The CatholicMatch Institute has compiled a list of some of the best resources for individuals seeking the marriage vocation, couples looking to improve their marriages, and for those experiencing a troubled marriage.
HELP FOR CHOOSING THE RIGHT SPOUSE
1. The ABCs of Choosing a Good Wife and The ABCs of Choosing a Good Husband by Stephen Wood provide excellent advice on how to choose a spouse from a Catholic perspective. Learn the best places to find the love God has intended for you, how to cultivate good communication skills, which questions to ask before getting serious about marriage and more.
2. The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years by Emily Stimpson is not another husband-finding book. Rather, it is a self-help book that teaches women how to use their single years meaningfully, so that they will be better wives and mothers when the time is right. Single Catholic women aren’t single because they cannot find a man; they are single because they are waiting for the right Catholic man. Stimpson says, “We don’t want a spouse. We want the right spouse, a spouse who loves Christ, desires our ultimate good, and is capable of entering into a healthy, holy Catholic marriage.”
3. Christian Courtship in an Oversexed World by Rev. T. G. Morrow contains excellent practical advice about dating and choosing the right spouse—plus the narratives that he uses to prove his point make this book an interesting read. Rev Morrow has the benefit of having dated before he became a priest, and from having worked with Catholic singles groups. He writes, “It is surprising how many young men and women have barely a clue as to what to look for in a potential spouse. Most simply try to find someone they are attracted to and then fall into a relationship. … There is a better way: Establish what you should be looking for before you get started.”
4. In this Youtube video, Fr. Barron comments on Marriage and Relationships and makes a point about what you should really be looking for in a spouse to make a
5. Ladies beware of guys like the The Flip-Flopper, The Fixer-Upper, The WalkingHormone,The Smooth Criminal, The Control Freak, The Tearful Cheater, and The Spiritual Midget, who are some of the types that Jason & Crystalina Evert advise against in their smart dating book called, How To Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul: 21 Secrets for Women. The Evert’s point out, “if you’re not dating with your eyes on forever, you’re just dating to break up.” A necessary pep talk for every woman who’s dating.
6. Real Love by Mary Beth Bonacci, an revised and updated edition, should be read by anyone who wants to be on the right track for dating and eventually marriage. Set up in Q & A format, the book answers common questions such as: How far is too far? How do I find real love? Why is chastity so important? How will I know when I meet the person I should marry? In a down-to-earth conversational style, Bonacci also tackles difficult questions on contraception, divorce, homosexuality.
MARRIAGE PREPARATION AIDS
7. A Catholic Handbook for Engaged and Newly Married Couples by Frederick W. Marks, Ph.D. aptly says this in regards to pre-Cana. “Before athletes enter competition, they prepare. Before soldiers go into battle, they train. And the same holds true of marriage.” This book covers marriage preparation and much of what comprises married life—including catholic sexual ethics.
8. Build Your House Upon Rock: A Bible Study for Catholics Preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage by Nancy Humes helps couples to flesh out what God says a good marriage requires through Bible study and reflection. This book provides a good springboard for dialoging about the issues that will most impact your marriage.
9. God’s Plan for a Joy-Filled Marriage offers a thorough Pre-Cana experience. Christopher West and Damon Owens cover in-depth Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality based on Blessed John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. The program is professionally done and very insightful. Damon Owens does all of the teaching on the DVDs, and he is a dynamic and captivating speaker.
10. Relevant Radio’s Fr. Rocky Hoffman observed 12 practices, which he says are crucial to the success of a marriage. One of those practices, discussed in his book, Marriage Insurance: 12 Rules to Live By, is to go out on a date once a week. With little kids that maybe almost impossible, but the reason behind Fr. Rocky’s recommendation really hits home. “If you have fun with your spouse, you think of fun as something that happens when your spouse is around. If you go off by yourself when you want to have fun, you start to think of your spouse as the person who gets in the way when you want to have fun.” Engaged couples should read this book in order to get a good start on their marriage, however, this book is beneficial for any couple who wants to improve their marriage. To purchase a copy of this helpful book, call 1-877-291-0123. All proceeds benefit Relevant Radio.
11. Transformed in Love Marriage Preparation Program: Helping couples build a loving marriage in today’s culture is a well-thought out program that not only deals with the free, total, faithful, fruitful, and sacrificial nature of marriage; it also covers important aspects like temperament, marital expectations, spirituality, the Mass, NFP, and more.
12. FOCCUS© Pre-Marriage Inventory provides valuable information about compatibility and like-mindedness on key marriage issues such as finances, raising children, sexuality, values and more.
HEALTHY MARRIAGE RESOURCES
13. A Marriage Made for Heaven: Secrets of Heavenly Couplehood by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak is a marriage enrichment program designed be used in parishes or small groups. The program consists of 12 “Heavenly Date Nights” where couples meet once a month for a year. Each meeting covers “Heavenly Habits” important to having a good marriage, such as never taking your spouse for granted and saying ‘yes’ to your spouse when he has some need or reasonable request—even though you would rather say ‘no’.
14. For Men Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn—following its predecessor, For Women Only—drew on a nationwide scientific survey of women to discover the key to the womanly heart. The book discloses seven revelations about women—some surprising and some not. For example, did you know that emotional security is even more important than financial security to most women?
15. For Women Only by Christian author, Shaunti Feldhahn uncovers the mystery of how men think. The author interviewed more than a 1,600 men and was able to draw conclusions about the average male. For instance, respect is more important to men then love; the majority of men “would rather feel unloved than inadequate and disrespected.” No surprise, she also found that men want more sex; “A woman’s sexual desire for her husband profoundly affects his sense of well-being and confidence in all areas of his life,” says Feldhahn. With more than two million copies sold, this book has been helping women understand and better-love the men in their lives.
16. His Needs Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage by Willard F. Jr. Harley introduces an interesting concept that each person has an unconscious love bank. When a spouse—or any person—does something positive there are deposits made; when the spouse does something negative—whether consciously or unconsciously—there are withdrawals made from the love bank. A high number of deposits equals a higher satisfaction with the marriage. Harley addresses all aspects of life—from emotional needs to physical needs—to teach couples how they can keep their love banks filled and their marriages happy. This is a non-Catholic resource.
17. How to Find True Love by Gregory Popcak, Ph.D. encourages the reader, through real life examples, on how each of us can love better—not only our spouses, but everyone in our lives. “To find true love, you have to step out of your comfort zone and give up your need to have things ‘just so’ in your life,” say Dr. Popcak.
18. Just Married: The Catholic Guide to Surviving the First Five Years ofMarriage by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak, in their typical friendly and conversational style, teach couples how to lay the groundwork for a healthy, happy marriage, in addition to providing concrete examples of how to resolve marital conflict. Reader’s might be surprised to know that, “The most important thing about resolving problems is a willingness and commitment to do whatever it takes to make your partner feel taken care of while you work together to solve the problem.”
19. The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by popular radio talk show host, Laura Schlessinger, advises wives who have been brainwashed by anti-male rhetoric to stop manipulating and mistreating their husbands and to start loving them properly. She asserts that the power to make or break a marriage is in the hands of the wife.
20. Three to Get Married (audio) by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen offers an explanation of why devotion to God and having children are central to a good marriage. In his gentle, but firm manner he talks about the paradox of the persons in the marriage being together, but feeling alone. He says that children “are the link that binds the lovers together body and soul.” Venerable Sheen also explains that one can not expect our spouse to be the infinite when they are finite. A must listen for those discerning marriage as well as the married. If you like the audio, read Three to Get Married (book edition) for more great marital advice from Sheen.
21. Money matters is one of the divisive issues in most marriages. To help couples handle finances according to Biblical principals, Compass Catholic Ministries have written Navigating Your Finances God’s Way and the companion book, Your Money Counts. Authors, Howard Dayton and Jon & Evelyn Bean, note in Your Money Counts, “The Bible contains 500 verses on prayer, fewer than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,500 verses on money and possessions” The premise of these books is that your money and possessions are not really yours; they belong to God. If you treat spending as a spiritual decision not only will you be debt-free, you’ll grow in your relationship with God.
22. The 7 Minute Marriage Solution by Protestant pastor, Stephen Arterburn, through surveys has uncovered the seven most harmful behaviors to a marriage and the seven most helpful ones. He offers some some worthy marriage advice including, “Rather than pray for God to change your spouse, pray that God would give you the supernatural ability to be more accepting of your spouse.” Arterburn address finances and budgeting as a couple, which is a topic every good marriage book should cover. One caveat is that the author believes there are two exceptions for allowing divorce: abandonment and adultery—which is not in line with Catholic Church teaching.
23. Amazing Grace for Married Couples by Jeff Cavins, Mathew Pinto, and Patty Armstrong features 12 stories that will help couples put their marital problems in perspective and to understand that even the worst marriages, by God’s grace, can move from the brink of disaster to a newfound, deeper love and commitment.
25. For Your Marriage, an initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, provides a number of valuable marriage, family, and dating resources and articles.
26. Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body by John Paul II. Translated and introduced by Michael M. Waldstein, this new translation includes never before published excerpts from Pope John Paul’s original text; and may be the most scholarly book to date on theology of the body.
27. Married Saints and Blessed by Ferdinand Holbock includes over 200 edifying profiles—from Mary and Joseph to St. Gianna Molla—of saintly role models through the ages that show that married people can attain holiness through their marriage—not in spite of their marriage.
28. Natural Family Planning Blessed Our Marriage: 19 True Stories by Fletcher Doyle includes a run down of what NFP is and facts about its use. For instance, did you know only 2.2% of Catholics practice NFP; and that NFP is not only used to space children, it’s used to conceive? Each couple’s testimony is unique and an interesting read.
29. SmartMarriages.com provides a wealth of information for the dating and married couples. If you’re having a conflict in your dating or married relationship turn to Ask Dr. Romance for advice.
30. Theology of the Body Institute‘s purpose is to “promote the revolutionary teaching of Pope John Paul II on the divine meaning of the human body and human sexuality.”
31. What Every Couple Should Know About Marriage And Prayer by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen (audio) offers priceless advice in dealing with the eventual dullness of marriage and how to handle your spouse when he/she becomes a cross. When marriage seems empty Venerable Sheen says, “The emptiness does not come from the other partner, but from the very nature of life itself.” The reason for that feeling is that the heart is made for the infinite only seeking heaven together will the couple find the infinite.
HELP FOR TROUBLED MARRIAGES
32. Exceptionalmarriages.com, run by Dr. Gregory K. Popcak, mixes psychology with orthodox Catholic theology to help improve relationships. Dr. Popcak provides a telephone counseling program that uses a special clinical format designed to find solutions in the first session. Each phone contact will end with something new: “[a] new technique, a new direction, more hope, greater resolve, and ultimately, a tailor-made resolution.” The site also includes online quizzes to determine if your marriage is an exception or if counseling can help your relationship.
33. MarriageFriendlyTherapists.com provides contact information for experienced marriage counselors who value life-long marriage.
34. Retrouvaille.org is a Catholic program for troubled marriages; Retrouvaille is French for ‘rediscovery’. Couples spend a live-in weekend hearing talks from a priest and married.
What did we miss? Leave us a comment describing the marriage enrichment resource that you use and love!