Marriage. It's a loaded word, right? Ask anyone who's married, who's been divorced, who's contemplating marriage — it's a scary commitment. No matter how in love you are with your significant other, you may still feel flustered with the intensity of the word. But there's plenty you can do to prepare, including curating a list of books to read before you get married.
Everyone has a list of books to read and there's a million articles out there about books to read before you buy a house or to better your career, but marriage is trickier than most decisions. Marriage doesn't look the same from couple to couple, which is what makes it infinitely more nervewracking when you're preparing for it. But marriage is also the joining of two people. No matter how much you think things will stay the same, there will be a subtle change each day that will leave you excited, thrilled, and nervous. Everyone loves to tell you that you have to be yourself before you can get married, that you have to know who you are. But as a divorced woman, I'm here to tell you that you may know exactly who you are in that moment, but you could be totally different in five years. And with that? So is your marriage.
But it doesn't have to be scary. You're going to change and develop no matter what, so you might as well do it with your SO by your side. But if the thought of marriage scares you, thrills you, or leaves you totally befuddled, you're not alone. Add these 15 books to read before you get married to your library list so you can take solace in the fact that everyone has a different view on marriage -- and everyone is right.
1. 'The Prophet' by Kahlil Gibran
Written in 1923, The Prophet is a collection of inspirational, poetic essays that will guide you through your entire life, but are especially perfect for marriage. Broken down into 28 chapters, The Prophet covers all aspects of human life such as sorrow, freedom, religion, beauty, pain, but the sections on marriage and love are the ones that stuck with me the most. If you're engaged, read it with your partner, and you might even find some new words to share during your ceremony.
2. 'The 5 Love Languages: The Secret To Love That Lasts' by Gary D. Chapman
3. 'The Princess Bride' by William Goldman
4. 'Love The One You're With' by Emily Giffin
5. 'It's Not You, It's The Dishes' by Paula Szuchman & Jenny Anderson
This book may be catered to couples who are already married, but It's Not You, It's the Dishes is still a great one to read before you say, "I do." The entire concept of the book is about minimizing conflict in your relationship by thinking about the dynamics of your marriage as an economist would any other problem. When you break it down with their steps, your issues seem a little easier to handle and solve.
6. 'Tiny Beautiful Things' by Cheryl Strayed
I was gifted Tiny Beautiful Things by a dear friend just a month before I gave birth and it was easily one of the best things I received while pregnant. I still read it almost daily, just to get an extra dose of advice on love or relationships and I think it's a must for anyone embarking on a big journey in life, like marriage.
7. 'The Notebook' by Nicholas Sparks
8. 'Eat, Pray, Love' by Elizabeth Gilbert
The story may be about a woman dealing with a failed marriage, but the lesson in Eat, Pray, Love is still necessary for any one planning on marrying — you're going to be OK. You're always going to be OK. And you still have so much more to find out about yourself than society tells you. Also? You're important. The end.
9. 'Rising Strong' by Brene Brown
Another book perfect for any occasion, Rising Strong really resonated with me as a divorced mom. The book is basically a giant guideline on how being brave means falling down, but realizing that you are down is what gives you the strength to get back up and prosper. I'll put it simply — I wish like hell I had read this book before I got married. I think you have to be in a comfortable place with yourself and own your story before you can ever join someone else's, and that's exactly what this book will tell you.
10. 'Sex From Scratch' by Sarah Mirk
The traditional roles and aspect of marriage can make you feel like you're losing yourself, especially when it comes to feminism. But Sex From Scratch will leave you feeling renewed, empowered, and ready to fall in love all over again. There is a ton of stories in this "guidebook" that go against everything you've heard about marriage, love, and relationships.
11. 'Revolutionary Road' by Richard Yates
There is nothing quite as powerful as a realistic love story, but Revolutionary Road is also incredibly heartbreaking and moving. It's a novel that focuses on the marriage of two people, and how their choice to abide by what society deems as successful is killing both them and their marriage. Written in 1961, it was an iconic masterpiece that is still a classic, and a must for anyone looking towards marriage.
12. 'Heartburn' by Nora Ephron
Two things, OK? One, Nora Ephron can do no wrong. Two, Heartburn is a must for anyone that's ever had their heart broken. (So basically, everyone.) The novel tells the story of a woman whose husband cheats on her while she's seven months pregnant, and I know it sounds too heavy for someone looking towards marriage, but it's another novel that will prove to you that you are going to be fine, no matter what, and that a little heartbreak is necessary sometimes.
13. 'The Happiness Project' by Gretchen Rubin
Too often, I think people expect for their marriage and their partner to be the ultimate source of happiness. Not the only source, naturally, but the best one they have. And I disagree, which is why I recommend The Happiness Project. A book detailing the year that the author spent finding various sources of happiness is one for everybody, but especially those looking towards marriage. The little things about marriage, the little things about life, and the little things you forget about or all sources of happiness, and they can be the perfect salve when you hit a bump in your relationship. And do I have to mention that old adage about how if you're not happy alone, then you won't be happy married? OK, good.
14. 'The New I Do' by Susan Pease Gadoua & Vicki Larson
Have you seen that meme that floats around the internet about divorce never being an option? Well, as a divorced woman, it pisses me off which is why I love the idea of reading The New I Do. It's amazing how much the world has changed, yet things like marriage can still be considered so archaic, with no room for change or interpretation. This book tackles those issues, offering up real non-traditional marriages and how you can make your marriage work for you, and not the other way around.
15. 'Pride And Prejudice' by Jane Austen
Hey, we can't talk about marriage without talking about Pride and Prejudice. If you hated it when you were a surly ninth grader, I forgive you, but it's time to pick the book back up again before you tie the knot. What is marriage if not humbling? And learning to let go of your pride is basically lesson number one of being someone's wife.