The Write Way To A Stronger Marriage: 4 Ways Co-Authoring A Book Strengthened Our Relationship

We certainly touched on "for better, for worse" during the process of becoming authors.

couple working together Kampus Production | Canva

Thirteen years ago, at the height of the June Virginia heat, we stood in front of our family and friends and repeated these traditional vows to each other, “To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.”

Never did we imagine that these vows encompassed writing a book together. While we didn’t get close to “till death do us part,” we certainly touched on “for better, for worse” during the process of becoming authors.   


After The Intrepid Three: Animus Revealed was published, the question we were asked the most was, “How did we work together to write a book?”

Every time we get this question, we look at each other and chuckle. We laugh because we know how difficult it is to give an easy answer to this question. How do we give an answer that explains all of the ups and downs of writing a book as a married couple?

The simplest answer is that we treated writing like how we treat our marriage. We built our writing process from the ground up, leaned into the hard work of collaboration, enjoyed learning more about one another, and supported each other through failures and successes. 


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Here are 4 ways co-authoring a book strengthened our relationship: 

1. We built from the ground up.

We don’t know if you’re like us, but as soon as we got engaged, we were told how we should conduct our soon-to-be marriage. Well-meaning people, including strangers, gave unsolicited advice on everything from food to finances.

While not all of the advice was bad, we learned early on that many of these opinions did not work for us. When we tried to implement these ideas into our own marriage, they usually either fell flat or created problems of their own. By trying to follow the course of others, we often found ourselves off of our own path.  

Just like in marriage, there was no set algorithm on how to best write together as a couple. The internet had many tips on how to write as a pair, but these pieces of advice often convoluted the process for us.




We found writing together was about building a blueprint of our own, not borrowing someone else’s design. If we had followed a ready-made plan, it would have led to poorly constructed work for us. We designed our own process from the ground up and created what worked in our relationship, similar to how we continue to build our unique marriage.

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2. We leaned into the work .

Anyone who is married understands that a good marriage takes work. It is not the work of a job, but the special work that only a committed relationship requires — time, effort, love and support. It is the best kind of work, but it is difficult.


With every year, the work that our marriage requires changes. Our relationship is constantly evolving, and we try not to shy away from the challenge and effort it takes to grow our partnership.  

In many ways, writing as a married couple was like holding a magnifying glass onto our relationship. It highlighted areas that needed improvement. If our communication was lacking, we were forced to talk things through. If our patience was waning, we had to slow down. If our attitudes weren’t in sync, we had to adjust.

All of this took work, lots of work. We initially struggled with this new form of collaboration. In our minds, we believed writing should just be fun and not difficult. After a few months of slow progress, we discovered the necessity and the benefits of leaning into the hard work of writing together. By the end, the effort of collaboration was just a natural part of the creative process, just as collaboration is a natural part of our marriage. 

3. We continued to learn.

After almost two decades of knowing each other and over a decade of marriage, we were amazed to discover how much more there was to learn about one another. Over the years, we’ve learned facts about each other that have ranged from trivial to important. We’ve learned everything from preferences in late-night snacks to which buttons to never push in an argument.    


Writing created an accelerated learning experience. It was a literal window into the other’s mind. We saw the wheels turning in real time as we imagined together. Again, we learned more of the trivial but also the important details that encompass who we are as individuals. We discovered everything from who should hold the computer and type to the best ways to support the other person’s creativity.

In the end, the trivial and important, just like in marriage, informed us of who our partner is and what motivated each other.

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4. We failed and succeeded together.

Our marriage is a series of failures and successes even without a book involved. In one day, or even in one month, our marriage might feel like a misstep or might feel like a victory. Some years lacked pomp and circumstance, while others were filled with graduations and celebrations. The culmination of our highs and lows has continued to bind us tighter and tighter together. 


Writing a book together, certainly had its failures and successes. Some days we wrote a single sentence before calling it quits. On other days, we wrote an entire chapter. Then there were months when we wondered if this book would ever see the light of day. These months were followed by the realization that our first book was getting published.

Just as in marriage, the highs and lows in our journey as authors made us a more cohesive team.



All in all, there are so many ways our relationship mirrors our writing journey.


Our marriage informed our writing and now our writing has informed our marriage. Looking back, if we were to construct vows to follow as a wife-and-husband author duo, it would go something like this, “To have and to hold from this day forward, for typing, for deleting, for fun, for work, in the trivial and in the important, in failure and in success, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.”

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Brianna and Matthew Penfold are a wife-and-husband writing team. The Intrepid Three: Animus Revealed is their debut book. This work is a labor of love enlightened by their lifelong faith journeys and diverse experiences in medicine, law, victim advocacy, crisis intervention, research, and children and youth mentorship.