Today I’m thrilled to welcome Ashleigh Slater, author of Team Us: Marriage Together. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Ashleigh online over the past three years, through her role as the founder and editor of Ungrind Webzine.
Ashleigh and her husband Ted have four daughters, and live in Atlanta.
But today, Ashleigh is here with us to answer a few questions about her book, her marriage, and her journey in grace.
Without further ado, here we go!
As a longtime writer and editor, what prompted you to write a book on this topic specifically?
When it comes to my writing, I actively hold to “write what you know.” So when Moody approached me last spring about possibly writing a book on relationships, I sat back and thought, “Okay, what can I write about that I have experience in and am passionate about?” The first thing that came to mind as I reflected on Ted and my marriage was how grace has impacted our relationship. This idea of writing on grace turned into the book that is now Team Us.
In your book, you talk about the “communication sandwich.” Could you share a bit about that concept here?
Yes! It’s one of my favorite communication techniques. Essentially, it means that when you have constructive criticism to share with your spouse, you sandwich it between praise. Much like you’d place liverwurst between two slices of Wonder Bread. Say, for example, your spouse, like mine, sometimes loves sleep too much – to the point that those sleep habits may be negatively affecting the relationship. You might offer something like this:
I appreciate how hard you work. I realize that sleeping in helps you recuperate and recharge. I know that’s important …
The thing is, I’ve been feeling like it’s getting in the way of our time together and your time with the family. Do you think we could reexamine your sleep schedule?…
I’m really looking forward to figuring out a good balance. I look forward to being able to spend more time with you.
I think for anyone, it’s much easier to “swallow” this bite of constructive criticism if it’s “sandwiched” between praise.
What would you say to couples who experience regular bouts of conflict in their marriage?
Ted and I recently had a month of regular bouts of conflict. I’m talking something almost every day. We were under a lot of stress with a car in the shop and the finances related to that. Not to mention some health issues. So I’m freshly reminded what a strain consistent conflict can put on a marriage.
Perhaps the most important thing that month reminded me of was that there’s a certain bravery that needs to be present in marriage. When I say bravery, I mean the determination that even in the midst of conflict – even when disconnection is an overwhelming feeling – we’re willing to reach through it and seek reconciliation. This can be risky, because when you’re struggling, you don’t always know if your spouse is going to accept your outreached hand in that moment or reject it. I actually wrote an article about this for The Time-Warp Wife called “Brave Your Marriage.” It publishes on Tuesday, August 19th and explores how Ted and I sought to be brave during our recent struggles.
What is the best marriage advice you’ve ever received?
My favorite advice came from my boss back when Ted and I were engaged. He told me how he often deferred to his wife’s preferences. Not because he was a pushover. Rather, he’d determined that if something meant more to her than it did to him, why couldn’t he just give in? Ted and I have come to adopt this as our 49 percent/51 percent policy. If one feels a few percent stronger about something, we typically tend to defer to that person.
How has writing Team Us: Marriage Together challenged or strengthened your own spiritual life?
Writing this book has challenged me to continue to trust that God’s timing is perfect. That he’s never late and never early. The truth is I wasn’t actively seeking to write a book at this point in my life, but as the doors opened, it became very clear to me that God was saying “now.” So each time we’ve hit a bump in the road throughout the process (whether it’s been the kidney stone I got while writing the manuscript or the month Ted and I spent fighting), I’ve had to step back and say, “Okay, God, I trust that you are in control. And because I know that, I’m not going to let these challenges and struggles stop me from doing what you’ve called me to do right now.”
What is one of your favorite passages of Scripture regarding the marriage relationship?
It isn’t a verse specifically on marriage, but I read it recently and thought, “Wow, I want this to characterize Ted and my marriage.” It’s Philippians 1:27-28. Here Paul writes to the Philippians, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing side by side for the faith of the gospel.” I love that about fellow believers – which Ted and I are in addition to being husband and wife – standing side by side.
As a wife and homeschooling mom to four girls, how did you manage to fit writing a book into your life and schedule?
Now that the school season has started up again, I look back myself and wonder, “Wait … how did it all get written?” I think the key was that I wrote whenever I was able. I’d get up early. I’d write during our afternoon “quiet times” and then I’d spend the weekends writing. When I wasn’t writing, Ted and I were brainstorming. Also, we don’t have family local, so when it came to entertaining the kids, it really was a team effort for Ted and me to make sure writing happened. It’s funny, even though I do wonder how it all got done, I also find myself thinking, “That wasn’t so bad. I could do that again.”
Thank you, Ashleigh, for taking the time to share with us today!
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