S3 E9 | An Interview with Author Michelle Peterson

An Interview with Author Michelle Peterson on The #staymarried Podcast

Michelle and I usually interview our guests together, but for this episode, I put my wife on the hot seat!

I got to dig in with some questions about her new book like, “Why is it a devotional?” and a few other things that were on my mind.

I was also able to sneak in one of YOUR questions for her from Ask #staymarried, and in the end, I even got her to read a chapter from her book. I really think you’re going to like this interview with my wife the AUTHOR, Michelle Peterson. Enjoy!


Listen to “S3 E9: Inteview with Author Michelle Peterson” on Spreaker.

Michelle also talked about all of the Pre-order Gifts she’s been working on. If you order before May 23rd, you’ll get…

1. #staymarried Toolkit
10 Rules for Fighting Fair
The 2 Step Method to Learn and Practice Empathy Immediately
10 Ways to Think Like a Team (instead of treating each other like opponents)

2. Couple Checkup by Prepare Enrich
Get access to this personalized online assessment powered by over three decades of research, regularly $35, for just $14.95 with our exclusive discount code!

3. Unbox Love Date Box
Every pre-order will receive an exclusive discount code for $10 off your first date in a box delivered to your door.
+ A GIVEAWAY! 10 pre-orders will be randomly selected to win a custom date box for FREE!

4. Building Trust, Unlocking Intimacy
Access to a private Facebook Group where you’ll get to participate in an exclusive 5 Week Facebook Live Course with Tony and Michelle Peterson.


Ready to get these awesome gifts? All you have to do is forward your pre-order receipt to the following email address and we’ll send you everything. Send your receipt before May 23rd to: staymarried book at gmail dot com

Buy the book

An Interview with Author Michelle Peterson on The #staymarried Podcast

Feel free to leave a comment or question below for us or you can submit a question privately here: Ask #staymarried. We may even answer your question in an upcoming episode.

And, of course, keep in touch with us on the socials: TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. I’d love to connect on any of your favorite platforms. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Tony and Michelle Peterson #staymarriedThe #staymarried blog was created to offer hope, stories, and resources for couples who want to stay married.

If you’re NEW HERE, check out our About Page and read a little more about my own background on our first post.

Thank you for reading, sharing, and being a part of this #staymarried community!

~ Michelle



Top Five Reasons to Join (or Start!) a #staymarried Group

Something powerful happens... #staymarriedIt’s been just over two years since we launched the #staymarried blog. Before that Tony was (and still is) a graphic designer and I was busying myself mod-podging book pages on everything.

Before that Tony and I were church planters, and before that we worked in cubicles, and before that he was in a band and I was a groupie, and before that he drove a popsicle truck and I was a cocktail waitress.

Somewhere in all of those adventurous job descriptions, I also used to oversee small groups for a church in a far off land called Kenosha, Wisconsin. I had the pleasure of training leaders and hosts to coordinate their own groups that hopefully didn’t feel too cult-ish.

I loved that job for many reasons. One of which is the joy I saw as people, who had previously lived their lives without much community, now began to share their lives and struggles and joys with others. Something powerful happens when we put ourselves in a place to see that we really aren’t as alone as we often feel, especially when it comes to issues in our marriages.

Early on we made resources available for free for anyone who would want to take what we are doing here with the #staymarried blog and use it in a group setting. To our surprise and delight, one of our friends in Wisconsin, Jamie, actually invited people into her home and used the resources and discussion questions we provided. How I wish I could have watched them all in action. But, since I couldn’t, I asked her to share her own insights and why she thinks everyone should be a part of a #staymarried group. I’m delighted to let you now hear from Jamie herself…

Top Five Reasons to Join (or Start!) a #staymarried Group

Top 5 Reasons to Join a #staymarried GroupRaise your hand if you’ve ever been on an awkward blind date… Wait. Is there such a thing as a non-awkward blind date? At any rate, you’ve probably been there. I’m fortunate to have only had one such experience in my wild single days (staying home and watching reruns of Gilmore Girls is wild, right?), but it was enough for me. I knew in our phone conversations leading up to it that this particular guy and I weren’t a good match, but I also wanted to follow all of the dating advice you get in such situations: Relax. Give him a chance. Don’t be too picky. Don’t assume you won’t have a good time just because he likes ______ (insert annoying sport/hobby).

So, I said yes to a date with him. He was quite a bit older than me, but, hey, George Clooney’s quite a bit older than me, too.

On the phone call before the date, he told me where we were going for dinner. He’d chosen the best – and my favorite – restaurant in town.

Okay. Maybe this will be fun after all.

Then he asked, “So, what are you going to wear?”

Ummm… I wasn’t sure how to answer that, but before I could, he said, “I was thinking a sport coat.”

A sport coat?! Was Alex P. Keaton taking me out?

Okay, I actually love Alex P. Keaton. But, the term “sport coat” immediately took me back to the 80s. I pictured full-on tweed with suede elbow patches, and not in some cool, ironic, hipster way. Continue reading “Top Five Reasons to Join (or Start!) a #staymarried Group”

When Couples Counseling is the Wrong Answer…

Years ago, I worked for a non-profit organization that was part of a national research study. The study was trying to determine if providing couples with healthy communication skills and techniques in the early stages of parenthood – a very stressful time in all relationships – would improve their chances of staying intact as a family. The work was both inspiring and brutal.

When Couples Counseling Is The Wrong Answer - #staymarriedPart of my particular role in the study was to interview the couples and put them through a random selection process. I knew every time there was a fifty-fifty chance they would be accepted into the program or not. Except, the reality is that the chances were not exactly fifty-fifty. You see, the couples first had to qualify and it was part of my job to determine whether or not they did.

During the first part of the interview the couple sat together and answered questions. During the second part, the couple was separated into two rooms. One person was set up with a packet and pen to answer more questions on their own, and the other was in a room with me answering more of my scripted questions. In this private room, I did what I was trained to do: ask questions to determine if there was domestic violence occurring in the relationship.

Most of the time there was no sign of domestic violence. Phew! We could move on to the rest of the interview and allow them to participate in the random selection. Because, if I found that there was domestic violence happening, I had to automatically (and discreetly) disqualify the couple from receiving our services.

I remember the face of each of the women who were disqualified for this reason. I remember them because they looked like me. They looked like my friends. They looked like my mom. Continue reading “When Couples Counseling is the Wrong Answer…”

Does Your Marriage Need A Rebrand? – Six Simple Ways to Prioritize Your Spouse

When I landed in Chicago this past week, I turned on my phone and it chirped back at me with two messages. One from my mother-in-law, telling me to text her when we got back safely, and the other from a dear friend… telling me her marriage was ending.

Does Your Marriage Need A Rebrand? - Six Simple Ways to Prioritize Your SpouseShe said what a lot of people say when they’re getting divorced: “I haven’t been happy for a long time.”

Like Tony and Michelle, I have always had a broken heart for the ending of marriages, but this one hit closer to home. I spent the better part of the day just meditating on the reasons for failed marriages. So much of it has to do with happiness, particularly with young marriages like my friend’s. And I’m learning that this has a lot to do with the misconceptions we enter into our marriages with, and we are ultimately left disappointed… and unhappy.

Marriage Rebranded

While visiting my in-laws this past week, I had the opportunity to read a short book by Tyler Ward, Marriage Rebranded. In the business world, rebranding is a marketing strategy in which an established brand takes on a new identity in the minds of the consumer/customer. Often this is done through a radical change to the company’s logo, name, advertising strategies, etc. What Tyler Ward wants us to do in his book is replace the modern misconceptions about marriage with a “picture worth fighting for.” He says modern matrimony is a “stale brand.” I found as I read his book that I couldn’t agree more. Continue reading “Does Your Marriage Need A Rebrand? – Six Simple Ways to Prioritize Your Spouse”

Zero to Five – We are in a book and we’re giving it away!

We don’t write about parenting.

Zero to Five Giveaway on #staymarriedOnce in a while we will get requests to cover certain topics on #staymarried. I love it when that happens. It usually jogs my mind and gives me something new to research and think about. However, now and again we will get requests to write about parenting in the midst of marriage, and that’s one subject we tend to shy away from.

The reason? Well, it’s because I am always on the hunt for good parenting material myself. I’m looking for a blog or a book titled “How to Parent Successfully as an Introvert When your Children Learn to Speak and then TALK to You, Expecting a Response, and Ask Questions All Day Every Day.” If this exists, or if you are thinking of writing it, please let me know. I am at a loss.

I am also looking for resources for “Parenting Kids Who are Smarter Than Their Parents.” Fortunately, Tony still has a leg up on them, but I have completely fallen behind.

We recently took Claire, who is four, to get her own library card. It might sound cute, but the truth is: I was desperate. She has SO MANY QUESTIONS! She’s been asking me about babies and bodies and if any of the food on her plate is a “superfood” because she wants to have a lot of energy. I keep looking stuff up on the internet, but I am terrified we are going to come across the wrong thing… search engines always have a way of showing you things you DID NOT want to see… I figured the library would be a safer bet.

Continue reading “Zero to Five – We are in a book and we’re giving it away!”

Do You Want a Marriage Like Theirs?

Do You Want A Marriage Like Theirs - a #staymarried blog about being selective with the advice you listen to for your marriageLike most of you, I get my news from Facebook and Twitter. I’m kind of tired of being lured in by the headlines that say, “This lady with only one arm had a dog with no legs… you’re not going to believe what happened next!” so I don’t click on those anymore… as much… ok, I still do. But, I wish I wasn’t so curious about completely over-hyped stuff.

Then, I read headlines about relationships and marriage and I become a complete snob – if it’s written or posted from a source I think is silly, I won’t even read it. Is that bad?

Last night, for instance, I saw an article come up about toxic marriage or something like that and I almost clicked on it. Then I saw it was from kirkcameron.com and I was like, nah…  Continue reading “Do You Want a Marriage Like Theirs?”

What is a Love Map?

What is a Love Map?In the first year Tony and I were married, I took a new job that changed my commute from 8 minutes on a few back streets to driving 20 minutes into Seattle and then invariably spending another 20 minutes hunting for a parking space. We have always loved living so close to the city, but this was the first time I would be traveling in for work instead of just for fun.

I was excited for the position – working for a non-profit, helping lower income new parents with communication skills to improve their family life – but I was just as excited to get to know the Capitol Hill neighborhood more intimately. At first, I took the bridge over and stayed on the freeway until I got to the Google Maps prescribed exit. I only turned where I was told to, nervous to get lost and be late for work. But, over time, as I became more familiar with the obvious routes, I started to venture out and find winding roads off the ordinary path to get me to and from work. I found some yummy spots for lunch, like Bimbo’s Cantina, that I’d never been to before. I got to know Cal Anderson Park and some tasty places for happy hour that weren’t as crowded as the places I used to be familiar with. I no longer used Google Maps. I now had a map in my mind that was getting rich with details every time I turned down a new road. As I explored, I fell more in love with Capitol Hill and every inch of Seattle that I was discovering.

What is a Love Map?

I think discovering the many things about a city or neighborhood is a lot like the idea of Gottman’s “Love Maps.” We talked about this a tiny bit in last week’s post, You Had Me at “Chicken Piccata,” how Tony learned a new recipe because he knew it was a favorite dish of mine. He is so much better at remembering the details about me than I am about him. It’s definitely something I want to get better at.

I mean, when you first enter into a relationship, there is nothing to do but discover as much as you can about this person. They are fascinating and lovely and delightful, partially because they are so wonderful, but also because they are new. Then, over time, you begin to think you know them because of all the time you spent getting to know them in the beginning. What you may not realize is that they have changed. They’ve grown, just like you have, and they have new thoughts and interests.

It's who you have beside youI’d lived in and around Seattle for 11 years before I took this job and really began discovering my city in detail. There was a part of me that thought I was familiar enough with this place. Still, Seattle is growing and changing as most great cities do, and there are always new things to discover. You and your spouse are like this great city. With age and experience, you are changing and becoming, hopefully, a better version of yourself than you used to be. There will always be more to discover about each other. Having a detailed “Love Map” is about growing in your understanding of the person you married. Instead of taking your familiarity for granted, you strive to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of his/her inner world.

Gottman puts it another way. He says, in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work:

Emotionally intelligent couples are intimately familiar with each other’s world. I call this having a richly detailed love map – my term for that part of the brain where you store all the relevant information about your partner’s life. Another way of saying this is that these couples have made plenty of cognitive room for their marriage. They remember the major events in each other’s history, and they keep updating their information as the facts and feelings of their spouse’s world change.

How familiar do you think you are with your spouse’s inner thought life? How familiar do you think they are with yours?

The {Mini} Love Map Game

Interested in building up your own Love Map? There’s a great set of questions in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, and with The Gottman Institute‘s permission, we’ve created a mini version for you here. Pin it so you can come back to it over and over again!

The {Mini} Love Map Game - #staymarried


Click here for The #staymarried Podcast episode where we dig a little deeper into this Love Maps topic.

Whether you are just starting out in your relationship or you’ve been married for decades, there is always more to discover about the person you love. Remember: it’s the seemingly trivial details that make up the person you married. It’s worth the investment to find out what those are as well as to reveal the details of your own thoughts. Building that intricate Love Map, like discovering the quirky streets of a new city, will help you really know and fall more in love with your spouse and #staymarried.


You are reading What is a Love Map? a #staymarried blog. If you liked this post, you may also like to read You Had Me at “Chicken Piccata” or The One Thing You Shouldn’t Do. If you think these could benefit someone else’s marriage, please consider sharing. You can also feel free to pin the images above if you like.

New to #staymarried? Welcome! Check out why we started this blog and our first entry to get a little background.

Thanks for stopping by!

~ Michelle


How Do I Love You? { A free eBook for the month of love }

How Do I Love You - Ideas for showing love from 25 inspiring parentsIt’s been a long time since our last #staymarried post. Some of you know we welcomed our third child into our family in December and decided to take a little bit of time off. I thought our break would last just a few weeks. Of course, even if you already have children, it’s impossible to prepare for just how much a new baby takes over your life… in the very best way, of course!

We’ll share more about her soon, but in the mean time, we wanted to let you know that we’re thinking of you. Marriage is as important to us as it ever has been. To celebrate Valentine’s Day and this month of love, we have a very special treat we’d like to share with you.  Tony and I had the chance to participate in a delightful project called, How Do I Love You? Let me count the days. It’s a delightful eBook created by photographer-blogger-creator of familyness, Davina Fear! She reached out and asked us each if we would share one simple way we show love in our family. We shared, along with 23 other wonderful people, and Davina took our little ideas and compiled them into a beautiful book full of inspiration for you! Here’s what she says about the project…

As a group of parents who own their own businesses, live life on the road, manage multiple schedules, and so much more, we are like you. We donʼt want to miss our kids growing up or the little nuances that make life rich and beautiful. But we sometimes have days that fly by so quickly, that at the end of the day, we canʼt remember if we actually shared a hug with our spouse or one of our children. We all have days like that…please know that youʼre not alone.

We also have high hopes for connecting with these wonderful people we adore. And we want to do it everyday. Which is why many of us have created connecting points that are built into our days.

That being said…none of us do all 25 of these ideas. Some of these ideas will resonate with you and others wonʼt. Choose the ones that feel authentic for you. These are our gift to you. Happy love month to you!


How Do I Love You - Ideas for showing love from 25 inspiring parents

You can check out Davina’s blog here and download the ebook here. You’ll find Tony and I sharing ideas 9 & 10. We hope you’ll print this off and incorporate a few of the ideas that resonate most with you as a way to show love to those you adore and, of course, #staymarried!



New to #staymarried? Welcome! Check out why we started this blog and my first entry to get a little background.

Introducing Resources for Groups!

Tony and I have been fortunate to have incredible, life-giving, challenging, and encouraging community surrounding us since before we got married. When we were dating, we found a church that both of us, with our different perspectives and vastly different upbringings, could attend together without having to check our brains and personalities at the door. It has been through our experiences in this church that we’ve met some of our very best friends and learned the value of having honest conversations and living transparent lives.

One of the ways we’ve been able to have and listen to these honest conversations has been by being a part of small groups. We shared about about our small group from last fall in our post, “We Do It In Groups,” where we read and discussed John Gottman’s 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work. Over the years, we’ve read and used lots of great material that have spurred insightful group conversations, and we’ve learned some great tips and tools for our own marriage. It is actually from the work we’ve done and the fun we’ve had in these groups that we get a lot of the ideas for the topics we write about here at #staymarried.

Heidi Jesse FaderSeveral months ago I was approached by a woman, Heidi, at our church. She told me that she and her husband, Jesse, had been following the #staymarried blog and had decided to start their own small group of other married couples and use the blog as their discussion topics. I was both humbled and thrilled! I’d never considered this blog could be used that way. I’ve since found out about a handful of other groups that do the same sort of thing. I’ll be honest, it’s intimidating. It’s one thing for me to imagine someone reading what Tony and I put together on their own, digesting it, and discussing it with their spouse. It’s something else entirely to imagine a group of people talking about something Tony and I have written – YIKES! But, in spite of my insecurities about how helpful this blog is or isn’t, I can’t deny the power of processing these ideas in a group setting. There is something meaningful that happens when you hear how someone else interpreted something you both read and what resonated with them. Groups are a great place to find out that you are not alone in your struggles, big or small.

So, Heidi and Jesse had this idea and they kicked it off with couples they already knew. They agreed to meet every other week and to share the responsibility of hosting. Each time they meet, a different couple hosts the group, and it’s the host couple that chooses which #staymarried blog post to discuss. They have also used other material from books and other sites, as well as taken some weeks just to go out and have a good time together. They are committed to each other and certainly committed to stay married, which I got to witness firsthand when they invited me to drop in on one of their group meetings a couple of weeks ago.

I was both nervous and excited to check out their group. So nervous, actually, that I typed the wrong address in Google Maps, got lost, and arrived 45 minutes late! I was sweaty and disheveled when I finally got there, and as I walked in, of course they were already sitting around a living room where they had saved one empty chair just for me! I looked around at this room full of gorgeous faces I’d really only ever seen in passing and each one of them was holding a printed out copy of MY BLOG! I could not have been more embarrassed.

Still, they were kind and gracious, offered me a drink, and told me they really had only just gotten started with their discussion. The hosts, Steven and Bethany, had chosen the post “7 Ways to Become a Better Forgiver,” and I got to sit back and listen to them share their own stories. Introducing Resources for GroupsEvery single one of them had a story about someone they had been hurt by in their past. Some of their stories were in the distant past, some were more recent. Some of them shared about the little everyday hurts they were experiencing in their marriage and how hard it was to accept an apology sometimes. Some shared about how they want to forgive, but they just aren’t there yet. They shared about how watching their own parents argue, apologize, and ask for forgiveness has affected the way they themselves approach conflicts in their own marriages. As they poured their hearts out to one another, and joked with one another, and really listened to each other, my eyes were opened to what an incredible thing it is that they have created. This is real community. It had so much less to do with the paper print-outs they were holding, and so much more to do with their willingness to invest in their marriages and in each other.

I left that night inspired. I came home and told Tony all about it and we decided we could do more to encourage others to start groups and discussions the way Jesse and Heidi and their friends have. Whether you want to use the #staymarried blog to have just one meaningful discussion with your friends over a bonfire, or you want to organize your own group to meet regularly, we want to make it as easy as possible for you. Today, we’re introducing a new category of our resources: Resources for Groups!

#staymarried Resources for Groups

Go ahead, click on it! The link will take you to our Resources Page, pre-sorted to bring up all of the new material just for groups!

Here are some of the things you’ll find in the For Groups category:

Group Outline – One resource you’ll find is a group outline. It’s just an example, feel free to use it or change it however you like. Whenever Tony and I have led groups before, we always start the first week by passing out one of these to help set the tone for the weeks ahead. It’s kind of like a syllabus for a class, but less formal– it gives everyone a sense of what we hope the group will be like and what kinds of topics we’ll cover week-to-week.

Discussion Questions – We’ve chosen a handful of posts to get started. Some of the posts naturally lend themselves to pre-group work (like taking the 5 Love Languages Assessment) and we’ve included fun homework with others. We are hoping these work well whether you’ve got a women’s group, men’s group, or a group for married and engaged couples.

Other resources – There are authors and groups out there that are much more qualified than Tony and I to help you facilitate a great group. So, we have not limited this section to just #staymarried blog material. We’ve also included resources from people like Les and Leslie Parrot, Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn, and Andy Stanley.

This is a category of the resources section of our site that we will continue to develop, so please let us know what is working and what else you might like to see here. We hope you are able to launch something meaningful with your friends this fall, a place to be real and honest with each other, and encourage each other to #staymarried.


P.S. If you liked this post, you may also like to read We Do It In Groups and Repair Attempts. Also, if you’re new here, welcome! You might like to check out why we started this blog and my first entry to get a little background. Thanks!
~ Michelle