'Bridal shower/wedding cupcake toppers' photo (c) 2011, AForestFrolic - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

It’s that time of year: weddings are in the air! And I love weddings.

But I fear sometimes that we focus too much on the wedding and not enough on the marriage. My youngest daughter remarked to me recently that whomever she marries better propose in an imaginative way. It seems like all the viral YouTube videos of over-the-top proposals are making many girls expect something a tad unrealistic (to put it mildly).

I don’t actually remember how my husband proposed, but we have a great marriage. And I want other people to have great marriages, too, because when marriages are strong, we can start to look outward. We can raise healthier and more emotionally stable children. We can volunteer more and give more, because we have the support from home, and we’re not preoccupied trying to deal with our own emotional angst.

Marriage is on a downward spiral. Fewer people are getting married, and marriages are rather fragile. This is disturbing. And so, if you’re going to a wedding shower or a wedding in the near future, can I suggest buying something that will actually invest in the couple’s lives together? Don’t only buy a coffee maker or a blender. Think about giving them things that will help build their relationship. And so, here are some thoughts:

1. Buy Hobby Equipment

When Prince William and Kate Middleton visited Canada shortly after their wedding, they were presented with hiking and camping gear from our Prime Minister, I believe. Some questioned the gift, but I liked it. Give them something that will encourage them to spend time together and take up a new hobby!

Couples often settle into negative habits once they’re married when they don’t date anymore. They watch TV or spend time on the internet, but they don’t do things together. And when they don’t do things together, they don’t tend to talk, either.

So any gift that can encourage some kind of hobby you think they’d like, or that they already like, is a great idea!

2. Give them a Ready Made “Date”

Young couples often have very little money, so a gift of a restaurant card or a voucher for a hotel away in a year’s time can be a great idea!

3. Offer Baby-Sitting

If they already have kids (and many newlyweds are parents) then give coupons for baby-sitting so the couple can get some time to themselves. It doesn’t cost you very much, but those hours can be precious to a new couple.

4. Invest in Education

Most people know very little about how marriage works. We think it will be easy: you love each other, and bliss follows. But those of us who are married know there’s far more to it than that.

I really appreciated all of your input to my Reader Question of the Week on Saturday asking what book recommendations you would have for a groom who’s about to be married. Thank you! (and you can read those suggestions here).

Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Still 30% off at Amazon!

And thanks to all who said kind words about The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex , too. I wrote it just for women who are about to walk down the aisle (and for women who have been married for a while but who want even more from their sex lives!). It really is my prayer that this book can be used to help marriages. I have spoken to so many women who have found that sex is the hardest part of their relationship, and for many, it’s caused the marriage to fall apart. I think if more couples got off to a healthy start in this area, and understood how sex is supposed to work, how men and women approach sex, and how to get over some of the more common problems, more marriages would thrive.

Here’s what one bride-to-be wrote on Amazon about the book:

I bought this book in preparation for my wedding… which is one week from today!!!…. and could not be happier with it. I know it is a cliche to say this, but some parts made me laugh out loud and some made me well up in tears! Mrs. Gregoire struck just the right note: there are truly beautiful, inspirational, Biblically sound descriptions of what sex is (and isn’t), and what we good girls have to look forward to. Then there are very practical, educational 😉 chapters that help you know what to expect on your first night together (which I SO appreciate! Now I know to pack cranberry juice on my honeymoon, for example).

The book is not only for virgin brides, however; both long-married couples and unmarried sexually active people can find advice and words of love directed at just their situation. When I first opened the book and it fell open in the middle; I kept trying to go back and start at the beginning but couldn’t stop reading! Mrs. Gregoire is the fun aunt I never had. Thank you so much for the Good Girl’s Guide!

Another bride-to-be wrote:

As an almost-married young woman, I was looking for resources to help me have a biblical and right view of sex. Being a virgin and growing up a somewhat-sheltered Christian, there is a lot I didn’t know or understand about sex; the message I’ve mostly gotten is “Don’t do it until you’re married!”. While I completely agree that it is best and God-honoring to wait until marriage, I needed some advice and insight into how to “Do it when you’re married!”, especially since both my fiance and I have chosen to wait. Sheila writes in a friendly, helpful, and wise way – helping virgins like me understand some basics and walking others who aren’t virgins through what they may need help with. I found the book to be biblically-based and highly encouraging. With the help of this book, I feel like I’m walking into marriage with a good mindset and view of sex that will be beneficial and helpful. I still don’t (and can’t) know everything, but I feel more at ease and ready to explore and discover the gift God has given us in sex. Thanks, Sheila, for a fun and indispensable read.

So far it has a 5-star average from 59 reviews, so be sure to pick it up for all the women you know who are about to get married, and help them start right!

Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite gift to give soon-to-be-married couples? Let me know in the comments!

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