JoAnn Carter: That's an interesting question. When my husband asked me to marry him, I actually talked to my father about this very thing. You see, I never had an earth shattering experience of being head over heels "in love." I wondered if I was missing something. Hollywood made it look so different. My father in his wisdom (and understanding of me and how I think) asked if I'd want to live my life without Glenn. I knew for sure that I didn't. My dad smiled and said, "Then he's the one for you."
Your father was definitely a very wise man—such sage advice. Elaine, can you share with us when you first knew you were in love with your husband?
Elaine Cantrell: The first time I met my husband it was like a lightning strike. I was engaged to another guy at the time, but I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that my future was tied to the man I’d just met. We were college students at the time, and I saw him on campus a few times during the school year. Each time that sense of destiny grew stronger. The following spring I broke my engagement, making sure a certain young man knew about it. He asked me out, and we got married two years later.
So glad you followed your heart! Grace, do you fall head over heels in love or have your romances move more slowly emotionally?
Grace Greene: The romances in my stories have moved slowly on an emotional level, but usually following an initial instant attraction. The 'head over heels' feeling is often one-sided in the beginning. I do believe in love at first sight and falling in love ‘head over heels’; however, instant passion requires nurturing or it won't flourish - and that's how true love grows in my novels. Sometimes new sweethearts rush the love expecting it to grow without effort, but love requires careful tending or it will burn itself out. You'll see all of these types of love in BEACH RENTAL. In KINCAID'S HOPE, there's a twist on that approach to love: feelings of love may diminish due to lack of care over time; however, true love - like that of soul mates - will never fully extinguish and the slow-burning embers will always be susceptible to re-igniting.
Love your description slow-burning embers…susceptible to re-igniting. Very true that love requires nurturing and people don’t always realize that when they enter into a relationship. Meg, any advice for newly married couples on how to handle the emotional ups and downs of marriage?
Meg Mims: Be flexible. Laugh at yourself first. Share something every day with each other. Remember “this too shall pass.” Also that children will change *everything* so give your marriage a foundation before starting a family.
True, flexibility is so vital to a strong marriage.
Kendra James: In Missing Clayton, to come out later this year with Black Opal Books, Steve stays with Jenny after she finds out her son is missing, and later in the book, he risks his life to save her from her child’s kidnapper. That real love.
Definitely real love! Elaine, what does love mean to you?
Elaine Cooper: Eros is the love in a romance novel—that wonderful first kiss that gives a promise of better things to come! Phileo is love that looks out for your brother or sister—a giving love to others. Agape is the pure love that Christ teaches us to give, whether or not others return it to us. Unconditional love that Christ taught us by example.
Couldn’t have explained it better! Lyn, when did you first know you were in love with your husband?
Lyn Sofras: Oh this is going to sound so corny! We met when he was a junior hospital doctor at the hospital in which I also worked and though he professed ‘love at first sight’ for me, I have to be honest and say I wasn’t that interested in him at first…until one day, I happened to walk into one of the wards where he was attending to a patient. I seemed suddenly to see him in a new light. Yup, as I said, it’s as corny as it comes, but I fell in love with his bedside manner!
I can understand that. My husband “fell in love” with me first and I thought of him as just John, my good friend until one day the spark came for me when it hit me how much of a kind, genuine man he was. Thanks for sharing, Lyn.
JoAnn, have you ever given someone a selfless gift?
JoAnn Durgin: I have, but I’d like to tell you one that stands out in my mind that was given to me. It’s not a gift from my husband, and I’m sure he won’t mind I share it. I was dating a chemical engineering student and visited him on the Washington University campus outside St. Louis. There’s a tunnel in the middle of the campus, and it’s encouraged that the students paint graffiti on its walls. When I visited Mark, he seemed anxious and antsy and asked me to take a walk. I thought, “Oh, no, I’ve come all this way (by plane), and he’s breaking up with me right off the bat.” He walked me to the middle of campus and into the tunnel and breathed a huge sigh of relief as he pointed to the wall. “Good. It’s still here.” My conservative, quiet, thoughtful boyfriend had actually spray-painted on the wall, “JoAnn, I’m so glad you’re here.” I couldn’t believe he’d done it, and it touched me deeply.
Such a sweet, romantic thing for him to do! Can you share some more on what was the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your lifetime about love?
JoAnn Durgin: It’s true that in order to receive love, you have to be able to give love.
Couldn’t agree more. Now to JoAnn Carter, has your love with your husband grown stronger with the years?
JoAnn Carter: When I look back over the whole of the 19 years I can say, yes! I love my husband more now than ever. However, there are ups and downs we all face. Some days are downright hard to the point where you're almost willing to throw in the towel. Honestly, without God, and the commitment I made to Glenn before Him, my life might look a lot different right now.
Agreed that’s what it’s all about—making a commitment to love and sticking to it even when times get tough.
Elaine Cantrell: I think true love always grows stronger. I’ve been married for a long time now, and I can truthfully say I love him more today than I did on our wedding day. During the Christmas season he was working away from home, and one Friday we arranged to meet at a shopping mall to do some Christmas shopping. I saw him before he saw me. My heart leaped. He turned and smiled at me, and all at once I felt like I’d already gotten my Christmas gift.
Heart leaping feelings for your significant other are so wonderful and special. Grace, do you believe in being married to your best friend for a love that will last?
Grace Greene: Friendship is an important component to marriage and to love, but only in union that also has romantic love. Without the romantic love, there's a huge gap that will be filled, sooner or later, by someone who comes along outside of the 'friendly' marriage.
Very true—you need romance and that strong bond of friendship to make a marriage work. Meg, are you are you an emotional person or not so much…what about your significant other?
Meg Mims: I am easy to laugh, easy to lose my temper, a “git ‘er done” type. Hub is easy to laugh, but locks up anger and simmers it, plus he’s more of a perfectionist. We’ve had ups/down over 30 years, but we’re committed to each other. That’s the key.
Yes, commitment is key! Kendra, if you’re romantic and your significant other isn’t, how do you deal with that?
Kendra James: Hug the hell out of him. I love hugs and some people though they may pretend not to like them, learn to accept and enjoy them.
That’s been true for me. I’m not a huggy person, but my husband is and I, too, have learned to appreciate hugs. Elaine, when did you first know you were in love with your husband?
Elaine Cooper: It was quite nearly love at first sight! I obviously did not have the deep, abiding love that grows from a relationship, but there was an instant connection, as if I knew that he was “The One.” It still makes me smile after almost 37 years.
Finding the one is such a blessing to be cherished! Lynn, if you had any advice to give to a young married couple on keeping love alive in their marriage, what would you say?
Lyn Sofras: Be tolerant, respect each other and always communicate honestly and openly. You are a united team against the world and nothing and no one should come between you.
That’s true. You need to be a team and not allow outside influences to penetrate the foundation and create cracks. JoAnn, what’s the best lesson on love you’ve taught your children?
JoAnn Durgin: Love the Lord your God, first and foremost. Always look to Him for the right “guidelines” in life and love. Don’t give love away, don’t offer it too freely, don’t withhold it when it’s appropriate, don’t squander it, but also don’t shy away from it. Love is one of the most precious gifts the Lord gives us. It’s priceless, so treat it like the treasure and special gift it is. Another one of the invaluable lessons is how you live your life. Jim and I have tried to model a Christian marriage, and I trust our children have learned from us – both from our mistakes as well as our triumphs. They’re good kids, and we’re so blessed.
Thank you for sharing such good advice! Ladies, I’m having a blast and can’t thank you enough for chatting with me today. Let’s take another break and chat with our guests.
What advice would you share with a newlywed couple on how to build a strong and healthy marriage?