I once read about this amazing artist whose pieces were always beautiful and sold well. She was being interviewed about her career, how she got started, how she finds inspiration, etc. While I can’t remember the artist’s name, or even where I read this interview, I can remember the answer to one specific question.
She was asked “right when we think you’ve peaked, you surprise us with another amazing piece. How do you continue to get better and better?” Her answer stuck with me all these years and it’s something I will never forget. She said, “I don’t stop learning. I take classes. I study other artists. I am intentional about learning and growing my art. No matter how good you think you are, there’s always room for growth.” Wow. Anyone else blown away by that?
I read this interview years and years ago and I still think about it today. Because it’s so true. To get better at something, we must continue to work at it. We must continue to grow or we will become stagnant!
The same is with marriage. We don’t get married and then just become amazing at it. We don’t say “I do” and then master the art of being a wife.
I know so many women who have been married for many, many years and I know they would all say that you will never stop learning in marriage. I can attest to this even in my six short months of being married!
When Josh and I got engaged, I thought about this artist’s wise words. “Okay, I’m engaged. Now how do I become a wife?” I was so eager to learn all I could about Christ-centered marriage. I read every book that was suggested to me about marriage. I think I read 15-20 books, no lie. I read some really amazing books that were grounded in the Gospel and some pretty awful books! Really, y’all, some gave such terrible advice! I won’t mention those books to spare you some time and energy.
There were four books out of all the ones I read that were really, truly amazing. They are Christ-centered and practical and really helped me prepare myself for the beginning of marriage! Other than studying God’s Word, here are the four books that really helped me prepare for marriage:
1 – The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller
Guys, this book…wow, just wow. This was my favorite of everything I read about marriage. It’s a deep, deep read and not something to breeze through. My favorite thing about it is that he doesn’t just talk about marriage. He talks about our relationship with Christ and how that directly coincides with our marriages. Marriage is a picture of Christ and His bride, and if we are not in the Word and growing in Christ then our marriages will suffer. This is a book I will probably read every year to refresh my heart, it’s that good! There’s so much good stuff so I’ll just leave it at that and you can read it for yourselves.
2 – The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
I had read this in college but reread it while being engaged. To be honest, I think everyone should read this book, whether married or not. It’s super insightful and practical. Basically, it explains how everyone like to receive and give love and affection differently. For example, my number one love language is physical touch. This doesn’t mean sexual touch but just that holding hands, a hug, cuddling, a hand on my leg, makes me feel loved. Krystal’s number one love language is acts of service, so doing the dishes, helping her cook, or taking something off her to-do list for her will speak volumes to her and make her feel loved.
The five different love languages are physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time, and gifts. This book will help you figure out what yours are and what your fiance or husband’s are so that you can make sure you are showing him love in a way that he will feel most loved and appreciated. It might seem super corny to you (it did to me when I first heard of it) but it has been super helpful not just in my relationship with Josh but with other relationships I interact with daily as well!
3 – Getting Ready for Marriage by Jim Burns and Doug Fields
Almost a year before we got engaged one of Josh’s best friends got engaged too! So when we got engaged I was quick to pick their brains about all they had learned during their engagement. They were quick to tell us how amazing this book was! I’m so grateful for that because it really was so good! What’s unique about this book is it’s written by two men who are in different stages of marriage. They have both been married for a good while but one is a little older and the other a little younger. Jim actually mentored Doug when he was first married! How cool is that? I loved hearing the different opinions and viewpoints of two men who have been in the trenches of marriage. There are questions to read and go over with your fiance or husband to make it interactive and to get conversations going about some topics that should absolutely be discussed before getting married!
4 – You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan
Remember that book Crazy Love that every church got super hype over? Yep, it’s the same author. And this book was just as good as Crazy Love. The Chan’s have the same approach to marriage as Tim Keller – the way to grow in marriage and for marriage to flourish isn’t to focus on marriage itself but on Christ. You and Me Forever is a much easier read than The Meaning of Marriage so if you’re not much of a reader then I would opt for Chan’s book over Keller’s (although I’m still standing by Keller’s book as being my all-time favorite book for marriage!). This book is more of a couple’s read than just for one person but don’t let that stop you from reading it alone! It’s so good either way!
It’s so important in marriage to never stop learning and growing. To be intentional about reading and studying the “art” of marriage so that we can grow as disciples and wives. I know that, for me, if I’m constantly reading about something, studying it and learning about it then my brain will be focused on that subject. So we should never stop reading about Christ-centered marriage. We should never stop trying to be better disciples of Christ. The more we are intentional, the better and better we will get!
What about you? What are some books that you’ve been reading that have really shaped how you approach marriage? Any you think others might enjoy? Share in the comments below!