Kristan Higgins
Kristan Higgins

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Heather Ashby 2013 03 07 - 0125-Edit-7Thanks for inviting me today, Kristan. I’d like to share what I consider the secret to successful relationships. When I was eighteen I read The Art of Loving by Eric Fromm and I believe the wisdom I learned has been the secret to my happy marriage of 37 years.

It boils down to a very simple lesson: understanding the difference between being in love and loving someone. We’ve all experienced that reality check when the newness, freshness, and euphoria of something we bought, received, or dated began to wear off and all we saw were imperfections.

Instead of lecturing on Fromm’s philosophy today, I’d rather share how an elderly mentor imparts the secret to the hero in Forget Me Not, Book Two in my “Love in the Fleet” series. Sky Crawford is a Navy pilot and renowned playboy. Through volunteer work with the heroine, Sky meets George, a retired Navy pilot who is blind. Please join me as the two men—both former Naval Academy football players—enjoy a beer together while Navy plays Notre Dame on Sky’s big screen TV. When George asks why a blind man should care about a big screen TV, Sky grins and replies, “Because I’ve got surround sound.” 

I’m scared spitless of something, George. I’m so crazy about Daisy. I mean, I never felt this way about a woman before. They were always just fun, you know?”

“No, I don’t. But go ahead,” the elderly man replied.

 “Let’s say I decided to settle down with one woman. Let’s say it was Daisy. How can it last?” Sky’s laughter had a nervous edge to it. “How do I know it won’t wear off? You know, this euphoria. See, it’s always worn off before.”

FORGET ME NOT front under 2mbGeorge’s thumb worried the lip of the bottle. “You can count on it, son. It will wear off.”

Sky’s head snapped up. “What?”

“Those feelings you’re talking about. They’ll wear off.”

“Then what makes marriages work? I’ve seen some happy couples out there. My best friend, my parents. They haven’t lost that…that thing.”

George felt around the table and rested his bottle on a napkin. “Because they made a decision to love each other. Being in love is one of the best feelings on this planet. I can still resurrect that feeling when I think of my wife, especially in the early days. But feelings come and go. They don’t last forever. We feel happy, we feel angry, we feel enthusiastic, we feel disappointed. But we don’t feel those things all the time. They’re transient. Just like being in love. Heck, if everyone stayed in love all the time, nothing would get done in this world. We’d all be lost in dream land, walking into walls and things.”

George shut his eyes as if reminiscing. He smiled, then opened them and continued. “Love is something entirely different. Love is a decision. We decide to love someone, regardless of whether we have those giddy feelings or not.” George raised his hand, gesturing for Sky to stop and listen, sensing—knowing—he still didn’t get it.

“Think of it this way, Sky. When you were commissioned in the Navy, you took a vow to protect and defend the United States. Does that mean you’re in love with your job every single day? You know the high you felt when you threw your cap in the air at graduation from the Naval Academy? And the rush you get when your helicopter lifts off the ground and when she lands safely on the deck of a ship? You don’t feel that way every second of your Naval career.”

Whoa. Marriage was like joining the Navy? The old man was getting through to Sky now.

“You get bored on the job sometimes, you get tired of the routine, and you get angry at your shipmates once in awhile. So why do you keep doing it? Why do you keep flying? Why do you stay in the Navy? Because you made a decision. You raised your hand and you took a vow. You made a commitment. You. Pledged. Your. Honor. Same thing in a marriage. It’s a partnership too. Just like the Navy. There are times in marriage when it’s boring, when you get angry or tired of routines, when you even drive each other crazy. But you stay together because you made a decision to love one another.”

 Sky set his bottle down on the table. This was way more interesting than beer.

 “My advice? Let yourself fall madly in love with Daisy. Enjoy every minute of it. And should you decide she’s the one, keep in mind that these in love feelings will eventually fade away. I think too many couples expect that high to last forever, so they break up when the rush wears off. They don’t know they have to make a decision about loving one another. Don’t get me wrong. Always work at rekindling those in love feelings, but know you will never again feel the way you feel right now.”

Sky chuckled, “Oh, I like that part about rekindling I love to rekindle.”

“Be sure to hold on to those original feelings, so you can bring them out, like a photo album, and savor the memories. Even when you’re a grizzled old man like myself.”

Sky sipped his beer, the game forgotten. It was as if the old guy had given him the secret to the universe. There must be some magic to what George was saying, because here he was: Sky Crawford, king of the skies and the bedroom, actually contemplating marriage.

George broke the silence. “I’m guessing you’re pretty lost in thought there, son.”

“Yeah?” Sky looked up at him to see George grinning.

“Navy just scored a touchdown and the extra point and you didn’t even notice.”

Sky jerked his head toward the TV. “They did?”

“Yup. Now get down and give me seven push-ups, sailor.”

***

I’d love to hear I’d love to hear what tips your readers have for successful relationships. I will be giving away a copy of Forget Me Not to one lucky reader who comments by midnight, November 25.

Thanks for having me, JQs!


53 thoughts on “Welcome, Heather Ashby

  1. Heather Ashby says:

    Great to be here today, Kristan. Thanks for inviting me! I have a typo alert for your readers. I’d love to hear what tips YOUR READERS HAVE for successful relationships.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      I fixed it for you, Heather.

      1. Heather Ashby says:

        You get extra points today! Thanks a million :-)

        1. Heather Ashby says:

          Hate to be a pain, but can you check “I’d love to hear I’d love to hear…?” Thanks!

  2. Laurie W G says:

    Hi Heather

    I do agree with your beliefs about love. I do like your storyline. I have not read any of your books yet. I do look forward to reading FORGET ME NOT. I want to find out if Sky finds love and happiness with Daisy!

    I’m married 36 years. Trust and communication are essential to any relationship even with friends. I’ve never read Eric Fromm. I have heard of him. I do agree that you have to make a concerted effort to stay together. I agree that life interferes but if you work on sharing your time, thoughts and feelings with your mate you can enjoy a wonderful life together.

    We’re thrilled that 3 of our 4 children are successfully married and the final one will be married within a year. We have one gorgeous granddaughter with #2 due April 1.

    It’s exciting to see the children that we created turn out so beautifully!

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      Laurie, this is a lovely tribute to your husband and your children – and obviously YOU! I SO agree about trust and communication! And isn’t it just “the proof is in the pudding” when we see our children happily married and successful in their relationships and in the world. Super congratulations on that granddaughter and one on the way. I have JUST experienced this grandmother thing since June and it’s a whole new, wonderful world! Blessings to you and your family!

  3. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

    I think your advice is great. It’s not always about how you feel in the moment. There’s a line in Crazy, Stupid Love where Steve Carrell says I loved you even when I hated you. Yep.

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      LOVE that line, Shana!

  4. Rue Allyn says:

    Couldn’t agree more Heather. Great post.

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      Thanks, Rue. Great to see you here today, shipmate! Write On!

  5. Karen Johnston says:

    This book sounds great! I love coming by here and finding all these new authors to check out! :))
    I agree with everything George said. ;) Plus I think you have to have good communication to make a relationship work! Ive learned recently that you have to ask/tell your partner things! You cant just expect them to know everything! :) And more often than not, when I ask…I get.

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      ” Ive learned recently that you have to ask/tell your partner things! You cant just expect them to know everything!” Especially with GUYS. Most are not really that complicated and if you ask/tell them what you want/need (in a non-threatening way, of course) it’s amazing they you DO often get it. Thanks for stopping by, Karen.

  6. anne says:

    Your post was important and true. After a marriage of 44 years there is always something to learn. Honesty and trust are a necessity.

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      YES, YES, YES to honesty and trust, Anne! Congrats on not only 44 years of marriage, but also knowing that there is always something to learn.

  7. Sue Gorman says:

    I agree with your advice. Falling in love is such a wonderful experience .Being in love and staying in love can be a lot of work.
    My husband and I have been married for 25+ years and in the past two years several of our friends with long term marriages and children have separated. In both cases, it was because they did not talk to each other. They argued but they did not talk.
    My husband and I are not perfect. We have learned to listen to each other and to compromise. Listening to someone is an art.
    Looking forward to your book!

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      Congratulations on your happy marriage. I know, it’s sad when we see some of our friends splitting up :-( How sad that they argue, but don’t talk. Great that you and your husband listen and compromise. I loved that “not perfect” part. I day, “My husband isn’t perfect, but he’s perfect for me.” Hope you enjoy the book. THanks for stopping by, Sue.

  8. Mary Behre says:

    In my first college course, Anthropology 101, on the very first day, my professor said something very similar to what what George said above. It stuck with me. Except he said the passion fades and if there isn’t something more behind it–respect, friendship, and true love, then the couple doesn’t make it.

    When my husband and I met 17 years ago in a different college class, we knew. We wanted to be together. We were meant for each other. And getting married six months later (on New Year’s Eve) was a step we decided we’d honor forever.

    My husband and I made a decision to keep our marriage full of love. Our secret is pretty simple. 1. Never fight over money. 2. Talk about everything with each other. 3. Support each other’s dreams and careers. 4. Take family vacations–even in the lean years. 5. Say “I love you,” every day and mean it.

    Heather, congratulations on your latest book. I can’t wait to read it. Gotta love the Navy guys. (So I am biased. My husband was a Navy boy when I met and married him.)

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      Always wonderful to hear from the lovely Mary Behre! ANd yes, to “there better be something to back up the passion” part. Respect, friendship and true love. I’m going to add a shared sense of humor too. I love your 5 secrets above, Mary. EXCELLENT advice! I think you should put them into a blog post :-) And yes, there IS something about those sailors, isn’t there? Hugs to you, Mary. Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Vanessa Kelly Vanessa Kelly says:

    Welcome to the JQs, my First Coast sister! Advice for successful relationships? For me, it’s been learning when to gracefully back away from an argument. Most things usually aren’t worth the hurt feelings. And hubby and I–no matter how mad we get at each other–never hold a grudge.

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      Thanks for the welcome to Jaunty Quills, First Coast Sister, Vanessa! LOVE your advice. I didn’t get this tip for awhile. Maybe it comes with age. SO many of the things we think are so important, just aren’t. It’s all about being right. I’ve learned I’d rather be happy than right all the time. And a BIG YES to never holding a grudge.

  10. Jim Cangany says:

    Wonderful post, Heather! My wife Nancy and I have been married 22 years. Since we met, we’ve had our ups, like the births of our two sons, and our downs, like losing both of our Mothers and Nancy’s bout with breast cancer. Through it all, we’ve held on to the belief that we’re in this crazy thing called marriage together. And we truly believe that if we stick by each other’s side, we’ll make it down that path, wherever it may lead.

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      “We’re in this crazy thing called marriage together. And we truly believe that if we stick by each other’s side, we’ll make it down that path, wherever it may lead.” Wow, Jim, you’re making me cry. That is BEAUTIFUL! But then, we know what an awesome husband you are, caring for your wife through her breast cancer. I am fortunate to have an awesome husband too. I wish every woman had a guy who “sticks by her side, so they can make it down the path together.” Okay, gotta find the tissues. SO good to hear from you, Jim. Write ON!

  11. girlygirlhoosier52 says:

    Thanks for sharing the excerpt.. Talking to one another is a key element of a good marriage — money, expectations, dreams, etc. Nowadays, all I see are couples at dinner, or just out somewhere and everyone’s concentrating on their cell phones. Makes me wonder if they ever talk to each other or just text them….

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      That is so true! I see that in restaurants and at family gatherings. Sad to see couples and FAMILIES doing that in a group. Think about those pre-teens and teens who are establishing this as a way of life. I think there’s a romance novel plot line in here somewhere :-) Kind of a text version of “You’ve Got Mail.”

  12. Laurie A. Green says:

    Hi Heather! What a great passage. I love the bond that forms between Sky and George. George’s advice is pure gold, and how Sky relates to him and carefully considers his words says a lot about his true character. The emotional turning point for the hero is so beautifully drawn. Sky may be a (former) playboy, but I think he’s about to have his world turned on its ear. :)

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      Aw, thanks for appreciating Sky’s emotional growth in this book. It was fun to paint him as a bad boy in Book #1 and the beginning of this book. What a fun challenge to turn those bad boys! The bigger they are, the harder they fall. ANd thank for being a charter member of the Sky Crawford Fan Club on Facebook. Thanks for fastening your five-point harness and going along for the ride! Big hug for you today, Laurie!

  13. Jean Willett says:

    Lovely post, Heather. By the time I finished reading all the responses, I felt refreshed. Love = commitment, trust, communication and integrity. Work on all of them as life kicks us and we go through ups and downs. We’re celebrating 35yrs next month..whoohoo. Our sons don’t have girlfriends, but they’re looking. The best think we could ever hear from them, “We want what you guys have. Something lasting.”

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      Oh, my gosh, Jean! This gave me goose bumps: “Our sons don’t have girlfriends, but they’re looking. The best thing we could ever hear from them, ‘We want what you guys have. Something lasting.”‘ BEAUTIFUL. And congratulations on 35 happy years of marriage. But only what I would expect from someone as lovely and loving as you. Your husband and your boys are very lucky to have you as the heart of their family.

      I, too, noticed how lovely it was to read through all these comments. I think the nuggets and tips should be compiled into another blog post :-)

  14. Tammy Baumann says:

    Great post Heather!
    And George is oh so right. I’ve been married almost 29 years and can attest to being tired, bored and tempted to commit murder. What’s kept me happy and out of jail is this: whenever I fear I’ve reached my limit, I conjure up memories of when the hubs and I first met, and all the reasons we fell in love. :)

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      Yup, get out that old memory photo album and rekindle :-)

      (Actually, Tammy, there’s a line in the book where George says, “That’s when a six-month cruise comes in handy. There’s nothing to make you appreciate your wife like missing her for six months and then seeing her waiting for you on the tarmac.” I’m sharing this with you, KNOWING your dad was a Navy pilot and I KNOW that you will understand the sentiment.

  15. catslady says:

    I think commitment is important. Too many couples just give up at the first sign of trouble which probably happens in most marriages. And compromise! It’s been 44 yrs. for me so far :)

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      Yay for your marriage of 44 years! Commitment IS so important. It was weird, but one day, while writing Forget Me Not, it just hit me that a commitment to a job or a cause – or to a career in the Navy, in this case – was similar to marriage. Through the good and the bad, when we make a commitment, we stick to it. Thanks for stopping by today.

  16. LynDee says:

    Great post, Heather! I love Sky. Can’t wait to read this book! But I will not start this one at bedtime. ;)

    I agree, marriage is work. My hubby and I have been together for 18 years, married for almost 13. Some days he drives me bonkers. But I can’t imagine my world without him. We’re an “us.” And I’m willing to put in the effort to keep it that way, as is he.

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      Awww, so glad you enjoyed reading about Sky in Book 1. I LOVE “We’re an ‘US’” And love that you both put in the effort to keep it that way, LynDee. My husband drives me bonkers some days too. Lately I look at those things that annoy me and realize that 95% of them are unimportant.

  17. Arlene Hittle says:

    Great philosophy and a fantastic excerpt. Congrats on the release, Heather!

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      Thanks, Arlene. So glad you stopped by today! Write On!

  18. Cindy Kirk Cindy Kirk says:

    Tips for a successful relationship? Remembering that you’re not always right. :)

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      Boy, Cindy, this one goes A LONG Way!!! And not just for couples either: friends, parents and children, co-workers, difficult relatives, you name it!

  19. As luck would have it, the passage quoted is one of the parts I’ve read in my sparkling new copy of FORGET ME NOT when I open to random pages! I haven’t read all the great advice here, but I must mention a good sense of humor as a key to lasting love. (And since I read FORGIVE & FORGET, I know you have one, Heather!) If you can laugh together, and/or make each other laugh, it’s much easier to complete a mission through life’s unexpected turbulence (that metaphor is for you, Sky).

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      “it’s much easier to complete a mission through life’s unexpected turbulence (that metaphor is for you, Sky).” LOVE this! I totally agree with you, Colette. Yup, humor plays a big part in this household and I bet it does in yours too. A shared sense of humor is almost like a separate language between friends or lovers. (BTW, I love that you’re making random forays into Sky’s book.)

  20. prisakiss says:

    I love this post, Heather. Wow, George is a wise man! :-) I can’t wait to get my hands on Forget Me Not and immerse myself in Sky and Daisy’s story.
    There’s a fine line there, between “in love” and “loving someone.” The part about marrige being hard work is too true. A healthy marriage is comprised of two people who are willing to work at their relationship, even when it’s difficult. But it does take two.
    For those of you who have mastered the balance and communication skills needed to sustain a loving, healthy marriage– I applaud you.
    Boy, if we all had an Anthro professor like Mary Behre, or were given Fromm’s book as a wedding present, maybe more marriges would last. Or have a better shot at it. Just a thought. :-)
    What I love about your book, Heather, and the romance genre as a whole is that our stories show people dealing with conflict and rising above it to find love with someone who respects who they are and is willing to fight the good fight to maintain a lasting relationship. Romance reaffirms what we all know to be true– healthy relationships can and do exist.
    Our books, and some of the posts from readers here, can attest to that!

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      Wow. What a beautiful post, Pris! I especially loved this: “…our stories show people dealing with conflict and rising above it to find love with someone who respects who they are and is willing to fight the good fight to maintain a lasting relationship.” Well put. I love the idea of Fromm’s book being a wedding gift, but I would add THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES too. I think more relationships suffer because people don’t understand people who speak a different Love Language. I highly recommend it for everyone to help us understand children, parents, friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, along with mates. Thanks so much for stopping by and for your pearls of wisdom today.

      1. prisakiss says:

        Great books suggestions, Heather! I’ll definitely check out both Fromm’s and The Five Love Languages. The good thing is, they’ll help me both with my relationships in real life and in my books. :-)

  21. Ella Quinn says:

    I really loved that excerpt, Heather!! We’ve been married 30 years and together 32. It is a decision. Tweeted.

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      Congratulations on 30 years, Ella! Glad you enjoyed the excerpt. Thanks for the Tweet.

  22. Loni Lynne says:

    Spot on Heather!! Loved the excerpt and can’t wait to read!! Bravo Zulu!

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      Thanks, Shipmate! Glad you enjoyed it. BZ back atcha’. I’m almost done WANTED ONE GHOST!

  23. Lorelei's Lit Lair says:

    That was beautiful and so true, the advice and the excerpt. I’ve been married for 25 yrs and the secret for me is that my hubby is my best friend, we are there for each other in the good and the bad. We understand, accept and respect each other. We are committed to love each other, like our vows.

    I’m so glad you stopped by! I love discovering new authors and your series is one I know I’ll enjoy! Thanks for the chance to win!

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      Congratulations on 25 years of happy marriage! LOVE all these tips:
      ” hubby is my best friend, we are there for each other in the good and the bad. We understand, accept and respect each other. We are committed to love each other, like our vows.” I think I need a new blog post with everyone wonderful tips and secrets. Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoy the series! Anchors Aweigh :-)

  24. kathleen bittner roth says:

    Thanks for a great post, Heather! Your first book was soooooo good and I just knew Sky would have his own story. I love this excerpt. After a bad first marriage I remained single for 13 years, founded a wellbeing center and researched relationships, what worked, what didn’t. Your George’s philosophy works, I can attest to that. When I met a wonderful man who asked me to marry him, I asked him to attend my relationships class before I’d give an answer. Afterward, I gave him a list of what I required in a marriage (one item on the list was rekindling love) and asked him to write a list. We agreed to honor each other’s list, to never take one another for granted and to remember every day that high from the beginning of our relationship. 15 years later, he passed away. Today, I live a healthy, happy life with some awesome memories of a love affair well done.

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      Condolences on the loss of your wonderful husband, Kathleen. I love your closing sentence – “Healthy, happy life with awesome memories of a love affair well done.” How special that you could not only learn – and share with your husband – at your wellness center, but you also shared your wealth of wisdom with others. LOVE the idea of handing him a list and asking him to write one too! And good to see that Sky isn’t the only one who knows about “rekindling.” Thanks for enjoying the first book and Sky. He can be a bit rough around the edges, but I know you see his heart of gold beneath. SOOO good to hear from you. Write On! (and you know I mean that!) Hugs.

  25. Natalie Meg Evans says:

    Hi Heather, your excerpt really made me want to dive into your Love in the Fleet series, and I will start with book one of course! What you wrote was very moving, not least because I and my husband are now coming up to 35 years together (I was very very young when I met him!) and are negotiating those waters where romance and passion have to give way to the more enduring qualities of respect and friendship. This transition is both liberating and sad because it is an acknowledgement of the passing of time and the transition of love. Of course we all want romance to go on but I comfort myself that the truly deep relationship resembles the quiet mutuality of swans and elephants whose love goes on until death. And of course, that loyalty is soooo important to children, even the adult ones who think they’re too mature to care about what their parents get up to. They do, more than they realise. So thanks for this post, as it finished off my Friday beautifully!
    xxx Natalie Meg Evans

    1. Heather Ashby says:

      Aw, this brought tears to my eyes, Natalie! LOVE the reference to swans and elephants and that even our ADULT children are watching “to see how it’s done.” I also loved this part, being a peer of yours: “negotiating those waters where romance and passion have to give way to the more enduring qualities of respect and friendship. This transition is both liberating and sad because it is an acknowledgement of the passing of time and the transition of love.” And, yes, although we’ve been lucky to have respect and friendship all along with the passion, our “wise-George-Years” do loom ahead. Closer than they used to be. I believe Fromm talks about love in our later years–and if he doesn’t, be sure to re-read Anne Morrow Lindgergh’s GIFT FROM THE SEA. She addressed every stage of love. Thank you so much for coming by today. I hope your writing is going well. Hugs.

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