I know I’m making a bold declaration by claiming I may know the #1 secret to a happy marriage. But hear me out.
Last year, with the backing of an awesome publisher (thanks, Thomas Nelson!), I traveled to 18 cities in 12 countries on 6 continents to interview couples happily married -25 years or more- to deduce the common denominator among them.
When I first launched the Happy Wives Club in 2010, I had a column on the site called Sage Wisdom. For those of you who have been reading since that time, you probably remember that was my favorite section.
For that column, I would interview women happily married for more than a quarter of a century and share their timeless advice.
What I discovered in those interviews and in conversations with the women of this wonderful club, was no matter where a person resided in the world -and regardless of primary language, religion, socioeconomic status, culture or upbringing- they all sounded the same.
It was as if they grew up in the same household and all learned the principles to a happy and lifelong marriage together. Some of their responses were uncannily similar. So much so that it got me thinking:
Is it possible there is a universal secret to a happy marriage and these couples know what it is and would be willing to share it?
That question fueled what would become a six-month long journey. As a former hotel general manager for a Hilton-family property, and former manager for Starwood, I’d made friends from all over the world. I contacted the ones I respected the most and asked these two questions:
“When I mention the phrases, ‘happy marriage’ and ‘still in love after all these years,’ who is the couple that instantly comes to mind? If I were to come to your community, who would be the one couple everyone would vouch for as being 100-percent genuine and would say their love has stood the test of time?”
Asking those two questions was enlightening. First, I learned that each of my friends could easily think of that one couple. And second, I quickly realized that beyond that one couple, many couldn’t think of another like them.
So I reached out to each of the couples recommended -in Canada, South Africa, Mauritius, Croatia, Australia, New Zealand, and so many other places around the globe- and asked if they’d be willing to open up their lives to me and share their marital secrets of success.
By the time I arrived at my 7th country, I knew I was on to something very special. I hosted a tea with 10 Filipina women from the Happy Wives Club, with the youngest marriage being a year old and the oldest being just shy of her 34th anniversary.
While sitting there, I asked Erlinda (the woman married the longest) the same question I’d asked everyone on my travels before her: “What is the one thing you would say is of the utmost importance for every marriage, the one thing every couple must do?”
Without pausing for even a full second, she responded. Mutual respect. “Every couple must have mutual respect.”
At the sound of those two words, I turned to all the other women seated around the table enjoying banana bread and tea, ”I have been to seven countries so far, you are my eighth. And the first answer given when I ask that question has been the same in every single country.”
“That just gave me chills,” Mai, the newlywed of the group, said while rubbing her arms as if to generate warmth.
All-in-all, I discovered 12 common denominators -universal truths, if you will- between all the couples I interviewed. So now, when someone asks me, “Is there a universal secret to a happy marriage?” I’m able to answer with confidence. Yes. Absolutely. There are at least 12 of them.
If you’re interested in learning more about my journey, and the universal secrets to a happy marriage I learned along the way, you can start by downloading the first four chapters for free.
The book, entitled Happy Wives Club: One Woman’s Worldwide Search for the Secrets of a Great Marriage, went on presale today, and for incredibly selfish reasons, I’d be so honored if you would click here to learn more about it. Of course, you can also pre-order the book (**wink wink**) for you and your closest girlfriends (Amazon and Barnes & Noble have the book on presale TODAY for 25% off), which would serve two purposes:
First, it would reassure me that this amazing journey and all the weeks away from home, were well worth the cost. And secondly, that each of us believe, no matter how beautiful our marriage, we can always make it better. Going from good to great and from great to extraordinary. That’s what this life -and marriage- is all about.
Until Monday…make it a great weekend!