The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages by Shaunti Feldhahn

So I’ve read a lot of books on marriage – some better than others – and this one is certainly one of the best.  While it does not provide the firm theological reason for marriage or explain the spiritual significance of marriage, it is perhaps the best book I’ve ever read on the practical, day-to-day, “how-to’s” of building and having a happy marriage.

Based on solid research data conducted, collected, and reviewed both first and second-hand by the author, Feldhahn identifies 10 actions and attitudes that are the key to building a lasting, happy relationship with your spouse.  Some seem like common sense (like #2: believing the best), while others seem down-right counter-intuitive (like #5: keeping score).  But all are simple things that can be instituted in any relationships.

Melissa and I actually read this book together, and we’ve individually tried to implement the strategies identified by research as vital to marital happiness.  And, speaking from experience, they work (both those we were already doing and those we weren’t).  Feldhahn’s research included interviews and data from both Christian and non-Christian couples, and the results are staggering.  Through research she identified three groups of couples: those identified as “struggling”, those identified as “mostly happy” and, finely, those identified as “highly happy”.  When the data are reviewed, “highly happy” couples (what she calls “Yes! Couples”) are identified very clearly in the results.

For example, one of the strategies identified is “believing the best” about your spouse.  This means that, regardless of what your spouse says or does, you choose to believe that they have your best interest at heart.  The data indicated that in 96% of “highly happy” marriages, both partners answered the question, “Is the following statement true or false?  ‘Even in the middle of a painful argument, I know that my spouse is fully ‘for me’ and deeply cares about me.'” with “true”.  However, in “struggling” marriages, only 59% of the time did both couples answer “true” (meaning that 41% of the time one or both couples answered “false”).  By choosing to believe your spouse has your best interest at heart – even in the midst of an argument – couples are more likely to report they are happy and have happy marriages.

This is a book I highly recommend for anyone who is married or is going to be married – I’m giving it 5/5 stars (which means you need to go out and buy this book).  If you’d like to read a sample of the first chapter, you can access one by clicking here.  For the record, I did receive a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher for an honest, though not necessarily favorable, review.


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