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Saturday, April 27, 2019
Interview with Author Debbie Cunningham
in the Kitchen:
Help for Staying in Love
What is your book about?
Dancing in the Kitchen is a
lighthearted yet honest look at what it takes to build lasting love in
marriage, even through adversity. It is stories of couples that have gone
through difficulties in their relationship and how they stayed together through
infidelity, addiction, infertility, serious illness, seasons of grief or
ambivalence, and in an unusual twist even the story of an arranged marriage.
What inspired you to write Dancing in the Kitchen?
As a jazz artist, I’ve been singing
to couples for many years. I’ve noticed that couples seem more disengaged from
each other. I’ve also watched as the divorce rates have climbed in society,
even in second marriages. We’ve walked with several friends who have divorced
too and I wanted to do something to encourage people through those hard seasons
by sharing what has worked for others.
How do you hope it will help people?
I hope the stories will empower
couples to make some changes to build a deeper connection in their relationship,
which in turn can rekindle the lightheartedness they used to have together. I
also hope it will help to normalize the struggle that we all have in our
relationships from time to time.
What is some good advice for married couples that are struggle
during difficult times in their marriage?
Most relationships dissolve because
couples stop emotionally connecting. You have to be intentional. It’s important
to find ways to have fun together even through stressful times. Go out and do
something you enjoy but don’t discuss your issues. If that’s too difficult go
out with another couple or a group of friends. Having a supportive community
around you is beneficial to sustain you through your struggling seasons. Try
learning a new skill together.
Take dance lessons or a cooking
class or go golfing or to music and sporting events. When you first fell in
love you spent time dating and doing fun things together not paying bills or
working through issues with your kids or job. You need to intentionally
cultivate that kind of time in your relationship again.
Be mindful of how you react to your
spouse. Ask yourself why certain things irritate you and why is that thing
triggering such anger or frustration in you? Usually someone doesn’t feel heard
or respected or loved in that moment. Or it can be a default reaction from past
relationships or wounds. If you need to address an issue with your spouse,
don’t do it in the heat of the moment and try using a non-attacking statement. Say,
“when you do or say (blank), I feel (blank).”
I also believe in asking God for
wisdom through prayer and working to forgive each other daily! And definitely
seek out counseling if you can’t seem to make progress on your own.
How challenging was it for you to write the book?
Definitely challenging! I am
accustomed to writing songs but this was more difficult because the process was
much longer. Writing from my own experience, interviewing other couples and
curating their stories took quite a bit of time. Although, not having to rhyme
at the end of lines was a nice change!
What advice do you have for other authors?
Don’t self edit when you write the
first draft! The first draft is never good but you have to get all that out of
your head before you get to the great stuff. Be patient with yourself and get
out of your house once in a while to have fun with friends. We writers can be
reclusive and friendship will bring new energy and perspective to your soul and
your book. Your deadlines are important but you still have to live life.
How is your music tied into your writings?
I wrote Dancing in the Kitchen as
an extension of the message in my last album, A Million Kisses. I wrote the
songs on that album about the journey and celebration of committed love. I have
noticed that most songs on the radio are about falling in or out of love, not
staying in it. And after 31 years of marriage, I want to be encouraged to stay
in love! It felt a little risky at the time but I was passionate about the
message. When I was playing those songs for music industry friends and fans for
feedback, many of them commented they thought I should write a book to go along
with the album. It quite surprised me but I decided to listen. Glad I did.