By Rebecca White

Relationships and love are not easy to maintain, especially if you’ve been married for years. In the new self-help book by reality TV stars Jim and Elizabeth Carroll, the couple shares their best relationship advice on defeating the top 10 marriage killers and building a rock solid relationship. Their book, Marriage Boot Camp: Defeat the Top 10  Marriage Killers and Build a Rock Solid Relationship, will help you reignite the flames in your love life. In this exclusive author interview, the duo talks about their love advice to save your marriage.

Relationship Authors Open Up On Best Relationship Advice For Married Couples

To start, we are so excited for the Marriage Boot Camp book to come out! How will the book be like your program and reality TV show? And how will it be different?

Jim: It’s like the reality TV show in that it takes the reader through many of the exercises and the purposes behind them. People learn when they do things. This book makes the reader apply the tools. It’s different in that this book is written so couples avoid conflict, while the TV show enhances the conflict because we have a controlled environment.

Elizabeth: The Marriage Boot Camp book takes the top 10 sources of conflict in marriage and gives you a step-by-step action plan for couples to work together. It starts with a case study of one of our couples who struggled with this particular topic. We then give you all of the background information and research needed on the topic so that you can be completely informed. Finally, we end each chapter with a do-it-yourself exercise that you can complete with or without your mate. The book is similar to the TV show in that the readers, like the celebrities, participate actively in the work. It is different from the TV show in that all of the behind-the-scenes teaching and applications are available to the reader.

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Can you tell us about the top three marriage killers? What’s your best tip for helping couples overcome them?

Jim and Elizabeth: Communication – Learn to “mirror.” This is an active listening technique that requires the listener to close his mouth and open his ears. You use the phrase, “What I heard you say is…” and you mirror back what the speaker just said. The hard part is that you have to put your own thoughts, opinions, and feelings on hold temporarily and be open minded to your mates point of view. Sex – Understand the very real differences between male and female sexuality. Have a very frank conversation with your mate about what you want from your sex life and what you’re willing to do to make that happen. It’s also important to discuss your earliest sexual experience and understand how this makes an imprint that affects you even today. Money – Know that money is often just the tip of the iceberg with the “real” issue lurking below. Spouses need to spend some time digging into their own psyche and understand their own financial personalities. Money can mean love, power, control, status, or freedom. Each of us leans more toward spending or saving. And you also have a unique family culture. Each of us needs to know what money means to us and then communicate this to our partners. Then get started on a budget!

During the writing process, did you have any profound moments or epiphanies about your own marriage?

Jim: We created a new drill, called “cycles,” that we used in our own marriage.

Elizabeth: Jim’s and my marriage is the lab for many of our Marriage Boot Camp drills. In chapter 9: Wrestling With Past, both of us had many “ah ha” moments where we came to a deeper understanding of the impact the past has on our present. We are currently working on a drill called “cycles” or “circular conflict” because we have seen a pattern when we get gridlocked and it took quite some time to untangle. We definitely want others to learn from our mistakes.

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In your program, you have a lot of drills and exercises for the couples to do. Which one do you believe is the most beneficial and why?

Jim: The forgiveness drill is always the most powerful. It releases people to grow and move forward.

Elizabeth: Every exercise in our program is important but if you could only pick two areas to focus on we would suggest chapter 1 (Communication) and chapter 10 (Forgiveness). With good communication you can solve virtually any problem, but with poor communication it’s almost impossible to solve even the smallest. Chapter 1 covers a concept that we call the Marriage Boot Camp ABC’s and Jim and I use this almost every day. A is for Action, B is for Belief, what you believe about the action and C is for the Consequence of your beliefs. We often say, “I think we have different B’s” when we’re each reacting differently to a situation, which could potentially cause conflict. Chapter 10 covers the need to forgive. As hard as we try, none of us can avoid hurting the other when you live so closely together. The only solution is to make amends and forgive anytime we fall short, but this is much deeper than you would imagine.

To shift gears, I’d love to ask you for some relationship advice! What message do you have for readers who are struggling to keep the spark alive in their marriage?

Jim: My relationship advice is to go to a marriage retreat. It is so much better than sitting around getting counseling and then fighting after every appointment.

Elizabeth: Nothing kills the spark like a root of bitterness. In over 20 years of Marriage Boot Camp I have never seen a spouse who said they were no longer in love with their mate who didn’t carry some deep, unresolved resentment. Once you dig that out, we take couples back to the moment when they fell in love and rekindle the flame that started their journey. It works every time. It is relatively easy for people to fall in love again, but it takes discipline to constantly scrub the little viruses out.

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What are the top dating New Year’s resolutions for 2016?

Jim: Everyone always says they’re going to work on their relationships and love in the next year but…why waste time making resolutions just to fail again? Better to get off your butt and get online and do something for real.

Elizabeth: Instead of trying to find Mr./Ms. Right, become Mr./Ms. Right. Chapter 5: Personalty Differences is a great place to start. Find out who you are first, then you’ll know the type of mate that would be a good match for you. Get involved in community. Find people with like interests and values. Get involved with a volunteer organization. This is a great way to meet people and more importantly it will make you a more interesting person. Take online dating seriously. This is a great way to be exposed to a sizable number of people. Be open, be kind and wonderful things can happen! That’s how Jim and I met!

Lastly, do you have any other upcoming projects or anything else you’d like to share with our readers? 

Elizabeth: We have several more seasons of Marriage Boot Camp ready to be filmed and the concepts and casts are unbelievably exciting! The Marriage Boot Camp seminars continue for anyone who wants to have an exciting interactive experience of growth and healing. Co-director Ilsa Norman and I are also blogging on celebrity relationships. Finally, Ilsa Norman recently launched the Marriage Boot Camp Retreat for couples who want to keep making memories and continue to grow, while bringing fresh life into their marriages.

Marriage Boot Camp: Defeat the Top 10  Marriage Killers and Build a Rock Solid Relationship is available now on Amazon. For more from Jim and Elizabeth Carroll, visit the Marriage Boot Camp website, www.marriagebootcamp.com/ and read Elizabeth’s blog at http://www.mbcmotherdaughterduo.com/.