Real Marriage

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Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together
First edition hardcover
Author Mark Driscoll,
Grace Driscoll
Country United States
Language English
Genre Self-help
Publisher Thomas Nelson
Publication date
January 3, 2012
Media type Print (Hardback & e-book)
Pages 272 pp (first edition, hardback)
ISBN ISBN 140020383X (first edition, hardback)

Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together is a 2012 marriage book written by Christian author Mark Driscoll and his wife, Grace, and published by Thomas Nelson. The book spent one week on the New York Times Best Seller list for advice books,[1] however it was later reported that Driscoll had manipulated the data by paying a marketing firm $200,000 to buy 11,000 copies of the book in a single week to artificially create a best-seller.[2]


The book is divided into three parts: Marriage, Sex, and The Last Day. In part one, the Driscolls share their personal stories, including their individual upbringings, their years as a dating couple, and conflict in their marriage. In part two, the authors deal with three different views of sex—sex as god, sex as gross, and sex as gift. In part three, the authors lay out how to "reverse engineer" one's marriage, by examining how to "finish well" on its last day.


Critical reception for the book has been mixed, with Publishers Weekly praising the book's "boldly refreshing approach".[3] Relevant wrote that "Though it's certainly not all bad, the helpful and the harmful in Real Marriage are too thoroughly intertwined to be helpful."[4]


The book has faced criticism due to the Driscolls' detailed and frank discussion of sex in Real Marriage.[5] The Driscolls have stated that they did not write the book for people looking to read the book for "voyeuristic" intents, but because they viewed sex as an important part of marriage and that the majority of marriage help books were written for people who had not "experienced sexual assault or been abused or exposed to pornography or sexual sins".[6] The book has also been criticized for content such as chapters entitled "The Respectful Wife", with critics stating that the book was "an astoundingly unbelievable work of disrespect for women"[7] and that "the book focuses so much on sex that it can create the impression that it's the most important element of marriage".[8]

Mark Driscoll has replied to these criticisms, stating that he was aware that the book's content would "catch flak" and that "accommodating everyone would be impossible".[9]

New York Times Bestseller controversy[edit]

In March 2014, The Los Angeles Times published a story titled "Can bestseller lists be bought?".[2][10] It describes how author and pastor Mark Driscoll contracted the company ResultSource to place his book Real Marriage on the NYT bestseller list for a $200,000 fee. The contract was for ResultSource "to conduct a bestseller campaign for your book, 'Real Marriage' on the week of January 2, 2012. The bestseller campaign is intended to place 'Real Marriage' on the New York Times bestseller list for the Advice How-to list." To achieve this, the contract stated that "RSI will be purchasing at least 11,000 total orders in one-week." This took place and as a result, the book was successfully ranked #1 on the hardcover advice bestseller list on January 22, 2012.[2]

See also[edit]