Marriage is complicated at the best of times. Depictions of unions in fiction help us better understand what can go right, what can go wrong, and how our society views these relationships. Non-fiction offers insight into how to save failing marriages as well as begging the question: should we even get married?
The best marriage audiobooks curated here will take you through the love, the loss, and the drama that marriage has to offer. Even if you never want to enter into a life-long partnership with anyone, these books will keep you entertained and informed.
- Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
- Monogamy by Sue Miller
- The All-or-Nothing Marriage: How the Best Marriages Work by Eli J. Finkel
- Us by David Nicholls
- But You Seemed So Happy: A Marriage, in Pieces and Bits by Kimberly Harrington
- The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve
- Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
- The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
- On Beauty by Zadie Smith
- An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
- Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey by Florence Williams
- This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell
- The Wife by Meg Wolitzer
- This is How Your Marriage Ends: A Hopeful Approach to Saving Relationships by Matthew Fray
- Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel
- All the Things We Don’t Talk About by Amy Feltman
- Sophomores by Sean Desmond
- Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- The Story of a Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer
- The Good Guy by Susan Beale
- Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live) by Eve Rodsky
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
This is the first book I ever listened to by Lauren Groff, and it made me a committed fan for life. No marriage is what it seems, and as Lotto and Mathilde each tell their own versions of their union, you’ll learn about the secrets they have both been keeping.
Not only do you get a glimpse of a marriage but also of the artistic world and all that entails. This audiobook explores the power dynamic between two people who have entwined their lives for better or worse, and it took my breath away more than once. Jealousy, withholding, and love all play a part in Lotto and Mathilde’s story, though neither one seems to fully know what their union is made of or how it works. I was intrigued, shattered, and ready to start the book over again as soon as I heard the last word.
Length: 14 hours and 4 minutes
Monogamy by Sue Miller
Annie believes her marriage to Graham is strong and that they know themselves separately and as a couple after decades together. When Graham suddenly dies, Annie finds out that he has not been monogamous while they were married, and she has to view their entire time together through a new lens.
Enthralling, tender, and ultimately hopeful, this story of marriage is told with care and honesty. It explores the idea of monogamy, love, and how each relationship can be a mystery, even to the people in it. I listened to this one over a two-day period because I simply couldn’t stop.
Length: 10 hours and 54 minutes
The All-or-Nothing Marriage: How the Best Marriages Work by Eli J. Finkel
Marriage has changed over the last several decades, but our understanding of it hasn’t always kept up with this. Finkel researched how the best marriages actually work, and he questions our desire to make our marriages satisfy every need we have. When people don’t need to marry for shelter, finances, or social status, what is a marriage, and what should you expect from it?
Finkel presents his findings alongside tools to try if you want to enrich your marriage and find true companionship. Finkel’s findings are relevant for those who are married or those who have ever thought they might want to get married.
Length: 8 hours and 15 minutes
Us by David Nicholls
Douglas believes he is happily married. With a marriage that has lasted decades and a 17-year-old son who is getting ready to launch into the world, his life feels settled. However, his wife suddenly announces that she thinks they should divorce, and Douglas’ life is turned upside down as he tries to win her back.
Since a trip across Europe was already planned, Douglas, his wife, and their son go together. Douglas thinks he can heal his marriage and get closer to his son, but will it be that easy to repair the damage he didn’t even see?
Funny and heartbreaking, Nicholls’ exploration of humans and how we connect is a treasure.
Length: 14 hours and 9 minutes
But You Seemed So Happy: A Marriage, in Pieces and Bits by Kimberly Harrington
Harrington’s 20-year marriage comes apart during the pandemic, and she writes about not only her present situation but also the past that led to this change. Since she and her husband decide to share the same house for the sake of their kids even after they divorce, Harrington’s examination of partnership, parenthood, and new beginnings has a unique point of view.
Harrington is a sincere writer who still adds humor to every subject she covers. Listen to this book with a cup of tea, ready to hear advice and observations that can serve us all well on our journeys.
Length: 7 hours and 10 minutes
The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve
It’s hard enough to know someone when you live in the house with them every day of your marriage. What happens when you are married to someone whose job requires them to fly away for long periods of time?
Kathryn is used to her husband being gone. She’s a pilot’s wife, and that’s part of the job. When tragedy strikes, Kathryn has to deal with not only the loss of her husband but the loss of her understanding of their marriage. Could he have really had a secret life away from her and their family all these years, or are these rumors that follow any tragedy?
Shreve is known for beautiful prose and stirring storytelling. The Pilot’s Wife was one of her early successes.
Length: 8 hours and 48 minutes
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Olive and Henry live in a small Maine town, and retired teacher Olive is brutally honest and skeptical of pretty much everything around her. Olive Kitteridge is a story that focuses on Olive’s observations and experiences, and those are heavily influenced by her relationship and bond with Henry. They have an adult son and years of history that simmer over the edge with admiration, resentment, and devotion.
Strout’s sequel to this story, Olive, Again, is also worth listening to if you enjoy this one. A unique storyteller and an astute observer of humans and what motivates them, Strout is a treasure whose novels have won awards throughout her career, including the Pulitzer Prize.
Length: 12 hours and 2 minutes
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
There’s a reason that writing things down is dangerous. When Cecilia finds a letter her husband meant for her to read after his death, she is conflicted. He is still alive, and the words inside could shatter the life they have worked so hard to build. Still, can she simply turn away once she knows he is keeping secrets? What are the repercussions of opening it in the middle of their lives?
Moriarty has made a name for herself in the world of books, and The Husband’s Secret does not disappoint. Rich characters, a fast-paced plot, and the urgency of a mystery should propel this listen to the top of your list.
Length: 13 hours and 44 minutes
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
Full disclosure: I am a Zadie Smith fan for life! On Beauty is my favorite work of fiction that she’s produced, and I still can’t believe she pulled it off as a young author. Howard and Kiki Belsey are an interracial married couple living in a university town with their three children. As they age and their love changes, Howard becomes sexually frustrated, but what will he risk to chase beauty, and who gets to decide what is beautiful?
This book is set in the world of academia, politics, and love, and it’s smart. Smith’s stories unfold perfectly when enjoyed in audio, and you will find yourself amazed at her talent as a writer.
Length: 18 hours and 48 minutes
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Celestial and Roy are enjoying their newly married life, embarking on promising careers, and being in love. When Roy is sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit, their life together is torn apart. Twelve years is a long time to live without the person you just pledged your life to, and Celestial finds herself taking comfort in a friend while Roy is away.
When Roy is released early from prison, he expects to step back into his life and marriage. However, the time has been different for Celestial. How do you pick up where you left off when your world was taken away from you without notice? And is it even possible to build a marriage after that?
Length: 8 hours and 59 minutes
Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey by Florence Williams
Florence William’s marriage falls apart after 25 years, and she ends up in the hospital trying to deal with the heartbreak that follows. Using her exceptional research skills, she goes on a personal journey to learn how loneliness affects our health and what heartbreak actually does to our bodies and minds.
Williams narrates her book, and she draws from her diary recordings and offers bonus material to those who choose to experience this book on audio. If you’ve ever suffered through a terrible breakup, devastating divorce, or jarring friendship break, Heartbreak will help you understand the science behind your hurt as well as help you find ways to heal.
Length: 10 hours and 37 minutes
This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell
I can’t think of a writer who creates characters better than Maggie O’Farrell. In This Must be the Place, she introduces us to Daniel Sullivan, a father to children he never sees in the United States while he lives in Ireland with his reclusive wife, Claudette, and their family. His past comes back to haunt him in new ways, and this leads him on a journey that draws him away from the nest he and Claudette have built together. Will he make it back, and is love ever really enough to bring us home?
O’Farrell writes with tender warmth, and scenes from this listen are still replaying in my mind years after I first heard this story.
Length: 14 hours and 44 minutes
The Wife by Meg Wolitzer
Joan has spent her marriage putting her creative endeavors on the back burner in order to support her husband, an award-winning writer. She decides that this is no longer her calling and wants a divorce. You then get a tour of the decades that led to this moment so you can see the marriage in a more holistic way.
Wolitzer is a genius at creating memorable characters and surprising readers with revelations that don’t feel contrived.
Length: 8 hours and 9 minutes
This is How Your Marriage Ends: A Hopeful Approach to Saving Relationships by Matthew Fray
Matthew Fray’s loss may be your gain. When his wife leaves him, an inebriated Fray starts journaling to figure out what happened to end what he thought was a good marriage. If he’s a good guy, why did his marriage fail? His realization: being a good person doesn’t make you a good spouse.
Honest and, at times, humorous, Fray shares what habits can end a marriage and how we can get out of the patterns that set us up for failure. Most of us were not equipped to enter relationships and understand what is expected, and simply having good intentions is not enough. Fray will help you develop the skills you need to communicate and thrive in a partnership.
Length: 9 hours and 15 minutes
Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel
The passion that pulls us into relationships often fizzles out after we are together or married for a while. Is there a way to keep the passion in a relationship where you also seek security, safety, and forever? Perel explores this question and offers advice for any couple who wants to keep the spice in their marriage.
Sex is part of a healthy marriage, so listen to this book to get tips on keeping the spark in your relationship.
Length: 8 hours and 11 minutes
All the Things We Don’t Talk About by Amy Feltman
This is a truly modern story of a marriage that deals with love, abandonment, and gender identity. Morgan has been growing up with her neurodivergent father since her mother, Zoe, left when she was a baby. Morgan is non-binary and trying to deal with her first relationship, but her mom suddenly comes back into her life after a breakup of her own.
The collision of these personalities, as well as the addition of Zoe’s ex, Brigid, creates a picture of marriage, partnership, and love that explores all the ways we create a family.
Length: 8 hours and 27 minutes
Sophomores by Sean Desmond
Living in Dallas in the 1980s, Daniel is in his sophomore year of high school and finally engaged by a teacher. His parents are dealing with their own problems: his dad gets an MS diagnosis and his mom has to sit on a jury that brings up uncomfortable questions she’d rather ignore. Though this is a coming-of-age story about Daniel, it’s the story of how all three deal with the challenges they face and grow as a family.
Length: 12 hours and 43 minutes
Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Taylor Jenkins Reid is best known for Daisy Jones and the Six. Her story of a short but passionate marriage is just as enthralling. Elsie and Ben meet and marry in a matter of days, but Ben’s untimely death leaves Elsie reeling. When she is left to mourn her loss alongside the mother-in-law she has never met, Elsie has to figure out what forever means and if her relationship’s end could ever qualify as happy.
Length: 9 hours and 10 minutes
The Story of a Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer
In the early 1950s, Pearl is the perfect housewife doing what is expected of her in her marriage. When a stranger shows up at her doorstep offering her money, she questions everything she thought she knew about her sick husband and the life they have built. Trapped by the expectations of the time, Pearl has to try to understand who she married and how she fits into an ever-changing world.
Greer is a master of words who spins stories that are wonderful to hear.
Length: 7 hours and 23 minutes
The Good Guy by Susan Beale
Actions have consequences, and when married Ted falls for single Penny, he finds out all about those. Set in the 1960s, we hear this story from the point of view of Penny, Ted, and Ted’s wife, Abigail. Beale takes a tale as old as time and makes it fresh, giving each character dimensions and making the reader care about how this all works out for each of them.
This story explores how deceiving ourselves is the most dangerous act we can visit upon our own lives and the lives of those we love.
Length: 10 hours and 8 minutes
Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live) by Eve Rodsky
Women of my generation were taught we could have it all, but no one taught us how. That’s why while many women are working full-time, they are still also doing full-time work within their homes and marriages to manage the emotional, mental, and physical load. The stress this puts on us and our marriages is devastating.
Rodsky not only addresses this in her book, but she gives tangible ways to split the load with your partner so the idea of a she-fault person in a marriage doesn’t exist. With games, examples, and sound research, this book is one you should listen to with your spouse to make changes in your marriage that can make you better partners.
Length: 7 hours and 54 minutes