Wednesday, July 20, 2016
A practical guide for fighting together for your marriage
Part 1 of an interview with Deb and Ron DeArmond,
Authors of Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight
It’s a familiar scenario: He doesn’t understand what she’s really upset about, and she has trouble getting him to see her point of view. In every marriage, there is conflict. In their new book, Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight (Abingdon Press), Deb and Ron DeArmond give couples tools to fight fair when conflicts arise.
“Conflict is not the real problem,” note the authors. “It’s how we deal with the conflict that determines where it takes us. Conflict can lead to discovery — greater insight and understanding of our partner’s thoughts, feelings, and perspective — or destruction of the relationship. It’s up to us to choose which direction we will go: discovery or destruction.”
Q: How evenly matched were the two of you when you married to deal with the conflict you experienced? What influences played into that?
During our three-year courtship there weren’t too many areas we hadn’t discussed. But marriage was a whole new ballgame. There were issues like money and sex to deal with that were brand new. And just as often it was the little things that got away from us and created conflict. Big or little issues, we weren’t very prepared to deal with them. So much of that can be attributed to our experiences growing up. We have great families, but we had to “find our way” when it came to understanding ways to disagree without damaging the relationship — or one another.
I (Deb) came from a home where I never heard my parents quarrel and honestly don’t think they ever did. I had no problem expressing myself; times of conflict didn’t scare me, but I was under-skilled to deal with it. I was born late in my parents’ lives; my only sibling was in college by the time I turned two, so it was like being an only (and often spoiled) child. Therefore, I was self-centered enough to think it should always go my way. Marriage poked holes in that myth very quickly.
I (Ron) had come from a blended family with challenges in the mix. Asking questions about situations and speaking up to express your opinion was not always welcome. Sometimes it didn’t feel safe. Staying off the radar was an everyday mission. So I learned to suppress my thoughts, lest it become something I didn’t intend it to be: volatile or hurtful.
Q: How has the conflict changed throughout the years of the marriage? Do you still experience conflict about the same kinds of things?
We disagree over the little things these days and very seldom conflict on major issues. If we were still working on the big things, I don’t think we’d have stayed married for 40 years. We aren’t the kind of people who could have accepted lack of agreement over life issues — faith, love, trust, money, parenting — and just tried to muddle through. There’s nothing so sad as a couple that has lost their connection and lack the intimacy that only comes from agreement. So, yes, we have conflict, but are more skilled and therefore more successful in dealing with it successfully.
Q: Do you ever find you are unable to come to an agreement? And if so how do you handle that?
It’s our absolute failsafe: We let God be the authority — He has the final word in our life together. We submit to His word in all we endeavor to do. And if we can’t find a definitive direction there, we will pray and ask God’s spirit to guide us to a solution that produces peace for both of us. He’s been faithful to do so.
Q: What was it like to collaborate on a book together? Did that create any conflict?
It was a wild ride at times! There were two heads and two hearts involved, but we knew there could only be one set of hands on the keyboards. We didn’t always remember things exactly the same way, and “owning” our own stuff was sometimes a challenge. So, yes! The process created some conflict. And we realized we are exceptionally qualified to co-author this book: We’ve been disagreeing for 40 years!
Truthfully, the conversations of our four decades together reminded us how much mercy, grace and peace God has established in our life. It was very sweet to examine our life together, putting it under the microscope. There are plenty of things we wish we’d have done differently (and I’m sure God does too), but we are still very much in love and best friends after all these years. We serve a good, good Father.
Q: There’s no shortage of books on marriage in the Christian market. What makes this book different?
Our research reinforces a sad but important truth: Christian marriages are not bulletproof. We are not immune to the potential of failure. And the number of dissatisfied couples seems to be on the rise.
Marriage is a complex relationship, and there are many approaches to protect, correct or resurrect it from the potential ravages of conflict. Many provide insight from personal experiences, while just as many identify the scriptural foundation for success. We combined those methods with practical techniques. This gives couples a path, a plan and the promise of God’s word to achieve the marriage they long for: one aligned with God’s word that honors Him and produces life in their union.
For more information, visit www.debdearmond.com or follow Deb on Facebook (AuthorDebDeArmond) or Twitter (@DebDeArmond).