It’s wedding season, and I thought I’d share some of my favorite books about marriage and love. We (or I) read most of these either before or during dating/engagement, but all of them would be just as excellent for an already married couple. In fact, I think it would be awesome to re-read some of them in the future.
It’s no secret that both Tom and I are pretty huge nerds. The nerdiness takes different forms for both of us but one of our shared nerd passions is reading, and specifically reading aloud with each other. We actually started doing this basically right after we started dating. We spent a good chunk of time in the car, driving to and from dates, mini road trips, or just the normal (and LONG, thank you D.C. traffic) commute of Tom driving me home at night. So we made sure we always had a book going so we could put the travel time to good use.
Want to know the first book we read out loud?
It was a really light-hearted little thing called Love and Responsibility by Karol Wojtyla. Womp, womp. I believe I was the one who suggested it, and somehow managed not to come on as a) desperate “MRS”-degree-seeker or b) over-achiever. I had already read a good chunk of it in a college course, and Tom had wanted to read it for awhile, so I guess we managed to ignore its obvious implications (I mean, we’d been dating all of 3 weeks or something when we cracked it open…) and plunged into the fascinating mind of the amazing saint who wrote it.
This book is not for the faint of reading heart, but it’s also still pretty accessible for the average reader without a doctorate in theology (and MUCH shorter than TOTB). There are some pretty ground-breaking revelations in there about what exactly it means to be in a healthy marriage relationship, and Wojtyla doesn’t mince words. He covers, among other things: the meaning of the word “love” and its different forms, sexual shame/shamelessness, chastity– in and out of marriage, NFP/periodic abstinence, causes of female frigidity, annnnd the importance of mutual male/female climax. It is worth the read, whether you’re preparing for marriage, or just trying to find something helpful to read in light of our current marriage crisis.
Three to Get Married, by Fulton J. Sheen
This book is a more a poetical version of Wojytla’s work, covering many of the same topics on Catholic marital teaching. Sheen has an eloquent way of describing the love between a man and a woman and children as the natural and beautiful fruit of that union. (Another great book to read if you’re disheartened by the war on traditional marriage!). We would often re-read certain paragraphs, because they were just that well-written and meaningful.
The Four Loves, by C.S. Lewis
This is not a “marriage” book per se, but I think an absolute must-read if you are a human being trying to be in relationship with another human being. Tom and I both read this before we ever met but really enjoyed talking about our favorite passages from it. Lewis make sense of the complex meanings of the different types of love we all experience throughout life. There is so much food for thought here, especially in regards to the commitment to life-long that is marriage and the Ultimate Love all of our earthly loves mirror.
A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Van Auken
Please tell me you have already read this book! It is so, so, so, so good. Definitely on my Top Ten Books of All Time. Imagine my delight when I met Tom and he was as big a fan of this book as I was! This book is about everything having to do with love: friendship, loyalty, unity, marriage, adventure, and ultimately, loss and sorrow. It’s the love story of Sheldon and his wife, Davey, who dies very young. It’s also, more importantly, a love story between the author and God, specifically about how the loss of his wife ultimately draws him into a relationship with the Lord. Warning: you will cry.
The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman
I know you’ve taken the love language test, and probably talked the subject to death in college with your friends, but this book is popular for good reason! It identifies the common ways people give and receive love, and at its core is about understanding the way your spouse communicates. Lots of practical advice and quizzes in here (and who doesn’t love a good psycho-analyzing quiz?!).
I’m sure I have read many other book on love, marriage, communication, and so forth, but those are the five that stand out for me as the most impacting, and ones I would come back to again and again.
What are your favorite books on marriage??
(Linking up with 5 Favorites at Efficient Momma).