Devri Walls is the US and international bestselling author. Having released five novels to date, she specializes in all things fantasy and paranormal. Devri lives in Meridian, Idaho with her husband and two kids. Her husband works in law enforcement and together, despite a radical difference in their work profile, challenges and distinctive lifestyle choices they have managed to build a love-paradise in form of a happy, marital unison. Here are a few excerpts from an interview with her which will help you create some serious marriage goals for your marriage.
1. How did you meet your husband?
I met my husband when he was twenty and I was twenty-two. We were both in upstate New York at the time and hit it off right away. I believe the first meeting went a little like this. I notice a boy with a bag of candy in his hands. “Hey, you wanna share your booty with me?” (Cut me a break, guys. I was really hungry), said boy cuts his eyes to the side and gets a sly, barely discernible smile.
“I don’t think you can say that to me.” He saunters off, popping a piece of candy in his mouth. I’m left in my chair, sputtering, “That’s not what I meant! Booty, like pirate’s booty!” It was a constant source of harassment for years after we got married. The day I found a bag of Pirate’s Booty popcorn in the store I grabbed it off the shelf and yelled, “See! pirate’s booty!”
2. How do your wildly different careers bring you closer together?
In order for us to both do what we do well, there has to be a distinct difference in personality and mindset. He is meticulous, calm, and level-headed. And I am well, I’m a writer. How do you think I am? Busy-minded, chaotic, highly emotional. But those opposing personalities balance. I’m calm in the very rare instances he isn’t. And the other ninety-eight percent of the time, he mellows me out and soothes the emotions. It’s a very good mix.
Occasionally he even uses police tactics to improve our marriage. (This does not include the time he tried to arrest me in the middle of the night while sleep talking. That was a little scary.) When we first got married and arguments ensued, he would reply to my over-emotional self in a softer tone than the one I was using. I would unknowingly match his volume and energy level. He would lower again until finally, we were having a full out argument while whispering. Later, he confessed it was a tactic taught to police to de-escalate situations. Although slightly annoyed that I’d been “deescalated,” this completely changed the course of our marriage for the better, and permanently. We rarely argue and almost never, ever shout.
My ability to see the magic in mundane things has actually lightened him up a bit too. The man actually suggested we build a fairy garden. I had to ask him to repeat himself.
3. What are some challenges to being married to someone in law enforcement?
This is not an easy career on any of us. It’s hard on him, hard on me, and hard on the kids. But he loves it. I decided long ago that the challenges were worth giving him the ability to do what he loves. Going to work and loving your job is a gift that not many have. And I wanted that for him, just like he wants it for me. His hours are insane. I bounce back and forth between being a single mom and having a full-time husband.
All scheduling has to be done in such a way that I am physically capable of doing it on my own, and then when he’s home, he can jump in and relieve some of the pressure. Because of that, I’ve also had to adopt two different parenting styles that I learned to flip on and off—single mom mode and let’s discuss that with my partner mode. The things that he sees every day at work affect us all the time. They affect how he/we parent our children. The places we choose to eat. Where I sit when we go out to eat. What we’re comfortable with our children doing or where they go.
It’s also a challenge to remind him that he needs to tell me the things he sees. He wants to protect me from the darker side of the world, which is natural, and I appreciate that. However, the divorce rate in law enforcement is so high due in large part to that. Keeping what is easily half of your experiences to yourself puts an impassable bridge between you and your support system. He doesn’t tell me everything, but he’s learned to tell me most things in order to keep those communication lines open and the bond tight. And then I have to let the stories go so that I don’t worry constantly. If any of you knew me, you would know that “letting it go” is not exactly my speciality. But for my health, my marriage and my husband’s happiness, it is the only option.
4. Ever written any characters based on your husband and his profession?
Based on my husband, for sure. But I would say less, “based on,” and more, influenced by. Every book seems to end up with a really dry, sarcastic character with a heart of gold, whether I start out with that intent or not. Living with my husband for the last fifteen years has given me a master’s degree in dry sarcasm. And my writing is all the better for it.
Profession -that’s a little trickier. My initial answer was no. But then I realized that Venators: Magic Unleashed is the story of two teens who cross to an alternate fantasy-based universe, where they are going to act as a sort-of law enforcement. Apparently, I inadvertently did.
5. What are marriage skills, also helpful in your profession as a writer?
I think in marriage the number one best thing you can do is want more for the other person than you want for yourself. If you do, you will work to make that person happy. When this happens for both parties, you have a beautiful marriage. Although I’ve discussed the sacrifices I’ve made to make him happy, without his sacrifices, love and support, there is simply no way that I could be a writer at this point in my life.
My husband is the master of humility and sacrifice. He will work sixty-hour work weeks and still come home and clean my kitchen for me in the middle of the night, take over as a mom when I leave town for signings, kick me out of the house so I can work in peace while he wrangles the kids. He has shouldered a lot lately so I can chase this dream. And he does it because he’s more concerned about my happiness than his own. Just like I forget the stories of his day, ignore the hours and handle things on my own many days.
6. What are the four most important components of any marriage?
Humility. Love. Sacrifice. Honesty.
7. Advice for balancing a creative profession and a healthy marriage?
I’ve learned how to balance. Balance is a constant, and I do mean constant, work in progress. Being a creative means there is no off switch for me. My brain is running all the time, especially when I’m drafting a book. I run storylines while cooking dinner, driving (don’t recommend that), etc. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in something that you can’t clock out of and forget the beautiful miracles right in front of you.
Although I’m still working on balance, I do think open communication is key. I still remember one time, years ago, after my husband had already taken over quite a bit so I could work on my book, he finally came into where I was working. He knelt down next to me, waited for me to finish the line I was working on, set his hand on my arm and said gently, “We need you, too honey. Don’t forget about us, ok?” Sometimes I do need him to say, “Come back to us.” Then I have to be willing to hear, to listen, and to say, “Okay.” It’s at that point that I try to readjust and balance a little better.
Being a creative also offers a unique set of problems people don’t realize. When we sit down to write, to draw, to paint—whatever discipline it is—things do what we want them to do. We are in control. To then be ripped from those fantasies and that state of flow is harsh and painful. The real world is erratic; it doesn’t do what you say. This principle is what feeds a lot of artist stereotypes—like the divorced loner who sits in their studio all day drinking copious amounts of whiskey. Many of these artists choose to avoid the constant pain and whiplash of the switch to real life and stay where it’s easier. But life and art mean nothing if there is no one left to love and to love you.