Reminder!! All bloggers posting this week on WTG are entered in Friday's big book give-away! Don't forget to leave your feedback!!!
Welcome to Romancing the Authors Week! It’s Valentine’s Week and love is in the air. But no one knows better than romance authors that love can be painful. Today Words to Go welcomes guest novelist, Deborah Raney, a romance writer whose novel A Vow to Cherish was made into a television film. She has won a Rita Award, the Holt Medallion, and the National Reader’s Choice Award. Her recently released novel is Leaving November. I have loved Deb for many years as a sister in literature and life.
Welcome Deb, to Words to Go!
DEB: Thanks, Patty!
PATTY: Deb, it’s true that novels are our bread and butter. But our readers tend to like happy endings, stories fiery with the passion of heroes and heroines who overcome life’s struggles but a world where all trials work out with a happy ending. You and I are each married to the same guy after all these years. But I know that for Randy and me our lifelong romance has been a lot of work. Would you say that is true for you too?
DEB: Oh, my yes! Ken likes to say we've been happily married for thirty years. Well, that's a nice thought, but um...we've been married for almost thirty-five years! ; ) We say often that if not for our commitment to each other and the Lord, we could have found a dozen good reasons to split up over the years. I do think as we've gotten older it's become easier. We've come to realize that there are a few issues we'll probably never see eye-to-eye on. But so many other things that we used to fight about have either become ridiculously unimportant, or we've finally, finally worked through them to a mutually agreeable solution.
PATTY: Have you redefined the word “romance” since you were young and coming-of-age?
DEB: Yes, but not in the way you might think. I grew up on a farm and saw my parents working together side-by-side. They had (and after 55 years together, still have) a wonderful relationship, but my mother didn't need flowers and candy and romantic getaways to feel loved by my dad. And it's a good thing. After spending sunup till sundown in the field, coming home to milk the cows, and all the other chores the farm required, there wasn't often time for traditional "romance." But Mother and Daddy enjoyed each other's company wherever they were. Add to that the fact that I grew up with very little exposure to television and movies and you'll know that I didn't come to marriage with unrealistic expectations of romantic love. So imagine my surprise (and joy) when God gave me a man who is the king of flowers and candlelight and picnics in front of the fireplace.
PATTY: It’s refreshing. My man is like that too.
DEB: My dad is no less loving or caring than my husband––they both would give their very lives for their families––but they demonstrate their love in different ways. I think women of all ages need to realize that men show their love in a whole spectrum of ways, and not always the ways we wives would like. We each need to learn to understand the nuances of the "love language" our own husband speaks, and accept his offerings as if he were speaking in our tongue, without comparing him to someone else's husband.
PATTY: How has your faith helped you and your hubby continue to find solid footing in your lifelong commitment to one another?
DEB: When two people are trying individually––in their imperfect, stumbling ways––to be more like Jesus every day, even when selfishness and pride (and the enemy of our souls) try to tear them apart, they usually eventually come to their senses and do the right thing. So many times, in our marriage, when one of us is struggling, the other will reach out with understanding and forgiveness. So many times, when I've wronged my husband, he will make the first move to apologize for the small part he might have played in our disagreement. Nothing humbles me more quickly than a man who's 10 percent in the wrong, taking 90 percent of the blame. That makes it easy to fall into his arms with an apology, which makes it easy for him to forgive. And next time, when he's 90 percent wrong, I can be gracious and apologize first, because I remember when he did it for me. It's a wonderful, vicious circle that is exactly what God's grace is all about (except that he's always 100 percent!)
Another thing that Ken and I feel is all important is the effort we've made to spend time in God's Word and in prayer together, every weekday morning (and of course on Sunday in church and Sunday School). We were less successful at this when the kids were small, but boy do we notice a difference when we're faithful to keep that appointment! It's hard to be angry with a man who has held you in his arms and prayed for you that morning.
PATTY: Randy and I regret we took so long to reach that point. But more about that Wednesday. Deb, what advice would you like to give to others who might be struggling to stay in love?
DEB: First, kick the word D-I-V-O-R-C-E out of your marriage vocabulary. If it's not even an option on the table, you will be far more likely to do whatever it takes to work things out. Every couple, if they are honest, has struggled at some point to stay in love. It is during those times that commitment is the glue that holds a marriage together until love can be revived.
Secondly, I have never forgotten Dr. James Dobson's advice in his book, Emotions, Can You Trust Them? (P.S. The short answer is NO, you can't trust them!) Dr. Dobson's advice was: Whether you feel like it or not, do the loving thing; the loving feelings will follow. How true that has been for us. In the times when I've looked at my husband and thought, "what did I ever see in that man?" (and haven't we all been there at least once or twice in our marriages?) if I force myself to treat Ken as if he were my beloved, before long, I realize he has become my beloved! And that's a win/win position, because even if my loving behavior doesn't produce the same in my husband, I still have the satisfaction of knowing that in God's eyes, I am doing the right thing. Time and time again, Ken and I have seen God change each other's hearts and attitudes when we simply commit to be the one to do the right thing. And on the days when we're both doing the right thing? Ooh la la! : )
PATTY: What a great story, Deb, and a testament to a couple who’ve chosen to make unselfish commitments to each other. And I’ve known you for many years, so I can vouch for your sincerity. I’ve never known a happier person than Deb which is why I felt the nudge to ask her to chat today. I realize that many, many folks have stories that did not turn out so well. But in Deb’s story is such an important truth—three can make a marriage work—a very committed couple plus God.
DEB: And to promote Patty's series on romance, I'm giving away autographed copies of Insight, my newest novel just now showing up in bookstores from Steeple Hill Women's Fiction. I'll mail free copies to the first five readers who visit Patty's site and email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the answer to this question:
"How long have Deb's parents been married?"
Today is the first day of Romancing the Authors Week on Words to Go, a week where authors share the pinnacles and pitfalls of being in love.
All bloggers posting will be entered in a book give-away. Friday I’ll give away THREE copies of Earthly Vows. Your name can be entered once a day or five times this week. Just post feedback, thoughts, and, of course, your own stories of love or love lost. You are dearly cherished, friends, no matter what your story.
Tomorrow! Romance author and editor Karen Ball shares how her own love life went from disaster to a higher plane.
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