An Author Q and A with Dorothy Greco
It couldn’t have been original with me, but one life goal, scribbled into a journal as a teen, comes to mind often in this season of midlife. In adolescent, loopy handwriting, I inscribed the words in hope.
GOAL: Organize your life in such a way that when you have a great experience, you will have a great person to share it with.
Thirty years into a solid marriage with a truly “great person,” I can point to shared experiences galore, common threads of both joy and sorrow. Together, we’ve stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon, attended college graduations, and passed swaddled sons back and forth at all hours of the day and night. We’ve attended the funerals of all four of our parents, driven each other home from colonoscopy appointments, and prayed together for friends who have received a devastating diagnosis.
Dorothy Greco lives and writes from this sort of partnership, and Marriage in the Middle is her declaration that the surprises, challenges, and joys of midlife are best shared with a sympathetic traveler who knows you well–and loves you anyway!
I’ll eventually be sharing my review of her book over at The Englewood Review of Books, (I’ll be sure to let you know when it’s available!), so I decided to share bonus content here today with a Q and A session featuring Dorothy. I know you’ll be challenged by the personal information she shares and, as true book lovers, will appreciate getting some backstory on the book itself.
Be sure to read all the way through to the end of the interview, because I’m also sharing details about a GIVEAWAY in which one reader will be chosen to receive a copy of Marriage in the Middle.
An Interview with Dorothy Greco
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your marriage?
My husband Christopher and I met when we were students at Boston University
back in the early 80’s. Because we were both artists and somewhat new to
following Jesus, we formed an easy friendship that eventually transitioned to a
dating relationship. We had a very rocky start (which you could read about in
Making Marriage Beautiful: Lifelong Love, Joy, and Intimacy Start with You) but since getting married 29 years ago, there’s been no looking back. He works as a teacher and worship pastor and together we raised three sons who are now all adults. We are happiest when we’re doing ministry together or traveling.
You already wrote one marriage book. Why write another one only three years
after the first?
Apparently I had more to say!
I’m almost at the tail end of midlife. As I look back over the last 20 years, I can see
how unique the season is. There are many challenges and surprises to navigate
which put pressure on us and on our marriages. These include caring for aging
parents, dealing with health issues, navigating shifting professional and relational
roles, etc. Additionally, disappointments and losses tend to mount during this time.
All of these factors can create—or even widen—fault lines in our marriages.
Christopher and I have been leading pre-marital, marriage, and long-term healing
programs for more than two decades. We have a deep understanding of the
struggles that many couples face, particularly in midlife. My hope in writing
Marriage in the Middle is to make couples aware of these issues, give them
language to talk about what’s going on, and offer practical help for how they might
intentionally nurture their marriages.
What motivated/inspired you to write Marriage in the Middle?
Around the time Making Marriage Beautiful released, three of our friends’
marriages unraveled. It was sobering and heartbreaking to watch. All three of the
couples are believers and they all have children. I want to normalize that midlife marriage is hard and we all need help from time to time. There’s nothing shameful about saying, “We’re in a hard place!” Admitting this is the first step to healing. By naming many of the challenges we face and including interviews where couples talk vulnerably about their experiences, my hope is to remove one barrier and offer some tangible hope and encouragement. Christopher and I believe that though losses and disappointments we face in midlife are notable and to some extent unavoidable, we can not only enjoy our marriages but help them to grow stronger during this time frame.
What makes this book different from other marriage books?
It’s written by a woman.
It’s rooted in scripture but not religious and I’m not afraid to pull in sociology and psychology to support my beliefs.
I steer clear of formulas and cliches. You won’t find ten steps to a perfect marriage in either of my books.
It’s bracingly honest, yet profoundly hopeful.
I include interviews with eight diverse couples rather than creating straw couples that neatly fit into a box. There’s a rawness to the interviews that I find incredibly inspiring.
My personal perspective is that men and women are created by God as equal co-heirs. That means my husband and I strive to eradicate any hierarchies and aim to have a marriage where both of us are flourishing.
Tell us what’s included in this book.
Pretty much everything we face and wrestle with in midlife marriage. The
• how care giving and aging affect our marriage,
• how trauma and loss affect our marriage,
• how disappointment can help us grow,
• how attachment issues affect our intimate relationships,
• the importance healthy friendship and community
• the necessity of engaging our imaginations as we think about and plan for the final chapter of our lives.
Why is midlife a particularly difficult season for marriages?
Everything piles up—including the losses, disappointments, and pressures.
Additionally, our bodies are changing in a sort of reverse adolescence. There’s so
much powerlessness! We can feel intimidated, overwhelmed, and defeated. The
psychic and spiritual load can simply exceed our ability to bear up under it.
During this season, we have to figure out what we do have control over. Though
we might feel totally powerless, that’s never true. We have agency and can make
all kinds of consequential decisions. For example, Am I going to forgive my spouse
for the ways he’s hurt me historically? Am I going to press in or back away from
my spouse because of the many losses that we’ve faced? It’s very easy to succumb to despair in midlife or act out in ways that are immature or destructive. My hope is to encourage readers to be thinking about their choices and choose well.
My marriage is in crisis mode. Would this book help?
Absolutely! There are many practical, insightful ideas in the book. If you’re in a
difficult place, Marriage in the Middle will give you language and insight. I would
add though that in and of itself, reading this book would probably be inadequate.
My husband and I are huge proponents of good marriage counseling, and we don’t
think you need to wait until you are mid-crisis to go.
My marriage is sailing along just fine. Why should I read this book?
Last year at one of our all-day marriage conferences, a couple attended who were
celebrating their 50th anniversary that weekend. 50 years!! When I asked them
why they chose to come, the husband said, “There’s always room to grow.” I love
that attitude and firmly believe that we should never assume that our marriage has arrived and does not need attention or support. I hope Christopher and I feel the
same way when we are in our seventies.
What can couples do to proactively keep their marriages strong and satisfying?
Communicate honestly. That includes listening well and being tenderhearted truth tellers.
Take responsibility for your contribution to marital issues rather than blaming your spouse.
Commit to grow: both individually and together.
Develop and maintain healthy friendships.
Learn how to sacrifice for each other on a regular basis.
Find and develop common areas of interest. (Even if it’s only one or two things!)
Bless and encourage each other.
Pray for and with each other.
Figure out how you can serve the larger world together.
Your first marriage book did not have a chapter on sex but this one has two.
What’s up with that?
Indeed. Sex is hugely important in a marriage but it can also be the source of much pain and disappointment. I wanted to explore and name some of the sources for that pain and disappointment and then help couples to think about how they might find healing. Yes, sex is God-ordained. Yes, it’s meant to be wildly pleasurable—but there’s more to it than that. As with the other chapters in the book, I steer clear of easy answers and how-to and go after the deeper truths.
Can you give us the book’s premise or through line?
Though many assume that “midlife” is synonymous with “crisis,” it doesn’t have to
be that way. The demands of midlife actually force us to adjust and adapt,
providing new opportunities for discovery and growth within our marriages.
Marriage in the Middle will inspire and encourage you to invest in your
relationship with your spouse, enabling you both to thrive as you face the
challenges and changes of this era together.
And now that you have had the opportunity to be blown away by Dorothy’s wisdom, I’ll share the good news that she lives in New England! Local friends, if you are planning a marriage retreat or an event that requires a speaker (Oh, someday, surely we will be gathering again!), click here for details on engaging Dorothy for your event.
To be entered in the drawing for he giveaway of one copy of Marriage in the Middle, comment below with how many years you’ve been married–and if you have some great marriage advice, we’re all ears!
And if you are a newsletter subscriber, the September edition will include an opportunity for an additional entry!
Many thanks to Intervarsity Press for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase Making Marriage Beautiful or Marriage in the Middle, simply click on the title, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
If you are a newsletter subscriber, you will receive the September edition in your inbox tomorrow. Along with encouraging words, you will also receive the opportunity for an additional entry for Dorothy’s book giveaway! Of course, if you’re not on the list, you can remedy that right now. It’s easy to subscribe. You can either hop on the handy (and only slightly annoying) pop up form here on the blog–or simply click here.
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