If you have ever read any of Shaunti Feldhahn's books, you know they are based on surveys she conducts, and then she tells us the results in a book. That is the same way she wrote this book - she interviewed 1000 of the happiest married couples she found, and she shares their "secrets" in The Surprising Secrets Of Highly Happy Marriages.
As I was reading each chapter, it felt like I was having epiphany after epiphany. The book shares twelve of the "secrets" of the happiest couples, and I felt like each one was such good, commonsense advice. At the same time, a lot of the secrets weren't things that I had even thought about before.
I kept thinking of things that I could do better through each chapter, but what I liked best was that each of these tips is so doable. These aren't vague ideas, they are solid tips that are spelled out very clearly, and there are clear ways to apply them either in action or attitude. They are all relatively easy to apply as well - I like that! As the subtitle says, these are little things that I can already see would make a big difference in the level of happiness in marriage.
Shaunti recommends picking one or two secrets to work on at one time, instead of trying to do all of them at once, and I think that is good advice - I was trying to remember all of them through the first half of the book and quickly realized that I wouldn't be able to change everything all at once. So I picked two of the secrets - "Happy Couple Keep Score" and "Happy Couples Think They Hit The Jackpot". Those are the two I'm going to focus on for the first few weeks of trying to apply what I learned here. I think I'll probably have to write more posts about this - I'm definitely feeling inspired after reading this book. Who doesn't want to be as happy as possible in their marriage?
I also really appreciated how positive this book is about marriage - happy marriages aren't something you just have if you are lucky, in most cases it is something you can achieve with a little effort. I think this would be inspiring to couples who may be currently struggling, and encouraging and helpful to couples who want to make their marriages as good as they can be.
This is probably one of the best marriage books I have ever read. If you are married, or hope to be married someday, you should definitely check it out!
Read the first chapter here.
Note: I received this book in ebook and print format for free from Blogging For Books in exchange for this review. This is my honest opinion.
When Shaunti Feldhahn's new book The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages came up for review, I eagerly selected it. Her books are small in size, so while 237 pages may sound ominous, it's quite readable.
Feldhahn offers poll results and analyses from 3 main groups - Highly Happy Married Couples, Mostly Happy Married Couples, and Struggling Couples. The book covers 12 "surprising secrets." Here are two that my husband and I already do (we do some of the others as well). It didn't surprise me that we fit in the "Highly Happy" category:
Highly Happy Couples Keep Score - not of wrongs committed against him/her by the other spouse, but of gifts and kind gestures shown. The receiving spouse "keeps score" of these and always looks for ways to give back.
Highly Happy Couples Boss Their Feelings Around - "Highly happy couples quickly stop a negative train of thought or action, replacing unhappy or angry thoughts or actions with positive ones, in order to change their feelings." (p. 64)
As an older friend advised me before marriage, our emotions must submit to our will_not the other way around. We needn't be led by our emotions (nor should we "follow our heart" - thankyouverymuch, Disney). I loved seeing this advice written by an author who sees it as a common thread among many Highly Happy Couples.
A lot of the contents felt like no-brainer info to me, but I suppose we aren't exactly normal. If you'd like some small changes you could implement personally - with or without the aid of your spouse - this is an excellent springboard resource. I give it 5 stars.
I received this book for free via WaterBrook Multnomah for this review. The perspectives (with the exception of direct quotes) above are entirely mine.
What I liked about the book was that it was incredibly practical and down to earth. It does not make vague suggestions about changing attitudes, it literally tells you what to think and what to say to start making these changes. It also has a lot of advice that goes against what we are usually told. I was particularly interested in the chapter in why it is sometimes more important to go to bed mad than to try and resolve your problems at night. And many of the chapters I was able to point at small things and say "That is true, I like it when she does that," or ask my wife "Do you like it when I do _xyz? And do I do it enough?"
The chapters are short enough not to bog you down, and included interesting graphs at the end, where you can study them if you are like me, or ignore the if you are like most people. These graphs show that often successful marriages are based on people doing the right things, even though they sometimes think it is the wrong thing.
"We know we are not supposed to <Go to bed mad etc.> but we do, and we are happy."
It's been a while since I've been downright enthusiastic about recommending a book on the topic of marriage, but I am ready to do so!
"The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages," written by Shaunti Feldhahn (published by Multnomah Books) is worth buying and reading today, and both husbands and wives will enjoy and get real benefit from this book.
Being both a minister and a clinical counselor, I have read scores of books on the subject of marriage. This one is different! Instead of being a theoretical book that teaches ideas, concepts, etc., this book is an easy and fast read walking you through the results of some research into what makes a highly happy marriage.
At first blush, I wasn't impressed with the idea of these "secrets" coming just from data. After all, what one couple says is a good idea for a happy marriage may or may not be true in general. But I was thoroughly impressed by the quality of research and the outcomes compiled by Feldhahn.
The "secrets" Feldhahn shares comes from the compilation of three years of significant research with a mix of couples on the topic of how to have a happy marriage. Feldhahn then shares this data as simply drawn, easy-to-understand (and replicate) conclusions. As someone who has counseled thousands of people about marriage, I was expecting a more lengthy teaching approach. Instead, Feldhahn goes right to the point, "Here's secret number 1 ..." and gives you the conclusion. She spends a little time explaining why that particular conclusion works, and shows just enough of how it can be applied.
As Feldhahn unveils her data, I continued to identify as a counselor with the "why" that works, and knew the point she was making was solid. "The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages" is a direct delivery of the steps to take, and is less about the "why" of it, whereas so many other books about marriage spend most of their pages on the "why" and little about what to get busy doing.
I'm convinced if couples read and really put to use the information supplied in this book, they will have a reliable blueprint for making their marriage into a highly happy marriage.
Women quite often get more enjoyment out of books on marriage, but men can easily enjoy this book just as much. The chapters are short, the author gets right to the point, writes clearly, and lays out the steps in a way any reader can understand.
This would also be a great book for a couple to work through together. I can see a couple sitting down with cups of coffee and reading a chapter together, then talking about the "secret" in that chapter and discussing how they can incorporate it into their marriage.
To me, what makes this information work is that these "secrets" are already taught in the Bible. This book is a fresh demonstration of how couples today have applied truths long taught to make for a very happy marriage in our time.
Go get this book and improve your marriage!
I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
The writing style of the author reminds me of author Jim Collins whose notoriety comes from the books he has written after researching what makes some companies succeed and other fail over the long-term. I enjoyed this work as the author surveyed married couples to see whether their marriages were happy. She then combed through the data to look for trends. Like most things in life, it was the little things, rather than some significant 'WOW' experience or 'A HA' moments that made the difference for the couples with the happiest marriages. The author also compared her results to the findings of other studies to both confirm and add more depth to her own work.
The book is easy to read and offers practical insights that anyone can apply to their own situation, if they are willing to do so. I can see this book being used by current folks who want to improve their marriages and relationship, those who are preparing to be married (to help establish a good foundation and start off on the right foot), and by singles who want to know what a happy marriage is truly like.
This boos is a worthwhile resource that I would recommend.