“Love is something you do for someone else, not something you do for yourself.” – Gary Chapman
Not too long ago, Rocket and I met up with one of our friends from college, whom I refer to as Dan for the remainder of the post. We were ecstatic to learn of his recent engagement and even more interested to finally meet the woman who had captured his heart! Congratulations you two!
As we delved deeper into our dinner conversation, I began to see how similar their experiences were to ours. Both of us dated long distance and invested time to intentionally prepare for marriage by reading helpful books and discussing difficult topics. Through the distance, we all were able to focus on truly getting to know one another instead of relying solely on “butterflies” as a basis of our relationships.
Dan mentioned two books, recommended by his mother, that were instrumental to the success of their relationship. When he mentioned the titles we were excited and surprised because Rocket and I read the same books and were similarly impacted while dating! In fact, we frequently gift them to recently engaged or married friends because they were so influential in our dating experience.
The two books, both written by Gary Chapman, are:
The 5 Love Languages:
I heard about The 5 Love Languages before dating Rocket, but always thought it was another gimmicky self-help book. When Rocket suggested that we read it together, I was a little reluctant at first, but now I can’t believe I waited so long!
Why do we love this book? Learning about each other’s love language has helped us show love in a way that the recipient understands it best. The 5 love languages are quality time, physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, and gifts. Rocket and I actually have different primary love languages and reading the book has helped us understand and demonstrate our love to each other better.
Dan mentioned that the book also helped him change his perspective on not just romantic relationships, but all of his relationships from family and friends to work colleagues. People typically show love the way they like to receive it. For example, if you have an aunt who always brings you a gift when she visits, chances are her love language is gifts. As you start to understand the different love languages, you can recognize these trends in other relationships and learn how to best communicate your affection for them.
Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married:
When we discuss relationships with friends, Rocket usually mentions a very important point. Throughout life, we learn, study (16+ years for many of us), and train to be successful in our careers. We understand that education is required in many areas of our life except when it comes to marriage. Many people fall under the assumption that, “if we truly love each other isn’t that enough for a successful marriage?”
Why do we love this book? This book examines the reasons why people get married and the pitfalls they normally face. It offers tools and insights that help you deal with conflict. Gary does a great job of outlining many issues that come up in marriage that dating couples normally aren’t prepared for.
One of the main themes throughout the book is understanding that the person you married is different from you. These differences will become more evident (and more challenging) the more time you spend with each other. Realizing how to handle differences in love languages, upbringing, finances, faith, communication styles, and sex is one of the keys to a successful marriage. Reading this book will also help you recognize specific differences that might be too big to overcome.
Assuming your intent is to get married, we suggest reading the book together with your significant other as it gives you an opportunity to discuss the difficult topics that you already know exist and others that you haven’t thought about before.
Why do we recommend reading these books? These books align with two of our strongest beliefs about a successful marriage. The 5 Love Languages teaches you how to change your approach to show love based on your partner’s love language. In doing so, you change for your significant other and hopefully they change for you. Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married helps you to discuss difficult topics, and we believe that the best marriages are successful not because the couple agrees on everything, but because they constructively deal with the disagreements, challenges and difficult decisions.
Whether single, dating or married, we strongly recommend both books, but just like retirement savings, the earlier you start investing the better! Unlike Bitcoin,* the gains are forever!
*or “Just like Bitcoin,” if you are a “hodler” <—Rocket’s reference…