Preparing for Marriage: Book Suggestions
By Carla Taccolini
Most people would often describe me as an organized and structured person. Being that type of person, I often want to be ready for things to come, in the near or far future. I want to be prepared to face what anything brings. Being engaged, I knew I wanted to be prepared for my marriage with my partner. Not only did we participate in the official marriage preparation weekend by the Archdiocese, we also met with a married couple regularly discussing certain topics that helped our communication with one another. I read books on my own and some with my fiance that enlightened me about the truth about marriage as God designed it to be, the realities of married life and some practical ways to love and honour your spouse.
Below is a list of some of the books I read and would encourage you to read:
1) The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller
I asked for this book for Christmas when my then fiance now husband Josh and I were already dating and little did I know I was getting engaged around that time as well. It was timely. This book talks exactly about aspects of marriage--as the title states. It describes what marriage means, what power it brings, and what its purpose is. It provides practical ways on how to love your spouse and also helps one understand why men and women behave the way they do. It also talks about what role the wife and husband play in a marriage respectively. One thing I remember from this book is that when we commit to someone in marriage, we decide to love them regardless of the situation and the emotions. Love is a decision.
2) The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman
The Five Love Languages is a very popular concept. It is not only important in spousal relationships, but in every human relationship we have on earth. The first book mentioned also discusses some concepts in this book. A love language is how one receives and gives love to another. This book thoroughly describes the five love languages conceptualized by Gary Chapman: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch. It describes how marriages struggle because a spouse is not communicating love in the manner the other receives it. What I like about this book is it gives specific examples as to how one can demonstrate a certain love language. It is practical, applicable, and includes some thought-provoking questions and points. If your future spouse's love language is not like yours, it takes some practicing to develop a habit because it won't be natural. Sometimes you'll have to spend some time brainstorming and writing down a list of ways you could show whatever love language your partner has.
3) Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married by Gary Chapman
This book includes 12 chapters that are discussion starters and topics that are important to discuss and communicate with your partner. These are real experiences; real topics that could lead to serious issues if not brought to the surface for discussion. It covers chapters like the importance and impact of one's family background on your spouse, who does what domestic chore in the house, how to handle finances, and apologies and forgiveness. When Josh and I, now husband and I did was read a chapter or two per month (2-4 pages), reflect on it and discuss our insights and the discussion questions at the end of each chapter as well. It was very helpful. Did you ever think that there are various ways of apologizing and various people receive apologies differently?
4) Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
Love & Respect explains the notion that women behave because they are seeking love from their husbands, whereas men seek respect. I really liked this book as a whole. Most of what was being described and explained was helpful and affirmed my knowledge of men's nature. It also help me understand other marriages around me, and gave me perspective on why men tend to behave a certain way and why we, as women tend to behave in other ways. Men seek respect through his desire to work, to protect and provide, to serve and lead. Women seek love through her desire for closeness and to be cherished, and her desire for her spouse to listen and understand. This book, however, needs to be taken with a grain of salt because although the main concepts are true (woman seeks love; men seeks respect), the manner in which it is described in some chapters is not always applicable to every person because of personality differences.
5) Three to Get Married by Fulton Sheen
If you want to read a less practical and more philosophical and theological book, this would be the book to read. Fulton Sheen describes marriage to be among three persons: you, your spouse and God. He talks about marriage and its mystery with the Holy Trinity. He also talks about Motherhood, Fatherhood, and the role of children. It is heavy but very profound and enlightening at the same time. After reading this book, I learned that marriage is intense, highly spiritual and mysteriously beautiful if lived according to its purpose.
I had the privilege of learning from all these wonderful texts throughout my engagement and I would say that we could never be fully prepared for marriage. However, learning from these books helped me gain perspective, understand the personhood of my husband and love him through Christ, as well as seek ways to live my marriage according to its true Godly purpose.