Engaged couples who see their wedding date approaching often start wondering if they are ready for the challenges of marriage. In the pre-marital counseling process, many ask me what they should be reading together to make sure they are having the right discussions with their spouse-to-be.
We have collected a short list of our favorite books that every couple (engaged or married) would benefit from reading. What we like most is that the book "becomes the bad guy." It introduces issues and potential conflicts in a neutral way so that neither of you have to start a conversation with the dreaded "we need to talk."
All of the books are available at our Amazon Affiliate store, so grab a few that peak your interest. Here are some of our favorites:
101 Questions to Ask Before You get Engaged by H. Norman Wright
This book is exactly what the title says it is. Even if you're already engaged, it would be wise to consider the things this book brings up to make sure that you're not carelessly entering into marriage.
These two books are foundational in our Marriage Prep Workshops. Using extensive survey work of each of the genders, the Feldhahns provide an excellent overview of the unique needs of men and women. We recommend that you read them in reverse: the girl reads For Men Only, the book written for guys. She underlines the stuff that really resonates with her. The guy reads for Women Only, doing likewise. Then, you swap books and talk about it. That way, the books aren't just a manual on the genders, they are a manual on each other. Again, let the book be the bad guy.
Love and Respect by Emerson Eggrichs
Eggrichs has cracked the code on communication in marriage. Actually, he delved deep into the truth found in Ephesians 5:33: women need love and men need respect. Understanding these basic differences (and making application to how you relate to and communicate with each other) can make a huge impact on your relationship. Ignore the principle of love and respect at your own peril.
Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
This has become our go-to manual for Christian couples wanting to develop a true biblical picture of marriage. The tagline says it all: "What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?" It is a bit heady so you may find yourself reading certain passages over and over again, just to make sure you're taking it all in. But this is powerful stuff.
What Did You Expect by Paul David Tripp
In the same vein as Sacred Marriage, Tripp's book strives to dismantle our culture's infatuation with the idea of "soul mates" and encourages readers to roll up their sleeves and work hard to make their marriages work. It's not sappy, but it's true. The sooner you realize this, the better off you will be.
A Celebration of Sex for Newlyweds by Douglas Rosenau
This is a brief but helpful look at the basics of sexual intimacy. For couples entering marriage without much experience (good for you!), this would be worth your time. We recommend reading it in the months leading up to your wedding date, and then going (separately) to a trusted married friend of the same gender who can coach you on some of the realities of intimacy.
The Invisible Bond by Barbara Wilson
For individuals entering marriage with some form of sexual and/or emotional baggage from past relationships, Wilson's book is a must. In our experience, the impact of previous sexual encounters can wreak havoc on a marriage, especially in the early days if they are not dealt with in a healthy way. The Invisible Bond will coach you on how to break free from the past and start your marriage off free in Christ.
The Complete Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
Ramsey has become the guru to many who want to get out of debt and get onto a sound financial foundation. His tried and true methods will help get you on the same page regarding budgeting, spending, debt, savings, and many other tough issues that cause couples stress in the early days of marriage. Couples would be wise to attend one of his Financial Peace University classes, as well.
You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan
We love the Chans and we love their heart for marriage. Their new book challenges couples to see their marriage in light of eternity. Highly recommended.
Again, you can link to our Amazon store and get any of these books. While this list is for engaged couples, each of these books will be a great encouragement for anyone striving to successfully build a strong and satisfying marriage.