the common questions that come up when a marriage hits a wall of the unknown.  It is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to know what the Bible says about the questions that we thought we would never have to ask.

Marriage Matters: Extraordinary Change in Ordinary Moments – Winston Smith

Many people think that in order to change your marriage you need to go above and beyond to make that change happen, which can be paralyzing to a spouse that is faced with the task.  In his book, Smith challenges this line of thought by explaining how marriage changes in the small moments of humility and everyday acknowledgment of God’s place in your marriage.  He does not just speak in high-level theological terms when it comes to reorienting our view of marriage to God’s view of marriage, but gives very attainable practical steps on how to implement the knowledge of God into our everyday marriage.

Braden holds a Master of Arts of Christian Counseling and a Master of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC. He received a degree in Psychology from Mississippi State University with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy and is a member of the Association of Biblical Counselors (ABC). He is also a Certified Christian Trauma Care Provider—Level 1. For the past seven years, he and his wife Victoria have worked in counseling ministries, adult Christian education, and with Joni & Friends, a Christ-based ministry to the disabled. Through the Owen Center, Braden pursues a life-calling to serve Christ by cultivating the ministry of biblical counseling in the Auburn community.