Rev. Dr. Ed Hird and his wife Janice are not afraid to tell stories against themselves – whether it’s to reinforce their own union, or to help other marriages.
That’s one of the strengths of their book For Better, For Worse: Discovering the keys to a lasting relationship (HIS Publishing Group), based on the Strengthening Marriage Workshop they conduct and the work Ed did in gaining a doctorate in ministry focused on Dr. Murray Bowen’s Family Systems Theory.
In 40 years of marriage, they have had plenty of time to make what they frankly acknowledge as “painful mistakes” and gather humorous and embarrassing anecdotes they are willing to share to illuminate their points.
“Authentic, non-judgmental story-telling is one of the keys to healing of relationships, especially in marriage,” they write in their introduction to the book, published late last year.
The couple recently relocated to South Surrey after 30 years in North Vancouver (where Ed was the Rector of St. Simon’s Church and Janice was its music director).
Ed is also a frequently-published newspaper columnist who takes on speaking and workshop engagements.
“We’ve been talking about writing this book since I completed my doctorate,” Ed told Peace Arch News.
“Janice is an amazing story-teller and stories are what help principles come alive.
“We took my doctoral thesis and rewrote it for the ‘normal’ couple.”
Their book – an easy read at 120 pages – is packed with pragmatic, relatable advice for couples on such issues as striking the balance between closeness and personal space and the importance of forgiveness.
They also describe how the stresses of daily living and personality differences can create an emotional distance founded in a desire to avoid conflict.
But, in circumstances of chronic anxiety, they say, that distancing can morph into a danger zone of “emotional cutoff,” which guarantees that partners feel neglected and issues are never resolved.
While partners should be ‘present’ in their marriages, the couple writes, achieving balance also means being able to celebrate their differences and give each other room to be their own person.
Their perspective is clearly a very traditional, Christian-based, concept of marriage (“We think Christian principles and Family Systems Theory complement each other really well,” Ed observed) but there is much that can be applied to other relationships, the couple acknowledge.
“We wrote it in a way that you don’t have to be religious to benefit from it,” Ed said.