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The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things That Make a Big Difference

The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things That Make a Big Difference

5.0 3
by Shaunti Feldhahn

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“Where does ‘highly happy’ come from—and can we have some too?!”
Have you ever looked at a blissfully married couple and thought, I wish I could know their secret? Now you can. After years of investigative research, Shaunti reveals twelve powerful habits that the happiest marriages have in common.


“Where does ‘highly happy’ come from—and can we have some too?!”
Have you ever looked at a blissfully married couple and thought, I wish I could know their secret? Now you can. After years of investigative research, Shaunti reveals twelve powerful habits that the happiest marriages have in common.
Best news of all? Anyone can learn the secrets of a highly happy marriage!
In The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, Shaunti Feldhahn shares her findings about little, very unexpected, often overlooked actions that make a huge difference. You’re about to discover that highly happy couples:
• Go to bed mad
• Keep score (just not in the way you think)
• Boss their feelings around
• Have factual fantasies
• Get in over their heads
• Don’t tell it like it is
• Don’t look to marriage to make them happy…
Packed with eye-opening research and practical helps, this book delivers relationship insights that will take your marriage from “just fine” to “just the marriage we’ve always wanted.”

Editorial Reviews

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!”
—Holly Furtick

“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

Product Details

The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
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File size:
5 MB

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.

Meet the Author

Shaunti Feldhahn is the best-selling author of For Women Only and other books with sales of more than two million copies in 22 languages. With a master’s degree from Harvard, Shaunti uses her analytical skills to uncover life-changing surprises about our most important relationships. Her research has been featured on The Today Show, Focus on the Family radio, in Cosmopolitan magazine, and in the New York Times. She and her husband, Jeff, have two children and live in Atlanta.

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Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things That Make a Big Difference 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
DiscipleMom_Laura More than 1 year ago
Shaunti Feldhahn’s latest 2014 release, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things That Make a Big Difference highlights “simple, learnable habits that are common to highly happy couples.”  She focused on finding things other couples can replicate as they work toward bettering their marriages. I appreciate that Feldhahn included a former chief of survey design for the U.S. Census Bureau in building her surveys.  And, she used the services of Decision Analysis, a top company for reliable online surveys.  Because of that, her statistics and analysis are credible and reliable. I think readers will find some of the habits shocking, like “go to bed mad.”  Other habits include:  believe the best, know that little is big, boss your feelings, keep score, use sign language, and have actual fantasies.  Some are not what you think.  All of them are simple (not necessarily easy) and doable, though, as Feldhahn shows through statistics and stories from couples she interviewed. The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages includes a variety of strategies and ideas that sound promising.  But with so many great ideas and habits, where do you even start?  Feldhahn addresses that in her introduction, and I agree with her:  “Pick one idea first, and try it for a week or two or five.  Then when that action becomes a habit, start on another.” Feldhahn also provides practical help in the final chapter, “Putting the Secrets to Work” where she gives “Ten Anyone-Can-Do-Them Tips” for applying the secrets of highly happy marriages.  That may be a great place to start when thinking about what habits to develop first. With that in mind, some of the following will prove helpful for couples looking to put into place some new habits: • The Fast Fives for Him and for Her in chapter 2 • Tips for changing how you feel in chapter 6 • Ideas for overcoming challenges to together time in chapter 9 • A picture of what “looking higher” looks like in chapter 11 • Ways to get “all in” in chapter 12 The only regret I have about this book is the cover design.  It looks rather feminine with pink and green, and I sincerely hope that won’t keep men from picking up this book as they’ll benefit from it just as much as women will. I highly recommend this book to any couple wanting to increase marital happiness.  These research-based habits of highly successful marriages are practical, helpful and doable.  You can start as soon as you pick up the book and start to read.  So, whether your marriage is good and you’re looking for great, or whether your marriage is less-than-good looking for good—this book has some interesting and anyone-can-do habits that will help you get where you want to go. Note:  I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.  However, the opinions expressed are my own.
Kassie17 More than 1 year ago
If you are married, or engaged, or dating someone that might be the one and secretly reading all the marriage books that you can lay your hands on... this post is for you I've never been one for reading all of those marriage books, even though I have read some, and I think that they hold a lot of good information.  But after a while, books telling you what to fix about your marriage become  tedious and boring, and I lose interest about a quarter of the way through.  When picking a book to review, I saw "the surprising secrets of highly happy marriages" by Shaunti Feldhahn and just kept scrolling down the page. When I didn't see another book that interested  me, I decided to click on it and see what it was all about. It intrigued me, I must admit, when the back of the book talked about highly happy couples 'going to bed mad, keeping score, and not telling it like it is".  In this very unique and well written book, Feldhahn takes the boring, mundane marriage book and turns it into into something new and exciting... And all she did was focus on the positive  things that couples were doing instead of focusing on the negative things that we are doing! AMAZING!  While reading this book, I didn't feel like I was a failure at marriage, but while reading stories  of what has worked for other couples, it inspired me to try harder at my marriage, and to try new things.  Bottom line: read this book. If you are single, dating, engaged, or have been married for 25 years. Read it!
staceb More than 1 year ago
I received a copy to review.  All opinions are mine. A few months back, I came across another marriage resource called, "The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, the little things that make a difference," by Shaunti Feldhahn.  She is the best selling author of For Women Only which I have, but have never read.  Tsk tsk, I know.  At any rate, I knew this would be a great read. Inside, you will discover that there are little things that people to do in a marriage that can make your marriage quite successful.  Most folks overlook these small actions, but not the Highly Happy Yes! couples. Yes! couples are a group of couples that Shaunti surveyed about the marriage and they both  answered yes to the same questions meaning, they were both very happy and believed that there spouse would never do anything intentionally to hurt them.  I must mention that there were many couples interviewed, but not all of them felt the same way as the other souse.  Those couples were not considered Highly Happy because they differed and were not really on one accord. Contents include: 1. The truth about Highly Happy and You Highly Happy Couples: 2. Know little is big 3. Believe the best 4. Go to bed mad. 5. Keep score. 6. Boss their feelings around 7. Have factual fantasies 8. Use sign language 9. Hang out 10. Don't tell it like it is. 11. Look Higher 12. Get in over their heads 13. Think they hit the jackpot 14. Putting the secrets to work. My thoughts: I have dog-eared just about every page in the book, no kidding.  I think the most important message that I get from it is to always be positive.  Believe the best in your spouse.  Do things for your spouse out of love, not expecting anything in return.  And so on.  I felt that the info shared in this book was quite helpful to me.  This teaches how you can make simple, small, changes that will have a huge impact on your union.