Monday, July 16, 2007
Posted by Michele Olson, thinkmarriage.org
Today I'm interviewing Sheryl Kurland who has written a book you must know about...and there's a special offer for you below too...so don't miss a word of this interview! (Sheryl is pictured above!)
Hi Sheryl…Thanks so much for giving us the time for an interview today. I want people who visit thinkmarriage.org and read this to know about the beautiful book you have written. Everyone in our office has seen it and loves it! Your book is Everlasting Matrimony: Pearls of Wisdom From Couples Married 50 Years or More. It contains interviews with 75 couples who have been married 50 plus years. What an accomplishment!
Where did you first get the idea to do this book?
My grandfather called my grandmother “Miss America” every day for the 67 years they were married, until he passed away. Contrast this with the “celebrations” waged by the media day-in-and-day-out on celebrity divorces and celebrity roulette – trading who’s sleeping with whom. Add to that the ease with which couples get divorced today – like they’re pouring out a bad cup of coffee. The spark to write the book was derived from being sick and tired of hearing failure, failure, failure, and relegating myself to document “real life” successful, love stories. I wanted to know and share with the world the nuts and bolts from the “real-life” relationship experts. There are a gazillion “Dr. Phil’s” who’ve written books, but we rarely, if ever, hear directly from the voices of experience, those who’ve walked-the-walk and talked-the-talk….It’s logical, if you want to become a great artist, you take lessons from those whose work you admire and desire to emulate. Parallel this association with “relationships and marriage.” “Everlasting Matrimony” is a book of 150 role models that explain how to build loving, lasting and fulfilling relationships and marriages. Over 4,000 years of marriage/relationship experience are documented in the book.
How did you go about recruiting couples?
I located the 75 couples married 50+ years by advertising in newspapers, and contacting retirement communities and churches/synagogues around the country, and I received many responses. Those couples kindly gave me friends and family members’ names who also met the 50-year anniversary criteria. Thus, the couples who participated fanned out across the country, and represent a “sprinkling of America,” from all different faiths, backgrounds and ethnicities. I also became quite assertive, and in my daily comings and goings, when I saw an elderly couple with that twinkle in their eye, I introduced myself and told them about my upcoming book. I met one couple in Wendy’s Hamburgers. I was about to walk into the restaurant with my daughter when an elderly gentleman opened the door from the inside, allowing his wife to exit first. Bingo! I did a 180 and stopped and talked with them. They are the Slodyskos in the book! I met others at Disney World, on an airplane, at the grocery store, vacationing in the mountains, anywhere and everywhere. I had my radar out all the time.
How did you decide to follow the format of interviewing the husband and wife separately? There’s a conception, which, when you read “Everlasting Matrimony,” you’ll realize is actually a misconception, that wives do all the talking and their husbands say “Yes, Dear! You’re Right!” So, to avoid this potential hazard, I interviewed husbands and wives separately. Interestingly enough, husbands often had much more to say than their wives. All were frank, honest, informative and inspiring, and many are down-right funny. Throughout the book, they touch upon virtually every aspect of marriage.
Tell us about the photographs in the book…
Each of the 75 couples in “Everlasting Matrimony” has a dedicated two-page spread. There are two black-and-white photographs of each couple on their pages, one “early” and one “current.” The early photographs are magnificent, with the old-style clothing, men looking very dapper and women very elegant. In many, the husbands are in military uniform. Some are wedding photos, and the bridal gowns are breathtaking. The “current” photographs are casual. There’s something quite interesting to notice when you compare the early and current photos of some of the couples…The way they are embracing or touching each other is almost identical. If a picture is worth a thousands words, these are worth a million.
What surprised you the most about what you learned?
One big surprise was that the couples, both husbands and wives, eagerly talked about sex! I never asked them specific questions, but they described sex as a wonderful dimension of their marriage. Many said that some of the best sex they ever had was after arguments, when they kissed and made up they had some of the best romps in the hay!.......On a more serious note, I was so moved by their perseverance over the years. These couples have lived through two wars – World War II and the Korean War, which required separations as long as two and three years, the economic depression, they didn’t have the medical technology we have today (some have lost children due to illnesses and conditions that are now treatable or curable), nor the communication technology, and marriage counseling was not readily available and it was also considered taboo. If you were to lump all of these negatives together and fast-forward to today, you would tell a couple getting married under these circumstances that they are crazy to get married, and if they do, they are doomed to fail. For the couples in “Everlasting Matrimony,” their love never wavered. Period. For them, “divorce” was as bizarre as putting mustard on a hot-fudge sundae.
What were some of the common threads among the couples?
There are two that stand out. One is the “D” word. In today’s generation, the “D” word is “Divorce,” but for “Everlasting Matrimony” couples, the “D” word is “Determination.” That no matter what curve balls life threw their way – good, bad and everything in-between, they were determined to get through them together. And not just get through them, but to find ways to sustain harmony and contentment in the marriage……The second common thread among the couples has to do with “quality” versus “quantity.” Most of the couples in the book were living in poverty when they married. The core of their relationship was “quality.” Over their lives, their financial positions improved, but they never forgot the essence of their relationship – the “quality.” In contrast, today’s couples are consumed by “quantity.” How many homes, fancy cars, boats, designer handbags, etc., can we buy? So much so that “quantity” eclipses “quality” and, in many cases, obliterates it.
How did doing this book affect your own marriage?
I’ve been married only once, and that is to my wonderful husband of 17 years, Steve. We have a great marriage, and that was true even before I wrote “Everlasting Matrimony.” However, I would also say that writing the book saved me about five years of marriage counseling! The lessons I learned are immeasurable. Any page you to turn to has some nugget of information or an idea that makes you think “Hmmm, I hadn’t thought of it that way” or “I’m going to try that.” There is so much material that I never stop learning……..There’s a common saying “If only knew then what I know now.” “Everlasting Matrimony” gives you time-tested advice, a retrospective look and ability to gain the “now” wisdom without a lot of the mistakes, and trial and error that occurs over time..…Also, there are a number of great techniques couples in the book share to solve arguments once-and-for-all. Some are quite creative and innovative. Of course my husband and I have our occasional banters, which have allowed me to experiment. I shuffle the techniques to see what works best for the situation at hand. I’ve never told Steve the argument-solution techniques in-the-moment, but have found they work by osmosis!
Once your book was published, how has it been received?
The greatest compliment was Dr. Laura (Schlesinger) selecting “Everlasting Matrimony: Pearls Of Wisdom From Couples Married 50 Years Or More” as her book pick on Valentine’s Day 2006! She gave it a stellar review on her Dr. Laura Radio Show. I’ve been interviewed by Leeza Gibbons, Sally Jessy Raphaël, and radio, TV and newspapers across the country. All of the reviews and interviews have been very complimentary. I’m still waiting for Oprah to call me though!
Will you continue to follow these couples in some way?
I do. I have become a “family member” to many of the couples, although I may have never met them in person. We keep in touch by phone, email or letters. I continue to learn from them on an on-going basis…..As an aside to all I learned about relationships and marriage, my outlook on growing old is one of excitement and peace. Most people fear aging. The “Everlasting Matrimony” couples have so much gusto and verve for life! Even though many are physically challenged by the infirmities that come with aging, they feel the best is yet to come. It’s infectious to be around them.
In addition to the book’s availability, what else are you doing to spread the advice of couples married 50+ years?
I have been asked to speak and present programs for all different types of audiences, professional and community organizations, businesses/corporations and colleges. An employer would be amazed to know the negative impact on the bottom line of an employee going through a divorce or in a bad marriage or bad relationship. Offering relationship education in the work setting can be as beneficial to the business as any job skills enrichment program. In the college setting, many students today have little or no perception of what a good relationship looks, much less how to build one, because they come from splintered families. The students work hard to make good grades, but no matter how brilliant you become, if you show up at your job feeling lousy because you got the door slammed in your face on the way out leaving home, it makes for a pretty rough day. The programs are a combination of educational and entertaining.
I think this is just about the most perfect gift you can buy for an engagement, wedding or anniversary. How can someone learn more about the book and get a copy for themselves?
My web site is http://www.everlastingmatrimony.com/, and visitors can preview the book there. “Everlasting Matrimony” can be ordered by clicking on the “Buy” tab. The order form has a slot to provide information for me to write a personal message to the recipient, if desired. The book retails for $39.95 each, but for anyone who orders the book having read this thinkmarriage.org interview, I’m offering a special discount rate of $35 each! To get the discount, in the “Special Instructions” box on the order form, write the words: thinkmarriage. The price adjustment will not show on the order form calculation, but it will be appropriately applied to your charge……And, on my web site, visitors can sign up for free, weekly, email “Time-Tested Relationship Tips” from couples married 50+ years. Every Monday a new tip is mailed to subscribers. Subscribers can cancel at any time. And, I never share email addresses with anyone. To sign up, on almost every page of http://www.everlastingmatrimony.com/, there’s a sign-up box in the top right corner.
If your readers have any questions, I can be contacted at Sheryl@EverlatsingMatrimony.com, or phone: 407-786-7747.
Sheryl, I know anyone who explores your book will enjoy it as much as I have. Thanks for spending time with us here at thinkmarriage.org and thanks for passing on the savings to any of our readers who are interested in ordering this great book! Keep in touch so we know the rest of the story of these dear couples you interviewed.