13 books you should read before you get married

Certain books can make married life easier. 

  • Before you get married, reading books by those who have been there can help prepare you for the commitment you’re about to make.
  • Equip yourself financially by reading David Bach’s “Smart Couples Finish Rich,” as household budgets and retirement plans are a significant part of married life.
  • Though it is common for married couples to experience a decrease in passion over time, writers such as David Schnarch and Esther Perel offer solutions to declining intimacy.

'The 5 Love Languages' by Gary Chapman

1) ‘The 5 Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman

With more than 11 million copies sold, Gary Chapman’s “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts” clearly resonates with people around the world.

The 1995 book posits that there are five ways in which people express and experience love — receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion), and physical touch — and that understanding the language of your partner is key in a long-lasting relationship.

2) ‘The Course of Love’ by Alain de Botton

“The Course of Love” follows the evolving dynamic of two people who fall in love, get married, have kids, and learn what it takes to maintain a long-term partnership after the initial infatuation fades away.

De Botton’s 2016 work poses compelling philosophical and psychological questions that will help you identify with the main characters.

'Passionate Marriage' by David Schnarch

3) ‘Passionate Marriage’ by David Schnarch

Published in 1997, “Passionate Marriage” explores the necessary ingredients for sexual and emotional fulfillment, even later in life. Schnarch, who is a sex therapist and psychologist, offers practical advice and insight from his clinical work and international workshops.

'Smart Couples Finish Rich' by David Bach

4) ‘Smart Couples Finish Rich’ by David Bach

Money is often a source of marital tension, so it’s good to have a game plan for your finances going into your marriage. Financial expert and self-made millionaire David Bach provides a helpful blueprint in “Smart Couples Finish Rich, Revised and Updated: 9 Steps to Creating a Rich Future for You and Your Partner.”

The book offers simple steps and easy-to-use tools to help couples get on the same page to make smart financial decisions together. Bach covers topics ranging from retirement funds and investments to credit card management and household budgeting.

'Tiny Beautiful Things' by Cheryl Strayed

5) ‘Tiny Beautiful Things’ by Cheryl Strayed

From 2010 to 2012, best-selling author Cheryl Strayed anonymously doled out advice via the “Dear Sugar” column in “The Rumpus” online magazine.

Her true identity has since been revealed, and Strayed presents the best of her columns, as well as some never-before-published essays, in 2012’s “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar.” Also the author of the 2012 best-seller “Wild,” Strayed touches on topics like abuse, miscarriage, infidelity, and addiction with compassion and insight. The result is a touching mix of memoir and essay.

'The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work' by John Gottman

6) ‘The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work’ by John Gottman

Based on many years of rigorous scientific research, therapist and psychologist John Gottman summed up everything he’d learned about marriage in 1999’s “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert.”

Gottman, an early advocate of relationship counseling, outlines his seven key points — such as “nurture your love and admiration” and “solve your solvable problems” — and offers a questionnaire and exercises.

'The Lover's Dictionary' by David Levithan

7)’The Lover’s Dictionary’ by David Levithan

If you prefer unconventional storytelling, David Levithan’s “The Lover’s Dictionary: A Novel” could be for you. Via 200 dictionary entries, which define words like “blemish” and “perfunctory” in unorthodox ways, the 2011 book tells the story of a man and a woman who meet online, move in together, and face infidelity.

'Happier at Home' by Gretchen Rubin

8) ‘Happier at Home’ by Gretchen Rubin

From the best-selling author of “The Happiness Project,” “Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life,” this book follows the author’s experiments to improve her domestic life. In the 2013 book, she tackles topics such as marriage, parenthood, body, and time.

'Mating in Captivity' by Esther Perel

9) ‘Mating in Captivity’ by Esther Perel

Sex can be a difficult thing for couples to talk about — especially if it has lost its luster over time.

Couples therapist Esther Perel shares all her evidence-based secrets for keeping the flame alive in “Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence.” Based on more than 20 years of professional experience, the 2006 book argues that while domesticity and sexual desire can strike a tricky balance, exciting sex isn’t impossible in a long-term relationship.

'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen

10) ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen

Throughout “Pride and Prejudice,” Jane Austen explores the complexities of courtship, romance, and marriage. The classic 1813 novel follows protagonist Elizabeth Bennet, one of five sisters who must marry a wealthy man to support the family. Along the way, she learns that she must look below the surface when it comes to judging a suitor’s character.

'The Real Thing' by Ellen McCarthy

11) ‘The Real Thing’ by Ellen McCarthy

After covering more than 200 weddings, “Washington Post” reporter Ellen McCarthy put pen to paper to record her observations and insights about dating, marriage, breakups, and more in 2015’s “The Real Thing: Lessons on Love from a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook.” Testimonials from real couples and the latest research on commitment is intertwined with McCarthy’s own personal search for “the one.”

'The Art of Loving' by Erich Fromm

12) ‘The Art of Loving’ by Erich Fromm

Can you increase your ability to love another person? Psychoanalyst and social philosopher Erich Fromm argues that you can — and should — in his 1956 book, “The Art of Loving.”

The groundbreaking best-seller examines every form of love, including romantic, brotherly, erotic, parental, and self-love, and how people can become better at “the art of loving” through practice, maturity, and courage.

'The Book of Forgiving' by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu

13) ‘The Art f Loving’ by Erich Fromm

Can you increase your ability to love another person? Psychoanalyst and social philosopher Erich Fromm argues that you can — and should — in his 1956 book, “The Art of Loving.”

The groundbreaking best-seller examines every form of love, including romantic, brotherly, erotic, parental, and self-love, and how people can become better at “the art of loving” through practice, maturity, and courage.

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