5 Books to Read while Engaged or Newly Married

February 28, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

This is another somewhat unusual blog post. I'm sharing it less as a wedding photographer and more as a married woman. This month, my husband and I will be celebrating 13 years of marriage. So if our marriage were a person, it would be just hitting those awkward pre-teen years. I've shared on social media a bit about some of the struggles we've gone through in the last few years. Maybe our marriage hit puberty or something, but it got pretty bad. About two years ago, we were in a real bad place. I mean REAL BAD. We were fighting NON-stop. We had been married about 11 years. We had two young kids. We didn't have any enormous tragedy or crazy circumstances that got us there, we had just gradually inched our way closer and closer to the edge. That spot of bitterness and hurt and defensiveness and insecurity and frustration and feeling like "Welp. I guess this is how it's gonna be. This sucks." My husband asked me to go to counseling. And I didn't want to. I thought counseling was for people who didn't know how to express their feelings. I have never had that problem. My problem is not knowing how or when to not share my feelings. So I resisted but eventually felt so much disparity that I agreed. And it didn't fix everything. The counselor didn't say some magic words that transformed us. But it did change enough. Making the effort and showing each other that we were both willing to take a scary honest look at ourselves and swallow what we saw. Counseling allowed my husband to share his heart in a safe place and it allowed me to see his enormous respectful love for me which soothes my broken heart in such an incredible way. It's taken constant intentional effort over the past two years to inch our way back from that edge together and the place we are at now is so far beyond better. I'm sharing this because it has shaped the way I see weddings so profoundly. It has shaped how I care for my couples. I ask my couples to be intimate in front of me at the very cusp of this gigantic commitment. And that's not easy for most people. And I get that. So I wanted to show a bit more of my heart. To say, I'll go first. Here's a part of my story, a story that is still working its way through me and its messy, but that's where the gold is right? In the muck and the hard hard work of marriage, there is such abundant riches to be found for those willing to get their hands dirty and stay in it. 

If I had a time machine I would like to use it for two things. First, I would use it each evening to travel back to the morning to put something in the crockpot. Also, I would go back to my young 19 year old engaged self and give her these books. And sit there and force her to read them. There are enormous truths in each of these that would have saved me and my husband so much frustration and pain.

Now, know this, pain and frustration is part of marriage, and it is part of the process no matter how many books you read or how prepared you are. And that process is capable of producing something amazing in you and in your marriage that might not come any other way than going through it. So I'm not saying, I would travel back in time to change things. I'm grateful for my journey, I'm grateful for the grace my husband has extended to me and I'm grateful for the place I was in when I read each of these books, and who knows if my 19 year old self would have known what to do with any of this. I just know that when I read each of these, I had epiphanies that opened my eyes and heart in ways that have enormously blessed my marriage. And as so many of my clients invest a large amount of money into their weddings, I also want to encourage them to invest in their marriage as well. Reading books like these together may not seem like the most romantic of things to do, and maybe you're not into reading. Two of these I listened to on Audible while driving/running or folding laundry. No matter how mature or in-love you are, you can grow and learn how to love each other better.  So here it goes, 5 books I have read and loved and highly recommend for anyone planning on getting married or currently married. 

1. Men are like Waffles - Women are like Spaghetti  by Bill and Pam Farrel or the Audible version

This is the one book on the list that I did read before I was married. My husband and I read this together while we were engaged. We would take turns reading it out loud to each other. It is full of hilarious examples about the differences between how most men and women think and lots of practical, applicable advice of how to understand each other. After 13 years of marriage we still find our selves referencing things we read in this book. It's a lighthearted and humorous while still delivering great content and useful truth. 

2. The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman or the Audible version

This book I read when I was newly married and it has helped enormously in understanding myself and how I feel and express love. It explains each of the 5 different ways most people express love to those around them. Some people use a mix or a few, I am 1000% Quality time. The book includes questions you can answer to assess which love language you most often speak and understand. 

3. Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs or the Audible version

This book has likely been the most mind blowing and contained the most epiphanies for both my husband and I. The concept is simple and straight forward but the implications and the application is enormous. Understanding that my husband needs to feel unconditionally respected in the same way that I need to feel unconditionally loved was just one of the huge revelations I found in this book. If you're not into reading books, Emerson has a video series you can listen to him speaking. I can't recommend this book enough. 

4. Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas or the Audible version

This is a pretty theology heavy book with a really strong message. I listened to this one on Audible and that helped me get through some of the headier parts. This one really challenged me personally and encouraged me to look at my life and my marriage in light of eternity. 

5. Quiet: The power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain on Audible

If you are an introvert, read this book. If you are an extrovert, read this book. If you are an ambi-vert, read this book. If you are an extrovert married to an introvert, like me, read this book. This book if fascinating in so many ways. It was recommended to me by our counselor and I read it expecting to feel the need to defend extroverts. I expected it to exalt introvert qualities but it did such an amazing job of presenting a balanced view of the strengths of each and how we desperately need both personality types. 


And on that note, I'll stop talking now. :) 


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