My husband and I are both avid readers, and engagement gave us a chance to try out a new literary genre: marriage preparation and enrichment. We found a few of many gems during our scouring of literature meant to help us start off our lifelong commitment strong, and now I want to share that with you. These books make great engagement, shower, Christmas, birthday, and anytime gifts for you and those you love.
Specifically Catholic Books
Head & Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family, Katie Warner
Yep, I wrote a book specifically for engaged and married couples (of all phases in marital life, but especially helpful to newlyweds), because my husband and I wanted a resource to guide us in our effort to become strong spiritual leaders for each other and for our growing family. I included it in this list because it has had a big impact on my own marriage, and on the marriages of many others who’ve shared their experiences with me after reading the book.
Three to Get Married, Fulton Sheen
Anything that the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen writes drips with beauty and clarity, and this book is no different. It is a top-notch theological reflection on what God intends marriage to be. Read it. Give it.
The Exceptional Seven Percent: Nine Secrets to the World’s Happiest Couples, Gregory Popcak
My hubby and I became big fans of Dr. Gregory Popcak just a few pages into this book. It’s practical, implementable, straightforward, and spot-on in its marital wisdom. Our marriage reaped the benefits almost immediately, and we will be rereading this one for years.
Holy Sex, Gregory Popcak
Trust me on this one. It is a surprisingly comfortable, refreshing, and honest read. Personally, I was so grateful that a book like this existed to help me prepare for this aspect of marital life…and that it is 100% Catholic!
Just Married: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Five Years of Marriage, Gregory and Lisa Popcak, *just released*
The subtitle indicated another Popcak hit. It arrived in the mail a few days ago, and it took me no time to finish it. It’s filled with relevant topics for thriving in your first years, and it keeps discussion on those topics succinct and relatable. I simply loved the prayer plan it lays out for married couples.
Life-Giving Love, Scott and Kimberly Hahn
Dr. Scott and Kimberly Hahn have inspired an untold number of Catholics and Christians over their many years of ministry, but also through their beautiful witness to married love, which they have communicated eloquently in this must-have item on your bookshelf.
The Good News about Sex and Marriage, Christopher West
If you too deeply respect the advice of Archbishop Charles Chaput, who writes the foreword to the new edition of this book, than I’ll let you take his word over mine: “Do the Church—and yourself—a favor: Read and reread this book. Encourage everyone you know to do the same.”
Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love, Edward Sri
I was blessed enough to study under Dr. Sri during graduate school and to attend multiple of his Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love talks—including his mini-series on the subject filmed at EWTN studios. The powerful information he presents in this book never gets old.
Marriage: Small Steps, Big Rewards, Ray Guarendi
Dr. Ray, known for his wit and practical guidance, gives a Catholic therapist’s take on how to make your marriage more rewarding through small, useful steps.
The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse, Art and Laraine Bennett
The Bennett’s have written an entire series on the temperaments, and this book is a critical one in the pack. My husband and I have found that understanding one another’s temperament is crucial in learning how to better communicate with and love each other.
Non-Catholic Christian Books
The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman
I remember my husband and I having long discussions about these languages from early on in our relationship. We learned that just because he loved little gifts didn’t mean that they were what would make me feel most loved. Understanding each other’s love language has changed our relationship for the better—every day.
His Needs, Her Needs, Willard Harley
Sometimes communicating your needs is hard—really hard. What if you aren’t really sure what your needs even are, or what if it is hard to express them? This book helps you describe (and rank!) your most important needs so that your spouse can respond to them. We simply loved it.
Love Busters, Willard Harley
It didn’t take us long to figure out not only what increases our marital love, but also what decreases it. This book made us conscious of the things we do that hurt our love and how to avoid them.
For Men Only & For Women Only (two separate books), Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn
These little (in size and length) books were light, yet informative reads. I’ve handed these out to a number of couple friends already.
For the Women
Graced and Gifted, Kimberly Hahn
Get this, ladies! It truly helped me see how to live out my call to be a homemaker with grace and thanksgiving. When you are already sick of vacuuming and dishes after only a few months, the wisdom in this books sweeps in (pun intended) to lift your spirits.
From the Church
Love and Responsibility, Karol Wojtyla
Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, John Paul II
Familiaris Consortio, On the Family, John Paul II
Casti Connubii, On Christian Marriage, Pius XI
Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan, USCCB
Finally, why not read about marriage together from the best sources the Church can offer? Don’t leave these encyclicals and other writings out of your marriage library.