As a bride-to-be or newlywed, you've probably noticed the plethora of self-help books directed at nearly every area of your life: DIY wedding books, conflict-resolution books, and even Catholic how-to books. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of advice that is thrown at you as a bride, and at the end of the day you’re often left wondering, “How does this work in real life?”
In her list of wedding resources, Elise mentioned that she and her fiancé found mentor couples to help them prepare for their wedding day. If that is not an option for you (or maybe just isn’t your style), these books from many different genres may help fill the void. There are many accessible, enjoyable books that feature strong marriages, perfect for reading on your commute or when you need a break from wedding planning.
My Life in France by Julia Child
Although Julia and her husband Paul were not Catholic, their marriage is a wonderful example of a strong union and a helpmate relationship between spouses. During Paul’s time working for the State Department, Julia moved with him to France, Germany, Norway, and finally back to the United States. She supported him in his work, while he supported her in her newfound love of cooking, and together they created a home where their friends could feel welcome and revel in Julia’s delicious cooking, perfectly complimented by her husband’s extensive knowledge of wine.
Paul and Julia are a real life example of what it means to grow within marriage. Julia did not start cooking until well into her thirties, and she and Paul continued to cultivate their personal interests together as a couple. While Julia filmed her first cooking shows, Paul was behind the camera, washing her dishes for the next scene or taste-testing her delicious food.
Not only will this book encourage you to offer loving support to your husband-to-be, it may also inspire you to master the art of French cooking with your sweetheart!
The Story of the Von Trapp Family Singers by Maria Von Trapp
There’s much more to the famous “Sound of Music family” than a classic movie with a catchy soundtrack. In her autobiography, Maria Von Trapp chronicles her time with her family, both as their governess and later as their mother. She candidly discusses coming into a disunified family and how music brought them all together.
After Hitler came to power, the Von Trapp family, who had become famous in Austria for their musical talent, fled to the United States, where they finally settled in Vermont. They started a camp near their Vermont home for other families to come together to grow in appreciation for music and each other. Maria’s story faith, strength, and devotion to her family make an inspiring read for anyone hoping to start a strong family of their own.
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
While this may seem a slightly counterintuitive suggestion, bear with me! Within its typically dickensian six hundred pages, David Copperfield contains the only happy family in all of Dickens’ vast canon. The Copperfield’s maid, Peggotty, marries the willing Mr. Barkis and relocates to Yarmouth where they live in a barge-turned-house on the beach with Peggotty’s brother, her nephew, and Peggotty’s adopted niece, Emily.
Despite the many misfortunes and hardships which the family endures, Peggotty and Barkis’ home is a welcome bulwark against the harshness of the world around them. It is the place where young Davy Copperfield feels most at home and most happy before the gloom of his mother’s marriage to the evil Mr. Murdstone settles into his own home. The little boathouse on Yarmouth beach is a jewel of domestic bliss in a world of turmoil, unhappiness, and, frankly, terrible marriages.
Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery
Most women are at least vaguely familiar with the Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery, but if it’s been a few years since you got these classics off the shelves, consider reading the fifth installment, Anne’s House of Dreams, as you prepare for marriage. In this book, Anne returns to Avonlea to finally marry Gilbert Blythe, and the picture that LM Montgomery paints of wedding preparation and newlywed life reminds us that, despite all of the difficulties that crop up in daily life, we are meant to enjoy this special time.
Anne and Gilbert’s love, supported by those who love them best, is the sole focus of their wedding day. There is no worry about the church, the reception venue, or the caterer, and their home is a reflection of the comfort and joy that their love brings to each of them. Even in times of great sorrow, the Blythes find consolation in their home and in their mutual love. Their neighbors also seek out the “house of dreams” as a refuge, knowing that there will always be a warm welcome for them there.
If you decide to read one (or all) of these books as you prepare for marriage, I hope you will discover what I have found: beautiful literary reminders of what is essential in the process of making two lives one.
About the Author: Ada Thomas studied English at the University of Dallas and currently teaches elementary school. She will be marrying her college best friend in November. When she is not wedding planning or teaching, Ada can be found contemplating classical education, redecorating her apartment for the hundredth time, and reading British novels.