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Change is seldom easy, and Spouse in the House: Rearranging Our Attitudes to Make Room for Each Other (Kregel Publications) authors Cynthia Ruchti and Becky Melby know all too well how adapting to a new, all-the-time closeness can cause the bliss of marriage to form blisters. It is an adjustment to share the same space 24/7, work around each other’s routines, communicate expectations, and divide the chores. Drawing from their own experiences as members of the HHATT Club (He’s Home All The Time), and from men and women across the country in the same situation, Ruchti and Melby take a deep breath and dive into the root causes of the discomfort. They dig into what God’s Word has to say and they offer practical tips for learning the spiritual, emotional, relational, and even physical steps that can help readers replace irritation with peace. Spouse in the House is a resource for couples that is needed now more than ever. As the authors point out, not since the Industrial Revolution transformed American life from what had been largely agricultural and family-run businesses has there been such a seismic shift back to two spouses at home. This migration to more time at home can be traced to many factors:Advanced degrees can now be earned entirely online.A rising entrepreneurial spirit is creating more and more home-run businesses (many with “work-linked” spouses collaborating on the same business, or each running a business of their own).Company employees increasingly work remotely to cut down on overhead (which had started pre-pandemic).As many as ten thousand baby boomers retiring every day in the United States.Part 1 of an Interview with
Cynthia Ruchti and Becky Melby,

Authors of Spouse in the House
Q: Spouse in the House was in the works prior to March 2020, but did it take on a whole other life after the initial COVID-19 shutdown? How can couples who aren’t home together for most of the day benefit from reading this book?
Becky: Though we originally saw our audience as women who were home with spouses 24/7 for an array of reasons—working from home, retirement, disability, seasonal occupations—the shutdown added a whole new group of couples who were thrust into togetherness without warning and were scrambling to make it work. The adjustment can be hard enough when you have time to discuss foreseeable problems. One of the things we’ve tried to do in each chapter is offer action steps and discussion topics that are as helpful for those in the midst of unplanned togetherness as for those who have time to prepare for it.
Cynthia: Interestingly, if anything changed, it revealed that it is not a subject only applicable to retirees. So many situations can put two spouses in the house for more time than expected, even if it’s just for more time each day. It’s true that COVID magnified the potential for relationship glitches and demonstrated how often a couple might need to adjust and readjust to keep themselves from colliding when there doesn’t seem to be enough air for two.
Many early readers said that they wish they would have had a book with this kind of encouragement when they were first married. When we talk to couples married only a few years, they too have stories to tell of moments or seasons when the quarters seemed too tight. I was just talking to a young couple that mentioned how shift work has created a problem for them—when their needs for quiet or activity or sleep fall in different parts of the day. We tried hard to make it clear that the principles apply whether that “too much togetherness” is five minutes too much or all day every day.
Becky: The spark for Spouse in the House came from our shared experiences with retired husbands, but we have both experienced seasons of togetherness for other reasons—job layoffs, injury, etc. Three of my adult sons are self-employed, allowing them flexible schedules, and one is home 24/7 due to disability. From the beginning, we wanted to offer hope and help to couples in all of these situations. As of August 2021, 16% of companies worldwide are 100% remote, and 85% of managers believe having teams with remote members will become the new norm, so we see our audience as a growing demographic. But even couples who have limited hours together each day will benefit from our relationship experiences (and mistakes) and what we’ve learned from them.

Q: You speak to the heart of women in Spouse in the House. In what ways do you envision its encouragement reaching men, too?
Becky: We hope to hear of couples who either read it out loud together or read separately and then compare notes to spark productive discussions.
Cynthia: Some of our early readers report their husband looking over their shoulder, that they share chapters together, or that they take the book with them on date nights. It offers an opportunity for them to laugh at themselves or start conversations they may have avoided. The husbands who’ve read the book report appreciating that a guy’s perspective is scattered throughout the book.
Q: Can you each share a little bit about life before your spouses retired and were home all the time with you? How did life change?
Becky: After several years of working part-time at my husband’s chiropractic office, I quit to focus on writing. Dr. Snuggles (I explain the name in the book) left at 8:30 every morning and came home at 6:30. Those hours in between were mine to plan and fill as I pleased. I often started my day with a prayer walk around my kitchen, dining room, and living room, talking out loud to God. I played worship music as loud as I pleased. I moved my laptop throughout the day from the kitchen counter to the couch to the dining room table. I ate lunch when I pleased and ate what I pleased. I spread folded laundry across the kitchen table, left cupboard doors open, and held animated phone conversations in any room of the house I was in. I…I…me…me…mine. The adjustment to living in an “our” world wasn’t easy. The transition from annoyance to mostly-bliss took about two years, a lot of prayer, and a lot of chats with Cynthia and other friends in similar situations. We’re hoping to offer our sisters some ways to cut down that transition time.
Cynthia: My husband still works two days a week, but he was forced into early retirement at 50. At first, he thought it was wonderful to be able to golf, fish, hunt, and not have an agenda dictated by his workplace anymore. However, he quickly realized that his extra-small pension didn’t even pay for health insurance. So as full as his fishing schedule now was, he soon pursued a part-time job. For years he worked two part-time jobs. So, long before he was what might be considered retirement age, he was at home a lot, then gone part-time, then gone a lot, then down to (now) just one of those part-time jobs. It made the 24/7 part less jarring than it might be for some, but we definitely had to learn how to rearrange attitudes, both now and for the future.
Q: What was the biggest challenge for you at first? How about for your husbands?
Cynthia: The biggest challenge for us has been our widely differing opinions about a work/rest rhythm. Mine is more heavily weighted to continuing to work as long as possible. His is more heavily weighted toward resting or recreating as much as possible. Learning that our preferences weren’t at odds with each other, but simply natural differences in our personalities and even our work pursuits took some time, but brought a lot of peace when we figured out how to respect each other’s rhythms. I think my Bill would probably give the same answer.
Becky: While I loved the idea of more time with my man, and the freedom of camping trips during the week and seeing our out-of-state kids more, it was the little day-to-day things that frustrated me. He wanted to play, but I needed to work. I wanted to read, but the TV was on. Where I once had an entire day to write a thousand words on my next novel, I now had to force them onto the page in two or three hours so we could do the things we both wanted to do together. As our subtitle suggests, the problem wasn’t actually a lack of time or space, but the need to stop labeling things and blocks of time as “mine.” The biggest challenge for Dr. Snuggles probably was his feeling like he was invading my territory. If our readers take away only one thing, I hope they choose to lovingly and willingly embrace “our.”
Q: What did you learn about yourself and your marriage as you wrote Spouse in the House?
Becky: While neither Cynthia nor I will ever claim to be marriage experts, we both realized we needed to be writing from a place of at least partial victory in the areas we tackle. I confess there were attitudes I had to focus on correcting while we were writing. I’m so grateful for the push this project presented and hope the end product offers the same incentive to our readers.
Cynthia: Oh, my! What a loaded question! I realized how far I’d come, how far we’d come together over the years. And I realized how much I still have to learn about relationships. A few years ago, even though we’d been married for centuries by then (only a slight exaggeration), I couldn’t have written this book authentically. Mired in more than a little awareness of what wasn’t working, I too needed some attitude adjustments before writing word one of this book. But with those adjustments—some gradual and some lightbulb moments—came the peace-hemmed, tender, mutually satisfying relationship we enjoy today. (Note that I didn’t claim “perfect.”)
Q: One of you writes, “Couples go to premarital counseling before saying ‘I do.’ Why doesn’t somebody create preretirement counseling so we’re ready to say, ‘I still do. All. The. Time’?” How can couples prepare for the life changes that come with retirement? 
Becky: Talk. To each other and to others who are ahead on the retirement journey or in a work-from-home situation. There is so much potential for those seasons to be a beautiful part of your life story, a time that can draw a couple closer than ever and grant time for adventures, deep conversations, and romance. But it needs to start with understanding and championing each other’s goals, needs, and dreams. And pray. Invite the Lord into those conversations. Ask Him to give the two of you shared desires from His heart.
Cynthia: Talking it through long before it happens is a great start. Laying out our individual expectations and seeing where they intersect is helpful. But again, the principles that show up in Spouse in the House apply to many more situations than retirement. Basic courtesies and thoughtfulness, for instance, can make year one of marriage far more beautiful and rewarding. Caring about what matters to the other person and making room for it works in year ten and year twenty as well as it does when a couple is approaching decades together…or in a season when both are working full-time from home. Respectful communication is a good idea for both the youngest and the oldest marriages.
Q: Throughout each chapter are nuggets of wisdom from a variety of people. Can you tell us more of how you recruited help to offer advice to readers?
Becky: When I first mentioned our idea for Spouse in the House to friends and family people often shared their own stories, some funny, some hard to hear. When I sent out an email inviting them to share their experiences in the book, it was heartwarming to see how many wanted to help others with what they’d learned.
Cynthia: We drew our research from others through several avenues. We asked couples we knew who had great relationships for their perspectives. We talked to marriage and family experts. We conducted surveys of family and friends. And we observed others who were either navigating well or seemed to be growing more tense over spending additional time together. Click here to read an excerpt from Spouse in the HouseAbout the Authors Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope through her novels, novellas, devotions, and nonfiction, and through speaking for women’s events, retreats, writers’ conferences, and workshops. She draws from 33 years of experience writing and producing the 15-minute daily radio broadcast, “The Heartbeat of the Home.”
Ruchti’s more than thirty books have garnered reader, retailer, reviewer, and other industry awards. She serves as Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, is a founding board member of the Deliver Hope ministry and is part of the worship team at her church. She’s also a literary agent with Books & Such Literary Management.
Ruchti and her husband, Bill, live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and six grandchildren.
Learn more about Cynthia Ruchti and her writing at or by following her on Facebook (@CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage)Instagram (@cynthiaruchtiauthor), and Twitter (@cynthiaruchti).
Becky Melby has authored more than twenty novels and novellas. Spouse in the House is her first non-fiction book release.
The Melbys have four sons and fifteen grandchildren and make their home in southeastern Wisconsin. When not writing or spoiling grandchildren, she may be found touring the country with Bill in their camper or on their Honda Gold Wing motorcycle.
Find out more about Becky Melby’s books at or follow her on Facebook (becky.melby.9) and Instagram (@beckymelbybooks). She also shares short blog posts each Friday on the Fill My Cup, Lord page on Facebook.TwitterFacebookWebsite  Copyright © 2021 Audra Jennings PR, All rights reserved.
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