It is my firmly held belief that each spouse in every marriage ought to perpetually have on his or her nightstand a good book on the topic of marriage.

This is not to say, exactly, that John and I are both devouring a new marriage book every day, nor that my primary reading is necessarily books on marriage, but every few months we remind each other how much better our already strong union seems to become when each day we’re both reading a chapter or even just a few pages of a good, solid, scripture-filled discussion on the topic of the most important earthly relationship we’ll ever have.

It would stand to reason, then, that I’ve worked my way through a good number of such books and developed an affinity for certain re-readables. Give me a solid foundation! Give me strong basics! Give me practicality! Drown me in the applicable and correctly used words of the Author of marriage!  Please don’t give me watered-down talks of feelings and sparks and how to make everyone happy and comfortable–be assured I can think up all of that on my own, which is precisely why I need a good marriage book! After breezing through a particularly weak specimen, I find myself having to pull one of these favorites from the shelf to redeem the one I’ve just finished.

My current pick? Lasting Love: How To Avoid Marital Failure written by Alistair Begg.

Having listened to Alistair Begg on the radio off and on since girlhood, I knew I had acquired a gem when I found this in a very large stack of books recently given to me, a fact certainly true. But one of the things I’m most excited about in this particular book isn’t even the excellent marital teaching.

It’s the third chapter. On singleness, to be exact. Soon my 18 year old brother going off to his Bible institute, my as-of-yet-unmarried bestest girlfriend and my “little sister” in Alabama will all be taking a good thorough trip through this chapter… even if they don’t exactly, you know, know it yet.

We’ve all known a number of young women (and young men) who are rushing into marriage as soon as possible with other people who haven’t necessarily grasped the concept of wholly living for the Lord individually, simply because they think marriage to be the ultimate goal. In doing so, they’ve equated being focused on the Lord with being focused on marriage, not realizing that the two are both inclusive as well as exclusive–a marriage can never be complete without being founded on Christ, but a relationship with Christ and life of complete service to Him SHOULD be complete without a marriage.

The beginning of Lasting Love’s second chapter emphasizes this:

When we think about relationships, we should be very clear that our relationship to God must come first. We may well have to pause immediately and ask ourselves just where we stand when it comes to this aspect of our lives. Have we entered through the narrow gate, taken up our cross, and begun to follow Jesus? Or are we simply being kept afloat by the faith of our family? Are we seeking first the kingdom of God and endeavoring to do the right thing, or are we just living to please ourselves? Until we settle this matter, we are unprepared to make the right decision about other relationships.

Marriage is not an “end all” goal and, while certainly a high and holy state established by God, cannot be viewed as the beginning of our real life.

We must also recognize that our significance and fulfillment in life is not to be determined by whether or not we have a relationship with someone of the opposite sex. You will know of sad stories involving friends who rushed into relationships driven by fear of what others would say about them if they were not “dating” or “involved.” Settle the matter right now. There is no good thing which the Lord will withhold from those whose walk is blameless. There is no need for panic. It is He who makes everything beautiful in His time.

The chapter moves forward, simply overflowing with golden nuggets of biblical wisdom on the topic of getting married. Begg outlines the qualities and characteristics important to find in a potential spouse–even suggesting it right and good to put oneself in places where such a (godly) person might be found!

I’m drinking up the following chapters on marriage itself, but I’ve been particularly thrilled to find this excellent bit on purposeful singlehood. It’s not often, in my experience, that we find a solid, balanced view of the topic.

This last quote sums up much of my own (and, might I say, the rest of the YLCF Team’s) thoughts and goals for all of us, married or single.

Wisdom comes from God (James 1:5). Don’t leave a decision about whether or not to get married to instinct and logic. Be sure to see what God has to say about the matter. He may want to use you as a single person. . . or He may want to use you as a married person. Regardless of your marital state, you can be sure He wants to lead you through life and achieve all the potential with which He has gifted you.

Read your own copy of Lasting Love: How To Avoid Marital Failure. Married or single, you won’t regret it.

And tell us, what are you favorite books on marriage and/or singleness?

10 Comments

  1. First of all, I have to say what a blessing this website is! I have just begun digging through the different posts and topics. (I came to the site through your blog, Ashleigh.) How good it is to have such an encouraging site for women at all stages, but honestly, especially for single young women. I never “dated” in high school or college until I met my husband just before I turned 22. My heart’s desire was to grow my relationship with Christ. I longed to get married someday (and of course, in my mind, I preferred it to be “sooner”), but I could not stand the dating ideals in place in my public school…I wanted something more! I prayed for my husband long before we ever met and placed our meeting and who he was in God’s hands. I didn’t want to “shop around” and waste time, emotions, or even/especially kisses on someone who would not be my husband, even though it was not always easy to just “keep waiting”…and of course praying. The waiting was so worth it! The book that was incredibly useful for me during that time was, “Authentic Beauty” by Leslie Ludy. She focused on growing a beautiful relationship with our Heavenly Prince, who is the only One who can truly fulfill our longings. It was so encouraging and just what I needed at the time. I still flip through it every now and again for that focus on my Heavenly Prince even after my earthly prince has whisked me away. We used her and her husband’s “A Perfect Wedding” book in preparation for our marriage as well…along with a couple of the songs included. My husband and I enjoy reading marriage books and attending marriage conferences. We are often “renewed” as a result. I’d love to see the rest of your list of books on marriage!! Hmm, that list could help me with some Christmas ideas! Any books that husbands recommend too?

  2. Avatar Bethanyrb says:

    Love & Respect by Emerson and Sarah Eggerich is excellent!!! A must read while single or married. I just went to one of their seminars and I’d recommend that, too. 🙂
    The Eggerichs have a second book out, too, but I haven’t read it. I assume I’ll recommend it since I like L&R so much.
    Eric and Leslie Ludy have good books. I like their writings.
    Elisabeth Elliot – I haven’t read much of her stuff but my Mom loves her books.
    For Women Only – (there is also For Young Women Only) is another one I recommend. I learned a lot from that book.

  3. Avatar Anna Flinn says:

    Get Married by Candice Watters has been a blessing to me. I also have enjoyed the book For Women Only. I think single or married, we belong learning about the opposite sex in order to be a blessing to them more fully. We all need to be reminded of the need to reach out side of our comfort zones, to realize and appreciate the differences God built in us.

  4. Thank you for this post, Ashleigh!

    Books about singleness … ? To be honest I’m not so into books about singleness, because reading them makes me feel … well, as if I’m “a single,” rather than a young woman who is currently in the season of singleness – for as long as her Jesus desires. That’s not a criticism of books about singleness, just a personal thing! 🙂 For that reason, I think my favourite book about singleness is “Set-Apart Feminity” by Leslie Ludy, because it’s not really about singleness but about a young woman and her relationship with her Jesus. I love it in the season of singleness (it’s got some brilliant thoughts in it for young ladies who are single) and I think I’ll love it in the season of marriage, too, God willing. I enjoy “Let Me Be a Woman” by Elisabeth Elliot for the same reason. On the other hand, I do read books about singleness from time to time. I recently rea d and was encouraged by “Get Married” by Candine Watters – she writes so positively of marriage and the desire for marriage as good things. It’s more for “older” single young ladies. For single young ladies of any age, “Before You Meet Prince Charming” by Sarah Mally is the best book about singleness I’ve ever read. It’s SO good!

    1. Avatar Jaclynn R. says:

      “Get Married” by Candine Watters was an encouragement to me too as I’m entering my mid 20’s!

  5. Avatar Samantha R. says:

    I’ve heard some of Alistair’s sermons and loved them for the meat they contained. And you gotta love that accent =D

    I would like to recommend Passion and Purity also. I thoroughly enjoyed it and gained a great deal out of it.

    Wonderful post, Ash!! I really enjoyed reading it and re-reading it 🙂

  6. I’ve greatly enjoyed (and been challenged) by some of Alistair Begg’s radio messages, but hadn’t thought to look for his books. Thanks for the suggestion. Are you recommending the whole book for unmarried persons, or just chapter 3?

  7. That’s such a great post! Thank you so much for sharing it! I’ll definately have to look that book up!

  8. I LOVE Alistair Begg! I have tons of his sermons on my iPod 🙂 I’m going to have to get this book soon.

    I think one of my absolute favorite books singleness is Passion and Purity, by Elisabeth Elliot. Like you, I want a solid foundation, strong basics, practicality! Not…fluff. lol. And Ms. Elliot offers all that and more. Also, her book Quest for Love, is really good.

    1. Avatar Jaclynn R. says:

      I have to agree that some of my favorites are those two by Elisabeth Elliot. I can take her wisdom to heart knowing that she experienced the joys and trials of singlehood into her 20’s before marriage.
      ~~~~
      Thank you Ashleigh for another wonderful article and for gently pushing we who are still single in the right direction, emphasizing that marriage should not be our main goal/aim in life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *