Making Marriage Work In Michelle Sutton's Their Seperate Ways

Today author Michelle Sutton illustrates the differences between two struggling marriages in Their Separate Ways, her new inspirational mainstream novel that follows last year's Never Without Hope. Get a special look at these challenged characters and find out what feelings compelled Sutton to write about this painful subject matter.

Writing Their Separate Ways was enjoyable for me on so many levels. I love to write about conflict and sexual tension between characters. The details of the story came to mind quickly as I pondered the year after the affair ended and what that might look like for two very different couples. Their Separate Ways answers the question…what happens to Tony and Hope after they go their separate ways when their affair is exposed? It's a continuation from the first book in the Sacred Vows series titled, Never Without Hope.

Briefly, Never Without Hope is about a woman, Hope, whose need for intimacy is being ignored by her husband due to shame from his sudden, unexplained impotency. He refused to deal with the problem and continually rejects her. A younger man comes along who is interested in her and their illicit affair begins. Soon the guilt overwhelms her, she confesses, and her life blows up in her face. But their crisis causes her husband to finally get help, and they begin to believe that their marriage will someday be restored.

Unlike the first book, which is written in a first person point of view from Hope's perspective, the sequel, Their Separate Ways, is written in third person point of view and alternates between Hope, and Tony, her former lover. The reader experiences with them the joys and challenges in each of their relationships the year following the exposure of their affair, since both couples are still together. But all is not necessarily well with either of them as they deal with the continual hurt and healing that people experience who are trying to work through a major crisis in their marriage.

Hope's husband struggles with the memory and implication of his wife's betrayal, but has chosen to forgive her no matter how much it hurts him to reestablish trust between them. They believe God will help them heal their marriage. Tony and his wife stayed together because of her unexpected pregnancy, but his wife can't seem to get past the hurt. She reminds him daily of his transgression, and refuses to forgive him no matter what he does. He never knows what to expect and feels like he's stepping around land mines when they are together, but he really wants to try and heal the rift between them. However, forgiveness isn't something his wife is willing to grant him, so the conflict between them is frequent and often hurtful. Some days Tony feels like he is experiencing hell on earth.

What I enjoyed most about writing this story was comparing and contrasting how two different couples try to make their marriages work, but one couple is operating with the strength that forgiveness brings to their relationship, and the other is operating on distrust and a continual need to remind the other person of their betrayal. The subject matter provides enough drama and action to keep moving things forward.

My desire is for couples struggling with intimacy issues to deal with the pain in their marriages. My hope is for them to handle things in a way that will bring about healing, rather than inflicting more pain on each other and their loved ones. I think this story does a great job at showing just that, which is why the plot and storyline was so easy for me to create. Plus, I love to write about interpersonal conflict and sexual tension. This story (and series) has plenty of both.

- Michelle Sutton

To get a different glimpse at how one of these two couples is struggling, you can read this excerpt. And then be sure to pick up your own copy of Michelle Sutton's Their Separate Ways in stores now.