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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

PROFILE: Discovering Your Amazing Marriage with Jason Coleman


by Cyrus Webb (for the May/June issue of Conversations Magazine) www.conversationsmag.com
 
As someone who has never been married I don't even attempt to try and understand the challenges that today's couples face. If you look at the statistics, over half of all marriages fail. Why? There are many factors, but for me I always try and look towards the solution instead of focusing on the problem. For that I am happy to know individuals like Jason and Debby Coleman.
 
They have faced the highs and lows of life as a couple and understand firsthand how difficult things can be. What I love about them, however, is that they didn't allow the bad to outweigh the good in their relationship and they fought against all odds to make their marriage work---and that fight continues today.
 
How were they able to move forward when so many have given up? I asked Jason Coleman that question and more as I tried to understand and better appreciate how they made the decision to use their experiences to help others.
 
Here is our conversation.

How did your wife and you come to the decision to write the book DISCOVERING YOUR AMAZING MARRIAGE?
About four years before it came out Debby got the idea for the book while we were at a conference in Cannon Beach, OR. We were listening to a preacher talk about theology (at a Bible college level) and she had tuned him out and her mind started wondering. She says it was during that message God gave her the basic principles and outline for the book. Later that day she told me she thought we should write a book on marriage and I told her she was crazy! We put the idea on the shelf as something we may consider in the future and didn't discuss it again for about a year.
 
During that time we had been meeting with five couples that we know on a semi-regular basis and had been mentoring them and giving advice on their relationship. One night while having coffee and discussing some of the problems these friends of our were dealing with, we decided that it was time to share our experiences and advice. Over the years people have come to us and have asked us what we do in our marriage that is so different. People have naturally been drawn to us and have asked is what "it" is that we have that they don't have. We decided to write the book to encourage others that marriage is worth fighting for and the choice to love one another and stay together "no-matter-what" is worth it. If people can relate with some of the problems we have overcome, perhaps we can encourage them and help them discover how amazing their own marriage can be.
 
Considering the personal challenges that you all had experienced in your own marriage, how did you decide what you were going to share in order to provide the most help to readers?
This was our biggest decision and one that didn't come easy. Initially we wrote about our experiences and problems with only vague references to the depth of our problems and didn't actually talk about the infidelity. We offered solutions to our problems but didn't specify the extent of our problems. We were having coffee with some close friends of ours and we asked them to read several chapters of the manuscript and give us some feedback. Mark, in his wisdom, leaned back after reading chapter one and said, "You guys haven't been through anything. What credibility do you have to help other couples when your problems are only minor disagreements and inconsequential fights?" He challenged Debby and I that if we really wanted people to listen to our advice, we have to let them know that we've been through the fire and have dealt with some of the most destructive behaviors and choices and have overcome tragedies.
 
Debby and I discussed in great length how much of our "dirty laundry" we would share with our readers and decided that Mark was right; you can only lead someone as far as you've travelled yourself. We revised the manuscript to include more about the infidelity we faced as well as the communication problems we had to overcome. At the time we decided that it would not add any value to the book or our solutions if we identified who the cheating spouse was, so those details were left out. I figured most people would assume it was me who had cheated, but discussing the affair in that specific of detail wasn't necessary.
 
After the book was released, we were doing a live radio interview in Seattle and to my surprise, Debby shared with the hosts and listeners that she was the offender in the affair that it was time to come out and talk about our problems in full. Since then we have discussed the affair in much more detail in radio interviews and conferences we've spoken at, and we have found that our transparency has allowed us to help others more effectively and has opened up some excellent conversations and dialogue. When people hear that we've restored our relationship from the brink of disaster and have endured nearly every marital challenge from financial stress to extended illness, rebellious children and even infidelity, it resonates with people that maybe, just maybe, there is hope for their marriage as well. The best part of this experience is hearing stories from people who have read our book and have applied some of our suggestions and strategies, and are seeing positive changes in their relationship.
 
The book really champions the power of communication in helping you have a great relationship. Why do you think this has been such a problem for couples.
We believe that the majority of relationships suffer from poor communication and unmet expectations at times. When we have expectations of one another that are not met, the instinctive reaction is disappointment, which develops into anger, and then bitterness and resentment sets in. Most often this disappointment, anger, and bitterness can be avoided if we discuss our expectations in advance. I believe couples, or people in general, have a problem with communication because of insecurities and a lack of trust. They feel insecure and afraid to be honest with their partner when it comes to discussing expectations and many people don't know how to communicate their feelings. We have discovered over the years that communicating our needs, desires, and expectations to one another in advance has helped us avoid fights and disappointment.
 
Another strong factor in your personal marriage has been faith. Do you think you would have been able to overcome the obstacles that presented themselves in your life if you had not relied on a higher power to see you through it?
Our faith has played a key role in our lives and our relationship and no, I do not believe we would have survived the infidelity as well as other problems if it wasn't for our faith in God. We know there is nothing we can do to make God love us more, and there is nothing we can do to cause God to love us less. Understanding the power of forgiveness and restoration has been a powerful factor in allowing us to overcome the infidelity and the numerous problems we faced. We acknowledge that people worship in various ways and their faith may differ somewhat from ours, but since our faith plays such an important role in our lives we can't share our story without mentioning the complete forgiveness and the power of God in changing lour lives.
 
For those that are reading this and finding out about your book for the first time, what would you say to them about why if they are either dating or already married they need to pick it up?
We certainly don't claim to have all the answers or a "quick-fix" solution to a struggling marriage, but we have endured so many challenges and problems early in our relationship and may have made so many different choices if we knew then what we know now. Our desire is that people can read our story and relate in some way with the challenges we overcame. If our example can help someone avoid making similar mistakes, our purpose will be fulfilled. Our book isn't necessarily for people with struggling marriages only, it can be used for encouragement to strong marriages as well as newlyweds. In fact, at book signing events we have sold more books to be given as gifts at weddings than to people looking for answers to their own marital problems.
 
Thank you, Jason, for opening up and sharing with us. How can our readers find out more information about you and the book as well as order online? 
Our website is www.youramazingmarriage.com and our book is available on amazon.com as well as most major online retailers. Your readers can also ask for it in their favorite bookstore. There are links on our website to previous radio interviews and articles we have written. We would love for your readers to send us some feedback on how they are overcoming problems in their marriage, or contact us with questions they may have. "Discovering Your Amazing Marriage" is available for the Kindle and Nook as well as in paperback.

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