A few years ago my wife and I decided we needed to learn a lot more about intimacy in marriage. We were cautious about what content we might run into with Google searches about our sex questions, so we talked with some trusted friends about books they recommend. That led to other books and recommendations from others.
Here’s a list of some of the marriage & sex-related books that have helped us in our journey towards deeper connection and a more fulfilling sex life! The list below is in no particular order.
Great Sex Books for Everyone!
Come As You Are by Dr. Emily Nagowski – This book answered so many of my questions! It explained many things about my sexuality and our sexual relationship, such as spontaneous vs responsive desire, why context matters so much, accelerators and brakes, the impact of stress on sexual desire, and much more!
Love Worth Making by Dr. Stephen Snyder – Stephen Snyder is a New York sex therapist. He talks about sexual issues men and women face, and how unreasonable expectations get in the way of great lovemaking. One thing I learned that I found useful from this book is the idea that sex doesn’t always have to look like “penis-in-vagina” intercourse. It can be anything intimate that includes connection and pleasure. It opened up our minds to other possibilities to connect intimately when intercourse isn’t an option at the time. I also learned how certain mental conditions, such as ADHD, affect a couple’s ability to have sex. This is also where I first learned that erectile dysfunction isn’t always a physical problem. It can be psychological (our thoughts) that impact the body’s ability to have an erection.
101 Nights of Great Sex by Laura Corn – A very fun book full of some pretty steamy sexy ideas for the bedroom. I wouldn’t recommend giving this to a newlywed. Probably best for an anniversary gift after the couple has had a lot more maturity and experience together. It’s organized into “his” and “her” date ideas with tear out pages.
Magnificent Sex – These two university professors & researchers did a qualitative study on what it takes to have extraordinary, magnificent sex. They interviewed over 70 individuals and distill their findings in this book. They debunk a lot of traditional advice that marriage therapists dish out, and show how these individuals and couples experience magnificent sex. Not to my surprise, the biggest factor they found in their research is that couples that are older and have been together longer (30, 40, 50 years) have way better sex lives than those that are just newlywed or younger. Also, the key to great sex is how deeply intimate you can get (no surprise!), not about what moves or technique you’re doing.
Tell Me About The Last Time You Had Sex by Dr. Ian Kerner – After reading She Comes First, I was excited to read this book. He talks about sex being like a script: it has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and how to better understand what’s not working in your sex life by analyzing your “script”. He gives lots of examples of things to try in the bedroom that I normally wouldn’t read elsewhere, such as how to tie a knot correctly for BDSM and how to do anal sex well so it’s pleasurable for both partners. I realized after reading these chapters that these more “kinky” things aren’t that scary after all.
Hot Holy and Humorous by J Parker – I love J Parker’s blog, and her book is absolutely great! It’s a Christian woman’s guide to embracing their sexuality and really enjoying sex in marriage. Her chapters on oral sex are particularly well written.
Slow Sex by Diana Richardson – An excellent book about Tantric sex. The idea is that orgasm isn’t the goal (like a hot flash of a flame), but to build as much sexual tension and capacity for a long-lasting sex (like logs or coals on a fire). She does a great job explaining how to have slow sex that’s about deep spiritual connection.
Sheet Music by Leman – A fun book written from a strong evangelical Christian perspective about the joy and bounty that a couple can enjoy. Some of his examples are pretty explicit (insert tab “a” into slot “b” type things), which I personally found helpful but might be a turn-off to others. The overall theme of the book is upbeat and that sex is great in marriage and we can be having more good sex.
Awaken Love by Ruth Buezis – An excellent book written from a Christian perspective about sex in marriage. Ruth has an inspiring story and message and I love her deep thinking on many topics pertaining to sexuality.
Bedded Bliss by various authors – A compilation of short erotic stories, where all the stories are in the context of marriage. We found some of the stories helpful to jumpstart our arousal, while others were a turn-off. But the idea of reading a sexy story together to get in the mood was probably more helpful than the actual story itself.
Purity & Passion by Wendy Watson Nelson – My favorite part of this book is when she talked about a study where the first four minutes you spend when you come back together is telling of how the rest of the marriage plays out. I loved her focus on soulful connection. Some concepts I thought were fun (such as instead of “foreplay”, call it “prelude”).
Passionate Marriage by Dr. David Schnarch – A very deep book about sex in marriage. He presents his theories about how differentiation and maturity as how to resolve most sexual issues. A must read for couples that have been married a while that want to take their sex life to the next level. This book is primarily written for therapists.
Intimacy & Desire by Dr. David Schnarch – I’ve saved the best for last. This covers many of the concepts in Passionate Marriage but are presented in a way that a non-therapist would understand. It’s very deep (not superficial). And an excellent book for ideas on troubleshooting marital problems that affect intimacy and desire, and how to take sex to the next level.
Great Sex Books for Newlyweds!
From Honeymoon to Happily Ever After by Laura Brotherson – Another excellent book by Laura Brotherson, perfect to give a newlywed or engaged couple on how to start off their sexual relationship right. It has a pretty good Troubleshooting section on how to understand what’s going on when things don’t go as well during sex.
You, Me & We by Dr. Anthony Hughes – A book about basic sex education for adults that didn’t get it from their parents. A good read if you’re starting out new (newly wed / engaged). Sound advice and everything is explained in the context of marriage.
And They Were Not Ashamed by Laura Brotherson – I read this book earlier in our marriage and it had so many helpful ideas to help me see that sex is inherently good and full of so much joy. Written from a Christian perspective with lots of great examples.
Great Sex Books for Understanding Her!
The Good Girl’s Guide To Great Sex – This book was a Rah! Rah! for sex in marriage. Gave me permission to realize sex is fundamentally good and desiring a great sex life as a noble thing. I appreciate Sheila Wray Gregoire’s positive take on things. And she’s really funny, making the book a fun read.
The Great Sex Rescue – Author Sheila Wray Gregoire surveyed over 20,000 Christian women about their attitudes towards sex and where those ideas came from. She identifies specific messages that many women internalized from their church culture that have not been helpful in developing a healthy view of sex and intimacy in marriage. She addresses each of those beliefs and provides a better way of thinking about things. Well researched and well written.
She Comes First by Dr. Ian Kerner – A must read, in my opinion, for all husbands wanting to learn how to pleasure a woman. It includes a very detailed guide on oral sex on her (cunnilingus) plus explains the female sexual response, a detailed explanation of the clitoral network, and many other important concepts for sexually exciting the woman in your life.
Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, MPH – Excellent book about understanding fertility, your menstrual cycle, periods, ovulation, getting pregnant, etc. The author teaches you how to track your own cycle and detect when you ovulate so that you can plan the optimal time(s) to conceive.
Knowing HER Intimately by Laura Brotherson – The author is a certified sex therapist talking about the female sexual response. She presents her framework of 12 “T”s (each item starts with the letter “T”, such as Time, Touch, Teasing, Transcendence, etc.), which is excellent, with each “T” building on the next one.
Becoming Clitorite by Dr. Laurie Mintz – We give this book a 5 / 10. The main concept is for men and women to better understand that the clitoris is the center of the female orgasm and how important it is to understand how to stimulate the clitoris. The part that was hard for us to read and hear was it was too “woke” for our tastes.
Great Sex Books for Understanding Him!
Men’s Sexual Health by McCarthy & Metz – After reading so many books geared towards women and female sexuality, this book was a refreshing read. It talks about all aspects of men’s sexual health, including mental, spiritual, physical, and the relationship dimensions of sexuality. The examples in the book were relatable and it had exercises for provoking thought on things. It’s research-backed too, which I found helpful and refreshing. My big takeaway from this book is that all men will experience some form of sexual dysfunction in their life and that it’s ok not not always be in the mood.
The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex – Written by Sheila Gregoire’s husband. This book is excellent for new husbands trying to better understand their sexual relationship with their wives.
Delight Your Husband by Belah Rose – An excellent book for wives about how to do oral sex (fellatio) for their husbands. Well written from an evangelical Christian perspective. She does an excellent job explaining things in appropriate and classy ways (aka it’s not cringy or awkward).
The Multi-Orgasmic Man by Chia & Abrams – Written from an Eastern Taoist perspective, this book explains how men can cultivate more sexual capacity and have more control over arousal, to the point of experiencing multiple male orgasms. I read this book a few times. At first, I had a hard time understanding the material (what’s a “cool draw?”) but as I returned to this book later, I better understand what the author is saying. I’ve tried many of the principles taught and found that they work well, but take a lot of practice.
How To Make Love All Night by Dr. Barbara Keesling – An excellent book about men developing the capacity for multiple orgasms. Her book’s chapters are exercises you do to build up the capacity for more arousal control and multiple male orgasms. Written from a western perspective (whereas the book above, The Multi-Orgasmic Man, is written from an Eastern perspective).
Great Books for Marriage!
The Five Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman – He does an excellent job laying out a theory that people respond to gesture of love differently than the way their spouse responds. His idea is that if you learn your spouse’s love language, you can get better at communicating love. We personally haven’t found his framework particularly helpful in our marriage, but many people have sworn that it’s saved their marriage.
Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love by Dr. Berger – The author shares her theory and framework for couples setting aside time regularly (such as weekly) for a “marriage meeting” to handle the business side of marriage. This is not Date Night where things are about having fun. Marriage meetings are where you schedule things, coordinate chores to be done, as well as create a safe space to address conflict in the marriage. We did marriage meetings weekly in the bath tub for a long time after reading this book and found her ideas and format useful.
Why Marriages Succeed or Fail by Dr. John Gottman – The author, John Gottman, is probably the most renowned researcher on marriage. He developed a framework where he can tell from a 15 minute conversation between a couple discussing a conflict, with 90% accuracy, whether or not that couple will stay married or divorce. He lays out his framework and what to watch for, which he calls the 4 Horsemen: Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt, and Stonewalling.
7 Principles To Make Marriage Work by Dr. John Gottman – Another excellent, well-researched book by John Gottman. It’s a summary of over 4 decades of research on many topics. Each chapter has some exercises (conversation / talking points) for you and your spouse to do to apply the 7 principles. The one idea I found most helpful is that, from his point of view, not every issue in marriage has a solution so learn how to deal with unsolvable issues in your relationship.
The Masculine In Relationship by GS Youngblood – Written for men that are married to a strong woman. My big takeaway is that too many men give up the leader role to their wives, when many wives want their husband to lead. Leading out of strength is sexy. Also the importance to be reliable, pay attention to the little details, and how to create more polarity so that you have more positive sexual tension in the relationship.
The 80 / 80 Marriage by Nate & Kaley Klemp – A book written for a millennial audience (that’s me!) that explains that marriage isn’t 50/50. It’s not 100/100 either (don’t set your expectations too high). The right mix is 80 / 80 where each person is giving most of themselves to each other. There wasn’t anything deeply profound that changed the way I viewed my marriage, but the authors did come on my podcast as a guest, which was awesome.
Great Books for Teaching Kids About Sex
How To Talk To Your Child About Sex by Linda and Richard Eyre – I love the parenting books that Linda and Richard Eyre publish and this one didn’t disappoint. It had good advice on what to say for what age and stage of development.
A Better Way To Teach Kids About Sex – This was an excellent book about how to talk to kids about sex. Well researched and from an Latter-day Saint Perspective (the authors are professors at Brigham Young University), which I really appreciate. They don’t shy away from edgy topics like how to talk about masturbation, pornography, same-gender attraction, transgender, and other issues that youth wonder about today.
And It Was Very Good by Earthly Parents – Written by two parents (who remain anonymous) for their young adult children, to prepare them for sex in marriage. It’s well written with lots of good examples and easy-to-understand metaphors. My biggest takeaway is to set up your own children for success by teaching them a LOT about sex. You can get a PDF copy of this book for free from them if you email firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon – I’ve found more insight by feasting on the word of God to help me in my specific every day needs than any other book. I’ve found that drawing closer to God by pondering his words and listening for his gentle promptings have given me inspiration and direction that I needed in my moments of need more than anything else. I hope everyone reading this post takes time for quiet contemplation and devotion to God regularly and learning from Him, the Author of marriage and Creator of Sex and everything else that’s good and lovely about life.