The books I didn’t pack

For a single girl, I must have a record number of books on marriage. My man and I often laugh about how many books on relationships I have read, versus the number he has read. (It would probably be something like 100 to 1/2, except I don’t know how many relationship books I have actually read!) While there are some books on relationships written to male audiences, it seems mostly women read those, too. Maybe we have more of a preoccupation with romance. Maybe we want more details of how a relationship is supposed to work. Maybe we just have more time for reading. But I like to think of it like this: I was made for him, to be a help to him, not the other way around. So it’s natural that I would want to read about how to be the best at what I was created to be: his wife!
  • Starting Your Marriage Right by Dennis & Barbara Rainey looked like a great book, but as I thumbed through it, I realized that Merritt and I had already talked about all their suggested topics long before we were ever more than just friends. (It would probably be an excellent read-together book for many beginning a courtship relationship, though.)
  • Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti by Bill and Pam Farrel had a fascinating word picture title–each element in a man’s life is in a separate box, while everything in a woman’s life touches everything else. But I think I’ll get more out of it when I’ve been married a few years.
  • After Every Wedding Comes a Marriage by Florence Littauer is a book I’d still like to get my hands on (the title is one of such perspective!).
  • Two Shall Be One is filled with such a refreshingly joyful perspective of marriage! This book has been one of my grandmother’s favorite gifts to give brides through the years. Ruth Harms Calkin’s books are out of print, but this title is worth looking up. (Two Shall Be One was also published as Letters to a Young Bride or Letters to Kristi).
  • Becoming the Woman of His Dreams by Sharon Jaynes has biblical advice in a conversational style for married women.
  • And then there’s Dr. Dobson’s Love for a Lifetime that I found at GoodWill. It’s a classic.
  • Of course, Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerich sums it all up by exploring the two foundational issues of every marriage: it’s all about either love (for the women) or respect (for the men).
So many good books. But as I pack my life into boxes in preparation for moving to my new home–as his wife!–I find out that the best books are the ones I didn’t pack…I’ve always figured that while good wives may write good books on marriage, the best books on how to be a good wife are probably written by the men who live with them. That’s why I’ve always loved Letters to Karen, a collection of Charlie Shedd letters to his soon-to-be-married daughter. Short, easy-to-read chapters, on every subject relating to marriage, provide fatherly wisdom with a good dose of the perspective that comes after many years of marriage. Letters to Karen is a book I’ve read again and again throughout the years–and I think I’m due for one more quick review before I’m a Mrs. (If your husband-to-be wants to read a book about marriage, you might consider giving him Charlie Shedd’s Letters to Phillip.)

The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands isn’t a recipe book. But it is a recipe: for a happy husband! In a style only Dr. Laura Schlessinger can pull off, she gives it to you straight: it’s your job to respect your husband and make him #1 in your life. I don’t think any book has changed my perception of men and marriage so much as Proper Care and Feeding of Husands.

For Women Only is like a concise version of Proper Care and Feeding. Shaunti Feldhahn compiled survey results from over a thousand men to get the truth about the way men think and feel. And more important, the way they want their women to show them love, respect, and support.  The man in your life may want to check out For Men Only for some secrets to understanding the woman he loves.

Now that I’ve told you all about the books I didn’t pack, though, I better get them packed! Just 7 days until I become his wife, his friend, his lover, forever and for always…


  1. Gretchen, I don’t know if I ever said this, but thank you for blessing so many ladies (and some men, too!) worldwide over the last several years. I think the magnitude of how many lives have been touched and changed will only be revealed in heaven. But I can say that my life is one of those, and for that I want to say thanks. God bless you in your new life… 🙂

  2. Thanks for the list, Gretchen! I too have a whole shelf of relationship books, and many are on marriage. The ones on your list that I don’t have, were already on my “to buy” list, with the exception of one. 🙂

    Hope you have a wonderful week…your last one as a single girl. 🙂 Remind Natalie we want to see lots of pics.

  3. That sounds like a very good list! I’m actually in the midst of reading Dr. Laura’s book, and I also like the way she tells it how it is…I think it’s really needed!
    What a blessing for you to be a wife soon, Gretchen- I’m so excited for you!!!

  4. Gretchen, thanks for sharing. Your joy in becoming Merritt’s wife is so contagious. I’m as happy for you as if you were my own dear friend. I’ll definitely look into finding some of those books to prepare for the day I become a blushing bride, 🙂

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