What follows is a list of what we did that we found helpful in walking towards marriage, in the context of our underlying beliefs as Christians about the meaning and purpose of marriage. We really tried to remember that we were working towards a lifetime commitment and plan as much (or more!) for that as the wedding day itself. Depending on the length of your engagement, and how crammed your schedules are generally, you may or may not be able to do all of these. We did not in fact do them all in full, though we hoped we would be able to do so. These are simply some things we found helpful, approximately in order of how I would personally prioritize their importance.
Marriage counseling – find a godly couple whom you both respect, or go to a workshop through church (I tend to think the smaller the better, it’s super helpful to have individualized conversations). This can take a variety of formats, but it's helpful to cover all the "major" areas (e.g., finances, sex, family, conflict resolution) and have others asking you questions and providing their counsel.
Study the book of Proverbs together, one chapter a day, going through the book once a month for the months of your engagement, talking about the verses that stick out to you each month (and new ones will each month!). This is a simple and practical way to be in the Bible together. After counseling, this was the best thing we did, hands down.
Pray a lot. Like seriously, pray. A lot. Together. It will knit you together, will help you remember your dependence on the Lord, and you will see him work in such amazing ways!
Read The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller- of those we asked, "What books on marriage would you recommend we read?", this book repeatedly came up as THE book to read. We agree.
Interview 10 couples who have been married for varying amounts of time. Think of maybe 10-15 questions you would like to ask, make a list of couples whose marriages you respect, and start asking! This could also be done over the first months of your marriage.
Read and answer the questions on the Desiring God Preparing for Marriage e-Book, found here – we found these open-ended questions to be more helpful and useful than questions in a lot of “marriage prep” books. Some questions would spark an hour long conversation, and some were quick, but we really appreciated this particular set of questions.
Read Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity by Lauren Winner- I wish I had read this when I was single, but in any event, it was helpful for us in thinking and talking about sex.
Go through a catechism together (e.g., Westminster, Heidelberg, New City)- we thought this was a good way to cover the breadth of topics in the “what we believe” arena, and helped structure that conversation over a period of time, as we aimed to discuss one question a week while we were engaged and in the first months of marriage.
So there's our list. I'd love to hear from readers about anything they did in their walk towards marriage that they found helpful. Any great books you read? Resources you found? Feel free to share in the comments.