Books about marriage
October 23, 2015 9:29 AM   Subscribe

Can you recommend some books about marriage that have touched you in some way? Fiction or non fiction.

I've been married for a few years now and things have been amazing, terrible, fun, and a lot of work. I'm particularly interested in reading about how the relationship between a husband and wife evolves over the years. Both successfully and not so much.
posted by aeighty to Human Relations (39 answers total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking about the first year after her husband of nearly 40 years died.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:34 AM on October 23, 2015 [8 favorites]

Jim Crace's Being Dead is a fantastic book about marriage, I think.
posted by RedEmma at 9:53 AM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Love is a Mixtape
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:56 AM on October 23, 2015

Sue Johnson's "Hold Me Tight" blew my mind, and the principles in it profoundly improved my relationship. I am a crabby, pragmatic, self-help-book-eschewing kind of lady, and I love this book.
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:58 AM on October 23, 2015 [6 favorites]

Gail Godwin's The Good Husband is a novel about two marriages. Every single John Irving novel ever is about marriage (and bears and hotels and death and writers) but both A Widow for One Year and and The Water Method Man fit the bill.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:12 AM on October 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, a collection of essays by Ann Patchett. Most of the essays do not directly deal with marriage, but the one that shares the same title as the book does and it is really fantastic. In it, she covers how her own divorce and the divorces of nearly everyone in her family provided the foundation for her own happy marriage later in life. Every young couple on the cusp of marriage should read and reflect on the lessons contained in this essay.
posted by scantee at 10:19 AM on October 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff, is a novel about the life of a marriage, beginning to end, that just came out recently. While the characters never quite felt three-dimensional to me, the book moved me deeply anyway.
posted by artemisia at 10:34 AM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work and The 5 Love Languages made me really ponder my marriage and my role in it (both good and bad). Disclaimer: self-help. They're not explicitly about the evolution of marriage, but they're certainly relevant to the subject.
posted by mchorn at 10:42 AM on October 23, 2015 [5 favorites]

Breathing Lessons by Ann Tyler
posted by veery at 10:49 AM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Stoner is a novel largely about a failed marriage, back in the days when divorce wasn't really an option. It's devastating.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:01 AM on October 23, 2015 [5 favorites]

"Middlemarch," by George Eliot. The relationship between Lydgate and his fiancee/wife is heartbreaking, and Dorothea's experience of her own marriage is too. The distance between the ideal and the daily realities is stark.
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:12 AM on October 23, 2015 [12 favorites]

it's a tiny bit ruined now, but "the bridge across forever" by richard bach is really good if you take it as explicit fiction and don't try to align it to the author's real life (even though that was his intent at the time).
posted by nadawi at 11:30 AM on October 23, 2015

David McCullough's John Adams covered John and Abigail Adams' marriage as much as John's accomplishments in government. Their marriage and bond is depicted beautifully and powerfully in the book.
posted by mmascolino at 11:31 AM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Laurie Abraham wrote this great book about couple counseling that I really like. It began as a NY Times Magazine article so you can get a good taste of it there.
posted by janey47 at 11:34 AM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Jenny Offil's Dept. of Speculation
posted by Flannery Culp at 11:51 AM on October 23, 2015 [5 favorites]

Seconding Sue Johnson's Hold Me Tight.
posted by clawsoon at 12:16 PM on October 23, 2015

Carlfred Broderick's One Flesh, One Heart.
posted by Bruce H. at 12:22 PM on October 23, 2015

I haven't read it but I've heard good things about Saving Milly: Love, Politics, and Parkinson's Disease.
posted by mmascolino at 12:28 PM on October 23, 2015

Passionate Marriage is amazing.

While not about marriage, Wondering Who You Are describes the upheaval of a marriage when the husband looses his memories of himself and his family.
posted by trinity8-director at 12:41 PM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

One Hundred Names for Love is Diane Ackerman's book about her husband's stroke, which left him aphasic, and their continuing relationship. I was so happy to read it for so many reasons, not least of which is the list at the end of the book for his many names for her.
posted by janey47 at 12:44 PM on October 23, 2015

I feel like this is a super-weird place to recommend this book, but Gone Girl really made me think hard about marriage -- about the unique intimacy in which your spouse is probably the only person in the world who knows you well enough to completely destroy you.

It's obviously from the not-so-much successful end of the marriage spectrum.
posted by teditrix at 12:59 PM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Light years by James Salter is one of my favorite novels and about a marriage.
posted by rpn at 1:02 PM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

The World According to Garp.
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:11 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Revolutionary Road is a pretty chilling one.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:42 PM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also, I guess canonically it's mostly about other stuff, but among lots of other things Ursula Le Guin's The Dispossessed is also a really lovely chronicle of a marriage in a setting where being married is an odd and contrarian thing to do.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:44 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Two part invention by Madeleine L'Engle is my go to for this.
posted by aetg at 1:53 PM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Wedding, Nicholas Sparks's sequel to The Notebook. Deals with a marital crisis with Noah and Allie's adult daughter, set against the backdrop of her daughter's upcoming wedding.
posted by themanwho at 2:19 PM on October 23, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, I'm looking forward to reading these. Also worth mentioning this older thread that asks a similar question.
posted by aeighty at 2:41 PM on October 23, 2015

I see it's mentioned in the older thread you linked, but definitely check out Stegner's Crossing to Safety.
posted by Pizzarina Sbarro at 4:45 PM on October 23, 2015

For a shorter one, The Wife by Meg Wolitzer. I loved this.
posted by nkknkk at 6:19 PM on October 23, 2015

Merle Shain's very small books always did that for me.
posted by BoscosMom at 7:25 PM on October 23, 2015

I liked Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:28 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro.
posted by Sarah Lund's Jumper at 10:56 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I recently finished Lauren Groff's Fates and Furies, which is, essentially, the story of a marriage. The first half of the book is from the husband's point of view; the second half is from the wife's. I think it's best read without finding out too much about it ahead of time if possible.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:40 AM on October 24, 2015

Ian Mcewan's The Children Act is half about a family court judge's obsession with a case, and half about her marriage (specifically, dealing with her husband's demand to change the boundaries of their relationship).
posted by Frenchy67 at 9:39 AM on October 24, 2015

Landline by Rainbow Rowell
posted by lampoil at 4:14 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

I JUST FINISHED Landline by Rainbow Rowell on Friday and it was really good and I stayed up late to finish it. It had a great way of spanning the protagonist's whole relationship with her husband.
posted by jillithd at 7:58 AM on October 26, 2015

Marriage, A History was really eye opening and puts the institution into a historical context that I found surprisingly personal.
posted by quoth_the_raven at 12:47 PM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

One thing Intimate Partners does really well is going through stages in a marriage. Specifically it discusses the major stress points / transitions that almost all marriages face, and what issues can arise with them.
posted by Cozybee at 4:46 AM on February 26, 2016

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