ECRS: Early Conflict Response System!

I’m often asked about the book, Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight, which I co-authored with my husband, Ron. It released a year ago this week. People are interested— was it hard to collaborate with your spouse? What they really want to know is: “Did you fight while writing it?” It’s a fair question.

Having written two books on my own, 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 knew it might be a challenge. The process of talking about conflict had the potential to create conflict. So we developed a process – a plan – to move forward as a unit. It worked, and we delivered the book to the publisher on time. Hurray! High five!

Once the book was released, I had a moment when it hit me: we’d be interviewed together. Radio. Television. Print. When I was a solo flyer, I knew where I wanted the discussion to go, how to get there, and what to say. But, as much as I love this man, managing him—and what he says or does—has not been successful. No doubt, I’ve tried (and still occasionally try), but my record is dismal. He’s experienced similar results when the table is turned. We’re independent, strong willed – and completely committed to one another. It makes an interesting life.

I thought through all the possibilities, all the potential interview disasters that might await us. Stepping on one another’s comments, interrupting one another, and heaven forbid, correcting or disputing what the other said. I did mention the topic was marital conflict, right?

Once again, we created a plan: we assigned topics each would cover and defer to that assignee so we weren’t stepping on toes. The first few interviews were a little bumpy, but overall, went surprisingly well. We also created a sign – our own personal code that signaled, “I’d like to take that question,” or “you’re running on too long with your answer.” A simple knee bump. Hopefully under the table, unseen by the interviewer.

It worked. So, okay, occasionally I ignored a knee bump. Or he did. Or worse, the bump gave way to a look and a tighter than comfortable squeeze of the hand. But all in all – it worked and we enjoyed the process far more than we ever imagined.

It’s affirming to hear from couples who have found the book helpful. Some learned new ways to deal with old issues. Others, identified new strategies to be proactive, so that when conflict hunted them down, they can respond, not react.

A plan can help you prepare for success. It’s important in so many of life’s opportunities: getting married, having a baby, or buying a home. A plan provides a path forward when conflict comes calling.

What are the areas in your relationships that can create conflict? How might you be able to plan and prepare for a smoother, if not seamless, process when it comes knocking? Here are a couple of tips to get you started.

  • Identify the potential stress inducers. What’s your track record for winging it? How’d that work out? Typical pressure point areas include money, sex, the in-laws, and childrearing. There are many more, but those are the Big Four. If these topics produce conflict, acknowledge it. At what point does it go south? Once you’ve figured out where you got off a peaceful path, stop next time you get there. Ask yourself, “how can we work together on this?”


  • Ask, don’t tell. Use open ended questions to explore options, possibilities, and solutions. “What’s the best way to approach this?” or “How can we make this work that works for both of us?” Open-ended questions can lead to new and creative ways to deal with old problems.


  • Take a time out. It’s not just for temperamental toddlers. When you realize the heat is rising, take a break before it escalates. A simple, “I need to step away for 15 minutes,” can slow a discussion that’s spiraling into non-productive—or damaging—territory. Take time to gather your thoughts, and manage your emotions so they don’t end up managing you.

A conflict response plan can provide a path to peace. Give it a shot—what’ve you got to lose?

Find the book here:

Family Matters Fun Friday!!

More Weird ThingsThe list of things couples fight about is expansive – and it can be expensive. It can cost us peace, connection, and intimacy.

But today, it’s not about you and me. It’s a chance to peak in on the universal topics that turn us topsy turvy. Marital conflict happens in every marriage. The secret is to remember not to make the little things the big things – no matter how big they seem in the moment.

So take a look here at More Weird Things All Couples Fight About.

Find our new book on making your marital conflict work FOR you instead of against you:Don’t Go to Bed Angry

Family Matters Fun Friday!!

Happy Wife Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 12.00.53 PMHappy wife, happy life. I’m not sure who coined that phrase, but probably somebody who learned it the hard way. Comedian Jeff Allen has made it the crown jewel in his stand up act for years. I guess you can say it’s stood the test of time.

Jeff touches on a touchy subject in a funny way. But candidly, who runs the table at your house? Is your spouse the boss? Or do you have the final word? Marriage works best as a partnership, with each partner having a voice. If one of you has become a silent partner, it’s an issue.

But for now, take a moment to get Jeff’s take on the topic. It’s gonna be fun. I promise.

Watch it here: Happy Wife Happy Life

Find our new book on making your marital conflict work FOR you instead of against you:Don’t Go to Bed Angry

Family Matters Fun Friday!!

Tim Hawkins is a terrific talent – a Christian comedian that never fails to make me laugh. Often – at myself. He seems to have an Tim Hawkins 2 Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 11.57.53 AMuncanny eye into the relationships between us married folks. After all, he is one.

And he is dead on in his observations. I’m just grateful my husband doesn’t make HIS living as a stand up comic. Lord knows – I’d be fodder for that act!

Laugh along today on Fun Friday! Find it here: Study Your Wife

Find our new book on making your marital conflict work FOR you instead of against you:Don’t Go to Bed Angry


Family Matters Fun Friday!!!

Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 8.27.12 AMYou may recall the “Doghouse” video from a few weeks back. Well, here’s the sequel. Still funny – still great at making the point. The doghouse prolongs the conflict by punishing the “guilty” party. Who made us the judge? Hash it out and move on people! Life’s too short for this kind of stuff. So ask yourself as you chuckle, “could this be us??”

Watch it here: FMFunFriday5


Find our new book on making your marital conflict work FOR you instead of against you:Don’t Go to Bed Angry


What Does It Weigh?

glass of waterIn our new book, Don’t Go to Bed Angry, Stay Up and Fight!, my husband Ron and I bust a Bible myth. Every Christian couple heard it in pre-marital counseling. Sometimes it came as bridal shower advice from Aunt Anna. And if you haven’t heard it in a women’s Bible study you’re just not at the right church! You know the verse: don’t let the sun go down on your anger. For years I thought that meant we had to keep at it till we solved the problem, identified a solution, or achieved a harmonious outcome.

Nope. We got it wrong, and so have millions of marrieds who were taught “No solution. No sleep.” Or  more often for us, at least a cease fire that masqueraded as a solution when we were both too worn out to care any more and one of us said, “Uncle” and threw in the towel.

That’s not what it means. Look at it again. “And “don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry,” Eph. 4:25 (NLT). It doesn’t say “don’t go to bed till you’ve brokered a deal.” Or “Stay up until dialogue creates unity and perfect alignment.” We’ve been overthinking this and making it all far too complicated. Don’t go to bed angry. But by all means, go to bed. Makes perfect sense – and my mother always said that going to bed mad was bad for your digestion anyway.

How long does it take to realize, “Whoa, we’ve let our emotions get way out of hand.” You know when you’ve crossed that line. A good rule of  thumb is if there are tears, accusation, blame, or someone spitting while s(he) talks – you’re there. And when you’ve acknowledged that, the rest is easy—or at least possible. ” I don’t feel good about how we’re doing this, and I’m fairly sure God’s not feeling honored by our behavior. Can we put a stake in this for tonight, pray and release the anger we’re experiencing, and come back together in the morning with clear heads?”

It requires both of you to make the decision. But it only takes one of you to speak up to propose it.

It’s not the weight of the conflict that drags us down. It’s how long we’re willing to hold on to it. To illustrate this point perfectly, take a moment to watch this 2-minute You Tube flick. It’s worth it’s weight in gold.




Interview at the Debbie Chavez Show

Sick and tired of the same old fights? Marital conflict is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be painful. Debbie Chavez hosts us today on her show, discussing our new book, Don’t Go to Bed AngrMicrophoney. Stay Up and Fight! We love your comments and questions. Drop them in the comments and we’ll be sure to respond quickly!


You can listen online here:  The Debbie Chavez Show

Family Matters Fun Friday!!


Merriam Webster defines it as follows: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manneralso: the capacity for this.

I understand it. It’s the capacity I’m a little light on.

Women are supposed to be better at this than men, research says. I didn’t participate in that survey. I am, however, vividly aware of when I need empathy and my husband isn’t providing it. That I get.

In any case, let’s take a peak, with a humorous poke, at the role of empathy and marital conflict.

Find it here: It’s Not About the Nail

Find our new book on making your marital conflict work FOR you instead of against you:Don’t Go to Bed Angry

Family Matters Fun Friday!!!


Marital cDog House Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 12.06.26 PMonflict is tough. But it happens in every marriage at one time or another. The kiss and make-up part can be fun, but the fight to
the finish wears us out. Sometimes we’re just glad it’s over and retreat to recover. A little alone time is okay after a difficult interaction. Gather your thoughts (and your strength) to move forward.

But on occasion, the conflict has an “afterlife.” It’s the penalty. The punishment that keeps the issue alive with a “you need to pay for what you did,” mindset. It’s damaging. My dad used to say, “I’m in the doghouse with your mother.” And while the punishment is nothing to laugh about, this video can help point out just how ridiculous it is.

Watch it here!  FMFunFriday

Find our new book on making your marital conflict work FOR you instead of against you:Don’t Go to Bed Angry


Family Matters Fun Friday

Gelato Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 11.50.32 AM
It’s Friday at Family Matters – time for a little levity. How many times in the middle of an “intense moment of fellowship” with your spouse did it suddenly occur to you, “Why are we fighting over this?
It’s ridiculous!” Ron and I have sometimes burst into a belly busting laugh over how incredibly petty the “thing” is that can create such energy. So, join us for a chuckle and remember – it’s often not that big a deal!!!

Enjoy – watch it here! FMFunFridays3

Find our new book on making your marital conflict work FOR you instead of against you:Don’t Go to Bed Angry