Ron and Deb DeArmond have written a practical guide for communication between spouses in Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight. Much of what they say is not new, but Ron and Deb have so formatted their book, the advice makes perfect sense. I especially like the wrap up to each chapter: “Put on the Gloves”–what did you learn? “He said/She said”–how did each partner view the material? “God said”–what does Scripture teach?
The DeArmonds address communication in nine areas: Burdens, Baggage, Bridges, Barriers, Boundaries, and Blessings. As they speak to each topic, they relate stories of how they handled the different areas–demonstrating that all of us slip and fall–but more importantly, how we can get back up and move forward positively.
The two sections that impacted me most were those of communication and communication traps. Communication is defined as “transmission of a message so that both parties have a shared understanding of what’s been said.” The most important part of that definition is “shared understanding.” I can think of many times when my husband and I have had hurt feelings or conflicts because each drew a very different understanding from the conversation.
The chapter on communication traps was the second most important for me. I know at various times in our marriage, I have fallen into each one of them: Silence, Sulking, Sarcasm, and Sound. The DeArmonds define each one and teach very clearly how and why they are so dangerous. My husband and I are both experts (to our detriment) in Sarcasm–I can’t tell you how many times we’ve walked away from a discussion hurt, angry, and sullen. If we’d followed the DeArmond’s suggestions, we could have escaped those traps and spoken with each other successfully.
In addition to the excellent advice and counsel in the chapters, Ron and Deb add three appendices which summarize the book: Scriptures and Intentions, chapter by chapter; The Rules; and an excerpt from Got Vision.
The result is a concise, well-written handbook on how two people can best get along when they’re married to each other. In fact, the rules can apply to any two individuals who are close and want to build an excellent relationship. Four stars!
Ron and Deb DeArmond have been together for more than forty years. Deb is a sought-after speaker and executive coach, and Ron is currently the director of men’s ministry at Catch the Fire/DFW. When I interviewed them last June, they told me they met in high school and married when they were nineteen. After three or four years, they asked their moms, “Why did you let us get married?” They came from opposite backgrounds–Deb from an Ozzie and Harriet lifestyle and Ron from a family filled with lots of conflict. As a result, the two of them had no pattern for successful fighting.
They said they quickly learned the most important question to ask was, “Do you want to win–or do you want us to learn to listen to each other and learn to love each other?” Their discoveries led them to share their “Tools and Rules” with us, giving us options for speaking and conflict resolution in a positive fashion.
Abingdon Press gave me an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Don’t Go To Bed Angry in exchange for my unbiased review.