Tag Archives: secret to a successful marriage

Want a Happier Marriage? Research Says Do This, Not That.

*Welcome to week four of this 12-week series based on the New York Times® bestselling book, Happy Wives Club.  Join me each week as I share 12 principles about marriage I’ve learned from some of the happiest couples around the world.*


Want a Happier Marriage - Do This Not That

Over the years, I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting so many happily married couples.  It seems like nearly every day, I bump into someone that reminds me happiness is not by happenstance, it is created.

Recently, on a press tour in Toronto, I was rushing from one appointment to the next when a gentleman in his early 70′s stopped me on my way out the door.  “I just celebrated our 55th anniversary.  Want to know our secret?”

Although I had somewhere else to be, I couldn’t help but to stop and listen.  I was meant to meet him, in that moment, and allow him to tell his story he was overjoyed to share.  

You wouldn’t believe how often I meet a married person who wants to share their enduring love story. And one commonality I have found among the vast majority of these couples, is they are a part of the second school of thought written about below.  

In the 4th installment to our 12 Weeks to a Happier Marriage series, HWC contributor, Kim Hall, shares why there are two schools of thought on this oh so important topic – and how one helps to create a happier marriage.

Until tomorrow…make it a great day!

Email Signature transparent


There tends to be two opposing schools of thought on having great expectations.

The first recommends having no or low expectations. That way, you’ll never be disappointed, and when something good happens, you are always surprised. 

The second promotes shooting for the moon, as the old saying goes, because even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.

According to Cognitive Neuroscientist Tali Sharot, it turns out there is truth to that old saying. In her TED Talk The Optimism BiasSharot reports people who have great expectations always feel better overall.

In order for these high hopes to positively impact your marriage, however, there are a few important factors to keep in mind.

1. Set your expectations optimistically. Optimism, like its close sibling pessimism, can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Be sure your perspective is set to positive.

2. Share your expectations with your spouse. As Keith at Black and Married with Kids notesunspoken expectations can wreak havoc on a marriage. Alternatively, when you share and agree upon your outlook, you have harnessed the Power of Two.

3. Enjoy the anticipation as well as the achievement. Nicholas Sparks said it best in Three Weeks with my Brother:  “Never forget that anticipation is an important part of life. Work’s important, family’s important, but without excitement, you have nothing. You’re cheating yourself if you refuse to enjoy what’s coming.”

4. Respond with ability, whatever the results. There may be setbacks along the way that require conversations and maybe even a change in plans. For those talks, bypass the arguments and get to the heart of the matter as Fawn recommends.  Developing and practicing an attitude of gratitude helps soften these challenges as well, helping to keep your mind and heart open to possibilities.

5. Learn from your experiences. Each time you go through this process, you gain more wisdom, knowledge, and practice. Take time to step back, ask yourselves what you could do differently and better the next time, and do just that.

Having great expectations for your marriage is not the wishful thinking of fairy tale land. Rather, it is a deep expression of your love and respect for each other.

As Earl Nightingale wrote, “You are, at this moment, standing, right in the middle of your own “acres of diamonds.”

It’s your marriage—make it shine!

Comment: What great expectations have made your marriage happier?

May you find happiness wherever you are!  Kim, your personal Sherpa of Joy at Too Darn Happy.


JOIN THE 1,000,000 MEMBER CHALLENGE: If you haven’t already done it, what are you waiting for? Join the club! It takes only a few seconds and, of course, is free.

Happy Wives Club Book


THE NEW YORK TIMES® BEST-SELLING BOOK: It’s been described as, “Like Eat, Pray, Love but not down on marriage.” Make sure to check out the Happy Wives Club book.  I had the great honor of traveling to 12 countries on 6 continents, interviewing couples happily married 25 years or more, with 1 mission only: to find out what makes marriages happy…and keeps them that way.  It’s a marriage book line none other.  Guaranteed.

The No. 1 Secret to a Happy Marriage

The #1 Secret to a Happy Marriage {bet you can guess it!}

The No. 1 Secret to a Happy Marriage

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!

Email Signature transparent

JOIN THE 1,000,000 MEMBER CHALLENGE: If you haven’t already done it, what are you waiting for? Join the club! It takes only a few seconds and, of course, is free.