The Elephant in the Marriage

One year ago, almost to the day, I penned my first word in what would become my first completed manuscript. I only shared this project with a few close friends as I was starting out, and each and every one of them has asked the same question that I have heard from almost everyone else when they learn that I have written a manuscript, “What is the book called?” Well, for the past year it has had a place-holder name that is a variation of my dissertation title, but as of February 24, 2015 the book formally known as The Marriage between Perception and Reality has a new name:

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Title Art
Discover what is trampling your marital satisfaction and how to enjoy a thriving marriage.

I have a few key people to thank for this specific title. First and foremost my wife, Jennifer, for her unwavering support of more than just this yet-to-be-published book, but also her keen observation and insistence that the place-holder title was no good. When I began talking with literary agent Les Stobbe about the manuscript he was also quick to point out that it needed a better title. Over the past few weeks the three of us have been brainstorming titles and have come up with a few good titles for someone else’s book and dozens of not so good titles for my book. Jennifer and I pared the list down to a baker’s dozen that I emailed to Les Stobbe.

On Tuesday, February 24, 2015 I sat in New York Times Best Selling author Mark Batterson’s office above Ebenezers Coffeehouse overlooking F Street a block away from Union Station. After some brief chatter about the snow, a staff meeting running a bit long, and how the elevator license no longer lists his (old) home address, he asked me the same question so many have asked before, “What is the title of your book…”?

Mark and I at the 74th Commencement of the University of Valley Forge
74th Commencement of VFCC

I remarked how that was an interesting question today of all days and I pulled out a printed list of the 13 names I had narrowed it down to. He glanced over the list and with what I will go to my deathbed describe as a slight sparkle in his eyes he pointed to the 3rd one on the list and said “this one” as he placed a red check mark to the right of “The Elephant in the Marriage”.

We discussed the title, spent the next 45 minutes talking more in-depth about the book itself and then I asked him if now, after all that I had shared with him about the book, if that is still the title that he would go with. His playful excitement about the metaphor the title offered encouraged me that I may have just finally found the real title of my yet-to-be-published book.

On the Metro ride home I received an email (after a missed call) from my proofreader who has shared in the dissatisfaction of the place-holder title and was aware of the conversations I had been having recently over the title and offered some additional guidance. I shared all of this with my wife as we both held our breath waiting to hear what a literary agent with 40 years of experience in the book industry would think of the list of suggested titles. Was there anything on the list he liked, and what if he strongly liked one of the others on the list?

Later that evening I received an email that simply started off with these words, “Of the list you provide[d], the only one that I think could attract an editor is The Elephant in the Marriage”. It was Les that offered a subtitle that included the word “trample” that inspired the subtitle “Discover what is trampling your marital satisfaction and how to enjoy a thriving marriage“.

Elephant in the Room
“Elephant in the Room” Photo Credit: Brandon Callahan

Almost one year to the day after typing the first of 55,000 words I couldn’t resist sharing this picture with Les Stobbe that was taken at one of the several marriage workshops I have given over the past few years. Today I share not only this photo, but the new title for my first book:

The Elephant in the Marriage: Discover what is trampling your marital satisfaction and how to enjoy a thriving marriage.

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