Author Archives: Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

About Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott are #1 New York Times best-selling authors of Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, Love Talk, Crazy Good Sex, and Making Happy. The Parrotts speak in more than thirty cities annually and they blog about marriage at

Have You Ever Felt Distant From Your Spouse? Read This!

Have you ever felt distant from your spouse

Today, is the final day of our 5-day marriage series with #1 New York Times best-selling authors, Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott.  

I hope you have truly enjoyed this series.  And if you missed any of the days, I’ll include the links here so you can get to them easily:

Day 1: The Fastest Way to Overcome Any Misunderstanding

Day 2: One Thing You Need to Know When Creating Happiness

Day 3: Do You Have an Emotionally Generous Marriage?

Day 4: 5 Proven Happiness Boosters for Couples

And today, they’re speaking specifically to those of you who want to be happy but at the moment feel distant from your spouse.

If this doesn’t describe you and your spouse, great! Please share this with a wife who can benefit from it.

Until Monday…make it a great weekend!

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We were having lunch with Jim and Karen at Chinooks, a favorite restaurant with one of our favorite couples. As we got settled into our booth and were perusing our menus, Jim said he had a question for us: “What makes you cry?”

Les nearly did a spit-take with his glass of water. “What are you talking about?” Les asked, thinking Jim was joking around.

“I’m dead serious,” Jim continued. “What pains you right now?”

He went on to say that everyone, if you scratch the surface, has something that could make them cry, if not literally, figuratively.

For Jim, a former football player, it was a relationship struggle he was having with his college-age son.

For Karen it was the painful divorce her sister was going through.

Needless to say, the conversation got serious. I (Leslie) talked about my mom who suffers from brittle diabetes and is facing some tough days ahead. Les said he still wants to cry about not having his dad to talk with, five years after his father passed away.

“Where’d you come up with this question?” Les asked Jim.

That’s when Jim and Karen told us about the three questions they’d started asking each other about once a month. They told us these questions were helping them connect at a deeper level than ever before.

We’ve been using them in our marriage ever since. In fact, they’ve become such a great tool for us, we’ve highlighted them in our new book, Making Happy: The Art and Science of a Happy Marriage.

Here they are:

“What do you dream about?” It’s been said that to understand the mind of someone you can look at what they have already achieved. But to understand someone’s heart you’ll want to discover what they dream about. Do you know what your partner dreams most about these days?

“What do you cry about?” When you know where your partner carries their pain, what makes them hurt, you can’t help but to understand their heart at the deepest levels. What hurts are they carrying right now?

“What do you sing about?” When you know what brings joy to your partner, you know where they draw their strength. What is your partner singing about this week? What’s bringing them the most happiness?

Of course, these three questions don’t have to be literal. Just use them to structure a meaningful conversation when the time is right. We’ve been asking them of each other around the first week of each month. It’s been a great way to stay connected.

We can tell you from personal experience, when you have a bit of time and a desire to go deeper, these three questions are sure to take you there.

YOUR TURN:  What questions do you ask your husband to go deeper? You can respond in the comments section below.


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5 Proven Happiness Boosters for Couples

5 Proven Happiness Boosters for Couples

Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott make a confession at the start of their guest post below.  So I thought it only right that I make a confession of my own.

We are on day four of our Making Happy marriages series with only one day remaining, and this post so far, is my favorite.

This amazing couple and #1 New York Times best-selling authors give us a peak into their own marriage, and how these 5 proven happiness boosters for couples, improved their marriage.

Until tomorrow…make it a great day!

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We’ve got a confession to make. When we wrote Making Happy, we wrote it for ourselves.  Not that we were unhappy in our marriage. Not by a long shot.

We’re coming up on our 30th anniversary and could not be more grateful for our relationship. It’s been a blast. But we are maximizers. We want it to be the best it can be. And if there’s more happiness that can be had – the deep, meaningful, and abiding kind – count us in.

So we set off on a quest. We wanted to climb the gargantuan mountain of happiness research and see what we could find specifically for us. Well, we hit the mother-load.

We uncovered several counter-intuitive things we could do to take our happiness to new heights.

We put them into practice. They not only worked, they worked near miracles. We soon saw that just a minor adjustment could make a world of difference – not just to better our mood, but to better our relationship.

That’s why we’re so excited to share the news with couples like you. We want to show you how to make happy together.

It’s easier than you might think.

Here’s just a bit on the “happiness boosters” that have proven to move the needle in our relationship and we’re confident they’ll do the same for you.

1.  Get Grateful

Dr. Robert Emmons – who has been studying gratitude for more than a decade and is considered by many to be the world’s leading authority on it – says this: Studies show that practicing gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25 percent. Think of that! Gratitude can instantly and measurably improve your relationship. We dare you to think of three things right now that you are deeply grateful for in your spouse. It’s sure to instantly make you happier.

2. Get Out of Your Rut

Dinner and a movie again? That’s fun. But researchers at State University of New York at Stony Brook tested to see what happens when you get couples to break the monotony of married life, specifically testing would it rekindle romance and boost their happy factor.

They had half of their recruited couples do a mundane activity together while the others did a crazy obstacle course while connected to each other by Velcro. Was there a difference between the two groups? You bet. The Velcro couples made far more positive comments and reported being happier.

3. Dream Together

The moment a couple quits looking to the future together is the moment they become vulnerable to dissatisfaction. This is not a sentimental saying. It’s backed up by research. A survey of more than 1,400 married people by Utah State University found that couples who regularly discuss their long-range plans are more likely to stay happily married. Why? Because talking about your shared future communicates that you both plan on being there together.

4. Master the Magic Ratio

In scientific studies of marriage it’s literally called the Michelangelo effect. In subtle ways, we reinforce patterns in each other via countless little interactions – positive or negative moments. That sculpting can either reveal more of your partner by celebrating who he or she is or it can hold them captive.

Happy relationships, noted psychologist John Gottman, are characterized by a ratio of 5:1. This means that for every negative statement or behavior like criticizing or nagging, there must be five positive statements given. Gottman calls it “the magic ratio” and he and his colleagues predicted whether 700 newlywed couples would stay together or divorce by scoring their positive and negative interactions in one 15-minute conversation between each husband and wife. Ten years later, the follow-up revealed that they had predicted divorce with 94 percent accuracy.

5. Be Intimate

Perhaps the lamest excuse we ever hear for a couple getting a divorce is, “We just seemed to drift apart.” Excuse us, but there is no drifting. It is a series of decisions, choices, and attitudes that distance a couple. “It is not a lack of love,” said Friedrich Nietzche, “but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”

Incidentally, the social scientific evidence clearly shows that the vast majority of divorces occur in relatively low-conflict marriages. A malaise in marriage sets in. And that’s due to a lack of emotional intimacy. It turns out after reviewing hundreds of research studies on the various factors that predict stable, happy marriages, scientists are converging on an unexpected primary factor: friendship. In fact, emotional intimacy of friendship trumps romance.

Gallup’s research indicates that a couple’s friendship quality could account for 70 percent of overall marital satisfaction. In fact, the emotional intimacy that a married couple shares is said to be five times more important than their physical intimacy. Emotional intimacy is one of the most vital wellsprings of happiness a couple can ever find.

You’ll find more about all of these tips and many, many more in our new book, Making Happy. Not only that, we’ll provide you with a 21-Day Happiness Plan that makes it super easy to put all of it painlessly into practice.


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Do You Have an Emotionally Generous Marriage

Do You Have an Emotionally Generous Marriage? (Try These 4 Steps)

Do You Have an Emotionally Generous Marriage

Time sure flies by when you’re enjoying a good read!

I can’t believe we’re already at day 3 of our 5-part marriage series hosted by #1 New York Times bestselling authors of Making Happy, Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott.

I got a sneak peak at day 45′s post and if you’ve ever felt distant from your spouse, or know someone experiencing that right now, make sure to return here tomorrow Friday at the same time.

Until tomorrow…make it a great day!

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We were sitting in an airport terminal last week and observed an older couple waiting to board the same plane. She leaned over and asked him a question, looking directly into his eyes.

We didn’t hear what either of them said, but he smiled and patted her on the knee. A minute later, she got up and brought him a cup of coffee. He looked surprised and delighted. 

It wasn’t dramatic. In fact, it was barely perceptible. But this couple did something we uncovered this past year while researching our new book, Making Happy: The Art and Science of a Happy Marriage. And this little something makes a huge difference.

 What did they do?

 They demonstrated what some call “the best marital life insurance policy there is” – small acts of emotional generosity.

Researchers from the University of Virginia recently studied generosity, defined as “giving good things to one’s spouse freely and abundantly,” in nearly 3,000 marriages.

They were looking for small acts of service, like making them coffee in the morning or offering a little back rub — and researchers quizzed men and women on how often they behaved generously toward their partners.

 The bottom line?

Couples who are emotionally generous with each other are the happiest couples on the planet. In fact, the more generous they are with each other, the happier they become.

We don’t know about you, but this news inspired us. We want an emotionally generous marriage. And if we’re honest, we’ve got a long way to go on that front.

 We’re still working on it but we’re getting better.

 Much better.

 How? We’re practicing the principles we’ve learned. 

Four Principles for an Emotionally Generous Marriage:

1. Put away the measuring scales or the scoreboard.

If you’re keeping track of who gets what (“he went golfing so I’m buying new shoes”) you’ll never get there. As Saint Theresa observed, “When one loves, one does not calculate.”

2. Focus on what your spouse likes.

If you know it would mean a lot to your partner to gas up the car or turn down the bed or sweep the porch or watch a particular movie or play a video game together, then that’s where you want to put your energy. Generosity works best when it signals to your spouse that you know them and their personal desires.

3. Don’t neglect the intangibles.

Sometimes a spirit of generosity is found when we give our spouse the benefit of the doubt by not questioning their reasoning. It’s also found when we give our spouse credit for a good idea. And it’s certainly found when we give our time. A generous spirit simply sets selfishness aside and gives.

4. Give without expecting anything in return.

 This is crucial. Generosity is never a down payment on a gift you’re wanting. Generosity is only as valid as the motivation behind it. It must come from the heart with no strings attached. To paraphrase Bob Hope, if your generosity does not come from your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.


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One Thing You Need to Know When Creating Happiness in Marriage

One Thing You Need to Know When Creating Happiness in Marriage

Happy Tuesday!  Today, we’re continuing our fabulous, Making Happy, 5-day marriage series based on the book of #1 New York Times® best-selling authors, Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott.

I just read the post they sent us for tomorrow and it’s just as good as this one.  I sure hope you’re enjoying this series!

Until tomorrow…make it a great day!

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We had just finished speaking at a camp in the San Juan Islands when a small plane buzzed overhead and landed on a nearby airstrip.

A few minutes later the pilot was flying us over the islands of Puget Sound and we were approaching the lights of a local airport.

“The most important thing about landing is the attitude of the plane,” said the pilot.

“You mean altitude, don’t you?” we asked.

“No,” the pilot explained. “The attitude has to do with the nose of the plane. If the attitude is too high the plane will come down with a severe bounce. And if the attitude is too low the plane may go out of control.”

Then the pilot said something that really got our attention:

“The trick is to get the right attitude in spite of atmospheric conditions.”

Without knowing it, our pilot had given us a perfect analogy for creating happiness in marriage — developing the right attitude in spite of our circumstances.

In fact, while we were writing our new book, Making Happy: The Art and Science of a Happy Marriage, the most amazing fact we learned about happiness in marriage – the one that has impacted our own marriage more than any other – is this:

Only 10% of a person’s happiness has to do with their circumstances.

That’s all. Just 10%!

We all think we’ll be happier if we get a better job, more money, a nicer home, cool vacations, and all the rest. But that’s not where our happiness is found.

The majority of our happiness has little to do with circumstances and far more to do with deciding to be happy in spite of our circumstances.

It’s what Abe Lincoln was getting at when he said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

So true.

It is no accident that some couples that encounter marital turbulence navigate it successfully while others in similar circumstances are dominated by frustration, disappointment and eventual despair.

And it is no accident that some couples are positive and happy while other couples are beaten down and defeated.

Researchers who have searched for the difference between the two have come up with all kinds of correlates to marital success. They point to long courtships, having similar backgrounds, supportive families, good communication, and so on.

But the bottom line is that happy couples decide to be happy.

In spite of whatever life deals them, they make happiness a habit.

YOUR TURN:  How do you make happiness a habit in your marriage? Tell us in the comment section below.


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The Fastest Way to Overcome Any Misunderstanding (3 Easy Tips)

The Fastest Way to Overcome Any Misunderstanding

I’ve been waiting for this 5-day marriages series for a couple months now.  

Excited to bring you two marriage experts that I have come to know and love for two reasons: 1) Their love for each other; and 2) Their ability to work together to help others improve their marriages.

This week, Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott, are releasing their brand new book, Making Happy: The Art and Science of a Happy Marriage, so I asked them to take over the Happy Wives Club site for the entire week and share some of the wisdom they’re teaching in this book.

I’ve never done this before, allowed someone to hijack the home page of for a 5-day series, but hopefully once this week is concluded, you’ll be so happy I did.

As soon as I started reading Making Happy I knew it was going to be helpful to couples everywhere.  While flipping through the introduction, something jumped out at me, “Marriage doesn’t make you happy–you make your marriage happy.”

Sometimes it’s just helpful for us to, not only be reminded of what it takes to create a happy marriage, but the actual science behind those principals.  Happy marriages are are not by happenstance.  They are created and cherished.

Until tomorrow…make it a great day!

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John, our teenager, was looking forward to a weekend event with his buddies at church. But he never got to go. Why? Because each of us thought the other had submitted the payment. But neither of us had. And it was too late. All the spots were filled. John wasn’t happy and our marriage was feeling the pain.

“You always take care of that stuff,” Les exclaimed.

“But this was something you and John talked about.”

“I know but I still thought you had the paperwork to fill out,” Les protested.

“I did but you could have done it.”

We blamed each other for a few moments and then one of us said, “Okay, I can see why you thought I was taking care of it.”


That was that.

Chalk it up to a simple misunderstanding.

Every marriage is full of them. Right? They’re endemic. And if any couple says they don’t have many misunderstandings, they’re misunderstanding the question.

Misunderstandings are a part of every married couple’s life. And if we don’t learn how to manage them, they manage us and we’ll soon be embroiled in perpetual conflict.

In fact, misunderstandings are one of the most common roadblocks to happiness in marriage. We discovered this fact while writing our new book, Making Happy: The Art and Science of a Happy Marriage. If you’re looking for happiness in love, you won’t find it with two people who feel misunderstood.

Misunderstandings are exasperating for the simple fact that both sides see it from their angle only.

The solution?

It’s simple.

It only takes one person to put their perspective on hold and see the issue from their partner’s point of view. That’s all. If one person does this, the misunderstanding is resolved, the tension eases, and life moves forward.

Easy peasy.

It only takes one person to turn around a misunderstanding by honoring the other’s perspective. That’s what the Apostle Paul was getting at when he said, “Honor one another above yourselves.”

When we honor our spouse we have an internal attitude of respect and courtesy. But it’s more than lip service.

So how do we do this?

Here’s Three Tips to Overcome Any Misunderstanding:

  • Press your mental “pause” button. If you ever want to circumvent misunderstanding, you have to stand back, cool down, and be objective. You can’t turn it around by staying hot and bothered.

  • Use your head. Be objective and ask what it would be like to literally be in your spouse’s shoes. After a day like they’ve had, what would it feel like to be in their skin? This will take some effort but try your best.

  • Use your heart. Feel your partner’s feelings. How? Say something like, “Are you feeling like I’m belittling you right now?” And listen. Listen aggressively – not just to the words but the feelings underneath them.

Do these three things and you can’t help but honor your partner with respect. You can’t help but to change your perspective because you’ll see the issue through your partner’s eyes.

 And here’s a secret – your new perspective is contagious. So don’t be surprised when your spouse does the same for you.

YOUR TURN:  How do you overcome your misunderstandings?  You can respond below.


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