Laying a Solid Foundation

Doug Britton, M.Ed., MFT


This Bible-based book will transform your marriage. Learn the one key thing you can do to make a great marriage, how to forgive when you’re really hurt, what it really means to be “one flesh,” and much more.

Expect to change and grow. The practical, cross-cultural truths in these easy-to-read pages will make a big difference in your marriage—whether it is young-to-old, great to not-so-great.

This book is the first in Doug Britton’s eight-book “Marriage by the Book” series. These books help couples apply the Bible’s truths in every aspect of marriage. Although Laying a Solid Foundation is part of a series, it stands by itself as a complete book.

Paperback: Wire “spiral” binding. 176 pages.
Published by LifeTree Books

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 Get the Bundle

Save time — Order all eight books in the “Marriage by the Book” series as a bundle!

Laying a Solid Foundation is:


There’s no need to buy a separate marriage book, workbook, and leader’s guide for small groups—this book includes all three. You have the flexibility to use it however you want.


You won’t read secular advice with a sprinkling of verses. Instead, you will be transformed as you learn how to turn to God and apply his Word.


Since Laying a Solid Foundation is based on the Bible, its truths apply to every racial and ethnic group. When purchasing this book, you can choose a multicultural cover or an African-American cover.

“I have known Doug and his wife for many years. Many relationships in our church have been strengthened and enriched through the use of his ‘Marriage by the Book’ series.”  Ephraim Williams, Pastor, St. Paul Baptist Church (Sacramento, CA)


This book doesn’t just tell you what to do—it shows you how to do it with easy-to-follow steps. Real-life stories and examples illustrate key points.

“Practical Practical Practical! ‘Marriage by the Book’ is for couples who really want a strong marriage. Doug Britton puts the cookies on a shelf where it’s easy to reach them, using the Bible plus simple exercises to do it! I recommend every couple go through this series in a date night or in a small group with other couples.”  Tom Tunnicliff, Ed.D., Pastor of Chaplaincy, Elmbrook Church (Brookfield, WI)


Text is broken into small, easily-digested portions. Points are clearly identified with headings, bullets, and check boxes.


“Make it personal” questions, quizzes, and exercises help you apply the lessons in your own marriage.

“‘Marriage by the Book’ is a life-changing series that will bring Christ into your marriage. The series will guide you step-by-step as you wrestle with the right questions, so you can see Christ-centered results. Whether your marriage is healthy and thriving or needing an overhaul…this series will help you. I know this because it’s helped my marriage.”  Craig Sweeney, Lead Pastor, Heights Church (Citrus Heights, CA)

About the Author

Author and Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist Doug Britton has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio co-host, and author of over twenty books. In each book of the “Marriage by the Book” series, Doug draws upon his extensive experience counseling married couples. More importantly, he goes directly to the Bible and applies its truth and wisdom to problems couples face today.

Chapter 1:
Realize You Are “One Flesh”


“The two will become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one. (Mark 10:8)

God saw that it was not good for Adam to live alone, so he created Eve (Genesis 2:18-22). He intended marriage to be the most intimate of human relationships, an answer to the profound loneliness in Adam’s heart.

God’s definition of marriage, which sets it apart from all other relationships, is that a man and a woman become “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). You are one flesh if you have a great marriage. You also are one flesh if you have a rotten marriage, were not a Christian when you married, or think you married the wrong person.

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (Genesis 2:23-24)

Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. (Malachi 2:15)

People sometimes describe marriage as a contract, sometimes as a covenant, and sometimes as a partnership. There’s truth in all of these descriptions. Yet the deeper truth is the reality that you are “one.” You cannot get any closer to another person than by being one.

On the other hand, although you are one flesh, each of you is also a separate and complete individual. The two are one, and the one is two.

Since we are one flesh, everything I do to my wife Skeeter, I do to myself. When I hurt her, I harm myself. When I am kind to her, I am blessed.

Paul made this point when he wrote, “In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself” (Ephesians 5:28). This principle also applies to wives loving their husbands.

What do you think?
What does the Bible mean by “one flesh”?

How does this contrast with the way our culture looks at marriage?


Rewards of a Healthy Marriage

God has great plans for your marriage. Regardless of what your marriage looks like now—whether it is wonderful or in need of a lot of help—as you turn to God and put his truths into practice you will move into an increasingly intimate and rewarding relationship. Here are some of the rewards you can look forward to:

A marriage can soar to heights of love denied all other human relationships. Couples can experience unparalleled spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and sexual bonds. To begin to grasp the possibilities of marital intimacy, read the Song of Songs. Passionate verses toward the end summarize Solomon’s message:

Love … burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned. (Song of Songs 8:6-7)

Intimacy can also be experienced in small ways: a tender goodbye kiss, laughter over a corny joke, or a love note. Intimacy in marriage is both exciting and comfortable.

Teamwork and mutual support
Two people united can do much more than two apart. God said that husband and wife, together, would rule over the earth (Genesis 1:27-28). Each can encourage, praise, and build up the other. When one is weak, the other can be strong.

In addition, we can learn from one another since each has different strengths, personalities, and skills. For instance, I learned much from Skeeter about the nurturing side of parenting, while she learned how to calmly discipline our children from me.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

Just as a sports team profits from players with different skills, so you and your spouse can profit from the different abilities you bring to your marriage. Being different from each other means you have more gifts, interests, and talents collectively than either of you has individually.

Although children are not necessary for a happy marriage, many of us have discovered bringing up children to be one of life’s greatest joys. As Skeeter and I think about our years together, we see few blessings that match the privilege of raising three sons.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number.” (Genesis 1:28)

Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. (Psalm 127:3)

Make it personal
What are some things you do well as a team? (If you can’t think of any, don’t give up. By the time you finish the “Marriage by the Book” series, you will be able to list many things.)

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do so many marriages have problems?
Most marriages start out with two people who are certain they can craft a wonderful union. Yet as the years go by, many never experience the passionate, joyful life they expected. Author Doug Britton says a key reason is that most people do not know how to create a great marriage God’s way.

Is my marriage hopeless?
Regardless of your situation, there is hope—the sure hope that comes from God and the truth of his word, the Bible.

What if my spouse won’t read with me?
It’s ideal if you both read this book. However, if your spouse doesn’t want to join you, read it on your own. Learn how to be the best husband or wife possible. God can perform miracles in your personal life—and in your marriage—even if you study on your own.

Can I use this book for pre-marriage mentoring?
Yes. It covers the most important truths couples need to know at the beginning of their journey together.

Learn More

What are some topics covered in “Laying a Solid Foundation”?
In these pages you will discover many Bible-based insights and practical tools. A few examples:

  • What it means to be “one flesh”
  • Common reasons for marriage problems
  • The most important thing to focus on for a great marriage
  • The most important thing not to focus on for a great marriage
  • Practical and fun marriage-building activities
  • How you can apologize without making things worse
  • How you can forgive your spouse when you are really hurt
  • What the Bible says about commitment and divorce

Digging deeper
Are all marriages in trouble? Of course not, but they are all works in progress. Regardless of your situation, there is hope—the sure hope that comes from God and the truth of his word, the Bible.

Marriage by the Book — 8-Book Series

Multicultural Covers

Laying a Solid Foundation Making Christ the Cornerstone Encouraging Your Spouse Extending Grace to Your Mate Talking with Respect and Love Improving Your Teamwork Putting Money in its Place Celebrating Intimacy and Romance

African-American Covers

Laying a Solid Foundation Making Christ the Cornerstone Encouraging Your Spouse Extending Grace to Your Mate Talking with Respect and Love Improving Your Teamwork Putting Money in its Place Celebrating Intimacy and Romance

Marriage by the Book — 8-Book Series

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