Marriage can be amazing . . . and it can also be really hard. Readers, I’m super excited to introduce you today to Lori Lowe. Lori researches and blogs about insights and strategies that contribute to a healthy, successful marriage. Her book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss, details real-life stories of couples who made it through tremendously difficult circumstances–and came through it with a stronger marriage.
Welcome, Lori! Please tell us a little about yourself.
I live in Indianapolis with my hubby (a pilot who keeps me grounded) and two school-aged children. Becoming a parent has been the most satisfying—and challenging—role of my life. And it often causes me to contemplate how I have a responsibility in trying to make the world a better place.
I’ve run a communications business since 1995 focusing on health care communications, so I get to use writing in different ways in my work. I was very satisfied in my consulting work, but I felt a calling to write something that would be more substantive and lasting and that would use my journalistic training.
How did you become so passionate about marriage? What drew you to focus on this topic?
As a Gen-Xer, I was born during a doubling of the divorce rate. A child of divorce myself, I experienced the pain of family division and its long-lasting effects. I was blessed to marry my college sweetheart in 1995, but I realized how many in our generation lacked positive marriage role models—particularly for how to protect marriages in times of crises. What’s more, the culture didn’t seem to even see much value in marriage at all.
I began to research how marriage has positively contributed to our society, and to seek out extraordinary couples with unique stories. Many had experienced great adversity in their lives, but had used those challenges to improve their marriages instead of ending them.
I’m passionate about marriage because it’s a part of my faith tradition and teaching, but also because I have experienced the amazing gift of having a strong marriage. We know through tons of data that marriage has many societal and economic benefits, but I think the strongest benefit is for the children who are fortunate to grow up living with their two married parents. Being a part of an intact family benefits them emotionally, educationally, physically, spiritually and financially. This is something that motivates me to a great extent.
I read your book First Kiss to Lasting Bliss in my book club and I was really blown-away by the real-life stories of couples weathering some major struggles. Can you tell my readers a bit about your book? Why did you want to write it?
My premise going in was that if more people had strong role models that gave them hope that even difficult marriage problems could be solved, and that their marriage could not only survive, but thrive despite obstacles, this hope could save marriages.
I knew that the role models would have to be amazing enough to raise the hairs on your arms and yet emotionally compelling enough to make you feel personally connected.
With the help of personal networking, Internet research, and the useful site HelpaReporter.com, I began connecting with couples across the country who experienced everything from drug addiction, the death of a child, life-altering injuries, military separation, differing religious beliefs, infidelity, infertility, bankruptcy, depression, and much more. They used their experiences and lessons to enhance their marriage bonds. After interviewing couples for two years, I narrowed my book down to a dozen real-life stories that I thought would be the most instructive and inspiring to readers.
I felt like I got to know these couples personally. I cried with them over the pain of stranger rape, of the memories of fighting battles in Iraq with their families back home, or losing adult children to cancer and little babies to unknown illnesses. I pressed them for details about how a wife could not know her husband was addicted to cocaine. I celebrated with them that many of these disasters occurred decades ago and were credited with strengthening their unions. In short, I learned a lot and I wanted to share their remarkable stories.
My research tells me that our generation likes to decide things for ourselves and have all the information that can help with life decisions. So, while I include some lessons I gleaned from the couples, I want the reader to come to his or her own conclusions and to think about how they might handle various situations. Interestingly, everyone seems to connect with different couples who were profiled, based on their own situations.
How were you personally challenged or inspired by the research you did into these couples’ stories?
One thing that stands out to me is that the experience has caused me to have so much gratitude for my life and all the great people I have in it. Whether the stories of adversity had to do with uncontrollable occurrences or poor decision making, they just made me more thankful for what has turned out well in my life. I understand the value of expressing gratitude and the effect that has on a relationship. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring, so it’s best to be as prepared as you can be. I’ve also learned the importance of having a forgiving heart, of making a daily effort to be loving, and of the need to constantly cultivate intimacy.
Your web site, Marriage Gems, is all about sharing researched-based insights for building a lasting marriage.
At the same time I was interviewing couples, I also read and synthesized lots of research on what makes relationships work well, and what is shown to make marriages last longer and be more highly satisfying. I didn’t expect to enjoy this process so well, but I really took to it. And I also enjoyed sharing the research-based tips on my blog, MarriageGems.com.
The blog began as a way to develop a following for the book, but it took on a life of its own, especially after one of my posts went viral: We all married the wrong person. As I put months and years into blog writing, I started getting more comfortable sharing my own opinions and interacting more with readers.
The upside is that there are now more than 500 marriage tips on the site, along with free e-books. The downside is that the blog takes countless hours to maintain. I probably could not have kept it up if I didn’t enjoy it so much.
Each useful thing I learn/share helps remind me to do things better in my own marriage—to increase the ratio of positive-to-negative interactions, to give my spouse the benefit of the doubt, to have realistic expectations, to enhance our intimate life as much as we can, to grow together spiritually, and to remember to have fun like we did when we were first dating.
I think marriage is not about becoming a success story; it’s about working every day to actively love (even sacrificially) and to allow ourselves to be loved.
Marriage Gems and your book both highlight principles and attitudes that can help couples get through “make it or break it” times. What are some of the key ideas for creating a lasting marriage that stand out most to you?
We live in a high-pressure world, and that pressure can either help cement our bond or break it apart. While our culture supports a what’s-in-it-for-me attitude, it’s the generous couples who get ahead. Your spouse can’t meet all your needs and, your spouse doesn’t “complete” you, as Hollywood would have us believe. We each have to be responsible for what we bring to the marriage.
Marriage requires daily effort and time. When crises happen, it’s easy to assume your spouse is thinking the worst. Even when you’re going through tough times, it’s important to make time to spend together to talk, to have fun, to participate in the adventures of life together.
I was fortunate enough to marry my best friend, and we have a lot of fun together. I’m very glad we’re on this life journey together. But he isn’t my source of hope. That’s a bigger job for a bigger God.
Lori, thanks again for visiting. I hope my readers can check out Marriage Gems for inspiration in their own marriages! Friends, you can also find Lori on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/LastingBliss), Twitter (www.Twitter.com/LoriLowe), and her other web site www.LoriDLowe.com.