Most Recommended Premarital Counseling Books

Updated January 17, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

If you're feeling nervous about your upcoming marriage, this is natural. Marriage is a big commitment, and it can be hard to know exactly what to expect. If you find yourself questioning what's to come, there are premarital counseling books that can help you prepare for your special day and life with your partner thereafter. Premarital counseling doesn't have to mean sitting in person with a therapist. Simply educating yourself about marriage, which includes reading books, can help you improve your chance of a happy, healthy, and successful union.

Looking For Helpful Resources As You Plan Your Married Life?

What Is Premarital Counseling?

Premarital counseling is for couples who are engaged or preparing for marriage. During these counseling sessions, topics regarding your life together will be discussed. Topics may include:

  • Children

  • Responsibilities

  • Finances

  • Sex

  • Communication

  • Family

  • Division of duties

  • Friends 

  • Religion

  • Health 

  • Career 

You can discuss struggles or conflicts that you are already aware of. In addition, some issues may come up that you didn't know were a potential problem until you started discussing them. Premarital counseling sessions are used to discuss these topics in a safe environment to help prevent problems that could damage your relationship later.

Books That Help You Prepare For Marriage

You may choose to read premarital books instead of or in addition to your counseling sessions. The following are some highly regarded books on this topic:

Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married by Gary Chapman

The name says it all. Written by a couples counselor, this book addresses communication in marriage, encouraging calm expression and verbal consideration. You will learn how to talk comfortably and effectively about troubles that may affect you and/or your soon-to-be spouse, including sex, chores, and more. In addition, you learn how your relationship with your spouse is affected not only by them but also by your family and peers.

Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

One of the main purposes of this book is to correct your misconceptions about marriage. For example, some people assume their relationship will be easier once they are committed to someone through marriage. However, typically, issues only become more pronounced after tying the knot and couples must work harder to keep their bond strong. This book can teach you about achieving a strong relationship, which the authors state is often the result of teamwork. You will learn how to communicate effectively by understanding your partner, resolving issues in a healthy manner, and organizing finances. This book can provide a solid foundation for a healthy marriage.

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

This book addresses managing household finances. While it isn't geared strictly toward engaged couples, finances are one of the most common marital problems. At the beginning of a marriage, it may prove difficult to get your financial information organized, but this book can provide an effective guide to get started. Ramsey’s book can help couples pay off serious loans or debts from cars and houses and teach them how to save up for emergencies and retirement. Being able to remove one of the common causes of disagreement in a marriage can help you build a strong marriage from the start. As a bonus, Dave Ramsey discusses ways of managing marital conflicts in the sidebars of the book.

Boundaries in Marriage by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

In this book, you can learn how you and your soon-to-be spouse can determine your roles in your relationship. The authors discuss establishing boundaries, drawing "property lines," and highlighting personal space to maintain a healthy and long-lasting relationship. You can also learn to prevent "crossing lines" or causing serious emotional damage to your partner when married. This can involve maintaining clear communication, continuing intimacy, and avoiding external temptations such as cheating. Setting boundaries from the start may help you avoid problems that could arise later. It can be wise to think through these scenarios in advance so that you feel prepared.

Sheet Music by Kevin Leman

This book jumps right into a topic that many couples shy away from talking about – sex. It goes into detail about how your past experiences, both sexual and nonsexual, can impact your sex life as well as what to expect in marriage. While there are chapters geared toward specific genders, anyone may be able to benefit from reading cover to cover. Learning how to talk about sex openly and honestly with your spouse can go a long way toward creating a marriage that is sexually fulfilling for both of you.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Not everyone feels loved the same way. In this book, Gary Chapman talks about the five different "love languages" that people have:

  1. Acts of service

  2. Quality time

  3. Physical touch

  4. Gifts

  5. Words of affirmation

If you are showing love to your partner in a way that doesn't match their love language, they may not be feeling loved by you and vice versa. This book can help you recognize what your own language is, what your partner's language is, and how you can show love to them in the most effective way possible. This can be a helpful book to read together.

Looking For Helpful Resources As You Plan Your Married Life?

Other Forms Of Premarital Counseling

When you're engaged, it can be easy to get carried away with the wedding plans and forget to plan for your marriage. The marriage itself still deserves attention and, the more work you do to learn about marriage and your partner, the better your chances may be of building a strong foundation on which to base your life together. The books described above can be powerful sources of information on issues to consider before getting married. Here are a few other options for premarital counseling:

  • Talk to the person performing your ceremony. If you are being married by a religious leader, there is a high chance that they also provide premarital counseling sessions for the couples that they marry.

  • Find a mentor couple. Talking with a couple who is happily married after decades can be a productive way to get advice to help prepare you for your life together.

  • Attend a premarital conference or event. There are plenty of premarital conferences and events that take place around the country and the world. Find one that's coming to your area or plan a trip together to learn about how to build a strong marriage.

  • Speak to an in-person or online therapist. A therapist can teach you techniques to deal with issues you and your spouse-to-be are having now and issues that might arise after you’re married. 

Online Therapy With BetterHelp

Premarital counseling can improve your chances of staying happily married. If you are interested in counseling but aren't comfortable meeting face-to-face with a stranger, online counseling, such as that provided by BetterHelp, could be a viable option. You can speak with a licensed professional who has experience with couples. Sessions can be performed at any time via video chat or phone as well as through messaging. This may make it easier for both you and your partner to be part of the counseling sessions during the busy process of planning a wedding. 

The Efficacy Of Online Therapy

Research has shown that couples seeing a therapist found that they could focus more on the counseling when it was delivered online rather than face-to-face. According to couples, the screen between them and the therapist disappeared, and they felt “less judged” by the therapist than they would have with traditional therapy. Overall, couples expressed a positive experience with online therapy and found themselves to be more immersed in the counseling process. This often made the intervention more successful in reducing relational distress. Online therapy can also be effective for those who have individual issues outside of being a couple.

Counselor Reviews

"Stephanie is a gem! She's very thoughtful, thorough, honest, insightful but most of all helpful. This is coming from a person that never wanted to do counseling and just "knew" I didn't need it. She's been key in helping my wife and I find our better place. She made us grow as a couple and individually. Thanks Steph!"

"My husband and I are very appreciative of Valorie's help and guidance in helping us work through some marital issues. After a few months of working weekly with her, we

feel better equipped to weather our storms."

The Takeaway

Preparing for marriage can be an intimidating process. Though there is often excitement, it may also be met with nervousness and uncertainty about what’s to come. You can be proactive in this process by seeking out helpful marriage resources, such as books. In some cases, there are problems that still need to be addressed before tying the knot. If you or your partner is struggling in any area of the relationship, connecting with an online therapist may be an effective way to move forward in a healthier manner. 

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