The number one recommendation people ask me for are marriage resources. It's usually an awkward conversation. "Do you have something that can help our marriage?" is not an easy question to ask. Asking for help seems to get harder the more you need it.
Below are my favorite resources for couples who are looking to get married, need a boost or checkup, and those who are in crisis. None of these is a substitute for good marriage counseling. Unfortunately many counselors are getting out of marriage counseling, and those who provide it are frequently not taking new clients. I’m constantly impressed with the materials put out by the Gottman Institute and know they have a list of marriage therapists who are trained in their system. You can access their directory here. These are not “Christian marriage therapists” but often that’s okay! When you need heart surgery you want a skilled surgeon, not a mediocre Christian doctor. When you need marriage therapy you need a good therapist, not just someone who will hold your hand and pray. That said, interview your therapist. Take the time to ask them how they view faith, what they think about divorce, would they recommend pornography (yes…it’s a thing…a bad thing, but a thing), and make sure their answers line up with your beliefs.
If you’re a couple in crisis therapy is often the best choice. Another option is a program called Retrouvaille. This Catholic-based retreat is led by couples who have come out of crisis. You attend a nearby weekend retreat (usually Friday night - Sunday night) and then support group meetings afterward. You are partnered with another couple who has experienced real life change through Retrouvaille. They work with you to guide and equip you out of crisis.
If you’re a couple ready to get married then I strongly recommend pre-marital counseling with a SYMBIS facilitator. “SYMBIS” is “Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts” by Les & Leslie Parrott. This great resource is a book, workbook, couple assessment, and coaching sessions. Some churches run this as a couples class or as a one-on-one program with a pastor or mentor couple. Many professional therapists also offer this program.
Maybe you’ve been married for awhile and you simply want a check-up. If so, I recommend reading A Lasting Promise together. This book is like self-study marriage counseling and covers everything from communication to sex. It needs to be read together, so don’t pick this up unless your spouse is enthusiastically on board.
Another great resource for married couples is One Extraordinary Marriage by Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo. This couple has been through several marital crises, fought for their marriage, stayed together, and are now doing their best to resource other couples. They have a podcast, magazine, and several books covering a variety of subjects. They frequently discuss sex and intimacy from a Christian couple’s perspective.
These are just a handful of the great resources available to anyone who wants them. Let it encourage you to try something new, to get the help you need, and to improve your marriage.