What are some fictional books that feature realistic and healthy couples?

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What are some fictional books to read about happy marriages? Stories that are fun and good to read, and also feature realistic and healthy couples.

The only one i can think of is The Time Traveler’s Wife, which is slightly weird in the beginning.


We’ve talked about reading non-fiction books about marriage, and we’ve talked about reading non-religious books about marriage, so now let’s talk about reading fiction books about marriage!

Here are some suggestions before I open it up to the Homies…

My hopeless romantic guy friend suggested, “Try something by Mike Gayle or Lisa Jewell. They always seem to write about couples who work it all out.”

In Offbeat Bride’s collaborative recommended reading list for books about marriage and relationships, there were two novels:

Your turn, Homies! What are some good books that feature realistic and healthy couples?

Comments on What are some fictional books that feature realistic and healthy couples?

  1. The Tales of the City novels by Armistead Maupin.

    I love these books and have probably re-read them more than any others. They are about a group of friends who meet when they all live in an apartment house in San Francisco in the 7o’s. There are many kinds relationships in these books, (friends, lovers, family) between many people identifying in many kinds of ways (gay, straight, trans).

    These books more than any others taught me how I want to relate to and interact with people whatever our relationship. The books are great on the realities of romantic relationships, the graft involved in long term commitment monogamous or otherwise and the dangers of unexamined expectations.


    • I was going through this thread thinking about recommending this series, though not at all sure which relationships I would flag as the marriages or as the best over the long term– but that, I think, is part of their beauty.

  2. I’m completely overwhelmed with suggestions, and for life reasons, not really reading like I usually am (ugh, life)

    But I wanted to chime in with a thanks (in case anyone was wondering where the question asker was) and I have SO MANY things to add to my Goodreads list once I have time again.

    Thanks, homies!! Y’all are the best

  3. If you like horror, a great novel with a husband and wife that LOVE EACH OTHER DEARLY and work through everything is The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons. I’m a huge horror novel nerd, so the fact that I found a scary book with a married couple working as a team and living together through the craziness in the story was extremely refreshing.

  4. I’m not sure if sci-fi books are considered Realistic but to me, Stephen King always works really cool, realistic and even sometimes healthy relationships between men and women into his stories. He’s always been one of my favorite authors when it comes to intimate insights into human relationships (both good and bad).

  5. So many great suggestions! I’m throwing my hat in for Tiger and Del, from Jennifer Roberson’s Sword Dancer series. They feel like real people, not just as a couple, and their interactions always feel so realistic. Healthy? Well, they do what they can (if you haven’t read, their lives were pretty terrible before they met). I just finished the seventh book a couple of weeks ago and it reminded me of how much I love these two. There’s a lot of character growth for both of them over the course of the books which is really nice, but they still maintain their individuality throughout. I really love this fact, because it would feel wrong otherwise, especially from Del. She’s one of the most powerful, blunt, take-no-crap heroines I’ve ever met. They aren’t technically married, but that doesn’t stop them from being a strong partnership.

  6. I second any mention of Brandon Sanderson. He just writes amazing characters who are very real and there’s real growth. I don’t think his book Elantris was mentioned, probably because the marriage component is complicated for reasons I don’t share because spoilers. But it’s a really compelling book with incredibly compelling characters to the point where I even adore the villain in the end.

    My recommendation is the October Daye books by Seanan McGuire. All of her books are really great urban fantasy with interesting well rounded characters and realistic relationships, romantic and otherwise. The October Date books especially feature really great relationships among all characters. The main character in particular is a really interesting progression. Just be aware that there are 9 books so far and the first three or so aren’t strong on relationships because of the main character’s outlook on life. Part of the joy of the books is seeing that change. Also be aware that while the relationships are fantastic, (all of them, I actually like some of the platonic and familial relationships as much as the romantic ones because everything is handled so well) they are not the main plot. You have to enjoy them alongside the plot. I find I enjoy them more the second or third time I read the books because ice already enjoyed the plot.
    Also major points to Seanan McGuire for super respectful and realistic depictions of LGTB characters. She does it incredibly well, primarily because the fact that any given character is LGBTQ (in whatever manifestation that is) is totally secondary to who they are as a person. It’s really nice to read about a character who is a person first and a lesbian/transgender/whatever second. Obviously, their identities are important, but they aren’t the purpose of the character.

  7. I had a hard time coming up with books that I had read with healthy relationships in them. I was actually searching for lists or suggestions when I found this article/thread.

    I would suggest The Rosie Project – thought maybe not a completely typical relationship, as the male lead is OCD (possibly Aspergers), I still appreciate the ups and downs in their developing relationship and how they deal with them after marriage in the followup book The Rosie Effect.

    Also I do think The Vow is a good relationship book as well. Its based on a true story and was made into a movie a couple years ago staring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams.

  8. My two: Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall from ‘Outlander.’

    And the other one: while Kim Harrison’s Hollows series put Rachel Morgan in some pretty realistic relationships, the best one to me is the one she had with Kisten. He was willing to roll with the punches her life brought to her doorstep, and seemed to accept her as she was as a whole. Plus, if you can read the part where she finally remembers how he died twice and NOT cry like a baby that had its blankie taken away, you have a stronger fortitude that I do.

    And I guess in a way her “relationship” with Al the demon kind of counts.

  9. “Landline” by Rainbow Rowell. The novel takes place during a normal rough-patch in a normal marriage. So not super happy, but not depressing either. And realistic, which I appreciate. “Where’d You Go Bernadette” by Maria Semple features a nice realistic marriage at its core, too.

    And I second the above recommendations for Outlander and The Sparrow.

  10. Technically for children of course, but for healthy family dynamics it’s hard to beat the Moomins. Moominpappa and Moominmamma have a beautiful relationship, full of warmth and fun and amused tolerance of each other’s eccentricities.

  11. Honestly, while they aren’t the hugest focus of the books, any of the Watch books from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series has one of my favorite fictional couples in Sam Vimes and Lady Sybil. They’re wonderful together and feature in all 8 books that involve the City Watch. Fantasy/Humor genre, really fun stuff!

    And, while they’re a little bit racier, the relationships in JR Wards vampire series The Black Dagger Brotherhood, are really well done and actually deal with important issues like infertility, trauma, and mental health. I really love them! They’re more paranormal/romance in the tawdry sense but still fun.

    • Good call on Sam Vimes an Lady Sybil. An excellent couple very realistic in how they relate to each other. I’d also like to third (or fourth?) the vote for Alexia and Conall in Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series. They aren’t always perfect, but they fiercely love each other in a believable way. And also Jamie and Claire in Outlander. Swoon.

  12. I recently have been looking for feminist romance novels and have found a few series I like.

    The Cyclone series by Courtney Milan. These book feature strong women, and people of color and queer people as protagonists. I haven’t encountered that in romance very often. I’ve also heard good things about her historical fiction.

    The Chemistry series by Susannah Nix.

    This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel. The couple in this book is so relatable.

  13. Odysseus and Penelope of The Odyssey. ^_^ While lots of the story is about Odysseus outsmarting the wrath of gods to return to his love, Penelope, but there’s still a good portion of the story that covers their happy reunion, and their collaborating to outwit the scheming suitors and save their son.

    I always liked that fighting gods was half the battle, now the *real* test is figuring out how to resume life as a family!

    Granted, it’s not a perfect or especially deep depiction of marriage, but I appreciate how active Penelope is as an intelligent participant in her own fate, marriage, and rulership. Given how old the story is, it’s unusual to see a marriage that more closely aligns with modern, partnership-based values, in some ways.

  14. May I add a Nicholas Sparks book to the list -I know!don’t shoit me, but the sequel to the Notebook is actually my favorite and most relatable book of his. It’s called The Wedding. Its about Noah and Allies son in law and his wife, who have been married for 30+ years and have grown apart. Its a great example of how everyday life can get in the way and how to get that spark back – something most long term relationships go through.
    Also for something different – Two For One by Sean David Wright. An actual healthy portrayal of a triad/poly relationship! Not the best writing style but I liked the content as I was navigating this type of relationship at the time.

  15. this ones actually a comic but the marvel adventures spiderman series has spiderman in a melodrama free relationship where they talk about there issues, are invested and supportive of each others lives and respect that not all issues can be worked out immediately (sometimes you need time to calm down and forgive). its the standard I judge romantic relationships too and is what got me hooked on wanting to read about healthy relationships

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