Today I'd like to welcome author Susan G. Mathis. Susan is a great lady. I remember when we first met at church earlier this year and I told her that I was fairly new to living in Colorado. Within no time, she invited me to lunch with her friends and fellow writers. Thanks to her, I've had the pleasure of being introduced to some great people, not to mention I've found a kindred spirit to confide in when the road gets tough.
Susan is the author of Countdown For Couples and the upcoming The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love and Happiness, a book addressing the joys and concerns of second marriages.
Hey, Susan! Thanks for stopping by to chat with me today. In The ReMarriage Adventure, you discuss the negative expectations that people often have heading into their second marriages, as opposed to the blissful expectations of their first. What can couples do to manage these expectations and make them healthy?
Our past experiences and our current circumstances can overshadow the bliss younger couples might have going into a first marriage. There might be issues of trust, safety, and security. A death or divorce may bring a cynical, or at least cautious, view of the future. Grief over the loss, sadness, depression, anger, pain, hurt, and trauma—these emotions and feelings can often affect your expectations of a second marriage and put undo pressure on your mate.
Because each of us is uniquely different from one another we must understand and manage each other’s expectations if we’re to have healthy relationships. As you move toward marriage, keep in mind that God expects you to serve each other unselfishly, accept one another’s unique personalities, needs, and differences, and be faithful to each other throughout your entire lives. God also expects you to love each other unconditionally, be merciful and forgiving, and be patient as you learn and grow together.
That's advice we can all adhere to.What are some of the most essential things a couple must know about each other before heading into another marriage? How did you and your husband Dale approach that?
While we were dating, Dale and I had driven to Estes Park, Colorado. We sat overlooking the beautiful mountains, sharing our past pain and heartache and asking each other question after question. It was a great place to discuss the possibility of our future together, to explore whether we were ready for a redemptive marriage. We promised to reveal our thoughts, fears, goals, and needs to each other completely before even considering a second marriage.
We made lists of things we wanted to know about each other—everything from how we were raised to finances, to roles and goals, to expectations and pet peeves, to sex and health issues, to our previous marriages and our children, to our relationships with God, and so much more. Being open and honest made us feel very vulnerable, but without complete honesty, we’d be marrying a person we didn’t really know. We first needed to know God’s plan for us.
Communication doesn’t come easily to everyone. If you could teach Relationship Communication 101, what would some of the major points be?
Patience is one of the most important keys to successful communication. If you want to be loved, respected, trusted, and at peace with yourself and your mate, then you'll need to patiently express these attributes to each other. It’s your content, the tone of your voice, and the nonverbal signals you send. Op
en and honest transparency is necessary.
Finances can be a major factor in a lot of divorces. Can you touch on a couple of the “financial danger signs” you mention on the book and how to address them?
Understanding each other’s money priorities and views is a critical first step. One may find that their mate has poor money management skills or unhealthy money attitudes that need to be addressed. If one of you has insufficient income to pay the bills, refuses to balance the checkbook regularly or is unwilling to work hard to make ends meet—these are signs of unhealthy financial thinking. It’s best to work through these problems early. An irresponsible financial attitude will certainly haunt you and hurt your relationship.
Also, for many second-marriage couples, the exes can often be a minefield and the cause of financial difficulties, such as alimony and child support payments. There may be ongoing financial frustrations with an ex.Whatever the case may be, challenges such as these can cause stress, so you must figure out how to manage them together.
Knowing that you and your mate have self-discipline and restraint is an important component. You need to come to a mutual agreement on how much you will spend and save, what sacrifices you will make, and what priorities you will establish. And when kids—and all their financial obligations—are involved, it can get pretty complicated!
I agree. I know from working at a law office just how much finances can be involved in the dissolution of a marriage. Ok, for our writers out there, how did you get started? Have you always been a writer?
My mother quips that I started my writing career when I signed my crayon drawings—on the foyer wall—with a great big “S”! Though I’m not sure that was the start I wanted, I can’t remember not writing.
My journey has been multi-faceted, and I consider my writing as a ministry. As a published author, a freelance writer and editor, a publication’s consultant, a writing coach, and a speaker, I’m simply passionate about working with words. And as the Former Editorial Director at Focus on the Family of 12 unique publications and Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine, I’ve written hundreds of magazine, newsletter and newspaper articles. It’s been a really fun journey!
Eric Liddel said, “When I run, I feel His pleasure,” and I can sure relate. When I write, I feel His pleasure! So even though it’s hard work, I enjoy it immensely.
Since I'm a morning person, I generally spend 3-4 hours plugging away, depending upon the project, deadlines, etc. I spend the first few minutes answering emails, checking on my social media pages, and planning my day. But then I buckle down and write, write, write! When I’ve exhausted my creativity, I take a break and move on to the editorial aspects of writing.
Write, read, and never stop growing in your craft. For me, I have to separate my writing self and my editing self, and I’d suggest others try and do that as well. It’s simply hard to be objective and edit well when you’re working so intensively and using your creativity. But when you edit, you have to be brutal about what works for the reader and what doesn’t.
Finally, I need to always remember why I am writing. In 2 Corinthians 9:12-15, Paul is talking to the Corinthians about giving and sowing into other people’s lives. Does this not apply to you and me as writers?
Well said, Susan, and thanks again for stopping by! Check out Susan's website at www.susangmathis.com and her book at http://www.remarriageadventure.com, CBD.com, and Amazon.com.