From the Publisher
Praise for The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages
“I am thrilled with the findings, clear reporting, and explanations. Shaunti is tireless at tracking down the truths that matter to relationships—and countless men and women have benefitted as a result. I have already started using some of this new data at my conferences!”
—Emerson Eggerichs, best-selling author of Love and Respect
“What an important relationship book for such a time as this! A must for every couple.”
—Dr. Tim Clinton, president of the American Association of Christian Counselors
“In just the first few chapters of this amazing resource, I found Shaunti’s research and insights incredibly helpful. This is a book I’ll be using personally and recommending to many friends.”
—Lysa TerKeurst, New York Times best-selling author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries
“One of my favorite things about this book is how practical these secrets are. These are things anybody can do to make their marriage even more satisfying!”
“Regardless of the state of your marriage, Shaunti reveals how small changes in awareness and actions can truly change everything. She offers transferable actions that any couple can replicate to experience marital fulfillment.”
—Kerry Shook, founding pastor of Woodlands Church, Houston, Texas, and co-author of the bestseller One Month to Live
“Shaunti is one of those rare communicators who really gets marriage and all the give-and-take that’s required. You’re holding months’ worth of marital counseling in your hands!”
—Shannon Ethridge, best-selling author of the Every Woman’s Battle series
“The entire time I was reading this book I kept stopping and saying to my wife, ‘Oh, wow! Listen to this!’ The great truth within these pages is that little things do indeed mean a lot.”
—Jeff and Gregg Foxworthy
“Shaunti is one of the best researchers in the field today, and I’m always encouraged and surprised by her findings and how practical they are. I will be recommending this book to the women I minister to.”
—Jennifer Rothschild, author of Lessons I Learned in the Dark
“What an important and desperately needed book! Shaunti debunks so many of the marriage myths that we have taken as gospel and shares the real secrets to happily ever after.”
—Kathi Lipp, author of The Husband Project and Praying God’s Word for Your Husband
“Shaunti has done the research, dissected the results, and delivered to us the proven recipes for success. Even after thirty years of marriage, I learned so much! This is a book every married person should read!”
—Jill Savage, CEO of Hearts at Home and author of No More Perfect Moms
“Every married person and every person who wants to be married needs to read this book. It’s a fun and surprising journey that can totally transform your marriage—I promise.”
—Valorie Burton, author of Happy Women Live Better
“This book takes the mystery out of happy marriages by boiling it down to some key attitudes and actions that can make all the difference between a mediocre marriage and a magnificent one.”
—Leslie Vernick, licensed counselor, relationship coach, speaker, and best-selling author of The Emotionally Destructive Marriage
“The message is timely, the research is fascinating, and the takeaways are life-impacting. Do your marriage a favor and read this book!”
—Crystal Paine, founder of MoneySavingMom.com and author of Say Goodbye to Survival Mode
“This is one of the most encouraging and motivating marriage books I have ever read.”
—Jim Burns, president of HomeWord and author of Creating an Intimate Marriage and Closer
“After working my way through these pages and pondering these gems of wisdom, I couldn’t help but wonder how many marriages might have been saved had they understood these simple, attainable truths.”
—Susie Larson, national radio host, speaker, and author of Your Beautiful Purpose
“When you take the time to tune into the little things in each other, then together you’ll succeed at a great marriage!”
—Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg, America’s Family Coaches and authors of 6 Secrets to a Lasting Love
“Shaunti wields the researcher’s clipboard, the analyst’s data, and the counselor’s insight to bring the excellent newsflash that great marriages are the culmination of definable, repetitive micromovements that add up to deep relationship satisfaction.”
—Anita Renfroe, comedian and author
“Shaunti knows how to mine scientific research and data for the relationship gold that can change marriages and change lives.”
—Susan Merrill, author of The Passionate Mom, blogger, and director of iMOM.com
—Mark Merrill, author of All Pro Dad, blogger, and president of Family First
Read an Excerpt
How a Handful of High-Leverage Secrets Unlocks Delight in Your Marriage
The very first e-mail I received after the release of For Women Only came from an anonymous woman. I’ll never forget her note. It was just one line:
I got a divorce five years ago, and now I know why. I read it and gasped. I knew the book revealed some surprising insights about men that most women just didn’t get. I had been continuously shocked myself during my years of research!
But her e-mail brought home the importance of this knowledge in a whole new way.
That was nearly ten years ago. Since then, my husband, Jeff, and I have researched and written For Men Only and other books. We have spoken at hundreds of conferences, seminars, churches, simulcasts, and stadium events. And during that time, literally thousands of men and women have come up to us at the book table or stopped us in a hallway. With a stunned look in their eyes, they say things like “I wish I had known this before I got married!” or “This book saved our marriage” or even “I’m going to cancel the divorce filing on Wednesday.”
I’m not making this up.
Trust me, they’re not talking about any special wisdom that Jeff or I have conjured up. They’re talking about a before-and-after experience. What they mean is “I used to be clueless about what my spouse needed, and I didn’t realize it.” What they mean is
“Knowing now what I totally missed before—about my spouse’s inner fears and needs and desires—changes everything.”
And they are right.
I started calling these breakthroughs of sudden insight “light bulb on!” moments. They land in your relationship like a bright orange marker. Before, you thought and acted one way. After, you think and act differently. You suddenly see what you didn’t before. How you do a relationship—how you feel about it, what you expect, and what you get from it—changes. Light bulb on! This book on highly happy marriages is packed with moments like that.
Without a doubt, the dream of a happy marriage is one of the most consistent longings of the human heart. Most of us deeply want to experience an abundant, delightful, lifelong companionship that we can thank God for every day. Forget the bleak statistics we’ve seen, forget the bad rap that committed, lifelong marriage gets in the media—we want to marry our best friend, then enjoy our spouse and enjoy being married. And many people do!
But I’ve also noticed that many others feel stuck in a rut and don’t know how to get out of it. Some not-yet-married couples aren’t sure they can navigate the transition to a lifetime commitment—or whether the dream of a forever marriage is even realistic.
And many married couples—especially in times of heartache—harbor secret doubts about whether a great marriage is possible for them. Some have stopped hoping for better.
Instead of highly happy, they’ve settled for sometimes happy or even mostly mediocre.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You’d be surprised what a few sudden flashes of insight can do for a couple. Let me show you what I mean.
Why Do Some Marriages Turn…Good?
You may have noticed that many marriage books and efforts at relationship improvement try to increase a couple’s happiness by digging into key relationship problems. Essentially, they’re asking things like, “What’s the underlying reason for this particular problem?” Or, bigger picture: “Why do marriages turn bad?” Identify the reason, identify the problem—and fix it. Indeed, this is great because all of us need that sort of help sometimes. For this book, though, I aimed my research in a different direction. I wanted to know: Why do marriages turn good? If a so-so union became delightful, I wanted to know what made the difference. Millions of couples truly enjoy each other in strong, rewarding relationships. What do they do right, and what can we learn from them that would make our relationships just as strong and rewarding?
It makes a lot of sense to study the winners. Aspiring athletes who want to improve how they throw a ball, swing a racket, or twist gracefully in the air to land at just the right angle on the ice spend hours studying those who do it best. Psychologists, changemanagement experts, and counselors have consistently found that in any endeavor of life, if we want to change, improve, or be inspired, we have to study what some call the bright spots, not just the problems. After all, if you want to be more like Jesus, you don’t spend the bulk of your time studying the Pharisees, His religious-leader opponents, in order to figure out how to not be like them. You study Jesus.