It doesn’t take long in the ‘Relationships’ section of the bookstore to become overwhelmed with the barrage of marriage books in front of you. It’s easy to feel like you should read all of them; ensure you’re covering all your bases before walking down the aisle. However, even though I read nearly a dozen marriage books before our wedding day, only a handful left a lasting impression and made a meaningful difference. Here are the three books that actually helped prepare me for marriage, and the only ones I’d recommend to any soon-to-be husband and wife.
‘YOU AND ME FOREVER‘ by Francis & Lisa Chan
Some would probably consider Francis Chan to be an extreme personality, but that’s exactly what I appreciate about him! In this book, co-authored by his wife, he outlines the fact that whether you’re single or married, ultimately, life isn’t about you. As a believer, it’s about your calling and mission to spread the gospel to the world. The point isn’t about being married, but about partnering with someone you love for the cause of Christ. I’m sure you’ve heard of this numerous times before, but the way Francis Chan and his wife run their life and ministry really made me believe them. The biggest lesson here was that I need to approach marriage not as the final destination, but as a vehicle, instrument, or tool that God will use for a greater purpose, beyond even our own lives and marriage.
‘The Meaning of Marriage’ by Timothy & Kathy Keller
The biggest takeaway from this iconic book by Dr. Keller and his wife was that marriage was never going to complete me. As humans, we easily believe the lie that romantic relationships will remedy are insecurities and loneliness. We think that if we can just find that Mr. or Mrs. Right, that everything else will just line up for us. No one should ever have to carry that burden on their shoulders, so don’t expect them to. A spouse is a blessing and a gift from God, he or she isn’t God. Truly understanding and embracing this principle will appropriately align your expectations before walking down the aisle and starting your lives together.
‘Love and Respect’ by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
Lastly, one of the most practical, and effective books I read before getting married was ‘Love and Respect’ by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. In fact, I credit the lessons learned in this book for helping bring my relationship back to life after we’d been broken up for nearly a year. It was shortly after practicing what I’d learned from this book that we became engaged! As the title implies, successful romantic relationships are built on love and respect. I realized that more than “lovey dovey” gestures and words, men just want to be respected by their wives. This book is full of practical ways that you can approach conflict in a way that still shows respect for your husband. I’ll admit, this lesson was the hardest one for me to apply practically, but it was also the most effective for healing and rebuilding our relationship.
I actually read all three of these books over the year that my boyfriend, now husband, and I were broken up. During difficult times like that, it’s easy to only look at the faults and mistakes of the other person, deflecting all blame or responsibility off ourselves. And, although there were a lot of times where I did just that, there were also times of deep reflection and self-examination that led me to want to take ownership of my part in out situation.
I hope these books serve you as well as they served myself and my husband. Whether you’re single, dating, or married, I hope these will help to set the right foundation for your marriage, no matter what your current relationship status is.
Here’s to being the best spouse you can be…