So You Wrote a Book With Your Husband . . .?

Couple looking at a photo albumSeveral people have recently asked me about the new book, Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight,  and what it was like to co-author it with my husband, Ron. After writing the first two books myself, it was, well—different.

Ron has been very involved in all of the writing I’ve done in the past several years. He was on tap to listen to the read through of each chapter and offer his insights and feedback. He often helped me connect specific passages of scripture to the content of an article or chapter. Immensely helpful. His input was a huge value and often helped strengthen what I had created. But the decision to make a revision or add a new twist he’d suggested, was mine. Alone.

This was an entirely different process. As co-authors, our goal was to collaborate. Meaning we had to find common ground as we created the content. Did I mention the topic was marital conflict?

We developed a process to move forward as a unit. We agreed to discuss the chapter content, review survey and research results, make notes jointly, identify examples and appropriate scripture references, develop tools and application activities. I would then sit down at the computer and write the chapter. It sounded like a solid plan. On paper it looked good. And in the first chapter or two, it worked well.

Then we made an important discovery. As each new chapter began we’d reminisce about an occasion and discuss how it had transpired. Details. Who said what. How it went. We remembered the details vividly. But we often vividly remember it differently. Was it just that 40 years of experiences were difficult to remember with clarity? No. We each had crystal clear recall. Just not the same recall.

If it hadn’t been important to the writing process, it would have been humorous. And looking back on it all, it was pretty funny. Many of the topics, now some twenty or thirty years old seemed so trivial. Why did we let them become issues? Stubbornness? More time than common sense? Perhaps.

Others were more important: how we’d discipline our boys, deal with financial issues, or how busy schedules impacted time for romance and our sex life. Big stuff.

Apparently, we’ve worked it out. The details may escape us today, but we found agreement about the trivial and the significant.

The exercise of reviewing our four decades of life together was challenging at times, but a huge blessing. We recounted the times God came through, granted favor, instructed, corrected, and developed us as believers and as a couple. What an affirmation of His faithfulness. At 19 when we married, we were greener than grass about everything that life would demand of us. The gift of a young marriage is that we grew up, and grew up in Him together.

This was new for us as a twosome, and we learned a lot – some of it the hard way. So here are a few tips for those thinking about establishing a co-author project:

  • Vision. Talk about it, write it out, and revise it until it’s clear and one about which you both can be in full agreement. The Bible remind us in Habakkuk 2:2: “And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” (ESV).
  • Listen. My favorite definition of listening is the willingness to be changed by what you hear. We all have our own opinions and thoughts about the right way to do something. Your writing partner may have a different approach. Remember that different is not always wrong, it’s just different. Be open enough to hear other ideas. God brought you together as partners, so partner together.
  • Pray together. As a Christian writing team, it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole of craft and omit the cross in the process.
  • Communicate frequently. Set regular times to discuss, imagine, review and edit together. Creating a schedule can help establish a routine and allow each party to protect time on the calendar. In person is best, but if doing it remotely, try Skype or one of the other online meeting sites – Zoom is great – and it’s free.

When was the last time you and your mate looked back together over the collected years you’ve accumulated? A walk together down memory lane can be a great way to remind yourself there’s a lot to be grateful for in both the magic and the tragic. None of it’s wasted if you learned from the experiences and moved forward together. He can use it all.

Will we write another book together? Only time will tell.

 

It’s Coming – But You Can Order Now and Save!

Final Cover DGTBA_Are you tired of fighting the same battles over and over again? Ready to use the conflict in your marriage to create greater intimacy and connection in your life? It’s possible – and it’s the topic of our new book. That’s right – OUR new book – this one was co-authored by my husband, Ron. I mean, it’s only fair, right?

Conflict is not the real issue here for most of us. It’s the way we deal with the conflict that creates the problem. Silence, sarcasm, sulking – any of that sound familiar? That’s a short list of manipulation methods, and it’s the stuff that can damage the relationship. But if we learn and use tools that align us with one another and with God – and establish some rules together on how we will deal with conflict, discovery and deeper commitment can be the result.

Forty years of marriage have taught us a lot of lessons, and much of it was learned the hard way. Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! is the fast pass to help you skip daily attendance at the school of hard knocks and move beyond the “he said, she said” nonsense.

The book will officially release on June 21, but is now available for pre-order on any one of several sites. By ordering early, you will receive a significant discount, as much as 35%! So here’s the link to discover a new approach to an old problem. What are you waiting for???

Order Here Link 

Solving the Christmas Mystery

Mystery gift“I’ve solved the mystery,” a newlywed recently told me. “I now fully understand why my husband never puts his dish in the sink or picks up his underwear off the floor where he stepped out of them. His mother raised him to be helpless.”

I laughed. She didn’t.

She recounted their cross-country trip for the Christmas holidays, which they spent in her mother-in-law’s home. “It was our first Christmas together as a married couple, but his mom had not been well and she begged us to come. Apparently her son is the cure for what ails her,” she sighed loudly as she recalled the trip. “She waited on him hand and foot. From the tearful greeting at the front door till the moment we left.You would have thought he was coming home from the war: My son! My son has come home! “Just something about that set my teeth on edge. His home is 2000 miles away. This is his mother’s home. He’s a grown man, for crying out loud.”

It was a tough situation. But most men come to the altar with something very real: the other woman, his mother, who has known and loved him far longer than “that new woman.” Mama probably also thinks she loves him more than any wife ever could.

You can come to the in-law party at any age. It’s not reserved for twenty-somethings alone. But the older you are, the more challenging a task to build a relationship with the other woman may be. Accepting and welcoming a new daughter might be easier when you’re 45 than at 60. We’ve spent more time on the planet at 60, selected and become committed to our way of thinking, living and being.

The same is true for the new bride. The longer you’ve been out from under your own mother’s purview and lived on your own makes a difference. Accepting the drama from a brand new mama may be a long way down on your to-do list. And the challenges between mamas and the girls who marry their sons have no expiration date. The distance and difficulty may remain in the relationship far beyond the first year of adjustment.

There are other twists on the scenario with the women in question smiling through gritted teeth at best, snarling and spitting at worst. All as we sit together around the Christmas tree in celebration of the birth of our Lord.

There may have been past hurts in the relationship between the MIL and the DIL. Other variations on the theme may be a factor, as well: today’s families are complex, with blended families, ex-spouses, step-grandparents and so on. Tensions can run high.

So how do we focus on the real reason we’ve come together? A couple of quick tips: don’t dredge it or dramatize it. Drop it, instead.

  • Don’t Dredge It: Don’t make this year’s holidays unbearable by dredging up the past, obsessing about it for weeks in advance and assuming that this year, too, will be a disaster. It will create dread on your part and the potential to read something negative into everything she says. If you go loaded for bear, every movement in the brush gets a backside of buckshot. Let the past stay in the past.
  • Don’t Dramatize It: It’s a brief season. Avoid creating drama over a few days spent together. I spoke to a woman who dreaded the holidays because her woman-in-law was such a drama queen, similar to the woman in our opening example. If she wants to make a fuss over her only son, let her – and stop rolling your eyes. He’s still going home with you when it’s over. And Mama, remember, his wife is the most important woman in his life. If you love him, treat her as he would expect you to.
  • Drop It! Take past issues and hurts to the foot of the cross, drop them and, walk away. Make a decision to leave them there. Jesus is more than able to heal the hurt that comes from rejection by those who are supposed to love you – He experienced it. Whether you are the MIL or the DIL, if you are a follower of Christ, it’s what He expects us to do. I am not suggesting what you’ve experienced isn’t genuinely painful. I am suggesting that if you are waiting for her to make it right, you might wait a very long time.

Why not make this the year you make your move and choose a fresh start in the relationship? Consider it a gift to the man in the middle. Doing it will make more real the holiness of this holiday season – and it will make our Lord smile.

This topic is tough to address in a single post. My book, Related by Chance, Family by Choice, covers the topic of women-in-law relationships comprehensively. Written with the input of my own three daughters-in-love, it’s for every woman whether the relationship is just beginning, already difficult – or good, and you’d like to take it up a notch. You can find it at the links listed here at:
Amazon
ChristianBooks.com
or at your local Christian Book store.

I Choose You Today, Ron!


DeArmond-27Happy Birthday to my sweet husband, Ron.
Nearly five decades of Godly wisdom resides in this man. As many noted today on his Facebook page, he is a great guy and gives the best father hugs ever. Being married to me for forty years has been a workout. It’s not always been easy, but it’s always been worth the effort. His commitment, love, and loyalty has never faded. Neither has his pursuit of me. He’s good at this one, me, not so much. So today, I wanted to acknowledge a side of Ron many have never experienced. It’s from my book, I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last.

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Another business trip, another city. The worst part of that first day on the road is taking my clothes out of the suitcase, hanging them up and pressing those that didn’t fare well in the travel process. I had just mentioned to my husband, Ron, that morning how much I dreaded that task— sometimes twice a week, as I moved between client locations.

And now, as I pulled the as advertised no-wrinkle blouse from my bag, an envelope fluttered to the floor. I fetched it from the carpet as I threw the blouse in the ironing pile.

Ron’s handwriting: Mag. His pet name made me smile immediately. I sank down on the foot of the bed and turned the envelope over. “I love you” was written across the sealed flap.

A sweet note inside reminded me of his love for me, how he much he missed me every second I was gone, and dreaded the empty side of the bed. A little flirting, a little prayer for my upcoming week. A sweet surprise, but not a first. Ron has pursued me consistently in the last 38 years.

He’s the romantic; I’m pragmatic. He can recall the date of our first kiss, never forgets an anniversary or special occasion. He has created elaborate romantic surprises for me over the years, capturing my heart again and again.

I could take a page from his book. I’ve been guilty sometimes of saying to him the morning of his birthday, “I didn’t get you a card. Will a kiss do?”

I should be better at this. I grew up in a home where everyday my father said to my mom, “Dottie, did I tell you today I love you?” Her response was always the same: “Yes, but you can tell me again.” They were perfect together. Mom would often appear annoyed when Dad (at age 75) would say to the waiter, “Hey there, bud, look around. The most beautiful girl in the room is with me tonight.” She said it embarrassed her terribly. Truthfully, she loved every moment of his pursuit.

That envelope got me to thinking about the impact Ron’s pursuit made on me. Knowing he always has me at the forefront of his thoughts and affections have created a great confidence, not only in our relationship, but also for me, personally. I’m not 25 anymore, but he still sees me as beautiful; he is still attracted to me. I trust his heart (if not always his eyes!), but it’s his heart he uses when he looks at me. I never wonder whether or not he truly loves me, needs me, and wants me. His pursuit speaks volumes and it draws me to him time after time.

Doesn’t he deserve the same from me? That confidence that comes from being relentlessly pursued? He owns my heart; he knows it. But I want him to feel it. I want him to experience the same thing, the same confidence, and the same assurance that my affection and attraction to him have not only remained steady, but they’ve grown over the years.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” Eph. 5:25 (NIV). I know this is addressed to husbands, but Romans 8:29a says, “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son,” (NLT). God is in relentless pursuit of those He loves. He sent Jesus to pursue us and I am called to follow His lead—to pursue those I love.

So what does it mean to engage in a pursuit? Merriam-Webster defines it like this: to follow and try to catch or capture (someone or something) for usually a long distance or time. I want to capture my someone’s heart for a very long time. I want to be in love with Ron every day I draw breath.

I will admit, it doesn’t come naturally for me. I’m a list maker, a busy girl, and I’m not necessarily wired for pursuit. So it’s a choice I want to make on a regular basis—even if I have to plan it. Spontaneity is overrated anyway.

I find him hard to resist when he’s chasing my heart. I’m betting I can create a major distraction when I’m in full pursuit.

So . . . what will you choose?

Ron DeArmond, I choose you!

 

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