They’re both professors at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. But more importantly to us is the fact that they’re both in a long-term marriage. Geoff has been married to Maureen for more than 35 years. Kathy has been married to Dave for more than 40 years. They both know what it’s like to be in the middle of marriage, how to be a friend to their spouse, and how to build friendships as couples.
They’re not just talking theory on how to make the most from your couple friendships – they’re living it!
Research Concepts from Two Plus Two
What struck me first about their research is how easy it was to understand.
Deal and Geif have interviewed 123 couples together, 122 individuals who are part of a couple, 58 divorced individuals, two couples who have been friends for more than 40 years, and a group of seven couples who have been meeting for years together.
…mutual respect and enjoyment of each other’s company. They tend to know each other intimately – they are well versed in each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes and dreams. They have an abiding regard for each other and express this fondness not just in the big ways but in little ways day in and day out.
And then go on to cite many other researchers’ points on why friendships are a healthy part of life.
I found it interesting and helpful how they dealt with some of the factors that make friendships with other couples both a challenge and a joy:
differences between women and men
age as a factor in friendships
race as a factor in friendships
socioeconomic class in friendships
how parents modeled friendships (positive & negative)
partnered vs married
extended family connections that (may) impede making outside friendships
how to fit in couple friendships into your life as husband and wife
“love him – hate her” issue in couple friendships
how television/social media has impacted our view of couple friendships
After researching they’ve come to the conclusion that there are two ways of thinking about couple friendships: Style and Interaction. These two concepts are going to help you navigate how to make the most from your couple friendships.
“The most outgoing couples we call Seekers. These couples seek other couples for social, intellectual, and emotional stimulation. Both partners enjoy the company of others.
A second, and the largest group of couples, are ones we call Keepers. They tend to see couple friends as an important but not vital part of their lives. They have a significant number of friends, are close with those friends, and are not too interested in making new couple friends.
Nesters. A third group of couples that we see from our research are those that are not particularly interested in couple friendships. Either or both partners do not place a high value on them,and they are content to just spend time with the other partner, with their individual friends, or with one or two close couples. They are not oriented by personality style to a great deal of socializing with other couples. We call them Nesters because, without putting any value on their behavior, they are content to be in their nest with just each other or with a small group of friends. Some Nesters found each other late in life or in a second marriage and are fiercely protective of the time they have.”
Moving forward in the book, from Greif and Deal’s research they show how these three styles of interactors “live out their friendships and how a couple’s interaction style affects what they do when they get together.”
What we need to know is that each couple might have different friendship styles. For example, I’m a Nester and Robert is a Keeper in couple friendship styles. Or, (to add complexity) an individual in a couple relationship could have an affinity for two of the three styles…
Bottom line? Knowing each other’s friendship style is important when you’re negotiating who you’ll be spending time with, and how often, and how to make the most from your couple friendships.
Interaction in Couple Friendships
Imagine a sliding continuum: Fun Seekers to Emotion Seekers.
In their research, Greif and Deal suggest that more than two-thirds of those they interviewed identified with the fun seeking description in couple friendships. They hung out together, and the emphasis was on “doing something”. Most often the Fun Seekers had children under 18 in their home, in comparison to couples who leaned toward emotion sharing friendships who didn’t have dependents living with them.
Others referred to the best kinds of couple friendships as being able to do both – share emotions, and thoughts along with enjoyment when doing things together.
“We did discover characteristics of emotion sharing couples, however, that distinguish them from fun sharing couples. Emotion sharing couples tend to identify couple friendships as more important to them than do fun sharing couples. They tend to describe a strong emotional investment in the couple friendships that they have. Further, they tend to be more affected by the breakup or divorce of their couple friends than are fun sharing couples. They have invested more in their couple friends and thus lose more when the friendships dissolve. Emotion sharing couples frequently mentioned how important couple friendships were to their lives, at times referring to another couple as “like family.””
Well – there probably won’t be final thoughts on this book.. 😉 There’s so much to ponder and review.
It’s a book heavy on theory, research, notations, and citations, etc. What makes it readable for a non-academic is how the authors have woven in the personal stories of the couples they’ve interviewed. Those stories make the theory real and relatable to make the most from your couple friendships. From all the chapters, these are the most practical:
I especially enjoyed Chapter 10 – Building Couple Friendships for the Future because this section answered the questions on how to make the most from your couple friendships.Deal and Greif provide insights from the couples who they interviewed and their own recommendations.
Appendix B has questions for marriage enrichment groups that I’m looking forward to asking our own couple friends!
Appendix C has a couple’s quiz to explore whether you’re a seeker, keeper or nester.
The whole book is fascinating if you’re someone who likes to gather insights and data. It felt like candy to me… 🙂
But I need to be clear with you — this is NOT a self-help book.
There aren’t “x” number of steps to make better friendships… It’s about research on the topic. And from the authors’ view, this might be the only book on this topic.
Why are we talking about this book?
Our discussion started with our first mid-marriage encouragement topic: making new connections in the middle of marriage… and how hard it is!
Take a look at our video— We’re reaching out – kicking it up a notch in 2017- to encourage YOU!
We challenge you to reach out and make new friends!
Don’t let the age or stage or your marriage deprive you of the depth that good friends can provide for your life.
Who could you call today – and make a time for a double-date?
Plan your evening. Then get up and have a remarkable day. Oh, wouldn’t that be wonderful?I’ve been having difficulty with my days – most have been disjointed and unproductive. Can you relate?
Some of my disjointed-ness might be attributed to our nomadic lifestyle. We’re sleeping in different beds two or three times a week, and shlepping our stuff from house-sitting, back to the RV, and then onto taking care of dogs at another house. Don’t misunderstand me – I LOVE our experiences. I’m having such fun with soaking in a hot-tub and looking up at the blue sky at one house-sit, (along with cooking in a real oven, and having a washer/dryer at hand!) and loving on two big dogs at the other house-sit.
I thought all this moving about was messing with my productivity during the day – it’s not!
It occurred to me – it’s not so much what I’m doing during the day that’s the big problem – it’s my evenings!
Rob and I are indulging in multiple episodes of Big Bang Theory on video.
I’m not watching the time – and go to bed much too late – with my head full of computer or TV stuff
Instagram, twitter and other social media are sucking me in and it’s mindless
The evenings are being eaten up by stupid, mindless stuff. Worse yet, none of what I’m doing is preparing me for the day ahead. After an evening of messing-about, I don’t sleep well. And then the next day begins and I’m already at a disadvantage. (sigh) And this doesn’t help Rob or me or anyone else. At all.
I decided to invest in her course. 14 Days. 14 Videos. A 59-page digital workbook. It seemed like a do-able investment for a reasonable investment to plan your evening…
And I’ve been working through it.
Plan Your Evening
At first I believed the course would be like making a list and following that list. But it’s so much more. Crystal started off by encouraging me to think about why I want a change… the prompt included these questions:
What is the most frustrating thing in my life right now?
What is one area that, if changed, would make the biggest impact?
What am I struggling with most right now?
What drew me to consider starting this course in the frst place?
At the end of this course, if I only changed one thing, what one thing would make the biggest difference in my life?
Over the 14 days she had me looking at my calendar, facing my flaws (my greatest is procrastination, if you didn’t already know), deciding how to prep for the day ahead, priortizing what’s really important, and more.
14 Days of doing things differently in the evening has resulted in remarkable days!
(At the end of this post I have some photos of what Rob and I have been working on! It’s a brand new experience!)
What does my planned evening look like?
Your evenings will look different than mine – especially if you have growing children at home! But here’s a little insight into how I’ve changed my evening, despite our nomadic lifestyle:
I no longer join Rob for his nightly Big Bang episode(s) – they weren’t meeting my needs
we pray together before we both are in bed, because he goes to bed after I do.
the computer is shut down by 8PM & I read before bed – things that will help my mind settle for sleep
deciding the priorities for the next day, including making sure we have breakfast planned
and more that makes for a better sleep, and a remarkable day ahead
Is it all working well? No. I still struggle with procrastinating, and the time still gets away with me. But it’s only been a few weeks.
And you know what’s different… ?
I have a PLAN!
I think that’s the biggest benefit for me after going through this course – I have a plan to have a better evening. I really, truly understand the deeper reason why I need a plan for my evenings – and that keeps me focused.
No matter where I’m going to sleep (in our little-house-on-wheels, or in a hotel, or taking care of someone’s dogs/home while they’re away), I have a plan for my evening that will start the next day well – wherever I am. Remarkable.
I need more remarkable days in my life… don’t you?
Yes. I am an affiliate for this course to plan your evening. At no cost to you, I’ll receive a commission if you purchase. I became an affilitate because this product is working for me. It has value – with a 59-page workbook, worksheets included, and videos that are to-the-point. (I’m not a fan of fluff.)
I’ve been sharing what I’m learning with Rob, and it’s one reason we’ve decided to change how we pray in the evening (the timing and intention). Though this course isn’t designed to change your family’s evening – just yours – it’ll have a positive impact on everyone in your family, including your spouse!
What have we been doing since January?
How have our days been remarkable? Well – we’ve been stepping out in faith… even though we’re not pretty TV people… and we’ve been making videos! For you! Mid-marriage Encouragement Videos. To learn more, go to our Patreon page!We will be posting one video every week.
The first part of each video is scripted – and short, usually around 25 seconds. The second half of each video is longer (up to 5 minutes), where we discuss the concept and provide insights and suggestions to challenge you and your spouse to lead a meaningful life! We have 30 videos in the works. We record at YourLocalStudio in front of a green-screen. Then I chose a background (suggestions from Instagram were for us to be in the kitchen!). I’m learning to edit using Premier Pro, including adding in background music and transitions!
Love at First Fight. Yes. Fight. (Not Sight.) Fun word switch, huh?
Rob and I have been reading a newly released book by a husband and wife ministry team. Dena and Carey are married 20-some years. They’re parents of two boys. They entertain. They make people laugh. They’re Jesus-followers who write, sing, and do all the normal stuff that life and marriage entails. Sometimes they fight. In their latest project together, they’re talking about taking the gloves off…
Do you and your spouse fight?
Maybe, like us, you don’t call it “fighting”. Maybe you call it a discussion. A conversation. Or arguing. Or disagreeing.
Whatever words you use to describe what happens when the two of you have different opinions on a topic, the most important aspect is what comes after the fight…
What happens in your relationship after you fight? Are you able to…
take a step back and cool off?
laugh a bit – because the situation isn’t as important as you thought?
discuss your different opinions on the issue?
If you need to increase your ability to do any of these three things, then this book might help.
He Said. She Said. There’s always two sides.
Rob and I come at the same situation from very different perspectives. Always. That’s normal, because we’re two different people. We’re unique. So are you and your spouse.
Do you take the time to explore both of your perspectives?
Dena and Carey Dyer are as unique as you and me, and our spouses… They have different perspectives about the same situations. In their book, “Love at First Fight“, they detail their different perspectives in a “he said” and “she said” format.
If you find it a challenge to listen… and really hear what your spouse is saying about a situation, then this book will be a great lesson in seeing two sides of the same event. Each of the 52 story-meditations have the format of both Carey and Dena’s perspectives.
What makes it great for us – the readers – is that it’s not our story! We have a third-party view into how two people see the same issue.
And each story is so well written. They’ll make you laugh, as they talk about culture shock when relocating as newlyweds, They’ll make you ponder as they talk about how a husband views the concept of “cherishing” his wife, and how she views the action. Humor is woven through the most concerning of topics, including sex in marriage, chronic illness, spiritual leadership, forgiveness, and more.
Each of the 52 story meditations are an easy, quick read. There’s no slogging through compicated words or concepts. The topics are about real life, with real life wording and phrases. Each topic is tied to a Biblical word, with a Scripture verse included, and a short prayer.
The topics covered are chronological according to the Dyer’s married life – topics we all encountered as newlyweds. (So the book is relevant for those married even a few months.) Then there are topics covered as the Dyers are married more years, exploring parenthood, and careers. This makes the book relevant for those married 10 or more years.
The Dyers are in their 40’s as they write this book. They’re married twenty-some years. Because Rob and I are now further down the road, and our kids are grown and we’ve been exploring the shock of grandparent-hood, the book finishes before they’ve discussed some of the issues we have been experiencing. That’s not bad. Just not as helpful for us.
However, there is more to each topic that we found valuable.
But wait, there’s more!
I’ve told you about the “he said” and “she said” portion of each story-meditation… there’s more. It pertains to the third aspect I said you could learn using this book. How to discuss an issue.
Questions to discuss an issue.
For each topic, after we’ve read Carey’s perspective, and Dena’s view, there’s a section called, “Taking off the gloves.”. These sections have three questions pertaining to each topic. As a whole, Rob and I really like the questions. They’re real. They’re relevant for anyone at any stage of marriage.
The questions have value for the future of your relationship, because they round out what you’ve been reading, and give you a chance to discuss important topics before they show up in crisis mode. As entertaining as the story-meditations are, I think the real value of this book is in the questions for you and your spouse. (Provided you discuss them.)
Each story-meditation ends with “Tips from the Pros”
To finish each of the 52 stories and questions, is a quote from different couples married for years. It’s a really nice way to end each topic.
Who should read this book?
It would be easy to say, “Every married person should read this book.” But I won’t say that. As I mentioned earlier, it isn’t a book that is as helpful for Rob and me as it would be for a couple married a few years. However, we found value in the questions… and we laughed. (We like to laugh.)
If you say “yes” to any of the statements below, then this book will be a valuable read for you and your spouse:
Reading a book about marriage with my spouse feels daunting. (Either because neither of you like to read, or you’re concerned you’ll feel overwhelmed/judged/preached to… or you think it’ll be boring.) If you said “yes” to any part of this statement, this book might be a good one for you. It’s funny. You’ll laugh. There’s no preaching, but it is tied to Scripture. You can easily read one topic each week, and talk about one or more of the questions, and you’ll be done in less than an hour. One year later you’ll have enriched your marriage by reading a book together. Bada-boom bada-bing! Easy.
Finding a way to start a conversation – a real, and deep conversation – is a challenge. Many couples go through stages where their talk is all “hallway” talk…. They talk about what’s for dinner, or what they’re doing on the weekend, but there’s no deeper heart-sharing conversation. That’s OK. Happens to all of us, at every stage. But if you want to deepen your conversations and talk about relevant things, then the topics and questions in this book will make an impact. You’ll grow in your ability to have a great conversation with your spouse.
I want to fit my faith – my belief in Jesus and the Gospel – into my marriage. I want to live the Gospel with my spouse. Because each of the 52 story-based meditations has a Scriptural foundation (without being preachy), this book provides an easy way to consider how the Gospel can shape your marriage relationship.
Final thoughts about this book…
Though it’s not a deep or profound book, “Love at First Fight”is a real and relevant book. It’s funny. It’s easy to read. When you think of the cost – under $10 – I’d consider the pay-back, the growth of your marriage and the laughter the two of you could share, a small investment for a great dividend. We received a free copy of this book to review. And…
The publisher has offered a copy for us to give away to a reader!
Would you like to win a copy of this book – “Love at First Fight”? Leave a comment – I’ll choose a random winner on October 1, 2016 from those who answer this question in the comments below::
“What’s the “word” you use when you and your spouse disagree? Do you call it a “fight”… or “argument”… or “bickering” or “spat” or “quarrel” or… 🙂
There were fiction books, and non-fiction. Christian focused, kid focused and memoirs. Most were self-published. One book had poems by a 12-year old, and another book was a history of unique messages one family sent every Christmas. (That one was interesting because they created poems for each message. I don’t think I could be that creative!)
It’s a book about staying in love – about enriching your marriage.
In his book, Garascia talks about the quest to find
a life-time lover,
The chapter I found most interesting was his focus on friendship in marriage.
“Part of your attraction to each other was based on admiring certain values and principles in the other. These meaning generating values can become tarnished and rusty if they are neglected due to the hassles of work, parenting and other commitments.
It’s important to nourish your souls by giving yourself the time to check in and deepen your common values.”
Which values do you and your spouse share?
Have you talked about values with your spouse? (Robert and I have decided on three shared values: Optimism, Loyalty and Discovery.) Garascia goes on to state,
Even though friendships are formed around common values, married couples often neglect to surface these values and talk about them… it’s a good idea to revisit the values that originally united the two of you.
“Marriage, when it’s working right, can be seen as a community of wellness, where each of you actively seeks to be well, and encourages the other to seek wellness.”
Encouraging Wellness – what does that mean?
Think about these areas:
sense of humor
sense of help in the future
How can you encourage your spouse to be well in these interconnected parts? The author, Tony Garascia, provides questions to consider for readers to answer. I imagine it would make for an interesting discussion with your spouse…
Who is the author?
Tony Garascia is a practicing therapist in South Bend, Indiana at the Samaritan Counseling Center. He received his Masters in Counseling from Indiana University at South Bend in 1986. In addition he received a Masters in Liturgical Studies in 1978 from the Catholic University of America.
Tony has years of experience counseling individuals, couples, families, adolescents and children. His areas of specialty include marriage and relationship issues, family difficulties, depression and anxiety, traumatic stress and bereavement work and sexual identity issues. He works with clients from age seven up. He is the author of the popular marriage preparation programsBefore “I Do” and Catholic Remarriage (Ave Maria Press), of Rekindle the Passion While Raising Your Kids (Sorin Books), and of Getting Married, Living
Together (Ave Maria Press). He is licensed in the State of Indiana as a Clinical Social Worker and Clinical Addiction Counselor. He is a member of the American Counseling Association and the Indiana Counseling Association. He also is EMDR, Level II Certified.
He’s been married to Beth for more than 30 years, and they have 3 children.
(I love when authors dedicate their books to their spouse!)
Have you read any books by authors in your local area?
Leave a comment – let me know if you can recommend a local author’s book! (Check your library if you don’t know of any – I’m sure they’ll have suggestions!)
(This post contains affiliate links: the price of purchase is the same for you, but we get a few pennies! Thank you for your support! )