Raise your hand if you’ve had a Valentine’s Day countdown calendar since the turn of the new year, complete with daily love quotes and inspirational gift ideas. Now raise your hand if you haven’t eaten eggs for a month because there was no way to get them without passing the Valentine’s aisle, overflowing with candy that tastes like Pepto-Bismol and teddy bears that cost more than your weekly pay check. Here’s the thing: Valentine’s Day is such a divisive holiday because everyone is at such differing stages of relationship. But never fear! We’ve created a complete list of books for every stage of the game we call love.
Relationship Stage One:
Four weeks ago you went to Starbucks and ordered a grande flat white with soy milk. The ruggedly handsome barista smiled at you and said, “Have a great day.” You felt something. He cares about how your day is. Two weeks later you go in again and he remembers your order. Well, mostly, he used almond milk, but that’s fine. You were actually thinking about changing to almond milk anyway. It’s like he can anticipate your needs.
We’re totally rooting for you and the ruggedly handsome barista, but it might be time to settle into reality a little bit and enjoy what your life is right now, which is single. Enter: Party of One. One of our Chasers is newly married, and this is 100% her favorite book right now. We realize this doesn’t really make sense, but if a married person is obsessed with a book on singleness, then imagine how much a single person will love it.
Relationship Stage Two:
You did it. You sat by a cute guy at church, but while reaching for your purse, you accidentally kicked over his water, which got on his Bible, which led to a lot of paper towels and apologies, which to your great surprise led to him asking if you wanted to get dinner on Wednesday. You’ve now been on four dates. He’s kind, funny, and yesterday you received a notification that his mom was looking at your Linkedin page.
Although Single, Dating, Engaged, Married obviously covers the four major stages of relationship, we think Ben Stuart really crushes it with the dating chapter. He perfectly melds modern dating expectations while staying true to Biblical principles. For example, he champions first and foremost finding a partner who is following the Lord, but he also has a whole section on why you need to have actual chemistry with a person because one day you’ll get old and less attractive and you should probably enjoy talking to the person you married.
Relationship Stage Three:
Well, his mom creeping on your Linkedin led to actually meeting one another’s families, which mostly went well, minus you bringing up a joke about the time your boyfriend’s little brother got arrested only to realize his parents never knew. It’s fine. We’re all fine. After that, your future conversations started to include each other in the plans, and before you knew it, he was down on one knee.
Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts is the holy grail of engagement books. Basically, if you care about your future marriage at all, you read this. It has activities, guiding conversations, personality assessments, and even tips for how to approach tough conversations like debt. WOOF. Plus, the authors practically share names. What could be a stronger relationship than that?
Relationship Stage Four:
He liked it, and he put a ring on it. You wore the white dress, tossed your bouquet to the tune of Single Ladies, and took an airport selfie on your way to your 1.5 week honeymoon at a Sandals resort. You’re three months in and still only a quarter of the way through your thank you cards. Every single person you see asks, “How’s married life treating you,” and you’ve started responding with, “Great. 10/10 would recommend.”
I really threw a bait and switch with this title, didn’t I? You thought I was going to suggest some sweet title about lasting love. Wrong! The first year of marriage is supposed to be the hardest, and you know why? Because people don’t know how to put up boundaries. You need boundaries. And Boundaries. I’m talking boundaries with parents, siblings, work, and letting him know that Saturday morning is for yoga and reading, and he better have a good reason if he’s trying to encroach on that.
Relationship Stage Five:
You’ve done it. You’ve survived the early years of marriage, are maybe raising a few kids or golden retreivers, and have had the same fight about leaving shoes in the living room at least 75 times. You are very aware that your partner is not perfect. However, you love each other more than you could have imagined when you were making googly eyes at the Sandals Resort on your honeymoon.
Cherish is prime for the seasoned years of marriage, when in the midst of the chaos and the mundane, it becomes easy to forget the reasons you fell in love in the first place. Gary Thomas gives you practical tips to help notice, appreciate, honor, and encourage your spouse.
Today is a celebration of love, and we do that earnestly. We recognize that “every” stage means every stage. The You Plan is an amazing guide through the divorce process, and Through a Season of Grief is a highly recommended devotional for widowed spouses.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Chaser friends. If you’re looking for some puppy love this holiday, we’ve got something for that, too. We hope today is cloyingly sweet and a little bit cheesy!
HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., operates Page Chaser, the publisher of Cherish, Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, Party of One, Boundaries, The You Plan, Through a Season of Grief, and Single, Dating, Engaged, Married.