10 Jan Making Love Last: Investing in Your Marriage in 2018
Welcome back to reality! It’s the second week of January and we’re all likely back to our daily routines with hopefully a few New Year’s resolutions still going strong.
I’m so excited to be here with my friend, Laura Taggart, a gifted marriage and family therapist (and writer!) to talk about her book, Making Love Last.
Laura blessed us with some holiday wisdom on managing stress last month and she’s back today to answer some questions for us as we think about our marriages this coming year.
In case you missed her last post, here’s a brief description of how awesome she is: Laura has been a Marriage and Family Therapist for thirty years specializing in couples therapy and trauma. She has served as an adjunct professor of counseling for Fuller Theological Seminary, northern California. She has a wonderful hubby of 42 years, two adult children who are married and two beautiful grandsons who thankfully live nearby! When she’s not writing, counseling, and being “Nana,” she enjoys hiking, kayaking, golfing, travel, and chocolate.
Laura, welcome to Missionary Mama, thank you so much for taking the time to do an interview with us. Let’s dive right in!
1.) Tell us a little bit about your book, Making Love Last, how did this idea first come to you and why did you feel compelled to write a book for married millennials?
I have had a lifelong passion for marriage. During the years I served as Director of Marriage and Family ministry for our church, I interviewed many young couples for our marriage mentoring program that were seriously struggling and felt ill equipped to handle the conflict and challenges of marriage. Their stories along with those of my clients and the notable divorce rate among those married 5-10 years (32%) prompted me to write the book.
There is little specific help for young couples. My book helps them reimagine what marriage can be and challenges some assumptions in the culture that weaken marriage. A basic premise of the book is that the very purpose of marriage is to transform us into more loving people and that our mate is an agent of that change. It also provides very practical help on the real skills of married life: coping with differences, navigating conflict, overcoming barriers to intimacy, nourishing connection, etc.
2.) When I first met you for coffee, you shared a wonderful piece of advice your editor gave you about the writing process. How did that advice shape your writing process?
Thinking about writing for a specific couple helped me to focus. Picturing the couple in dire need of help prompted me to give specific and practical help, making sure my stories, examples, and research were purposeful and relatable. I also wanted to ensure that it was hopeful and encouraging.
3.) The first time I heard you speak, you gave an amazing presentation about intimacy in marriage (Ladies, you can watch it here). One of the things I love about you is that you’re not afraid to talk honestly and openly about intimacy in marriage (and you use some great data and research to support your points!). Why do you think this topic is so difficult, particularly in Christian circles, for couples to discuss? What is one tip you’ve found useful in your practice to help couples cultivate more open dialogue around physical intimacy?
The topic of intimacy is challenging for most couples because the husband and wife very often have different concepts of what intimacy is. Men often think of intimacy in sexual terms and wives often see it as primarily emotional. Because they see it differently, they also have different longings and expectations of their mate. It is also difficult because physical intimacy can be associated negative experiences of pain, guilt and disillusionment.
I think Christians tend to hide their difficulties in this area more because there are more “shoulds” and shame associated with sex. Unfortunately, many who grew up in Christian homes received negative messaging about sex altogether, rather than being taught a healthy and balanced view of their sexuality. If they have had sexual experiences outside their marriage relationship, they are less likely to discuss them openly and heal from any sexual wounding. Consequently, they often feel less comfortable addressing sexual issues in their marriages. They often believe they should have it more together and admitting their challenges is embarrassing.
One tip I offer is to invite the couple to share with each other one thing they used to like about their physical connection, one thing they enjoy now, and one thing they’d like to enjoy in the future. This gets them talking about what brings them pleasure and a sense of connection which is a beginning to opening up dialogue in this tender area.
4.) Your book is an excellent resource, but in addition to your book, are there any other books or resources about marriage or parenting that you frequently find yourself recommending?
The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller is an excellent resource for a thoroughly biblical understanding of marriage. He is a deep theologian and I appreciate his high view of marriage. I also recommend Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. His subtitle resonates with me: “What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?” I see marriage as a very dynamic and transformational process where two human beings are shaped into more loving, godly people. Gary’s book is all about how God does this and I think it’s a good word in a world where expecting ones’ mate to be responsible for making us happy is the norm.
6.) Looking ahead to 2018, what are you excited about in the upcoming year and what do you feel the Lord prompting you to pursue?
I am excited about 2018! This journey of becoming a writer has had many surprises and lots of learning. I’ve likened it to holding on to the end of a kite and not knowing exactly where it’s going but I’m determined to hang on! I do have quite a number of speaking engagements on the calendar which I do enjoy. I currently have a book proposal in to my publisher and will see if that materializes. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to do my blogging and writing and enjoy the ride!
7.) Where can we find out more about your book, Making Love Last?
You can find out more and read reviews on my website at www.laurataggart.com. I have also created a podcast with my young married friend and fellow therapist, Teagan Darnell, that gives you a taste of each chapter of the book. You can find the podcast on ITunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/making-love-last/id1300201298?mt=2
Thank you, Laura!