Margin For Error


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Margin for Error

 My husband and I recently completed what may have been the most significant collaboration of our marriage, with the exception of creating three marvelous human being with our bare hands. Well, perhaps that’s not exactly how it worked, but you understand what I mean. We’ve written a book together. Two heads, two hearts, but only one set of hands on the keyboards. It’s only practical. Four hands could create a lot of words, but few would result in in chapters that made sense.

The topic of the book? Marital conflict. Trust me when I assure you we’ve personally tested every idea and approach in the book. We did it contemporaneously with writing the book.

At one point, we realized we’re incredibly qualified to author such a work. We’ve been disagreeing for years. Forty-plus years, to be exact. We’re both strongly opinioned people who are not hesitant to share our thoughts. Intensely, at times. But at least no one around here can say, “Gee, I didn’t know you felt that way.”

Those intense moments of fellowship, however, have not dimmed the intensity with which we love one another. It’s as fierce as it’s ever been.

Recently, however, during one of those “he said, she said” conversations, I stopped to consider whether it might be time to cut one another a break now and then. The issue at the heart of the discord was insignificant; it was a matter of principle. Or so I thought.

The Lord pulled me up short and encouraged me to examine which “principle” had placed me on my high horse, as my mom might say. “Was it love?” His Spirit inquired. “Or patience? How about selflessness or humility?

Um. No. It was the I’m right, I know I’m right, and you need to know that too, principle.

It’s not there. In the love chapter. Or the Beatitudes. Or the gifts of the Spirit.  I looked. Ugh.

Because He’s a good, good Father, He didn’t leave me there. He brought a turn of phrase to mind. You two need to create a margin of error for one another. What does that mean? Isn’t it a financial term? Math is my third language (apparently High Horse is #2). But I looked it up. Here’s what I found:

Margin for (of) error:

  1. an extra amount of something, such as time or money, which you allow because there might be a mistake in your calculations.
  2. an amount (usually small) that is allowed for in case of miscalculation or change of circumstances.

An extra amount of something? Like humility, patience or love, perhaps? In case of a change of circumstances? Isn’t that where we live these days? At the corner of empty nest and why don’t you listen to me anymore? 

When I consider our years together, I’m convinced we’ve beaten the odds of most who marry as teenagers. We had no clue what we were saying “I do, to” that day at the altar.

And when I consider our years, our age, while we’re certainly not old, I recognize we have a lot of stuff on our hard drive, better known as the brain. We walk into rooms without recalling why we entered. And there do seem to be more frequent, “You never told me that!” “Oh yes, I did,” conversations recently. So how do we fix it? How do we inject kindness, patience, and mercy into our interactions?

Create a margin for error. We must accept there is a possibility, no matter how slight, that you said it and I didn’t hear you. Abdicate the need to be right; send the high horse out to pasture. Release the dogma. Gumby up—be flexible enough to deposit a bit of extra love to smooth the path.

Here are a few tips to help create that margin.

  • Face to face communication. Ditch the drive by interaction with 10 assorted and unrelated topics on your way out the door or while he’s brushing his teeth. The eye contact makes a difference in retention.
  • Write it down. I’m a list maker. If it’s not on the list, I’m not responsible for it. If it’s there, it gets done. My husband doesn’t use lists, but science tells us something magic happens between the brain and the hand. We get it. It’s a done deal. Plus there’s a written record in the event you need evidence in court, “I’m sorry, your honor, I had to put him in time out. Dry cleaning pick up was definitely on the list! Please review my exhibit A!”
  • Check for understanding. Confirm you both heard and understand the details in the same way. “So, we need to leave for the airport by 4:30pm. Is that right? You’re comfortable with that?”
  • Let. It. Go. I can hardly type the words without hearing the Disney darling belting it out. Let it go. It’s not my gift. Ron once said to me, “It’s not enough that I eventually just agree with you. You want me to believe that you are right!” Why is that a problem for him? I mean, I was right, right? So it shouldn’t be difficult for him to acknowledge it. Don’t you agree? And then I hear the Holy Spirit, tapping His toe. I got it.

Another definition tells us that margin is a place of safety or something that makes a particular thing possible. Like loving one another, fiercely, all the days the good Lord gives us with fewer bumps and scrapes. Or scraps.

And you know I’m right about that.

Week 9: I Choose You Challenge: Forgiveness

Forgive Week 9“A good marriage is made up of two forgivers.” That’s the gospel truth. There’s no other relationship that will give us so much opportunity to develop this ability. God’s got lots to say on the subject. It’s the topic of this week’s I Choose You Challenge.

Find it here: I Choose to Forgive

Week 8: I Choose You Challenge – Trust!

Week 8 IChoseYou-8TrustIt’s Week 8 of the I Choose You Today Ten Week Challenge! This week is one of those tricky issues: trust. Regardless of your trust track record of the past, you can take it to the next level. Whether it’s solid, or on shaky ground – you can build or repair it starting today. It’s always your choice!

Find the link to this week’s podcast and trust handout here: Week 8 Trust

I Choose You – By Sara Bareilles

Several of you have asked me to post the lyrics to the song, I Choose You, that we played at my book launch by artist Sara Bareilles. I’ve done one better – here is the YouTube link with the music and the lyrics. It’s the perfect theme for my book. Enjoy – I think you’ll love it as much as I do! (If you are the home page, click the title above and the screen will appear to connect you!)

Week 6: I Choose You Challenge – Commitment

CommitmentDid you realize there are three different levels of commitment in marriage? And only one of them helps secure the happily-ever-after you dream of. Are you choosing it? Take a look and discover the choice you can make, beginning today! Fine it here: Commitment

Week 2 of the I Choose You Challenge!

IChoseYou-2PursueWeek 2 of our challenge is about pursuing your mate. How long has it been since you’ve had a “Hubba bubba hey baby!” moment? You’ll find some tips to telegraph that message this week. Here’s the link: Week 2 ICYT  Hope you’ll take a moment to leave a comment – fill us in on the steps YOU took to let your loved one know you are still on the chase!

Podcast At My Faith Radio: Learning to Love Your In-Laws

RadioDeb recently guested at My Faith Radio with host Susie Larson. If you missed the broadcast, you can listen to the podcast here: MyFaithRadio 

Divided loyalties, inside jokes, new traditions… entering marriage can bring a host of emotions and tensions between a spouse and his or her new family. Fortunately, it is possible to enjoy the process. Listen as Deb DeArmond returns to talk about how to establish healthy in-law relationships.

Susie and Deb explore:

• Common stereotypes of difficult mothers-in-law (Marie Barone of Everybody Loves Raymond,for example).

• How mothers can train and raise their children, specifically their sons, to leave.

• How a daughter-in-law can “turn the mirror” back toward herself and look at her own heart and posture first.

• How to respond prayerfully to a distant or hostile in-law.

• The right way for a man to honor his mother while cleaving to his wife.

Key Scriptures: Matthew 22:39Ruth

I Choose You Today Challenge

300x250FaithHappenings copy2015 could be a changing year in your marriage!

Come join us on a journey to take your marriage to the next level – regardless of where it is today. Good marriages can become great, broken marriages can become whole.  We’ll be exploring the power of choice and discover the ability to transform relationships with four little words: “I Choose You Today.”

My newest book, I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last will provide us a roadmap to highlight intentional, purposeful choices that will benefit every marriage relationship. “I choose to respect you. I choose to romance you, and I choose to laugh with you” are just a few of the chapters we will explore. The book is a quick read that would serve well as a devotional for couples or individuals, as well as those engaged to be married. Filled with anecdotal stories, tips, tools, and insights that provide a practical approach to enhancing the life you are building together.

Here’s what others are saying about the book:

  • “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.”  —Greg Smalley, Vice President of Family Ministry, Focus on the Family
  • There is no deeper joy in life than great love. Fortunately for us, I Choose You Today gives us a clear roadmap to achieving it with our spouse. Every couple- married or not- will benefit from reading Ms. DeArmond’s book.         -Meg Meeker, M.D., best-selling author of Strong Fathers,Strong Daughters and Co-host of Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk radio broadcast

While we’re learning together, we’re going to have some fun! Prizes, giveaways, and lots of other surprises.

So sign up today Here’s the link: IChooseYouChallenge

And remember -with all this 50 shades of crazy… it is refreshing to hear God’s perspective on a healthy marriage. Happily ever after is not a fairy tale, it’s a choice!

Release Day! I Choose You Today!

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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?