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       Lois Kellerman: Marriage from the Heart  
 
Nelly and Lois at work
A Match Made in Heaven: Lois Kellerman and Nelly Bly

A Match Made in Heaven: Lois Kellerman and Nelly Bly

Lois and Nelly wrote Marriage from the Heart together. From the very start we decided to use the first person, the “I” voice, so that the experience of reading the book would be more intimate, more personal. When it came time to design the book jacket, our publishers rightly chose to emphasize Lois in the presentation of the book, to avoid confusing the reader. One downside to this approach was that people would think Nelly had ghost-written the book—a conception that downplays Lois’s special skills as a writer, as well as shortchanging how much of Nelly’s heart and soul really went into the project.

In reality, we wrote within an equal partnership, not unlike the many relationships we were describing in the book. Together we strove to create an authentic, useable guide to the art of relationships. We didn’t want to just be poetic about it, or offer platitudes, or repeat what so many others have had to say on the subject. But to succeed in making this book something that would really help people, we knew that everything in it had to reflect our actual experience—to come from the heart. J

Marriage from the Heart is not just a book about lifelong love relationships. It has a lot to say about other relationships, too—family, friends, community. In fact, we forged a writing partnership over the long journey from thought to finished book—a partnership both loving and professional, which continually taught us about the eight commitments and how they come to play in real-life relationships. Even as we tested out compassionate truthfulness or active listening in our respective marriages, we were doing the same thing with each other. As we wrote the book, we were also writing about our own experience as writing partners. And all the while the eight commitments kept us supporting, respecting, and communicating with each other, in the end making the book itself possible.

Centering, the first commitment, encourages partners to draw meaning and spiritual inspiration from your physical environment. An example we used told of an old Iranian foot chest, which our fictional couple took with them whenever they moved. It was just the size to carry only the most cherished keepsakes, physically reminding the couple of their best memories. In “real life,” this chest was Lois’s, and it had gone with her and Hal wherever they had moved. As the book neared completion, as a token of love and celebration she carefully packed up the chest and sent it to Nelly. Nelly was moving soon, too, and Lois wanted Nelly to have an especially precious reminder of writing this book together. The chest now sits prominently next to Nelly’s writing desk, perfectly wonderful for Centering.

The second commitment, Choosing, is a critical chapter in the book because it concerns knowing your priorities, and consciously making and keeping commitments. Early on, we knew that finishing this book and making it good were of the highest importance. However, as we hit the inevitable bumps in the road (and there were some doozies!), we discovered an even more important priority: each other. Whatever else happened, we knew that this book needed us, first, if it was ever to get finished. Sometimes that meant taking up the slack for one partner who was sick or grieving; other times it meant editing with scrupulously maintained respect—even when pages were far from polished! Sometimes what we really needed had nothing to do with writing, and we gave each other shoulders to cry on, a funny encouraging email, or just the space to rest away from the book for awhile.

What all this meant, in fact, was that we had chosen to write this book in the spirit of the eight commitments—honoring and cherishing each other no matter what, keeping the faith through difficult times, helping each other to repair, listening, and finally leaving a little room for fun.

A writing partnership is just another type of “life together”—be it a friendship, sisterhood, marriage, artistic collaboration, or just a couple of fellow souls—and it has just as much to gain from the nurturing promise of the eight commitments of the heart: Centering, Choosing, Honoring, Caring, Abiding, Repairing, Listening and Celebrating.





Copyright © 2002 Lois Kellerman, All rights reserved.