We got engaged June 2016, just before I left for 8 months abroad in East Asia. We were engaged over a year, most of it long-distance, before we finally got married July 1, 2017. With so much time apart, one thing that helped me feel close to Alvin was reading and discussing marriage books together. It reminded me that this distance thing wasn’t going to be forever, and we had a whole lifetime together to look forward to. So guys, I devoured them.
I read so many marriage books while we were engaged, but today I’m only passing on my favorites and why I think you’ll love them too. I’ve linked each one so you can put it straight in your Amazon cart and have it on your doorstep by Friday (just click on the titles)! They’re all right around $10, or less if you have a Kindle.
And for those of you already married? Well, besides the wedding planning book, these are all books Alvin and I plan to revisit over the years! Each one is both grounding and encouraging, full of wisdom that can’t fully be absorbed in just one reading. As Alvin and I read them, there were several we marked to re-read around our one-year anniversary.
Listed in the general order I think would be helpful for reading.
1. The Meaning of Marriage / Tim Keller
This is a classic, but only because it’s so so good. It gives a larger picture for why marriage, and why it really matters. It’s a solid mix of sobering and inspiring.
2. Preparing for Marriage / Dennis Rainey
This is a workbook our premarital counselor and several other friends recommended to us and we most readily recommend to any couple who’s thinking about engagement or just got engaged. You each go through the chapter and answer the questions individually and then come together to discuss. It helps you think through your family background, personal history, expectations for gender roles, finances, sex…It’s super practical and leads to the best conversations. I usually recommend starting this sooner rather than later, and going through it around 2 chapters a month. It’s paced well to lead you right up to your wedding day.
3. A Christ-Centered Wedding / Catherine Strode Parks and Linda Strode
Some people may find this helpful, others may feel like it’s too much information. But for me, this book laid out every possible aspect of wedding planning and helped me think through how I could honor my friends and family through the process and keep all bridezilla tendencies at bay. It especially helped us think through our wedding ceremony, and the truths we wanted to communicate to our audience and to each other about love and marriage. If you’re interested, buy it right away. It’s a quick read and will help you keep a good attitude throughout all the stressers of wedding planning.
4. For Couples Only / Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn
GUYS. So this is a set: For Women Only and For Men Only and these books are amazing. I think I read one on a 3 hour flight to Taiwan, and one on the flight back. They are SO fascinating. They’re based off a nation-wide survey and hundreds of personal interviews and reveal candid and surprising answers to the inner lives of women and men. It highlights all the ways we just don’t “get” each other, and helps us understand. Buy them as a set or separately. My recommendation for reading them: if you’re a woman, read the “for men only” book first and highlight what you identify with while your man reads the “for women only” book and does the same. Then trade! These books lead to so many good conversations for Alvin and I and are for sure ones we plan to revisit in the coming year. Plus, they’re just interesting!
5. Each for the Other / Bryan Chapell
Our pastor who did our premarital counseling recommended this one. This book walks through Ephesians 5 in three sections: husband, wife, and partners in parenting. This book helped me respect and honor the role Alvin is called to (and how hard it is!) as my husband, and gave me dignity and inspiration to love him well as his partner. I had never been so encouraged walking away from a teaching on this controversial passage. Highly recommended, and for sure one we’ll revisit.
6. Intended for Pleasure / Ed and Gaye Wheat
The subtitle is “Sex Technique and Sexual Fulfillment in Christian Marriage.” This was passed on to us by a friend and is a great and practical resource that’s not too over-the-top. Would recommend reading closer to your actual wedding date.
Just a reminder that all the books in the world won’t make you an expert or fully prepare you for the nuances of your specific marriage, but they can help guide your thinking and expectations about marriage and open up good conversations for you and your fiancé.
So there you have it, my recommended premartial book list! These books challenged us, shocked us, motivated us and rooted us and I hope they do the same for you!
And now I want to hear from YOU! Drop me a comment below and let me know how I can encourage you in this engagement season you’re in. What’s something you’re struggling with that you wish someone would talk about? What practical insights can I share that would bless you? Let me know!