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I've longed believed that we learn most about marriage from the people who have been in the trenches doing marriage -- people who have faced struggles and triumphed.
Real stories just seem to resonate more than lofty platitudes, don't you agree?
I don't know about you, but when I read of other couples who have faced struggles, it helps me feel less alone in the ups and downs of my own marriage.
That's why I'm grateful for Lori Lowe's new book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope and Inspiration for Your Marriage. Lori blogs regularly at her blog Marriage Gems, and I deeply respect her relentless commitment to encouraging marriages.
In her book, several couples she interviewed share about how they navigated some of the worst things marriage can face, including infidelity, the death of a child, addiction and more.
These are people who have seen the greatest of depths, from which they learned and strengthened their love.
Lori and I had the opportunity to talk recently and I asked her a few questions about the book. I found her answers insightful and encouraging:
Why did you write this book? Where did the idea come from?
I've been happily married for 16 years, and am passionate about encouraging strong marriages.
However, I was a child of divorce and understand the difficulty of growing up in a fractured family, as well as the long-term consequences researchers have detailed for children of divorce, including an expected life span that is five years shorter than for children from intact families.
My goal is to provide a change of perspective through remarkable stories, to infuse marriages with hope and insights that can make a real difference. If marriages can be strengthened, then that means more kids are growing up with married parents who love each other.
The idea for the book came from my realization that my generation has very few positive marriage role models who can teach us how to get through difficult times. I grew up as a GenXer during the doubling of the divorce rate.
I saw friends, family and neighbors go through difficult divorces. So I began interviewing couples across the country who had overcome adversity and who had a stronger marriage because of it.
I sought couples who had been through child loss, infidelity, infertility, raising a special-needs child, financial crises, differing religions and races, brain injury, depression, cancer, stranger rape, military separation, and much more.
I wanted to tell their real-life stories and allow them to share the wisdom they had earned. They were all most generous in wanting to help others. The book reads like fiction, except the stories are all true and there are lessons and insights as well.
What did you personally learn through interviewing these couples? What new insights about marriage did you learn?
I learned the beauty and necessity of genuine forgiveness, of working daily on my relationship, on focusing on and expressing gratitude regularly, and on taking responsibility for my own happiness.
I learned that my husband and I have to operate as a team, both when life is going well and when it isn't. I learned that love is not enough to make a strong marriage, and that a deep commitment to work together is key.
What do you most hope a reader of your book would gain?
It is my desire that readers will never give up hope that they can have a great marriage. Even adversity can be a strengthener in the end.
I hope that readers make the daily decision to love their spouse through their actions and thoughts, to build them up and support them. If we focus on pleasing each other rather than trying to perfect each other, we can demonstrate real love without an expectation of reciprocity.
I felt in interviewing these wonderful couples that I gained some new friends, and I think readers may feel they are able to get to know them well enough to also have an emotional connection with them. And when you make an emotional connection, the insights are more likely to stay with you.
Stories have real power and can affect the choices we make in our own lives. (Think of all the points Jesus made through parables.)
Whether your marriage is strong and you just want to maintain and grow your relationship, or whether you are going through a difficult time, I hope the stories and insights will make a positive impact in your life and marriage.
Lori and I and so many other marriage bloggers out there are committed to providing you resources that genuinely make a difference.
Lori's book First Kiss to Lasting Bliss may be just what you need to give you perspective on your own marriage -- or it may be an ideal gift for couples in your life who are struggling and need to be encouraged.
A big thank you to Lori for taking the time to compile these stories and share them with all of us!