Can this marriage be saved? I wish I could say yes to everyone who asks me that question.
Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), you’re not the only one who has a say in the matter. So many factors affect your closest relationship, including how your mate feels about you … and about himself.
That doesn’t mean there’s absolutely nothing you can do to save your marriage.
For example, my first husband left me. Was it my fault or just his decision … and that everything was completely out of my control? I didn’t have the support I needed back then. Neither of us did. And I didn’t know a fraction of what I know now … with a bachelor’s, a master’s, and a doctorate … plus more than 25 years of clinical experience.
Would all this knowledge have made a difference? I don’t know. But I still wish I would have known then what I know now.
In the process of processing my own growth in the aftermath of divorce, I learned some vital information about men … and even more vital information about myself. And you can, too. But only if you’re open to letting go of outdated examples and learning something new.
If you’re not ready, that’s okay.
Being ready to learn and grow isn’t something you can just decide to do. It’s more like learning to walk. At 2 months of age, you didn’t just suddenly decide you were going to learn how to walk. You had to wait until you were physically ready for it before it even crossed your mind. First, your muscles developed and became more coordinated through a whole series of seemingly unrelated exercises. Then one day you were ready.
So it’s okay if you’re not ready for this either.
But if you are ready, this video series is for you.
When I was working as a clinical psychologist in Southern California, I loved to do seminars and workshops for men, women, and couples. My favorite couple’s workshop turned into my first published book. Actually, I wrote the first edition of this book FOR the workshop. I wanted the women to have something to take home and study, something they could continue to use as a manual for marriage. So each woman got a copy of the book’s first draft … in a 3-ring binder.
The Couples’ Workshop: a fun and fact-filled day
The Men’s Breakfast
I started out with the men in the morning. We had a great breakfast buffet with plenty of bacon and eggs and sausage, orange juice and coffee. All the good stuff they’re told to avoid. LOL! Then we sat around the table … just me and the guys, talking about women.
The conversation starter was, “What bugs you most about women?” It was a lively and lighthearted discussion, but it wasn’t long before the topic took on a more serious note.
I’d been counseling men for several years at that point, but I was surprised by their vulnerability, the way they supported one another, and … most of all … that I was allowed to be in this sacred space with them.
I knew that men like bullet points … as in “can you get to the point,” so I’d given them a half-sheet of paper with the numbers 1, 2, and 3 down the left side because I had three points to my presentation.
It seemed like a good idea.
I finished my first point and said, “Okay. Number 2.” One of the guys immediately said, “Number 2? I have like 10 things written down already!” The outline in my head was apparently more evident to me than my verbal expressions were to him. We all chuckled and moved on to Number 2. But I made a note to myself: Men listen in sentences while women speak in paragraphs. No wonder we confuse them!
The Women’s Luncheon & Workshop
The husbands left, and their wives arrived at noon for a lovely buffet luncheon in the courtyard. Then we moved into the chapel, where I spent the next several hours trying to explain what men think, how they feel, and why they do the things they do … instead of something else. More than one woman had a puzzled look on her face that afternoon. Good thing they had a book to take home with them.
The Dance of Romance
In both the husbands’ and wives’ sessions, I had used the waltz as a way to conceptualize the dance of romance that we call a happy marriage. So as part of my own dream-come-true, we had a dance that evening where we could put what we’d learned into practice in a fun and delightful way.
The ladies left the campus and returned two hours later with their husbands, all dressed up for dinner and dancing in the courtyard under sparkling lights with the gentle breeze of a fall evening. We learned, laughed, and played old-fashioned parlor games under the guidance of My Favorite Leader, the One and Only, Totally Amazing Cute Boy.
When registering for the event, one woman told me she was really worried about my ability to conduct a 12-hour workshop. “Won’t you be exhausted?”
My face lit up. “You don’t understand,” I said. “I’m doing a workshop from 9am-4pm. Then I’m going dancing!”
Scott and Kelly were in charge of the venue, and Fred led the evenings activities. So I just got to be the princess. It was great!
Ephesians 5 Romance, the Book
After the workshop, with more time to write and more info to share, I revised that first edition of the book and published it on Amazon.
Couples used it in counseling and as a guide for homework discussions.
A few people have even written to tell me that they saved their own marriages by working through the book together … without me!
So here I am … starting a new series here on YouTube by recording parts of the book for you. But before we begin, I want to give you an overview.
- One of my reviewers referred to the book as “inspirational and instructional.” A positive look at what your marriage could be, it’s jam-packed with encouragement and practical tips.
- Another reviewer said the book is filled with “snack-able content.” That is, you can “honey dip.” Just open to any page, and you will find a paragraph or two to lift your spirits or put you onto a new course of action.
Twenty-eight chapters are divided into 7 Parts.
Part 1: Your love story matters.
What happened to you growing up matters because it taught you about life and love and God. Some of what you learned is true. Some of it isn’t. That’s essentially what this book is … the Truth about Love.
Part 2: Our Father’s Love Story.
Starting with Creation, Adam, and Eve, and ending with the 5th Chapter of Ephesians (thus, the title), this part could easily be named “The Gospel According to Dr. Debi.” It’s a serious and lighthearted recap of how things went south in the beginning, providing a new paradigm for redeeming and restoring the male-female relationship as God intends it to be.
Part 3: The Psychology of Relationships.
Based in years of marital research, this part explains the science of love and what makes marriage work.
Part 4: The Beauty of a Woman.
These are the three bullet points (plus one over-arching principle) that I gave to the men that Saturday morning in Costa Mesa.
Part 5: The Wonder of a Man.
This is the longest part of the book because women are as confused about men as men are about women. And because women like lots of stories and details. It covers the stages of male development, why they do what they do, an how you can inspire your husband to be a better man. I also provide a succinct description of men’s emotional needs. Your husband will probably never give you this list, but many men have told me I got it right. So it’s worth your consideration. If you’re brave, you can ask him if I’m right.
Part 6: Life at the Tower of Babel.
The Old Testament story of Babel was about communication. And this part is about communication differences and the fact that sex means more than we think it does.
Part 7: Submission in the 21st Century.
This part explains what it submission is and … just as importantly … what it isn’t. By the way, while writing this part, I learned something new about myself.
Learning the Truth About Love
Most people read Ephesians 5 Romance more than once.
- The first time, they read it from their own perspective, that is, they focus on how I describe their gender’s experience. And they end up feeling understood and valued and wanting more for their marriage.
- The second time, they read it to learn about their mate. And that means even more surprises. I always encourage couples to ask one another if they think I got it right. Did I explain their own perspective correctly? If not, what is different for you?
- Some have even used Ephesians 5 Romance as their couple’s devotional book … even non-believers, believe it or not. It has proven to be a great way to open discussions about beliefs and values … whatever those may be.
So … I hope you’ll join me here or on YouTube. And if you watch the entire series, I may have a surprise coming for you at the end …
Take care and I’ll see you soon with the first lesson from Ephesians 5 Romance: The Truth About Love.