Early Warning System

By Deb DeArmond

This Or That Way Directions On A SignpostThe lock on the high-rise restroom door seemed a little loose. I wasn’t sure I could trust it. So when I heard another woman enter, I cleared my throat, putting her on notice: this stall is not available.

She clearly understood the signal, passed by and entered the stall two beyond mine. The system worked. It got me to thinking about the unspoken language we all seem to understand. . .

Sitting in church when my sons were teens often produced another of those trust is thin moments. I could see them from my vantage point. They routinely sat with the youth group across the aisle, toward the front. On occasion I would see notes passed back and forth, or what looked like it might be the beginning of “sermon inattention.” A quick clearing of my throat carried the message: I see you. Knock it off.

It was usually met with a stiffening of the spine and a slight look over the left shoulder. Eye contact finished the job. Nailed it.

I’ve only recently connected trust with the universal sign of throat clearing. But once considered, I marvel at its power.

Marriage is the ultimate opportunity to throw the sign. How many times have we been in a social situation when the conversation began to travel a path one or the other didn’t trust would end well and the soft guttural clearing of the throat performed its magic, steering the interaction onto the safety of the shoulder? More times than I can recall.

Of course there are times when it’s ignored completely (a failure to yield), or mistaken for a hay fever itch. The resulting crash and burn is never pleasant. Sometimes we simply misinterpret the message. It’s an error. But the failure to yield is a conscious choice to rush on, despite the opportunity to pause and consider.

Initially, it didn’t seem like a godly principle. But I’m wondering, have you ever experienced the equivalent of a Holy Ghost throat clearing? I’m sure  you have. Involved in a heated discussion, you are poised and ready to hurl an angry retort when suddenly . . .you hear it. This is your moment. You are reminded. Can you trust yourself to respond in love?

Did God send us His Spirit because He didn’t believe we could (or would) make the right choices without some assistance? That seems to be the case; He knew we’d need guidance.

John is clear about the work of God’s spirit as he recounts Christ’s reassurance before His ascension:  “The Spirit shows what is true and will come and guide you into the full truth. The Spirit doesn’t speak on His own. He will tell you only what He has heard from me, and He will let you know what is going to happen,” John 16:13 (CEV).

Isn’t that the same message we send in the stall, in the pew, or in conversations alongside our spouse? Consider it an early warning system from God: don’t stop here, straighten up, or change the subject, sweetheart. God’s rerouting our path, setting us straight, or sending us to safer territory. It comes softly, never outing us, the Spirit flying under the radar to redirect us. Amazingly gentle.

We all have those moments we need someone who loves us to say, “I see you. Knock it off.”

And you don’t want to miss that. Powerful stuff.

Release Day! I Choose You Today!

Cover I choose you today JPG

My new book, I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last, officially releases today! It’s now available in both paperback or electronic book at Amazon, ChristianBooks.com and even online at Target!

I invite you to join us for our upcoming 31 Week Challenge. It’s going to be great fun with free tools and resources, drawing for prizes and opportunities to share your story and hear that of others. You will be automatically enrolled for the challenge and eligible for the freebies by subscribing to this website.

I hope you will take a moment to read about the book here. I genuinely believe that whether you are engaged and hoping to start strong, a newlywed finding your way, or a long time married seeking to refresh or sustain your relationship, this book can help. It’s worked for my husband, Ron, and I for nearly 40 years.

What if you could hang on to the happily-ever-after feelings from the day you said, “I do?”  It could be as simple as four little words: I Choose You Today.

Words have the power to create. They also have the power to destroy. Everyday you have the power to choose which it will be for your marriage.

The spoken word carries extra weight. God spoke the world and life into existence. We enter into new life in Christ, by the confession of our mouth. We will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. Faith, spoken moves mountains. Our words can bless or curse. Words count.

What if we could enrich and preserve our marriages, breathing life into them through a daily profession of commitment to our relationship—one that aligns with the Word of God? Regardless of how we feel in the moment, choosing to bless, not curse our union?

I Choose You Today is based on the principle that marriage and love is always a choice—one that benefits from a daily-renewal of our commitment. Christ followers are charged to live in God’s truth. Feelings are not the basis for truth; feelings are subject to change. God’s Word is the basis for truth. The title of the book is built on the line included in the wedding ceremony: “I choose you to be my lawfully wedded husband to have and to hold….” Choice is a gift from God. We must choose marriage, choose our spouse, and choose to live in a way that pleases God. The book’s chapters contain thirty scriptural principles – or choices – that support marriage and help develop behaviors that support healthy relationships. Inspirational stories, conventional wisdom and thought-provoking questions help you explore your choices and commitment to each other . . . every day of your marriage.

Greg Smalley, Vice President of Family Ministry at Focus on the Family says this about I Choose You Today: 

  • “It’s often been said that our choices define us. That’s true personally, but it’s also a key to our relationships. Deb DeArmond has provided a practical and insightful book detailing 31 choices we can make as husbands and wives that have the potential to transform even a good marriage—and make it a great one.”

Dr. Meg Meeker, bestselling author and co-host of Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk radio broadcast offered her review of the book:

  • I Choose You Today gives us a clear roadmap to achieve great love with our spouse. Every couple—married or not—will benefit from reading this book.”

James tells us: A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything – or destroy it!” (James 3:5 MSG).

What will you choose today?


By Deb DeArmond


Happy couple walk down stairs holding hands“Hi Sweetheart. How was your day? Did you make arrangements with the vet for the dog while we’re on vacation?”

“My day was fine. And yup, dog is all squared away,” he responded. “Did you check on whether we can change seats to sit together on the outbound flight?”

“No, I forgot. I’ll do it as soon as we hang up. Any mail today?”

It’s what often passes for communication when one of us is traveling. It’s necessary, I guess, but hardly the fascinating conversation of a couple still in love.

It happens at the end of long days, full schedules, and juggling priorities. We’re often really exhausted when we finally connect, usually just before bedtime.

It’s what I’ve begun to think of as transactional conversation. Essential to running our lives, but not really covenantal connection kind of stuff.

 What does that mean?

Life requires us to accomplish tasks, run businesses and households, pay bills, get the kids enrolled in hockey, etc. They are the transactions that keep our lives operating smoothly. When those transactions don’t take place or don’t take place in a timely manner, life can be stressful. So it’s a good thing to support one another in getting this stuff done.

But to create connection that keeps a marriage vibrant, healthy and alive, we need so much more. When you research synonyms (similar words) for the word intimacy, you discover descriptors like closeness, understanding, confidence, caring, tenderness, affection and relationship. That’s marriage at it’s very best—it’s difficult to achieve, and even more challenging to sustain over the lifetime of your love. And checking up on the mail and the dog is not going to get us there. We yearn for genuine intimacy from one another.

Intimacy is a result of connection, and it’s not limited to sexual connection. But sexual connection without intimacy is simply one more transaction. Check it off the list. Done.

 So how do we move from transactional to covenantal?

One of the greatest challenges in our marriage came at a period when God was really blessing my business and Ron’s ministry. It also meant we were apart 2-3 weeks every month. Weekends were filled with to-do lists that had to be accomplished when we were really tired. We were both aware our connection was fading in and out like a bad FM station.

As we discussed this problem, one small idea grew into a really good plan. We decided to select a book together and read it on the road. We spent Monday (often on an airplane or the evening of arrival) reading the agreed upon chapter. Each night after that, we talked about our discoveries, our surprises, and the things that really impacted us from the chapter at hand. We didn’t hurry through a section. If there had been a lot to discuss, we might let it run into the weekend or the following week.

We chose books on subjects we were both interested in, mostly topics to support marriage, parenting, life in Christ, and so on. It was enlightening, and fun, and it strengthened our connection. For a couple who spent their first date talking for nearly 8 hours straight, it shouldn’t have surprised us, but it did.

I’d never plan a business activity or conference call without giving some thought to what I wanted to accomplish in that interaction. If you just show up and say, “So, what’s up?” you are likely to be disappointed with the outcome. Because we’re both traveling less often these days,  the transactional communication is easier. It occurs throughout the day as we go about our lives. But we recently realized the covenantal connection was slipping; we found ourselves disappointed in the outcomes of our life together – and intimacy was suffering.

Talking about it was not easy, but necessary. You see, God asks us to cleave (stick like glue) to one another. We are most satisfied and most able to honor Him in our marriage when we manage the transactions and celebrate the covenant.

So, we’re returning to that really great former plan. We’ve committed to a shared devotional several times a week, which always creates a great discussion about our life together in Christ, our relationship, and our hopes and dreams for the next 39 years. We’re planning our free time on purpose, for a purpose – covenantal connection.

For you and your spouse, it may be planning something you both really love to do – a hike together, camping in the mountains, coffee while the kids stay with grandma or a great concert in the park. Be intentional. Talk about the stuff that lasts a lifetime: hopes, goals, dreams, and more.

Wouldn’t it be nice to experience intimacy as more than a transaction? Go covenantal – you’ll never go back!

Life, Love, and Family Podcast

RadioYou can find a link to listen to a recent interview I did with Dr. Tim Clinton on Life, Love and Family Radio. We talked about the mother-in-law/daughter-in law dynamic. We also discussed that man in the middle! Take a listen! Deb DeArmond on Life, Life and Family Radio



Book Update!

Related Cover 1The countdown begins! In just 10 days, my new book, Related By Chance, Family By Choice, will be “officially” released on November 1. But you can find it NOW on Amazon.com – in either Kindle or paperback version.

You can also get a sneak peak at Faith Village, where you will find an excerpt. Click this link: Faith Village

I’d love to hear your thoughts and invite you to post a review on Amazon or comment here!



Tact-is-the-act-ofBy Deb DeArmond

I love this quote. Turns out Isaac Newton was not just a gravity genius. He apparently was a relationship guru as well. Must have come from a big family.

I was raised as an only child; my only sibling was 16 years my senior. By the time I was two, he had gone off to college and never returned to our home state. We grew close only after I grew up. So, as a child, I had my folks all to myself. I never needed to call “shotgun” to ride in the front seat, never had to split the last cookie with a younger sibling and never had the heartbreak that comes with being asked to sacrificially yield the last of the ice cream to another child in the family.

Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it? I won’t lie—it was a great life. One I discovered (later in life) my friends envied. But it turns out, there was a dark side.

I never learned to share. Or at least to share graciously.

When required to do so in the midst of a school event or neighborhood pow-wow, I was known to be demanding, bossy and  loud about what I wanted.  Later I learned it was behavior considered immature. Well excuse me! Experience had taught me differently than it had my multi-siblinged comrades.

I eventually developed the ability, but it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t overnight. And now I wonder how I ever avoided being pushed out, pushed down or simply outcast. Very grateful looking back it hadn’t gone that way.

So now, as a full grown adult, I watch as we all struggle with the urge to “have it our way” even in the relationships that are most important to us in life: in our  marriages, with family members – adult kids, sibling in-laws, aunts, uncles, even grandparents have their preferences. It’s hard not to campaign for the thing you want, even as an adult. It can be tough to set aside your own preference without getting sulky and sullen.

But it’s also not okay to simply let the loudest voice lead. How do you cope? For starters, stop being the loudest, and start being the clearest voice— to bring a sense of peace and order when the conversation begins to give way to self-interest without regard for the thoughts, feelings, and ideas of others.

How do we do it? How do we find a way to have candid open discussion without damaging the people we love the most?

Effective communication skills and using the Word of God as our guideline is a foundation that will stand every time. Here are two Spirit-led reminders, designed to help us walk in love.

  • Prefer one another. “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another,” Romans 12:10 (NKJV). Putting the interests of another is counter-intuitive to the flesh. Preferring others will always cause people to sit up and take notice, because it’s not how the world does things, so it serves a dual purpose, as it draws attention to our great God.
  • Love does not seek it’s own way. It’s not Burger King, friend. It’s not always going to go as you’d hoped. Set your preference aside and listen, really listen. Be willing to be changed by what you hear. (1 Cor 13)

And remember that the way you say what you say matters. Volume does not equal leadership.

So remember, tact counts. Just ask Isaac. Turns out that apple bonk on the head must have loosed some real Godly insight!

Can You Hear Me Now?

I Told You So!By Deb DeArmond

As a consultant helping others develop and improve communication skills, I am always intrigued by the dynamic between husbands and wives. As a participant in the blessings of matrimony, I’m right there with you.

Have you ever found yourself in a heated exchange with your beloved when suddenly it dawns on you: “We’re not even fighting about the “thing” any more. We’re fighting about the fight.”

“You’re not listening to me!”

“Stop interrupting and let me talk.”

“I just wish you’d stop trying to solve my problems and just hear me out.”

“He thinks he’s helping, but I’d really prefer he just let me vent a little without having to fix it for me.”

Seems reasonable, doesn’t it? Does to me, but then I am a woman.

In fairness to my hubby of 38 years, I believe he’s better at this than most men. Ron has often served as a sounding board and he’s quite skilled at asking me the questions that help me arrive at my own solution. And I’m always more committed to the ideas I come up with myself, even if he helped me find my way there.

But it didn’t happen the day I wore the fancy white dress and he wore the tux and bow tie. Nay nay. It’s been a process. We had to learn to express ourselves, to be open about what we need, and to be intentional in staying focused on the thing. You remember the thing, don’t you?

So I thought it might be helpful to share an example of how that might occur. Take a look at this quick mini-movie by clicking on the link below. I think it will all make sense when you see it.


It’s Not About the Nail

The MIL/DIL Dilemma

Back to BackBy Deb DeArmond


I spoke to a young woman recently who told me she was looking forward to my book release in November. Related by Chance, Family by Choice is about transforming the relationship between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. And often, they need transformation. The research for the book indicates the relationship between MILs and DILs is not much better for those of faith than those outside of the church.

“It’s gotten pretty bad,” my young friend told me. “She was the family’s best friend—until the day after she married my brother. Then it was a different story. She makes sure they spend very little time with us. And now that they have a baby, it’s even harder on us.”

It’s not an unusual story. Just last week a colleague shared the story of friends whose son was killed in an auto accident. They were heartbroken. They learned of it when friends living in the same city as the young man and his wife saw it in the local newspaper and called to offer their condolences. His wife, their daughter-in-law, had not bothered to let them know. They attended services, sat in the back of the chapel, and went home as the rest of the family attended a dinner together.

I don’t know the backstory here. Perhaps there had been some bad blood between these family members leading up to this event. But there is no excuse for this behavior – ever – and particularly not for those who follow Christ.

So whose job is it to set things right if they are already bad? What if it’s the other woman who has been the problem all along? As a woman of faith, what does God expect of us in a situation like this one?

Have you experienced it? What’s your take on this? Let us hear from you!