A lot of films and documentaries these days seem to have special features detailing the making of the work and what exactly went on behind the scenes to achieve the shots, the look, and authenticity of the final edit. I thought that it may also be interesting for you to know what went on behind the scenes and what inspired me to write: ‘In Bed with Adam and Eve: Your Guide to a Healthy Marriage’.
After my couples therapy training, I’d thought to myself, ‘What material is out there to help Christian couples at a deeper psychological level?’I was particularly concerned for couples who needed something like couples therapy, but who wouldn’t necessarily access it, and who wouldn’t read a mainstream psychology self-help book. Perhaps having concerns that the guidance wouldn’t be compatible with their faith. I wanted to make it easy for Christian couples to access self-help material that was primarily psychological, providing a depth and breadth of knowledge about relationship issues.
Linking psychological ideas with a Christian framework
I found my couples therapy training fascinating and I remember trying to explain some of the concepts to my friends and I started to use examples of relationship issues from the Bible to help. It dawned on me, that perhaps this is just what Christian couples need, a way of linking the new psychological ideas with their existing Christian framework and knowledge. I thought to myself ‘I could do that.’I’d always wanted to write a book and used to joke with a close friend that we should both try and write a book before we turned thirty. Well, thirty has been and gone and I’d always thought that I would have written a novel, but I realised that maybe this is the book that I’ve got inside of me, waiting to be written.
The idea of ‘couple fit’
To begin with, I knew that I wanted to write about the idea of ‘couple fit’ and how unconscious processes and projections happen between couples. In chapter one I introduced some fictional case studies and described Jenny and Mike’s‘couple fit’ and Andy and Rose’s‘couple fit’. Then I started to think about Jesus’ emotional anguish in the garden of Gethsemane just before he was crucified and the interactions with his disciples. I used this moving scene from the Bible to help think about some of the unconscious processes that may be going on for some couples when they experience pain or anger. Specifically, the difficulties partners sometimes have in remaining conscious, awake, and ready to explore these emotions, as opposed to ignoring them or metaphorically ‘falling asleep’, like the disciples did in Jesus’ hour of need.
You may recall Jesus’ sense of disappointment after he had asked them to remain awake with him: ‘Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?” Mark 14:37. We too, can feel disappointed when our partner is not able to stay awake, connected and explore difficult emotions with us. The reason why certain emotions may be difficult for our spouse can be related to issues to do with one’s ‘couple fit’.
I wanted to help couples to explore possible projections and what their ‘couple fit’ may be, so I provided some questions to help open up discussions at the end of this chapter. Later, I decided it would be helpful to incorporate the topic of transitions in marriage and how one’s ‘couple fit’ may influence these. Thinking about ‘couple fit’ is difficult concept, so I wanted to provide more than one way for couples to identify this and look at repeating patterns from their family of origin. This resulted in me providing couples with the tools and guidance to draw genograms (family trees) and accompanying questions so that they could find out more about this. Then I put together some prayer points at the end of the chapter and Bible verses to help couples address the area of projections and strong emotions on a spiritual level. When this was done, chapter one was complete.
The idea of the ‘marital triangle’
Next, I wanted to have a chapter focused on the all-important idea of the ‘marital triangle’ and issues about separateness and togetherness for couples. So I started to try to think about what relationship in the Bible could help to illustrate this. Then I thought about the idea of the Holy Trinity. In particular, the period of time when Jesus was on earth, separate yet still connected with God the Father and the Holy Spirit because this provides us with a helpful example of separateness and togetherness. Before writing about the ‘marital triangle’, I started at the beginning looking at the family triangle and the potential misalignments between a wife and husband and their children. Specifically, exploring how these type of misalignments could impact intimacy in marriage.
Alignments with one’s in-laws are also thought about in relation to this whole topic. These ideas started to sink into place, the writing began to flow and chapter two was written, with plenty of diagrams of all the above triangles as useful illustrations. For those of you who like diagrams, this is a good chapter for you.
Feelings of betrayal
I knew it was going to be important to look at feelings of betrayal in couple relationships and how the high expectations and ideals we have for marriage can lead to a sense of disappointment. I’d read a complex psychology journal about this, based on some of the famous psychotherapist, Melanie Klein’s ideas and I immediately realised that this had to be written about in my book.
The dilemma was, ‘How I was going to make it readable and digestible for the non-psychologist and Christian couples?’ Well, there’s a couple relationship in the Bible where betrayal and hope and ideals are shattered in many ways and that’s the story of Samson and Delilah. I thought that this couple relationship would help to illustrate some of the key points in a fascinating way. Of course, the case studies also helped, and I’d been particularly moved by the film ‘The Painted Veil’. I realised that the couple from the movie would provide an excellent example of some of the psychological issues too. All of this formed chapter four.
So, as you may have noticed, I skipped chapter three and went back to it. I knew that I needed to provide couples with some further help around being ‘differentiated’ and other fairly complex psychological ideas. And I knew it would take a lot of concentration and hard work on my part to make the concepts easily digestible for the reader. This was probably why I put off writing chapter three. There were lots of interesting Biblical examples for me to use, as well as the relationship between Queen Esther and King Xerxes. When I was writing the chapter, I realised that I’d always primarily thought of Esther as the main character in the story (after all, the Biblical book is entitled ‘Esther’)and hadn’t really paid so much attention to the dynamics in her marriage. In fact, I realised that I wasn’t even sure of the name of the King, King Xerxes her husband.
So it was an interesting exercise for me to think about their relationship in psychological terms. It made me look at the well-known Biblical story in a new light and I hoped that this would give pleasure and spark interest for others, just as it had for me. In the end I was pleased with chapter three and it felt good that I could move onto chapter 5: resentment and forgiveness.
Finishing the book
So, you probably have an idea of how I went about writing some of the early chapters and some of the content of those chapters. The rest of the content of the book evolved in a similar manner. The psychological material laid out and interweaved with case studies, Biblical material and examples of couples from the Bible. All finished off with some psychological self-help exercises and then spiritual exercises at the end of each chapter.
I hope that you enjoy exploring the contents of the book for yourself and that you enjoy ‘Your guide to a healthy marriage’.