These are A Few of My Favorite Things, an on-going, once-a-month series that sheds some light on, well, my favorite items throughout my home. (To read through all posts in the series, click here.)
In this Books About Love Edition, I'll be looking at six of the books I've read, as both a single woman and as a wife, that have helped me understand what a healthy, biblical relationship looks like and what I can do to make that happen. As I wrap up the Secrets of a Newlywed series next week, I thought sharing these would be particularly fitting!
1. Love and Respect: If I had to recommend any one book to someone who's married, this is the book. I've read it twice now, and expect that I'll read it plenty more over the course of my marriage. It's Scripturally based on the underpinning from Ephesians that husbands are called to love their wives and women are called to respect their husbands. The book is divided into a section for husbands and a section for wives, and each one walks through why those two needs are so pivotal, how they can practically go about tending to those needs, and why those needs are so important for that gender. It was eye-opening for me to get a glimpse into how my husband's need for respect is so different from my own for love and what I can do to show my husband that he does truly have my respect. (Click here to read some of my notes from this book.)
2. The Divine Romance: I read this book when I was still single and thought it was a one-of-a-kind title, addressing women's tendency to romanticize romance and put it on a pedestal above the Divine Romance we are called to have with the Lord. It's convicting and eye-opening in a good way that will really help you weed out your heart's intentions.
3. Get Married: I've sang the praises of this book many times and for great reason: It encourages women to embrace their desire for a godly husband and to start praying boldly about it as well as live like you believe God is going to answer that prayer and start using your time during singlehood to cultivate the qualities (such as humility, gracious speech, conflict-management) and skills (like smart money management) that will only enrich your future marriage. (If you're interested, I started a Women Praying Boldly group based on this book that you can join.)
4. Kiss Me Like You Mean It: This book takes Song of Songs from the Bible and teaches couples how they can learn from this age-old book and use it to transform their relationship into one as madly in love as the one captured in the verses. By looking at this book of the Bible, the author points out the relationship wisdom that's hidden in there and how couples can apply those insights to their own marriage. I loved that it was truly rooted in the Bible, and consequently, it helped me learn as much about the Song as about my marriage!
5. Created to Be His Help Meet: This book is one I often recommend with a grain of salt. I think it's filled with some really great insights that will call you to be a more gracious, humble and helpful wife. But the author's tone at times can be a bit condescending and negative, something of a "tough love" approach I suppose. She calls women to rise above the pettiness and bitterness that can turn a marriage sour and to practice unconditional love, whether our husbands deserve it or not. Never an easy task, but she shares many testimonials of how this approach has transformed other women's lives. One of my favorite takeaways from the book was encouraging women to learn how to do stuff for themselves, such as simple household tasks and fixes. Because if we have a lengthy honey-do list and our husbands fail to tend to those tasks, they can prove fertile ground for sowing arguments and resentment. Avoid all that by trying to take care of things yourself, if possible. Plus, you'll likely feel much more efficient that way!
6. Mars & Venus On a Date: Something of a silly title, I read this right before my husband started dating. Great timing because it really gave some really interesting and helpful insights into how men and women treat and act in relationships differently. Although it's the only book of these that's not labeled as being from a Christian standpoint, it does uphold a lot of Biblical viewpoints on relationships, such as mens' desires to be leaders and what that means for women. One of my favorite insights from the book was how the author touched on how many women bemoan the fact that their boyfriends (or spouses, for that matter!) aren't as helpful as they were early in the relationship. The author said that many women interpret this as a sign that the man doesn't love them anymore, but really it's just that now that you're closer, he expects that if you want him to do something, you'll ask. He's happy to pitch in, but he just needs to know what you need. Sounds like giving him the script, huh?
Do you have any favorite relationship books that have profoundly impacted you? I'd love to hear any recommendations you have to suggest!
A Note of Caution Regarding Relationship How-to Books
How I Knew My Husband Was "The One"