8 Books to Prepare You for Marriage

8 books to prepare for marriage

Marriage is AWESOME. And it’s work.

Donald Miller once compared marriage to a marathon. You don’t just wake up one day and decide that you want to run a marathon without training.

In the same way, you don’t just wake up one day and decide you want to get married without training. Great ways to train for marriage is by talking to and being mentored by people who are already married, meet with a pre-marital counselor, and also by reading books.

Marriage is more than just living together and binge watching your mutual guilty pleasure show. Marriage involves several different aspects of intimacy. I’ve broken three big ones down for today’s post: spiritual intimacy, practical marriage, and physical intimacy. Today I’m sharing several books that I read before and during my first year of marriage.

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Spiritual Intimacy

Sacred Marriage – Gary Thomas

I read Sacred Marriagewhen I was in college, and definitely picked it back up the summer Mr. M and I got engaged. Gary Thomas explains marriage as a union that reflects our relationship with Christ. He asks, “What if God designed marriage to make us  holy more than to make us happy?” Ouch. But so good! It is so easy to fall into the assumption that marriage is an avenue towards happiness; but anyone who has been married more than a few weeks could tell you that your spouse does not define your happiness. While Mr. M makes me incredibly happy, he also encourages and pushes me to be a holier follower of God. Sacred Marriage showed me that a healthy Christian marriage involves sacrifice, vulnerability, and keeping God at the center of your marriage.

The Meaning of Marriage – Tim Keller

It took me a long time to get through The Meaning of Marriage due the density of of Tim Keller’s wisdom. Plus, I’m more of a feeler and Tim Keller isn’t a super emotional writer. However, I learned a lot about the sanctity and practicality of serving our spouses in marriage.

You & Me Forever – Francis Chang

When Mr. M and I picked up You and Me Forever, I thought I was reading a book about making a life long commitment to your spouse. However, this book is so much MORE than that. Francis Chan transcends marriage here on earth, and talks about how our marriage prepares us for heaven. Similarly to Gary Chapman, he states that marriage is not here to make us happy. Nor is marriage something we use to serve ourselves; instead, our marriage is a ministry opportunity to serve the world and bring people closer to Christ. This book is convicting. And intense.

8 Books to Prepare You for Marriage

Practical Marriage

For Men Only/For Women Only – Shaunti & Jeff Feldhan 

I totally read both the “For Women” only and “For Men Only” books because a) I’m a reading fiend and b) I wanted to know what Shaunti and Jeff had to say. For Men Only/For Women Only is a basic beginner “How-to” for marriage. I loved the realistic approach it takes towards marriage. It uses anecdotal research to explain why we are the way we are, and how to best love our spouse in a way that will cross those perspectives.

Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married – Gary Chapman 

I will read any book I can get my hand on by Gary Chapman. He has another great book called The Five Love Languages; I haven’t read The Five Love Languages yet, but I have taken this test multiple times throughout my relationship. Good news: I’m scored high in all five langauges. Does that make me easily lovable or high maintenance? Who knwos. But the Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married breaks down marriage in all its practicality. While marriage can be love and flowers, it is also mundane and interspersed with occasional conflict. But in a healthy conflict, Dr. Chapman tells us that “conflicts have the potential of teaching us how to love, support, and encourage each other.” I would also recommend his book, 101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Enaged!

8 Books to Prepare You for Marriage

Physical Intimacy

OK so I’ve ranked this in order of . . . detail, let’s say. I’ve never gotten into the subject of physical intimacy much on the blog, because my dad reads my blog, and so do some of my Zimbabwean Aunties – and sometimes they pass my blog posts onto my awesome Mother in Law. But if you want to meet me for a cup of coffee, I love to talk about and celebrate the gift of intimacy within marriage, so we can dive deeper there. 😉

Darling – Aanna Greer

I’ve been a follower of Aanna’s blog for a couple of years. I more specifically followed her series, “Extra Virgin” where she dished on marriage and sex in a healthy, celebratory way. So when she released her book Darling, she was gracious enough to send me her book in exchange for a blog review.

I loved how Darling is laid out. She has sectioned her book into three sections: For Single Darlings, Engaged Darlings, and Married Darlings. Aana’s objective is to celebrate female sexuality in a godly way. Reading Darling is like sitting down with an older sister who is dishing all the details of sex.

The Single Darling section starts out with stating God’s design and purpose for sex, and then goes into understanding and caring for your body. She talks about everything from periods to infections to gynecology appointments.

Since I was already married when I picked up Darling, I focused on the Engaegd Darlings and Married Darlings section. This lady is packed full of so much wisdom! I wish I had this book when I was engaged. She gives amazing practical advice on preparing your body and your mind for your honeymoon.

In the Married Darlings section, she breaks it down to the basics, understanding sexual arousal, true sex appeal, and more. I love that Aanna gets real about sex, but also gets real about sexual intimacy. Sexual intimacy is more than having passioante sex, but it is about the intimacy you and your spouse carry throughout the day. (Women are crockpots, anyone?) One of my favorite lines from Darling says, “Instead of passion, make intimacy the plumb line in your sex life.”

Sheet Music – Dr. Kevin Leman 

My Aunt sent me Sheet Musicabout a month before Mr. M and I got married last year. I highly recommend Sheet Music as a honeymoon book! While we did read a couple chapters before we got married, Dr. Leman says to wait to read chapters 4 – 16 until the honeymoon because he gets detailed in discussing all aspects of sexual intimacy! While Mr. M and I have hardly ever finish books we read together, we made it all the to chapter 14, which is a good run for us.

Good Loving – Dr. Melissa Jones

If Sheet Music is the book to read on your honeymoon, Good Loving is the book to read after your honeymoon. (Besides, who has time to read two books on their honeymoon?) Since Good Loving is written by a woman, she goes into great detail for the ladies. I felt like I was reading a Christian Cosmopolitan magazine reading this book. While she covers some topics I don’t necessarily feel comfortable or agree with, I appreciate that she brings so much insight into sex!

What books have you found helpful to prepare you for marriage? Tell me in the comments below!

Marriage: 6 More Things That Surprised Me

6 More Things that Surprised Me About Marraige

Last night I got deep into the sentimentals when I thought about the most amazing bachelorette party my sister threw for me. A year ago yesterday we were partying at a bookstore in Asheville, the most unique place to throw a bachelorette party, but perfectly me. It really was the perfect way to start off wedding week, so I am feeling ALL the feels and remembering all the great mems.

To commemorate anniversary week, I am sharing all things wedding this week. Six months ago I shared 6 things that surprised me about marriage. Mr. M and I can hardly believe we’ve been calling each other husband and wife for a whole year. I can honestly say that our first year of marriage has been BETTER than our years of dating.

We Fight Less Now That We’re Married

Mr. M and I had a couple mentor us our first year of dating. They encouraged us to be as open and honest in our communication as we could be, and so we did that. And we fought. . . a lot. I’m sure it was a culmination of things – being in college, being in grad school, and trying to communicate through two different perspectives and ideals made for a rough and rocky beginning. However, I am so thankful we learned how to communicate early on in our dating period, because that has carried on into marriage.

It also helped that we had the “newlywed” conversations before we were even engaged. We talked about our dating history, our future, whether we wanted kids, where our hearts aligned with what ministries, etc. After a counseling session during our engagement, we talked about how difficult it would be had we not discussed all the necessary deep aspects of marriage beforehand, but because we were equipped with the knowledge and communication, it made our first year of marriage easier than our years of dating. (Being free to make out all we want helps to.)

How Busy We Can Be

When I dreamt of marriage as a single lady, I thought we would spend every night entangled in each other’s arms. And while we do that some times, half the time we collapse onto the couch with Netflix. Mr. M and I try to stay intentional with our date nights, but there have definitely been seasons over the last year where it has been a leftovers and Netflix night. With our work schedules + our social calendar, we stay pretty busy. Thank goodness we are both extroverts.

How Much I Love my In-Laws

This is not as much of a surprise as it something I’m incredibly thankful for. Before I met Mr. M, I worried that one day I wouldn’t love my in-laws. I am incredibly close with my parents, and my parents’ parents – both sets of my grandparents – are best friends.  I always hoped that my husband’s parents and my parents would be best friends. Proximity is not on our side with this one, but my family and Mr. M’s family love each other, and we have even celebrated Thanksgiving together for the past two years. It’s been the best. It is a great feeling to honestly say that I love my in-laws like I do my own parents.

Marrying into another culture can be scary on the forefront, especially when it involves relationships with the parents. Having my mother and father in law and entire M clan embrace me and teach me their customs has been amazing.

6 More Things that Surprised Me About Marriage

How Many Adventures We’ve Been On

Mr. M and I want to avoid the stigma of being a boring married couple. And while we definitely have our introverted – be in bed by 10pm nights, we have had so many adventures this year.This summer I did a mini travel series on the blog, because there has not been one month since we got married (or even engaged!) where Mr. M and I have stayed in one place. It has been exhausting and a great adventure. How do we do it? Basically we have friends all over the country + air bnb’s are my jam.

The New Dreams We Share

Couples always talk about how fun it is to dream together, and it’s true! I love having a marriage partner who pushes me to dream, and dreams alongside me. We both passionate about our own things, but they often align with each other which makes the dreaming process fun. Mr. M is a big scale dreamer, and I’m more realistic, so he challenges me and pushes me to open my mind to bigger dreams. It’s scary as all get out.

How Deep Our Love Goes

If Mr. M and I have learned to love each other more deeply in year one, I can’t imagine what it will look like when we have children, and go through different seasons of life together. While I try to stay light hearted on the blog, there have definitely been unique challenges Mr. M and I face. Rather than look at these challenges as obstacles, we have used them to draw closer to each other and the Lord. Mr. M always reminds me that we are on the same time.

6 More Things that Surprised Me About Marriage