I’ve looked for books on the topic of marriage, but I’m a bit stymied by how many there are. Some of them must be well-written and wise, but looking through the pages of library search results they tend to blur together into a pile of self-help nonsense.
I suppose what it comes down to is that I am seeking whatever wisdom might be out there in book form, looking for all the reasons why people who are in love choose the formality of marriage.
I thought some of you must have some good recommendations for books about marriage and relationships that spoke to you as offbeat couples.
Obviously, we’re big book lovers over here on Offbeat Bride. Hell, this entire website exists because Ariel wrote a helpful book on weddings. But beyond helpful books on weddings, what about helpful books on MARRIAGE. For that, we turned to the best sources we could think of — you guys! Because who better to recommend books that speak to offbeat couples than offbeat couples themselves.
Here is our collaborative recommended reading list!:
Offbeat Bride reader Sarah explained that she found What Is Marriage For? by E.J. Graff to be helpful when she was working for marriage equality in her state to have a knowledge of the complex history of marriage.
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by Dr John Gottman offers specific instructions for how to stay married once you’ve made the commitment.
Though not a book about the psychology of relationships or marriage, 1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married IS a super helpful book that was recommended to me and others by many of my friends.
Offbeat Bride reader Lucia said that If the Buddha Married “isn’t actually much about Buddhism, but it’s a refreshing and reassuring (and easy) read.”
The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman came highly recommended from three different readers:
It has religious basis, but the theory is applicable to any marriage. It explains that people have different ways of communicating love, and the reason so many people are unhappy in their marriages is because they speak a different love language than their spouse. I have had four other people read it since I did and they have all felt the same way about it. -Allison
I second the Five Love Languages. I’m not a Christian by any means and while the book has basis on the principles taught in the Bible and Its Scripture, it is indeed applicable to any relationship. -Latia
I Third the Five Love Languages! Again, not a fan of the religious side of it, but is fantastic by itself and has helped us immensely. My (now) mother in law lent it to me and my hubby before we got married, and it’s amazing how spot on it is, and how much it can teach! -Stacey
Susan described Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships by David Schnarch as the “most life changing book ever, even for those not currently in relationships or those in relationships but not married!”
I second Susan’s comment; that book is amazing; it speaks eloquently to the need for emotional separateness, and also mutual compassion and respect for couples. -Sarah
I’m seconding Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert… because it covers a lot of the things we worry about before making that commitment. -Kristen
I Do but I Don’t: Walking Down the Aisle without Losing Your Mind may be about planning a wedding, but as Offbeat Bride reader Hibryd said:
…it’s “Not exactly a how-to-guide but it covered the Wedding Industrial Complex and even some of the thornier issues of marriage and proposal in a world where feminism and tradition collide.
Our beloved Tribe moderator Sarah recommended Emotionally Engaged: A Bride’s Guide to Surviving the “Happiest” Time of Her Life by Allison Moir-Smith.
“Emotionally Engaged” talks a lot about the coming-of-age/life transitions side of getting married and how it can influence your feelings about your wedding planning process. It’s very heterocentric and WIC-y in its imagery, but the psychoanalytical stuff is pretty spot on. -Sarah
From the description of How to be a Couple and still be Free by Tina Tessina and Riley Smith:
The book is designed especially for people who seek a model for equal partnership, and couples who want to transform struggle into teamwork. It works for couples who are married, cohabiting, or dating — in a traditional or alternative relationship.
Offbeat reader Gil explains, “Though not specifically about marriage, The Feast of Love is an awesome exploration of love in many forms in the form of a novel. I would recommend it to anyone.
We know there are even MORE good marriage and relationship books out there, so what books have most helped YOUR relationship?