SPECIAL EXCERPT: In Sickness and In Health

Here at HBTB, we believe our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health is so important. In his newest book, In Sickness and In Health: The Physical Consequences of Emotional Stress in Marriage (Harvest House, Feb. 19), Dr. David Hawkins, draws on more than 30 years as a counselor and explores with his two sons—an internist and a surgeon - the effects relational stress and trauma can have on our bodies. We’re pleased to bring you a special excerpt today, courtesy of the publisher.


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Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? 

When you first met your spouse you probably had a physical response to the emotions you felt. You’d get butterflies in your stomach, your heart would race, and your palms would sweat. So why is it that after you’re married, it’s so hard to make the connection between your physical health and your emotional well-being when you’re facing relational stress?

If your emotional pain feels physical and your physical pain feels emotional, your marriage may be making you sick—literally. Join Dr. David Hawkins and his sons, an internist and a surgeon, as they explore the effects relational stress and trauma can have on our bodies. You will learn to . . .

  • recognize the link between emotional and physical pain

  • embrace the power of choice to become empowered by hope

  • find a path forward to ultimate restoration and regain your life

No matter what kind of pain you’re experiencing, or how long your health has been in decline, you don’t have to stay stuck. Discover hope and healing when you take control of your life.


With more than 30 years of counseling experience, David Hawkins, PhD, has a special interest in helping individuals and couples strengthen their relationships. Dr. Hawkins’ books, including When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You and Dealing with the CrazyMakers in Your Life, have more than 350,000 copies in print.


A number of years ago Christie and I built our dream home, only to discover it was not a dream and certainly didn’t feel like a home. Complications in building, the size of the home, and the location turned out to be disquieting for us. So we went on a search to find home once again.

What began as a challenging task soon turned into an adventure, something both Christie and I like to do. We enjoy house hunting, and this was no exception.

After finding several homes that suited our tastes but not our pocket-books, our Realtors, Mike and Robin, took us down a twisting and turning “Alice in Wonderland” lane to the water’s edge.

“It’s small,” Mike said, smiling. “But the view of Seattle is to die for, and David, you can practically launch your kayak from your front door. Can you handle that?”

Mike and Robin unlocked the door and stepped aside, allowing us to enter and take in our first glimpse of this 1920s cottage. While our former home was large and pretentious, this cottage screamed, “Come live in me!”

Simple and charming, the home seemed just the right size. This was the penultimate cottage on the lane, complete with sitting area facing the water, stone fireplace, and cozy bedroom upstairs.

“Yes, we know it’s small,” Robin said. “But it’s just the two of you now. This cottage wraps itself around you like a warm blanket. What do you think?”

We could not hide our enthusiasm. It was wonderful. This cottage said, “I will hold you. I will take care of you. You can feel safe here.”

Almost everything felt wonderful. Almost.

“Where can I do my writing?” I asked Christie anxiously when we were alone. “And what about my piano?”

“You can write there in front of the window overlooking the water,” she said, pointing to the sitting area. “Your piano will fit nicely against that wall.”

We bought that cottage, even though I wasn’t convinced. Then we went through growing pains—first adding a study onto the end of the house where I could do my work, and then changing the upstairs inglenook into a full master suite. We dreamed our cottage into a new, lovely home that fully met our needs. We needed a place that would fully hold ourselves—and it would.

Like Goldilocks, we had been in a house far too big and then moved into a cottage too small. Through awareness and compromise, we created something “just right.”

Christie and I are blessed to live where we live. We are delighted with our small home, nestled amid towering pine, fir, and cedar trees. With a small patch of beachfront, I’m able to kayak out to drop my crab pots or sail my small dinghy while Christie walks along the beach collecting beach glass. We can be ourselves, at peace and at home.

 A Home for a Self

My story is about finding our true selves, which is rarely an easy task. It is about finding a place for your Self to be well, sometimes an even more difficult journey. It’s about knowing what you feel, think, and want so you can go about getting it—aspects of our Self many lose when in a troubled relationship.

Not only must you have a home for your Self, but you must rediscover a Self that feels like home. Not only must you find a place you can settle into and decorate as you wish, but you must also go about the work of being at home within yourself. You must go about the work of healing from the harm that has occurred from troubled or troubling relationships. Finding a place outside yourself and within your Self to be at peace is what this chapter is about.

Our cottage became that place for Christie and me—a place for us to regain our peace. The large, modern house we thought would be perfect was anything but. What we had designed and built turned out not to be a haven for us. Though not right for us, it was a perfect place for the next owners. As in the Goldilocks story, our cottage is now just right—not too big and not too small.

In a manner of speaking, a house is a perfect metaphor for your Self. With many rooms, your Self has many different parts with different needs at different times, and you must become familiar with them. To fully know your Self you must create an emotional space filled with peace and safety. This sacred space holds your Self.

So far this book has emphasized that relationship stress can make you sick. This same stress can damage not only your physical well-being, but your Self, your core personhood. It is important that you learn to know and discover your Self, to recognize how you have been harmed.

You cannot heal what you do not understand. You cannot heal what you cannot feel. You cannot know what you need unless you spend considerable time and energy exploring exactly who you are and cultivating an awareness of the stress you are experiencing.

Taken from In Sickness and In Health by Dr. David Hawkins. Copyright © 2019. Used by permission of Harvest House.

When You Fear That the One Who Has Swept You Off Your Feet Has Dropped You

I returned to the critical care waiting room on the neurosurgery floor and saw, through the glass, my mother-in-law’s smile and thumbs-up. My heart flooded with relief as a smile broke across my face. I knew my husband had survived his second brain surgery in four years.

In that moment, I did not think of our starkly different personalities or the fact that my love language is quality time and his love language is hunting. Really, I didn’t think of anything but the fact that I love my man.

In that moment, he could do no wrong.

Two days later, I was so grateful that his severe post-craniotomy headaches had eased, and his appetite returned, that I offered to get him cold-pressed juice, omelets . . . coffee. He teased me and said I would flip the breaker to the whole hospital just to dim the lights in his room, or I would pay $3,000 and walk through snow to purchase the fizzy drink he craved. It was true (well, maybe not the snow part). I would have done anything for my husband because the trial of brain surgery had blurred everything but love.

The day after we returned home, however, my vision returned to normal.

My husband is a minimalist except when it comes to undershirts and camouflage. He likes smooth surfaces and clean, white lines. I like color and texture and plants.

This morning, I ate breakfast and left the plate on the table. The leftover yolk would have congealed, but my husband was so kind and rinsed it off. At lunch, I ate a salad and left the container on the counter. I also left a wet diaper on the living room floor, which I forgot to take back to the diaper genie in the nursery.

My husband commented on these things, and I snapped out the fitted sheet and began folding it (which you probably shouldn’t do if you’re already frustrated). I snapped out the pillowcases. I began folding towels. And then I took off, cleaning baseboards and wiping down walls. If he wanted a clean house, by George, he was going to get it.

My husband, in his recliner while recovering from brain surgery, started laughing.

“Can’t there be a balance?” he said.

But he knew the answer to his own question. Part of the reason he married me is because I am an all or nothing kind of gal. Part of the reason I married him is because he is an all or nothing kind of man. When we’re all in, even the harshest of trials cannot stop us. And here we were, getting annoyed with each other because we had different ways of keeping house.

Marriages are often formed between starkly different personalities because we’re drawn to strengths that offset the places where we’re weak. But over time, those stark differences can clash instead of complement, and you find yourself wondering if the one who swept you off your feet really wishes he would have dropped you.

But then, when we focus on love, every perceived “fault” or difference blurs. Did I care about our differences when I saw my mother-in-law’s thumbs-up through the waiting room window? No. Did I wish he liked my red gingham tablecloth instead of surreptitiously stuffing it into the storage cupboard? No.

In that moment, all I cared about was him: my dryly funny man, who drives me up the (very clean) wall and makes me laugh till my sides hurt.

Let’s focus on love, my friends. Love is the greatest commandment because, when we focus on it, every surface fault blurs.


Jolina Petersheim is the highly acclaimed author of The Divide, The Alliance, The Midwife, and The Outcast, which Library Journal called “outstanding . . . fresh and inspirational” in a starred review and named one of the best books of 2013. That book also became an ECPA, CBA, and Amazon bestseller and was featured in Huffington Post’s Fall Picks, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and the Tennessean. CBA Retailers + Resources called her second book, The Midwife, “an excellent read [that] will be hard to put down,” and Booklist selected The Alliance as one of their Top 10 Inspirational Fiction Titles for 2016. The Alliance was also a finalist for the 2017 Christy Award in the Visionary category. The sequel to The Alliance, The Divide, won the 2018 INSPY Award for Speculative Fiction. Jolina’s non-fiction writing has been featured in Reader’s Digest, Writer’s Digest, Today’s Christian Woman, and Proverbs 31 Ministries. She and her husband share the same unique Amish and Mennonite heritage that originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but they now live in the mountains of Tennessee with their three young daughters. Jolina’s next novel, How the Light Gets In, a modern retelling of Ruth set in a cranberry bog in Wisconsin, releases March 2019.