Thoughts on Marriage with Emma Darwin

Emma Darwin.JPG

In the midst of...

Writing a big novel set in the 16th century, author Emma Darwin speaks about the importance of an open mind in relationships.

1. What are the most important things you look for in a partner?

Open-mindedness, kindness, ability to hear what I’m saying not what they think I’ve said, and willingness to negotiate over difficulties, decisions and holidays.

2. What are some red flags that warn you about a potential partner?

If they have fixed ideas about how partnerships “ought” to operate; if they’re full of lavish love one day, and cold or critical the next; if they’re possessive or untrusting.

3. What one thing do you need within a romantic relationship?


4. What one tip do you have for communicating better in your relationships?

Really, truly listen to each other, often and open-mindedly.

5. Is there a quote or a book that has helped you define your idea of what marriage should be? Why?

I don’t know where I heard it, but somewhere I heard a good partnership defined as being a process of learning to be together, while still staying yourself. At the heart of my fiction is always a process of two people going through that learning process.

6. As a writer, how does what happens in your personal life affect what you write about?

When something is very close to me, or raw, the desire to express it directly makes me a bad judge of what’s serving the story - and the result is bad storytelling. It’s better to dump the raw stuff in a journal and forget it: some day, a new project will draw on that material as the story needs.

7. Any last words of advice for those who are maybe struggling with their romantic relationship right now?

And read Carolyn Hax’s column: she’s at the Washington Post, but also also available via other sources.

You can find out more about Emma at!