My husband and I celebrated our first anniversary (!!) earlier this month, and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I felt around this time a year ago. Excited was the number one adjective, of course, but if I’m being totally honest, I was a little bit nervous, too–I had heard so many times that “the first year of marriage is the hardest.” A year later, I can confidently and gratefully say that this year has been the best of my life. There were hard moments, certainly, but thanks to the preparation we did before our wedding day and the commitment we had made to living out our vows daily, I’m so proud to have made it to our first anniversary more in love with my husband than ever. As we’ve heard time and time again in real wedding interviews, preparing for marriage intentionally plays a big role in setting couples up for success once they make their sparkler exit and real life settles in. You can find tons of inspiration and ideas for marriage prep in this year’s Sweet Tea Sunday series, and today, we thought we’d round up some favorite reads from our team, plus some friends, that helped us prepare for marriage!
Photo by Anna Paschal
Love Does. While there are so many great books to help prepare for marriage, Love Does is one of my all-time favorite books, period. It’s full of sweet stories of love in action, and the faith it takes to not only love someone, but take action on that love. One of the best lessons to learn pre-marriage! – Marissa
I actually read His Needs, Her Needs a few years after getting married, but I’d recommend it for engaged couples as well as those married longer–not necessarily because I agreed with everything the author said (I didn’t), but because it is guaranteed to prompt interesting and lively conversation about lots of sticky subjects if you read it together. I appreciated the author’s practical approach and emphasis on making changes yourself instead of “working on” your spouse! – Emily
This recommendation is especially for my Catholic sisters :) I first read Theology of the Body Explained for Beginners (Christopher West’s synopsis of Pope John Paul II’s Man and Woman He Created Them) in college, and it was a game-changer in the way I viewed the meaning and purpose of marriage. Dave and I both re-read it while we were engaged, and it definitely helped us enter into marriage with our minds and hearts in the right place. – Lisa
The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. I discovered this book several years into our marriage and I wish I had had it from the beginning! This book is a wonderful resource full of practical advice for navigating common struggles in marriage and strengthening your relationship through the power of prayer. – Amber
The Five Love Languages. KPW and I met in a Interpersonal Communication class and fell in love over a shared interested in Tar Heel basketball and communication theory. We love learning about ways to communicate better and the reasons why we communicate the way to we do. Learning about the different love languages and how to use them to love each other better was a powerful lesson during our marriage prep and something we still refer to on a regular basis! – Kristin
The Love Languages Devotional Bible. This is our favorite devotional to read together. It has really helped us to carve out time together to be still, while strengthening our relationship. Learning each other’s love language and how we can each show love in that specific way, has made our marriage more intentional, fun and has helped us “rekindle the flame” when life gets hectic! – Laura
The book that I would recommend is kind of more for after you’re married, but it is one of my favorites and I think it would be worth digging into even before getting married. The title of the book is Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. I was gifted the book by my brother and sister-in-law for my birthday shortly after getting married and it holds so much amazing content. It is all about looking at the true purpose of marriage and how it can be a way to grow closer to God. It has been a great way for me to connect on a deeper level with my husband and grow in my own faith. – Rachel Green
I loved reading The Meaning of Marriage because it allowed me to see my marriage with new perspective. So often, couples think that it is their spouse’s duty to make them “happy” and that is simply not true. That mindset and expectation will have horrible repercussions down the road in any relationship. That is a lot of pressure and responsibility for your husband/wife to carry and it’s nearly impossible to achieve. The Meaning of Marriage taught me that my view of marriage had always been so self-focused, and it needed to change. I find purpose as a wife and as a woman through my relationship with God. He gives me purpose and peace that passes all understanding, and because of that, I have the freedom to love Michael without expecting ridiculous things in return from him. This book lives in my bedside table and has changed my life. I HIGHLY recommend it to ANY couple! – Katelyn James
What books would you add to this list? We’d love to hear!