You know you love it. Or maybe not. Regardless, Valentine’s Day is coming like a freight train and you might be lacking a creative gift idea for your significant other. Instead of spending a ton of money on flowers that wilt or a cliche box of chocolates, why not give your significant other a gift that can help you grow your marriage?
One of the questions I’m most often asked is for recommendations on great books to read about marriage or relationships. In the fall of 2017, the Watermark Community Church marriage team accumulated our favorite marriage resources. I stand by anything on that page, so please do check it out!
In honor of Valentine’s Day (just over two weeks away), I’m sharing some of my personal favorites for different stages of a relationship.
Before You Start Dating
Sacred Search: What If It’s Not About Who You Marry, But Why?, by Gary Thomas.
This won’t be the only time you’ll see Gary’s name on this list. Sacred Search is an ideal read for those of you who want to understand more about marriage. This is an ideal book for a young adult to read before they start dating. Most young adults want to get married. Even though the marriage rate is declining, studies show somewhere between 80-90% of single men and women still want to get married someday. Sacred Search helps you understand more about marriage and develop the kind of character that will best set you up for marriage.
If You’re Seriously Dating or Engaged
Ready or Knot? 12 Conversations Every Couple Needs to Have before Marriage, by Scott Kedersha.
I know I’m a little biased here, but I’m so excited for this book to come out on February 5, 2019. Ready or Knot? is a biblical, practical, authentic guide to best prepare for or start your marriage. I guide couples through 12 sets of conversations they need to have to help them best prepare for and start their marriage. Most couples put so much emphasis on the wedding day. There’s nothing wrong with a great wedding day unless it comes at the expense of a healthy relationship. I wrote Ready or Knot? to help couples prepare for more than just their wedding day. Order before February 5, 2019 to get three great pre-order bonuses! Click here to find out more.
As a bonus companion, check out Preparing Your Heart for Marriage: Devotions for Engaged Couples, by Gary Thomas. Thomas provides a powerful set of devotions for couples to go through together leading up to their wedding day.
One more to check out. If you want to help get the right focus on your wedding day, check out A Christ-Centered Wedding: Rejoicing in the Gospel on Your Wedding Day, by Catherine Parks and Linda Strode. This helpful book is written by a bride and her mom and includes wise counsel and lessons learned as Catherine prepared for her wedding day. Check out my review here.
If You Recently Said, “I do.”
Fierce Marriage: Radically Pursuing Each Other in Light of Christ’s Relentless Love, by Ryan and Selena Frederick.
While I’d certainly recommend this book for any couple, Ryan and Selena understand newlyweds and young couples as well as anyone I know. Their book helps readers understand the high call of marriage, and provides the reader with an ideal combination of hope and help. In addition, I’d recommend you check out their website and podcast. The Fredericks are good friends and I’m grateful for all they’re doing to help couples prepare for and start marriage right. You can read my review of Fierce Marriage here.
For Any Married Couple
This is the area where I have done the widest and broadest array of reading. While I can recommend many resources in this category, my top choice is an easy one: Cherish: The One Word That Changes Everything for Your Marriage, by Gary Thomas. I told you his name would show up a few times on this list! I can’t think of a book I’ve recommended more often than this one. And I can only think of one time when someone I recommended it to told me they thought it was just okay. Check out my review of Cherish here.
If You Have Young Kids in Your Home
For Better or For Kids: A Vow to Love Your Spouse With Kids in the House, by Patrick and Ruth Schwenk.
Kristen and I knew children would change the dynamic of our home, but we had no idea how much they would take over our lives. I’m not sure if we were ignorant or just under-prepared. Regardless, For Better or For Kids is a book I wish I wrote! I love how the Schwencks help equip parents to not allow your marriage to fail even though you have children. Way too many marriages end or shrivel up when children come in the home. There is a better way where you can love your kids and not allow your marriage to fail in spite of the big challenges you will face as a couple. Check out my review of this book here.
For the Couple Who Stopped Dating and Pursuing Each Other
Fun Loving You: Enjoying Your Marriage in the Midst of the Grind, by Ted Cunningham.
One of the reasons I love this book is because of how stinking practical it is. Cunningham first challenges the reader to make dating and pursuing their spouse a high priority, and then provides list after list of excellent ideas and suggestions. I also really appreciate his suggestions on daily, weekly, and annual ways to connect with your spouse. Married couples are too boring and stuck in routines. Cunningham builds a compelling case for why we need to change the ways we pursue each other and provides an abundance of great suggestions.