Resources for intimacy in marriage

This page is the most updated one for resources on intimacy in marriage (updated in 2021).  It's arranged loosely in order of my favourites. Links lead to more detailed reviews. 

A Celebration of Sex, Dr Douglas E. Rosenau (Thomas Nelson, 2002)
Subtitled: A Guide to Enjoying God’s Gift of Sexual Intimacy, this detailed and helpful book is written by a Christian sex therapist. He leads couples through many areas encouraging them to grow in: playfulness, love, knowledge, honesty, forgiveness, creative romance and discipline. With the basic premise that:
       an intimate marriage + mature lovers = a fulfilling sex life
he works through all topics with a Christian mind set.
Topics include: the basic aspects of many parts of sex; massage; mutual touch; common problems or struggles for men and women; sex through pregnancy, children, in the older years and with illness or disability; and the impact of medications. This could certainly become the reference for the entirety of an intimate marriage, and is still the best, most detailed, and specific book I have read.

The Best Sex for Life, Dr Patricia Weerakoon (Growing Faith, 2013)
Open, straight to the point, up to date, and has no qualms dealing with many of the sex issues that face those who are married. It is firmly grounded in the truths of the gospel and how God’s view of sex should shape our lives. Her overarching idea is that marriage is a public, outward looking commitment that is enhanced and strengthened by a healthy, honest and strong sex life. She addresses all stages from engagement right through to the more senior years. Couples that are struggling should take particular note of the exercises in the appendices, which include a nine-week program to work towards a more intimate life and an exercise to encourage better communication in this area. 

One Flesh: a practical guide to honeymoon sex and beyond, Amelia & Greg Clarke (Matthias Media, reprint 2018)
I have revisited this recently, and am encouraged to see it's continuing relevance for couples starting their sexual lives together. Written by an Australian couple, it starts with grounding sexuality in the bible, looking at both the blessing it is in God’s eyes but how it has also been marred by sin. Then it turns to how sex works, early sexual experiences of the honeymoon and first year together, and addresses common problems couples face in the early years. A solid resource that covers the basics, but also has references for further reading in more detail. However, it is now 20 years old and it beginning to feel it. The recommended books are are mostly pre-2000 and no longer the best available. If this was updated, it could be excellent, until that time, it’s still solidly good.

The Great Sex Rescue, Sheila Wray Gregoire, Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach and Joanna Sawatsky (Baker Books, 2021)This is a challenging and insightful book that encourages Christian marriages to great, passionate, other person-centred sex that is enjoyable for both spouses. It includes lots of research about the things that Christian women experience, enjoy and struggle with in the bedroom, as well as tearing apart the teaching in a range of Christian books on sex and marriage.

Sheet Music, Dr Kevin Leman (Tyndale, 2008)
Written by an American psychologist, this is an amusing and frank approach to married sexuality, with detailed information on how sex works, especially in the beginning, then progressing to life together and some common issues couples face. Written in a chatty style, with illustrations, anecdotes and idiom, it may be harder reading for those with English as a second language. Very American and some may find his ‘male-centred’ tone a bit off-putting, it assumes some stereotypes. However, it gives detailed information with no holds barred, so can be helpful for a couple who want ideas on how to improve the intimate side of things, or who are after some specific information as to how to start off sexually. Loosely Christian, but with no structured theological framework.

Where did my libido go? Dr Rosie King (Random House, 2010)
By a secular Australian sex therapist, King addresses one of the more common issues in marriage: desire discrepancy. Her focus here is women with a lower libido and sexual desire than their husbands. She examines various causes of low libido, and includes the helpful observation that for many women it is normal to have lowered desire, but that does not prevent them having a satisfying sexual relationship. She then dives into some very detailed, hands on and practical advice to working towards increasing desire and arousal. 

Creating an Intimate Marriage, Jim Burns (Bethany House, 2006)
Honest, open and full of examples. He considers how to have a marriage of affection, warmth and encouragement, by looking at intimacy, communication, fun and friendship, forgiveness and our attitude. Each chapter finishes with some questions to consider. This looks at the whole marriage and how it’s going, which may also help to address some intimacy issues.

The Way to Love your Wife, Clifford & Joyce Penner (Tyndale, 2007)
From a Christian perspective, this is written for men and considers how to make sex meaningful for their wife; how to build desire and intimacy, and how to let the wife ‘lead’ in the bedroom. Some practical chapters considering what might create problems for intimacy, as well as suggestions for making sex more fun and enjoyable for both. There are chapters which deal with the risk of affairs and how to avoid them, the risks posed by the internet, pornography, and sexual addiction.

And then some different options:

365 Nights, Charla Muller with Betsy Thorpe (Murdoch Books, 2008)
This funny and honest book, written as a diary, tells the story of how one woman offered her husband sex every day for a year for his 40th birthday present, and what resulted from the offer. It's a thought-provoking and insightful look at marriage, parenting, the role of women and a number of other topics. It issues a challenge (especially to women) not to settle for or allow their marriages to become ‘un-intimate’

A movie staring couple Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones who after 31 years of marriage have settled into a functional life sleeping in separate bedrooms. They engage the help of a marriage counsellor (Steve Carell). Honest and confronting, both heartbreakingly sad and very funny. Might be a good conversation starter.

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