On A Good Marriage [GUEST POST]

Randy and J.T. Ellison on New Years Eve 2017

Randy and J.T. Ellison on New Years Eve 2017. (Photo courtesy J.T. Ellison)

As I write this, I am three days shy of my 22/25th anniversary. We share our wedding date with the date of our first kiss, hence the dual year celebrations. We’ve had a long and happy life together, and anticipate many more years to come. I fell hard the night we met, and those feelings haven’t gone away.

My latest novel, though, is about the disintegration of a young marriage. It was difficult for me to write, to embody the dissatisfaction and disturbances properly. To capture the arguments, the betrayals, the warring factions. We’re at an age when many friends are divorced and on their second families, and that is something we’re grateful we have never experienced.

J.T. Ellison embraces her husband, Randy

J.T. Ellison embraces her husband, Randy. (Photo courtesy J.T. Ellison)

But for so many people, I know this is commonplace. Marriage is difficult, and sometimes, they fall apart. Oftentimes, there is no fault on either side for this. People fall out of love — though I posit that if you fall out, you probably weren’t matched well to begin with. Sometimes there are faults to go around. It’s the nature of the beast.

All marriage is fraught with pitfalls. The expectations we’re given by our parents and peers, the media and Hollywood, none are based in any kind of reality. Know that going in, and you have a better shot at making it work. Look to the successful marriages, and don’t let the failures poison you. It’s so easy nowadays to simply give up, to decouple, that sometimes I wonder if marriage isn’t more of a thing to do, a box to check off the bucket list, instead of a commitment to love someone come thick or thin.

Ethan and Sutton fall prey to this. They are spontaneously in love, and when things start falling apart, they attack each other instead of propping each other up. That’s the key to a true marriage, right there. Things are going to go wrong. There will be fights, of course there will. You have to find ways to be respectful of each other when you disagree. “Don’t go to bed angry” has been a mainstay of marriage advice forever for a reason. There will be traumas, and there will be horrors. There will be so many tests… it’s how you approach them and deal with them together that makes it all work.

I could tick off about ten boxes immediately where Ethan and Sutton make major, life-changing mistakes in their marriage, but instead, I’d rather talk about what makes a marriage work, and work well.

J.T. Ellison and her husband Randy at the Best of Nashville party at the Frist Center in 2008.

J.T. Ellison and her husband Randy at the Best of Nashville party at the Frist Center in 2008. (Photo courtesy J.T. Ellison)

I know my marriage is a bit of a unicorn. I’ve watched some of the ones around us that have fallen apart, seen affairs and money woes and infertility and children drive wedges between people. We’ve suffered our fair share of tragedy over the years, and thankfully, it brought us closer together. It could have just as easily driven us apart, if we’d let it.

We pay a lot of attention to the marriages that succeed. Both of our parents are still married, well over 50 years each, and that longevity through thick and thin is a great example to us. Like our parents, we are committed to making things work, even when times are tough.

How? We are a team. It’s us against the world. I know my husband has my back, and I have his. We don’t denigrate each other to our friends, or make fun of each other’s tics. We support each other. He doesn’t yell, and I don’t throw things. We both have tempers, but thankfully, both of us have very, very long fuses.

J.T. and Randy visit the Napa Valley in April 2009.

J.T. and Randy visit the Napa Valley in April 2009. (Photo courtesy J.T. Ellison)

Honestly, in many ways, we approach our marriage as if we are still dating. He’s my boyfriend. He’s my best friend. I’d rather hang out with him than anyone else in the world.

We try to travel together if at all possible. I go on his trips, and he goes on mine. That way, we can both experience the awesome cool thing that happens out of town. We have the luxury of our owning our own businesses and have fur babies, which makes this possible; I recognize it’s not something everyone can do. But we also don’t do girls’ trips or boys’ weekends. Why would you go to paradise without the person you love the most at your side?

We have some basic house rules, too. No calls after 6pm. We eat together, regardless. We share passwords, not because we don’t trust one another, but because we do. He’s the first person I want to share my good news with, and the first I look to for comfort. We have patience with each other. We extend grace. (He extends a lot; living with a fire dragon artist can be hard at times.) We don’t hesitate when there are hurt feelings; neither one of us are afraid to apologize.

J.T. and Randy's glasses

J.T. and Randy are so crazy about each other they even have the same glasses. (Photo courtesy J.T. Ellison)

We share some house chores but it’s more a typical gender split: he does the outside, I handle the inside. I am a feminist of the first order, but I also love the protection he provides. I respect him as a man, first and foremost, and as such, we are always on equal footing. No one “wears the pants”; we decide things together, as a team. Do I get my way more than not? Yes, but there are rewards if that’s the case. LOL…

We have the same taste in architecture, food, and travel. We like most of each other’s music, not all, but most. We both grew up in sports families and were athletes ourselves, so we’re as happy at a football game as we are at an art museum.

Randy and J.T. at the Preds playoffs

Randy and J.T. take in a hockey game during the Nashville Predators playoffs in 2017. (Photo courtesy J.T. Ellison)

Lest you think we’re automatons… We don’t like all the same things, not even close. I’m happiest with my nose in a book; he’s happiest at a baseball game or rock concert. So we make room for each other’s preferences. One night a week, the TV doesn’t come on and we read. I have learned to love the Dodgers and the Volunteers. Thankfully, we both love to golf, and prefer to do it together.

But I think the real reason we work so well is how we talk. We talk about everything. There is not a topic we won’t debate. We send articles to discuss, to enlighten, to inspire. Books, too, and music, and videos. We talk on the phone several times a day, and by email and text. We are tethered to each other. Even when we’re busy, when there are looming deadlines or late-night focus groups, we can always take a minute to touch base. If it’s been a couple of days since we’ve connected, we recognize that and remedy it. We haven’t been apart for more than a couple of weeks at a time in 25 years. When you prioritize each other, it makes things so much easier.

We both have high pressure careers, and we’re competitive with ourselves and each other. But what makes us different is how we support each other. I have never felt like I was going it alone, and I hope he hasn’t either.

You’re seeing a trend here, right? We’re very well matched. We’re both INTJ introverts who’ve found an equal in the other, and we recognize how very rare and precious a gift we have. We’re living the most romantic love story in the world, and we recognize that and hold it up to the light. We celebrate a lot. We hold hands. We kiss good night. We laugh, hard, every day. We give each other space, and are there when needed, always.

Is a good marriage magic? Yes, I think it is. So many components go into it, so many little things. But it is possible to have a good, long, loving marriage, if you give it, and each other, the respect it’s due.

J.T. and Randy take a selfie

J.T. and Randy take a selfie. (Photo courtesy J.T. Ellison)

JT Ellison's LIE TO ME


This guest post is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

Want more from J.T.? Read an exclusive excerpt from Lie To Me before the book arrives in stores!

J.T.  invites readers to visit her at her home on the Web at JTEllison.com, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Don’t forget to preorder Lie to Me before its release on September 5, 2017! You may order it from one of these fine online retailers: AmazonBooks-A-Million, and Barnes & Noble.

About J.T. Ellison
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes standalone domestic noir and psychological thriller series, the latter starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the international thriller series “A Brit in the FBI" with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the EMMY Award-winning literary television series, A Word on Words, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.

9 Responses to On A Good Marriage [GUEST POST]

  1. J.T. Ellison says:

    Thank you so much for featuring us, Jathan & Heather! It’s been an honor. 😘

  2. Love this! Such good marriage advice!

  3. Pingback: J. T. Ellison, author of LIE TO ME, on tour August/September 2017 | TLC Book Tours

  4. Loved this post. I feel the same way about my husband. A good marriage is hard work and such a precious gift.

  5. Thanks for featuring J. T. for the tour!

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