Before Christi and I were married, we went through a ton of pre-engagement (yes, I recommend this) and pre-marital counseling.
We sometimes left thinking the plethora of issues we talked about were overkill. Turns out, our amazing counselors, Dr. Victor and Peggy Hinson, have some wisdom in those 40+ years of marriage together. To this day, when we run into a new conflict or “situation”—like the birth of children who don’t sleep or how we handle holidays with in-laws—we reflect back on how the Hinson dynamic duo prepared us to navigate them as a team.
From their wisdom to our own marital experience, here are 10 helpful books to read (one of them is FREE!) before your wedding day—and the one they assigned us post wedding.
- Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott—This book is a classic for preparing emotionally and spiritually before the big day. Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott also recently developed a premarital SYMBIS assessment based on the book. As a trained facilitator, I highly recommend checking it out. (If you’re interested in becoming a facilitator, use code: FZE3V2U to get 10% off.)
- The 5 Love Languages, by Dr. Gary Chapman—You can love your spouse with everything you have, but he/she may not even feel it. Another classic, this book helps you learn how to speak your spouse’s love language, and find practical ways to love each other.
- The Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey—Since most couples cite money as the primary reason they divorce, the money conversation is critical. Christi and I follow this book and are now debt free—that’s with a Ph.D. and three Master’s degrees between us. Yes, we’re overeducated—but we needed help when it came to money. Start now.
- Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married, by Dr. Gary Chapman—The beauty of this book is that Dr. Chapman covers many of the issues Christi and I discussed in pre-martial counseling we didn’t think were relevant at the time. Trust me, they’re relevant.
- Fun Loving You: Enjoying Your Marriage in the Midst of the Grind, by Ted Cunningham—The reason I love this book is because too often the church’s message to married couples is to endure it. Yet, Ecclesiastes tells us to “enjoy” the wife of our youth. This is a refreshing and light look at the fun side of marriage!
- The Sacred Search: What If It’s Not About Who You Marry, But Why, by Gary Thomas—In what seems like a paradox to the previous book, Fun Loving You, Gary Thomas describes that marriage is not really about making one happy, but making them holy. I include both books because I believe God designed marriage to make us holy and happy.
- Ready to Wed: 12 Ways to Start a Marriage You’ll Love, by Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley, (Gen Eds.)—The beauty of this book is the contribution of different authors (including me), who cover 12 traits of a thriving marriage.
- Boundaries in Marriage, by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend—John and Henry are the real deal. They’re friends and mentors. Based off their best-selling book Boundaries, this book covers specifically the choices that can make or break your marriage. Boundaries are a must.
- Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage, by Dr. Kevin Leman—For obvious reasons, this is the book I suggest waiting until after your wedding day to read. Christi and I read it on our honeymoon together.
- Conversation Starters for Engaged Couples, by Ted Cunningham and Joshua Straub—Ted and I put together this FREE eBook we use to help couples we’re counseling toward marriage. These conversation starters cover issues of character, chemistry, competency, and calling.
What books do you recommend?