Recommended books for your relationship

My husband and I have recently passed the one year mark of our marriage (woohoo!). I know it’s just the start of a life long commitment but I had always heard that the first year was the toughest. Thankfully we made it through without any major hiccups and it’s been such a blessing having my husband around everyday (and not just for getting rid of insects…)

wedding photos | micheleng.com We’ve definitely had our share of disagreements – especially with the baby’s arrival – but a few books we read before our engagement and wedding really helped adjust our perspectives to make our first year of adjustments much easier.

I’ve been sharing this list with a lot of friends and thought I’d post it here in case anyone else finds it useful. These aren’t in any order of preference as we found each book helpful in its own way.

#1 Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray

I had heard of this book a long time ago and thought it was just a typical stereotypical book but Dan suggested reading it when we were thinking of getting engaged. I found it very helpful to discuss the key points with each other to understand whether it really rang true and to take note of what the other person really agreed with.

#2 The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller

This book came recommended by a single girlfriend whose father had bought her the book and is great for whether you are in a relationship or not. It helped to instill a vision for our marriage which helped to shape our perspectives and distill the real reasons for wanting to be married.

#3 Before you plan your wedding, plan your marriage by Dr. Greg Smalley

The title in itself was a great reminder to spend more time building the foundation of our marriage instead of spending all our time planning for the wedding while engaged. After all, the wedding would only be a day or two but our actual marriage would be for as long as we live! This book helped with preventing a lot of fights we’ve seen in relationships around us and the discussion questions were helpful in getting us to understand each other better.

#4  The 5 Love Languages / Things I wish I’d known before we got married by Gary Chapman

For anyone who hasn’t learnt about the 5 love languages, I highly recommend reading this or getting a summary to learn how to speak the love languages of everyone in your life, from family to friends to your spouse. I had read this a long time ago and it was helpful to discuss it with my then-fiance to learn his languages of love. Interestingly enough our top love language is the same which makes it easier for us!

Along the way we’ve read other books and articles and the same few points keep coming up. I’ve listed a few below for those who don’t have much time to read the books above (although I highly recommend the time invested in reading the books together and discussing the chapters – it’d be worth it!).

1. Respect is important

After discussing these books, I started to realize how important it was to my partner to feel respected. This means not putting him down or insulting him and not rubbing it in his face when he makes mistakes. In short, “I told you so” is a banned phrase in our marriage.

2. Play as a team

Previously I had seen some relationships be about one person one-upping the other. One of the books we read had a great point about playing as a team – if one person loses, the entire team (couple) loses. So there would be no point trying to prove that you’re constantly right or that you should have your way if your other half walks away feeling terrible. Just as we try to find win-win situations in business scenarios, our relationship works the same way.

3. Communication is key

I’m sure everyone has heard this phrase before but putting it into practice is incredibly important. Instead of expecting our partners to know how we feel or what we want (or worse, playing the passive-aggressive game) we should just let them know gently. Pick a time to talk in which neither one is overly emotional or exhausted and choose your words wisely. If I happen to be too upset and my husband senses it, I’d ask to talk about it later once I’ve cooled down and sorted things out in my head or heart. Sometimes on hindsight I realise it was just me being overly sensitive or crazy after some reflection!

There are also times when I feel we’ve both been so busy that we’ve neglected spending time together alone (can you tell one of my love languages is quality time?). I’d then ask my husband to spend some time alone with me or take me on a date instead of expecting him to know. In fact it wouldn’t have to cost anything – even just a walk around the neighbourhood would be nice!

4. Be appreciative

A lot of times we tend to take our partner for granted and only point out the negatives or room for improvement. But this can be quickly discouraging and I’ve learnt along the way to vocalise my appreciation for what my husband does, be it the little things like getting me water or holding the door open for me. I never thought it’d be such a big deal but thankfully my husband sometimes reminds me that it makes a difference to him. This was especially so when we struggled to care for our first baby and I was overwhelmed by the new challenges and extreme exhaustion.

The list could go on but these were the main points that we’ve tried to keep going in our relationship so far. I’m sure other couples who have been married longer have plenty to share and we hope to grow more with each year too! If you’re reading this and have anything to add, feel free to share in the comments below!

{Disclaimer: The links to the books above are affiliate links which will help support our little one. But you are free to search for the books on your own if you’d like!} 

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