In The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things That Make a Big Difference, Shaunti Feldhahn looks at research taken from couples in highly happy, moderately happy, so-so, and unhappy marriages, and finds interesting trends in the data that may prove helpful if you’d like to get or stay in the highly happy category with your own marriage.
A lot of the findings are not actually that surprising but might be game changers if we actually act on them. For example, it turns out that no matter how happy a relationship is, the vast majority of spouses want the best for their husband or wife, but less than half of us believe that to be true. Highly happy couples give each other the benefit of the doubt and always act as though the other person has their best in mind, even if he or she hurt feelings or dropped the ball.
That was helpful for me, as was the many ways that highly happy couples apparently change their thoughts to think positively no matter what the circumstances. Highly happy couples choose to think the best of the other person, replace negative thoughts with positive ones, and are quick to give credit to and feel grateful for their spouses. In fact, Feldhahn found, someone’s happiness in his or her marriage actually has FAR more to do with his or her perceptions than with any “empirically accurate list of the spouse’s contributions or failures.”
I’m always amazed at how many things come back to habits and changing our thoughts–taking every thought captive, etc–in education, in parenting, in life, and, it turns out, in marriage.
I found The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages to be a helpful and worthwhile read. It was quick and practical–you won’t get theory or theology or vision here, it’s not the scope–and gave me several good take-aways to think about and implement. I’d recommend it.
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