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

by Shaunti Feldhahn

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Overview

“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.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781601421210
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/31/2013
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 770,258
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About 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.

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.

Interviews

Q&A with Shaunti Feldhahn

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

Q. This is your first big marriage-related research study since your break-out books For Women Only in 2004 and For Men Only in 2006; you've been researching completely different topics since then. Why did you go back to studying marriage, and happy marriages in particular?

As a culture, I feel like we've been so focused on problems in marriage that people are unnecessarily discouraged. We dig only into the problems, so we can figure out how to fix them. That's certainly important, but we don't want to always be fixing problems! We want to have a vision to aim for, a role model to study on how to do it right. We want to know how the best marriages do it, and how we can do it too!

Q. But can the average couple relate to and learn from these super-happy marriages? Don't some couples just have everything going for them?

I was wondering about that, too, when I started this project. I wondered if the people in the happiest marriages were all just happy-temperament, low-conflict rich people or something. But instead, I found people of every conceivable life path and socio-economic background, including many couples who came from the most shocking disadvantages or couples who had nearly divorced and had ended up with an absolutely delightful marriage. Those were the people I got the greatest gold from!

Q. Can you give an example?

Sure. I can remember sitting in the living room of a couple who ran a little restaurant; it was a hard business and they didn't have much money, but they had such a great relationship. And they had overcome such difficult family backgrounds. He grew up in a terribly poor community with a single mom and five siblings all by different fathers, and she lived in something like 10 houses growing up because her parents each divorced two or three times. Let me tell you, when you see a couple who overcame all of that and has a wonderful marriage, you listen to what they have to say.

Q. You interviewed and surveyed more than 1,000 couples and must have been flooded with great advice, but this is a fairly small book. How did you decide what 'gold' to concentrate on?

I had three rules. First, I decided to focus almost entirely on the process of relationships, rather than on the needs of men and women, which is a lot of what I was studying for my other books (For Women Only and For Men Only). Second, I tried to get past the advice these couples gave (although that was helpful), and dig out what they actually did in real life, day to day. Because sometimes what they actually did was different than what they said to do! And third, I decided to leave out anything that I thought wouldn't be a surprise. It was so hard to cut some chapters. In the end, I wanted to focus on the things people may not know are important, rather than what they know is important but have probably already heard before.

Q. Has this helped your own marriage?

Yes! Jeff and I already had a good relationship, but like everyone else we had things that could improve. We just didn't always know what to do differently! Jeff and I actually conducted a lot of the interviews together early on and almost naturally started trying to copy various things these couples did. I was so shocked to find that such small little changes could have such a big impact!

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