Getting a date can be pretty tough. Turning that date into a marriage is even tougher. To start a marriage that is centered on Christ and lived out in selfless and sacrificial love is literally impossible, well that is without help…
I am currently writing this somewhere over the arctic circle as Ali and I fly back to China after an incredible wedding week back in the States. So I write this NOT as a guy who has fifty years of marriage under my belt, but as one who is just beginning the journey of marriage. But that doesn’t mean that I am journeying blind, instead I have learned from men who have discipled me and watched their marriages flourish, I seek the leading of the Spirit through prayer and Scripture, and I also read more than a couple books during each step of our relationship that were huge benefits during each phase.
This did not make Ali and I’s relationship immune from struggle and frustration, we went through long distance for a few months and my anxiety issues during our engagement, BUT through each of those resources that we built a foundation for a relationship that will last. With that in mind I wanted to share with you the list of books that Ali and I read and also suggest what phase within the relationship would prove to be helpful.
Book Title: Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris
Why You Should Read This Book: We live in a casual dating culture, which has in turned led to a casual divorce culture. It is time that we rethink dating and focus on finding someone to commit your life to while having a great time! This book transformed the way I dated and was the foundation for Ali and I’s dating relationship.
Book Title: The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler
Why You Should Read This Book: If you have ever read Song of Solomon you may have been confused with what the purpose for this love letter in the middle of your bible is there for. But with the help of this book I was able to see that the Spirit was orchestrating a roadmap for building a beautiful relationship filled with passion and purpose. By reading this before dating you will be changing your beliefs about dating into a biblical one.
Book Title: 101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged by H. Norman Wright
Why You Should Read This Book: Finding someone to commit your life to is scary. But there is something that helps, especially in a new relationship… GOOD QUESTIONS. When you have good and intentional questions to ask your significant other you can begin to build confidence in your potential decision to either pursue marriage or end the relationship. I suggest spreading these questions out from the beginning of the relationship up until engagement, I also believe it is the guy’s responsibility to pursue the heart of the woman, so this is a great way for the guy to lead and honor her with intentionality. Lastly, men be smart in telling her that you are finding these questions in this book until the right time… no need to freak her out too soon!
Book Title: Devotions for Dating Couples by Ben Young & Samuel Adams
Why You Should Read This Book: When looking for a spouse we often focus on how characteristics such as adventure, humor, wit, looks, etc. Now those various pieces we call compatibility are not unimportant, but what we see reflected biblically is searching for someone who will pursue god alongside you. As your relationship starts to deepen, hopefully you have already begun seeing their spiritual life lived out, but this daily devotional will give your relationship an even greater insight into the spiritual future of your relationship.
Preparation for Engagement
Book Title: You and Me Forever by Francis & Lisa Chan
Why You Should Read This Book: As Ali and I prepared for engagement we had many conversations about what kind of marriage we would each like to build and discover if those visions lined up. This book lays a framework for a marriage focused on living in light of the eternal hope in Heaven, and how two people can serve Christ better than they could apart. At the critical point of deciding to enter engagement this will give a new level of confidence in your decision to wed.
Book Title: Christ Centered Wedding by Catherine Park
Why You Should Read This Book: Weddings are so interesting, so much of it seems unnecessary and overpriced, but yet this is the day so often little girls dream of. That is why it is so important to begin wedding planning with the same focus on Jesus that we bring to our dating relationships. This book gives practical tips on wedding planning and really helped us make a game plan for an incredible wedding day!
Half way point until the Big Date
Book Titles: 31 Creative Ways to Love & Encourage Her by Jefferson Bethke
31 Creative Ways to Love & Encourage Him by Alyssa Bethke
Why You Should Read These Books: For me it was easy to lose focus on continuing to pursue Ali’s heart during our engagement. I realized it pretty quickly so I asked her if she would want to commit to this book challenge with me, which is a 31 day creative love challenge. It was incredibly helpful as a reminder to never stop looking for ways to love one another.
Purchase Link for her and for him
Book Title: The Marriage Builder by Dr. Larry Crabb
Why You Should Read This Book: At this point you need to continue to set your mind more on the marriage than the wedding, reading a book focusing on marriage will help you both continue setting proper expectations and learning how to build everything that comes after “I Do.”
One Month Before the Big Day
Book Title: Getting Your Sex Life Off To a Great Start by Clifford & Joyce Penner
Why You Should Read This Book: With only a month away conversations about sex should have already begun to come up, and the exciting part is that sex is about to become a beautiful gift from the Father. While I don’t agree with every suggestion of the authors, it is a biblical approach to the preparing for the sexual experiences within marriage.
BONUS: Struggling with Vulnerability
Book Title: Scary Close by Donald Miller
Why You Should Read This Book: Being truly known by another person is scary business. For me, that has definitely been true during our relationship. This book helped remind me of the fact of truths such as grace only sticks to our imperfections, and to truly love we have to truly be willing to be known. So if you struggle being vulnerable, check this book out ASAP!