It is often said that a family that prays together stays together, but more practically and appropriately put: the family that communicates, illuminates. Your love for one another and long-term happiness depend on your ability to understand each other and grow with one another, not away from each another. For those of you who have been down the big “D” road before, it’s never to late to learn from your last barrage of legal headaches and toil, and give yourself a fresh, educated start.
Whatever your religious beliefs, it’s worth taking a glance at some church leaders’ takes on marital bliss. Ed Young, for example brings up an interesting point with messages like “have an affair… with your wife!” Champagne and roses might seem fun at first, but when it comes to preparing your psyche for a new lifetime of marital bliss, keeping your marriage afloat takes more than just sentiments and going through motions.
According to PsychologyToday.com, more than 60 percent of second unions and 73 percent of third unions end in divorce, so it’s time to be better than a statistic. While nothing can prepare you for how you’ll feel during the ups and downs of your married life, knowledge will sharpen the tools you need to defy the grimness of the world around you and make your love last.
“The 5 Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman
This book has probably saved more marriages than Viagra and Dr. Phil combined, and most likely assisted many of us teetering on the brink of insanity in the mean time. “The 5 Love Languages” delves into how our upbringing and natural inclinations toward people and our reactions to them shape the way we reach out with love and absorb the love of others. The basic categories are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Physical Touch. Although everyone needs some variation of these primary languages and other subcategories of them, reading this book will help you figure out which profile best fits you and your partner, and how you can best accommodate each other.
Granted, everyone thinks they have a decent understanding of where the person they love is coming from, but it is wise to realize the more we know, the more we don’t know. This applies profusely to the concept of love. As an investment in your marriage, and even all the other relationships in your life (familial, colleagues, friends), if you decide to read one self-improvement book the rest of your life, make it this one.
“Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship” by Joshua Harris
This book takes on a slightly different tone than the other two, following the personal journey of the author and his wife. Through insight and anecdote, the book explores the touching story about how Joshua and his wife have explored God’s plan for them. The book is honest, uplifting, inspirational and humorous at times.
Similar to “The 5 Love Languages,” “Boy Meets Girl” assesses the difference in perception and absorption of giving and receiving love. Although Harris explores the concept more from a man vs. woman perspective than by love language category. Harris marries his lifelong sweetheart, but the concepts can be applied to any relationship.
“How To Avoid Marrying a Jerk: The Foolproof Way to Follow Your Heart Without Losing Your Mind” by John Van Epp
The beauty of this book, although marketed to women (is also very relevant to men), is that the title is deceiving. This book isn’t about avoiding jerks as much as it is about not becoming one yourself. If you’ve been married before, you’ve probably had your fair share of moments where you too wore the “jerk” hat. The book explores simple concepts about trust, attraction and reliance, and the relationship they play in the time line of yours.
The book makes it clear that jerks have no gender, and explores common mistakes and intimidators of the dating world. The bigger deal we make of things, the more pressure there is to complete them perfectly. The author has been a marriage counselor for more than 15 years, and walks the reader through a step-by-step analysis of how to avoid “love is blind” syndrome.
While all is fair in love and war, your marriage doesn’t have to end in the latter category. No matter what stage you’re at in your relationship, or how many times you’ve been married, youcan teach an old dog some new tricks, and a happy marriage.