Tag Archives: tips for happy marriages

7 Habits of Highly Happy Marriages

7 Habits of Highly Happy Marriages

7 Habits of Highly Happy Marriages

We all know that good habits can help us feel better, succeed at work, and get healthier. Happy marriages tend to have common practices just like thriving companies all do certain things well.

There are probably hundreds of little habits that help make our relationships healthy and happy – from putting caps on toothbrushes to saying good morning, but for today, let’s focus on 7 of the biggies.

Use these as a check list – if you are doing all of them, great! If not, pick one and start this week. And remember, habits can only be changed one day at a time.

1. Talk about your day. Every day. By creating little moments of connection, you are ensuring the “communication highway” in your relationship is free of roadblocks. Having little conversations every day, makes it much easier to have big conversations when those moments come. Habits are done daily. This one is non-negotiable if you want a healthy, happy relationship.

2. Kiss. Every day. Notice a theme? It’s not “kiss when you go on date” or “kiss when the kids aren’t around,” it’s “Kiss. Every day.”  Marriage researcher John Gottman recommends a 6-second kiss every day.  It should be long enough to feel romantic and will be like a love vitamin – nurturing connection and intimacy in your marriage.

3. Defer Decisions until you can talk about them privately. This means, you make an agreement with your spouse not to accept invitations, decline opportunities or give an answer to anyone about almost anything, until you have talked about it and made a decision together.

Over the years we’ve been married, my husband and I are now both trained to say, “Let me talk it over with my honey.  I will get back to you,” whether it’s an invitation to the movies or a request to volunteer. This is a pro-active way to avoid disagreements, misunderstandings and resentment.

4. Prioritize. Make it clear to your spouse and to the world that your priority is your marriage. Knowing this makes it easier to make decisions every day.

Asking a question like “Will this nurture and develop my relationship or take me away from it?” or “Is this aligned with my priorities?” before you make a decision gives you the opportunity to step back and make sure you are moving in the direction you want to go before you make a commitment that can hurt your relationship.

5. Express Gratitude. Everyday. Expressing gratitude feels good to YOU because you are looking for the positive things to celebrate and acknowledge in every day. It feels good to your HUSBAND because he in turn, feels celebrated and acknowledged. If you are not in the habit of expressing gratitude, start with this step and read Fawn’s fabulous article about how to write a “Husband Gratitude List” here.

6. A.E.O.D: Accept Each Other’s Differences.  Fawn wrote a great article about how important this is back in 2011. In it, she said, “Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that the qualities that make our spouses different are also what make them great.”

It really is okay if you never want to go bowling and he never wants to do yoga.  I was recently interviewed for a podcast and we spent an hour talking about what to do when you and your spouse aren’t on the same page – the bottom line is that accepting each other’s differences is one of the keys to helping the relationship last, long after your passions for jobs, hobbies or other adventures has passed.  

7. Give some Vitamin F2 every day. What is Vitamin F2, you ask? Flirt and Fun. And yes, I just made it up.  We usually get instructions to *take* vitamins. How about giving some every day to the love of your life?

Think of marriage like a marathon, it’s long, you will get tired, and you need the water of motivation to keep you going. Laughing together and keeping that spark of flirtatious love alive will add a little joy to every day – even the hard ones.

These 7 habits will make the hard times easier to manage and fill the good times with so many happy memories that you can lean on those memories and good feelings when the hard times come. Now it’s your turn, what habit would YOU add to this list?


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the argument free marriage book


THE BOOK: Read the book that inspired the powerful TED talk and prompted author of The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman, PhD., to write the book’s foreword. Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott, bestselling authors of Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts said, “We’ve been counseling couples and writing marriage books for a long time, and we can say with absolute certainty, there has never been a book quite like The Argument-Free Marriage. If you think no such union exists, or if you’ve come to the conclusion that arguments are necessary in marriage, allow Fawn to challenge that notion and set you on a path to creating the greatest partnership in life: your marriage.”

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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6 Scientific Questions to ask about your marriage

6 Scientific Questions to Ask About Your Marriage

6 Scientific Questions to ask about your marriage

I am a research junkie. There are few things I love to do more than dive into stats and numbers.  

People are always shocked when I tell them I’ve never read a novel (at least not that I can remember).  

In the 80s, when I was required to read novels in school (think Uncle Tom’s Cabin), I’d head to the bookstore and pick up those yellow and black workbooks I loved so much (aka Cliff Notes).

I could never seem to work my way through a novel but I’d happily sit in the hallway, on the second story of our home, and read through the Britannica collection sitting on the shelves.  

My parents and I had a a contentious relationship (that’s putting it mildly) because I only responded to fact.  So when they’d tell me something was so because they “said so,” you can imagine how well that went.

Now, that I’m older, I still can’t seem to make my way through a novel, love nonfiction and can plug numbers into Excel spreadsheets for hours on end without ever getting bored (which came in handy as a hotel general manager).

Needless to say, awesome posts like this one from Cheri Gregory make me a do a happy dance!  Enjoy (I sure did ;) ).

Until tomorrow…make it a great day!

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I love research.

Sure, some people manipulate statistics to “prove” whatever they want.

But I love solid studies about relationships. To me, they’re an easy way for me to learn how to have the best marriage possible. (I’ve already paid enough tuition to the school of hard knocks!)

I’m not saying that we should slavishly adhere to every conclusion generated by every study.  Each couple and relationship is unique. 

But some statistics can be valuable tools for reflection and, as needed, recalibration. Here are six questions, based on scientific research, that I keep in the back of my mind:

1.  Is our ratio of positive-to-negative interactions at least 5:1?  If not, why?  Sometimes our ratio drops because we’re in a difficult spot in our marriage. Other times, it drops because we’re going through a tough season of life. Either way, conscious attention to this ratio helps me be more intentional about adding more positivity to my words and actions.

2.  Are we averaging an hour (or more) a day together?  During some seasons, this was all-but-impossible. But we kept it in mind as our goal. We didn’t want to settle for 15 minutes becoming the new normal for our marriage. Now that our kids are out of the house, we are eagerly “making up for lost time” because we’ve hung on to the belief that more time together is better.

3.  Do we communicate respect even when we disagree?  Of John Gottman’s “Four Horsemen” of destructive marital communication, the worst is contempt.  Gottman calls it the “single greatest predictor of divorce.”  Since we want the opposite of divorce, we aim for the opposite of contempt. We consciously express respect, even (or should I say especially!) when we’re at odds with each other.  (This is vital for me: I tend to be very sarcastic, and sarcasm easily comes across as contempt.)

4.  Have we laughed together today?  Laughter triggers the release of happy hormones in our brains, counteracting stress chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol. Daniel constantly tells me, “You’re just so dang funny!” which, of course, only encourages me to crack more silly jokes and look for the funny flip side in every difficult situation. When neither of us can muster up a laugh, we watch favorite comedy videos together to remind us how much fun it is to laugh.  (Bonus: #4 double-dips with #1!)

5.  When was the last time we walked down memory lane? Playing the “Remember when…?” game often gives a much needed redirection to our focus.

  • “Remember when we lost 5th gear on the Accord one hour into a ten-hour drive?”
  • “Remember when we brought home a second cat and the two of them fought all night long…all over our bed?” 
  • “Remember those bargain brand blueberry muffin mixes we used to buy, with blueberry-flavored “bits” instead of berries?”

Reminiscing is a powerful bonding activity. It reminds us why we got together in the first place and how much history we’ve built together. 

6.  What’s something new we can try together? Daniel and I have finally found a way to exercise together:  While he goes on a 3-hour bike ride, I drive to his destination and wait to pick him up. Okay, so maybe this doesn’t quite qualify as “exercising together,” but it is something new that we’re enjoying immensely. While he rides, I hang out at Starbucks and write; then, we enjoy lunch together and head home. While we love the many comfortable routines of our relationship, intentionality with newness keeps our routines from becoming ruts.

A few free downloads for you:

What questions do you ask to keep your marriage happy?


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Happy Wives Club Book



THE BOOK: It’s been described as, “Like Eat, Pray, Love but not down on marriage.” Make sure to check out the Happy Wives Club bookI 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.

5 Ways to Keep the Spark Alive in Your Marriage


Earlier today, I had the pleasure of sitting with a wonderful group of women in Atlanta as a part of my 12-City Coffee Talk Tour (I’m in Chicago today if you can find the time to join us). 

What I’ve loved most about going from city to city and speaking with women in this community is being surrounded by such positive energy.

I can’t even explain how encouraging it is to connect face-to-face with women who believe in the power of love, the beauty of marriage, and the joy of a lifelong union.

During our conversation, someone said, “Marriage is hard work.”  Her comment reminded me of something a couple I once interviewed said, “Maybe the work in marriage is in getting it not to feel like work.”

That led us to an insightful conversation about the difference between “work” and “effort” and how the outcome of those two things can vary greatly.  I look forward to sharing more from that conversation with you this week.  

As I read this guest post by HWC contributor, Aesha Roberts, I thought, this ties in perfectly as a great example of the type of efforts we can make consistently to keep the spark alive in our marriages. 

Simple and small efforts that can yield great reward.

Until tomorrow…make it a great day!

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I recently read a shocking statistic about marriage in a post from the New York Times: According to research, the passion and happiness a couple feels after they say “I do” typically only lasts two years.

As a happy wife who has been married for 7 years I can confidently say that it doesn’t have to be this way!

Research in the science of love reveals that it’s really simple to keep the spark alive in your marriage.  I’ve boiled it down to 5 simple practices that can take as little as 5 minutes per day.

You’re probably doing some or all of these things already, but when we do them with purpose and intention they become powerful! 

5 Ways to Keep the Spark Alive In Your Marriage

1) Appreciation: Look for new things to appreciate about your husband. For example, watch him for 48 hours and then say, “I love watching you (fill in the blank with something amazing about your husband).” This will help you see him in new ways and make him feel loved and valued. 

2) Spontaneity: I admit that this is a challenge for me, given the way that I love to plan everything. However, I experienced how amazing it can be to do things on the spur of the moment when my husband arranged a double date complete with a sitter in a matter of hours and whisked me away to enjoy a fun date night!  

3) Novelty: Simply doing something in a new way can re-ignite the passion in your relationship. For example, instead of just going out to dinner, try restaurant hopping. Go to one place for appetizers, another for your main course and another restaurant for desert. 

4) Variety: As much as my family loves the organic roasted chicken I make for dinner, they don’t want to eat it every night! The same could be said about many of the routines we have in our marriage, especially in the bedroom. Be intentional about spicing things up, especially between the sheets! 

5) Surprise: This can be as simple as stealing a passionate kiss when your husband least expects it, or as elaborate as planning a weekend getaway to a local bed & breakfast.  

It’s easy to get used to the things that make us feel good about being married such as routines, comfort, and security. The good news is that keeping the spark alive in your relationship doesn’t have to be complicated! Start with these 5 simple tips, 5 minutes per day and watch the love and passion in your marriage go to another level!


12 Ways to Make Your Love & Marriage Last

12 Ways to Make Your Love and Marriage Last

I would not be exaggerating in the least to tell you that Maggie Reyes is one of my absolute favorite marriage bloggers.

She blogs over at ModernMarried.com and I absolutely love hearing stories about her and her husband as they clearly love, adore and respect one another.

The last time she wrote a guest post here and told us all to “Give some vitamin F2 every day” in our marriage, that post instantly went viral – shared more than 50,000 times within the first 24 hours.

When it came time to release my debut book, she not only joined more than 200 bloggers on a blog tour hosted in honor of launch week but she coordinated the entire thing.  I loved the post she wrote for the blog tour so much that I asked if I could share it with you. 

I could go on and on about how much she has meant to this community but instead, I’ll just let you meet her on your own.

Until tomorrow…make it a great day!

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I believe you can have a happy marriage.  It’s why I’m a proud member of the Happy Wives Club and encourage you to join us if you haven’t already.  It’s why I love the Happy Wives Club Book and hope millions read it. 

There was a time I thought I would be single forever. Then there was a time I thought I didn’t know how to be a wife.  Now, years after getting married, I can honestly say that happy marriages are possible and all around us. And I want you to have one.

Thinking about what makes a happy wife, a happy life and a happy marriage, I finally realized it was time to write my own manifesto.

The following is my verbal declaration of intentions and views on what makes love last.

12 Ways to Make Your Love & Marriage Last

  1. Check in EVERYDAY. Asking “how was your day?” is the key to being part of your honey’s life. Don’t take that question for granted. Don’t grunt and say okay and move on to “what’s for dinner.” You married the love of your life so you could be with them every day right? Remember that.

  2. There is no auto-pilot for love. Flirt. Kiss. Hug. Remember that you create your relationship with every text, every wink, every “good morning” and every “can’t wait to see you tonight after work.”  Never stop creating and you will never stop loving.

  3. Dream Deeper instead of bigger. Dreaming deeper is asking how you would like to spend your time, not your money, and then finding ways to do more and more of that every day. What makes your heart sing? Do that. Trust me on this, it’s not the car you drive, it’s how you drive it.

  4. Forget “the institution of marriage” and remember “the family of us.” We are all making it up as we go along. And that’s okay, you are in this together!

  5. Pour love into pain as often as needed. Forgive. Forget. Let go. Move on. Love more. Open your heart to receive love when you need it too. If you aren’t sure how to receive, say so. Use your words. Listen with compassion. Believe that it will all work out in the end. It will.

  6. Remember that feeling you had on your honeymoon? So much joy and laughter and love. Feel that now. Yes, right now. If your honey did something hyper-annoying right before you read this, then just close your eyes and remember the feeling you had back then. Take a deep breath and remember that feeling. How can you bring it forward to today? Take turtle steps if you need to.

  7. Say no to negativity. No criticizing, complaining or eye rolling. Ever. Make requests not complaints. Remember at the end of a request you may get what you asked for. At the end of a complaint all you get is an argument.

  8. Keep the sexy going. Studies show married people have better sex. You are married. The odds are in your favor. Practice.

  9. Make deposits into your emotional bank account every day. Run little errands, bring coffee, take the dry cleaning. Be kind. Act like a team. Remember you are on the same one.

  10. Make space for friends. Your husband may not want to know that your favorite color of lipstick was discontinued. And he definitely does not want to know which star of Downton Abbey you think is the cutest. Even if your husband is your best friend, make time for girlfriends. They can help you keep your marriage stronger.

  11. Let go of the idea of perfection. Expect marriage to be crooked and chipped and weathered. Expect it to grow and change and surprise you. Expect to be disappointed every once in a while. It happens. Nothing is wrong. That is life. Expecting perfection is the root of so much pain. Expect largely imperfect love instead. You can write your own love story and it can be beautiful, even if the curtains are dusty and the plates are chipped.

  12.  Believe in the power of love and of that force to get you through tough times.  Love is the highest power of all.  Use it. 

QUESTION: Have you written your own marriage manifesto?


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4 Ways to Find the Sweet Spot in Your Marriage

4 Ways to Find the Sweet Spot in Your Marriage!

4 Ways to Find the Sweet Spot in Your Marriage

Love, love, love Tracey Goss!  She’s incredibly funny.  A brilliant writer.  A husband-adoring wife.  And a proud momma.

She’s also the sister of our health & fitness editor, Olympian and fitness expert, Annett Davis.  And you know we love us some Annett Davis around here!

Pull up a seat.  Grab your cup of coffee.  And enjoy the beauty and wisdom of this post.

Oh!  And the “Turn off, Turn in, Tune in, Turn on,” is common sense at its best.

Until tomorrow…make it a great day!

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Have you found the sweet spot in your marriage?  

Maybe I should have titled this post The Ultimate Guide To Finding The Sweet Spot In Your Marriage because what I am sharing with you today is exactly what propelled my marriage from mediocre -declining as fast as my debit card right before payday- to one of the greatest joys of my life!

1. Rose-Colored Glasses.  Sure I know the idiom “she’s looking at him through rose-colored glasses” is used as a condescending dig. I remember the moment I reached for the pair of rose-colored glasses which had been tucked away a few years after I said “I do.”

Looking through those magical lenses helps me to see all of the positives that drew me to my husband in the first place as well as some additional bonuses that have developed over the years. That grey hair he has acquired around his temples drives me wild!

2. My Momma Taught Me to Take My Seat!  The artist formerly known as Prince had it right when he penned these words, “I don’t care where we go and I don’t care what we do.  Just take me with you!”  As you might have gathered by the title of tip number two, my mother was responsible for Prince’s platinum single.  Well, not really, but her marital advice has proven to be worth more than platinum.  She advised me to say “yes” whenever my husband invites me to join him – wherever he goes. Time together no matter where it is spent is precious.

3. If You Can’t Say Something Nice, Say Something Funny!  That’s our new mantra!  One of the best ways to avoid being entrenched in a heated conversation is not to worry about making a point nor having your way.  Forget your pride and don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself.

Recently, my handsome hubby spontaneously asked me to prepare and take our kids to school on a day which was originally deemed “dad’s day” to drive.  (You know the drill, pack the lunches, make sure the uniforms are ready to go, and oh yeah – get yourself dressed and ready for work as well.)

At this point, I had three options:

  1. Sanctimoniously give him a speech about the importance of making said request the night before at the latest (the old respect my time whine).
  2. Give him the silent treatment, which I am not particularly good at nor fond of.
  3. Don’t take myself or the situation so seriously.

I decided to join him in the kitchen (where he was loading the dishwasher, to lighten the load he had just dumped on me) and tell him how hot he looked sharing the housework with me in his boxer briefs.  We both had a great laugh and enjoyed each others company for the rest of the morning.  We began our day with a wink and a smile instead of a snark and the stink eye.

4. Turn Off, Turn in, Tune in, Turn On.  This is probably one of the most universally ignored bits of common sense with which woman-kind has been blessed.  Turn off the computer, washer, television, telephone, reading lamp, Kindle or whatever is usurping your last bit of energy.  Turn in to bed with your hubby, so you can tune in to one another.  Leave some gas in your tank for him so that you can turn on your “love engine” and I guarantee you, you’ll enjoy the drive!

Your Turn: We all have our own directions to finding that sweet spot in marriage.  I’d love to hear how you stay the course and manage the bumps in the road on the way to marital bliss! Let us know below in the comments.

Your fellow Happy Wife, Tracey Goss, the “Ringmaster” @3BrosFlyingCircus.com


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The One Thing Every Couple Must Know

Marriage Mondays: One Thing Every Couple Must Know {Link Up}

The One Thing Every Couple Must Know

Today is my parent’s 40th anniversary. To be more accurate, this milestone was almost theirs until my father succumbed to his battle with prostate cancer last fall.

In Las Vegas on Memorial Day 1973, they said ‘I do’ after only four weeks of dating and never looked back.  Today is a difficult day for my mom to be sure.  It’s also a day when I am reminded of one important (but often ignored) truth.

There is but one thing every couple must remember if they are to live happily ever after til’ death do part:

Your spouse is not promised one breath beyond the present moment.

Remembering this point is crucial in creating a marriage in which happiness, good communication, friendship, love and encouragement trumps all else.

Have you ever gotten so upset with your spouse that you’ve gone to sleep after an argument determined to hold on to your position of being right until the next morning?  You may not realize this, but in that action, you made a subconscious decision that your spouse would still be there in the morning to continue the conversation; to acknowledge you were right.

But what about those who fall asleep in that state to never have their spouse wake up again?  What about the husband who walks out the door in the midst of an argument and never returns – not by his own will but that of his Maker?

Rather than spending the remainder of our lives thinking about the wonderful life we created with our spouse, we would likely live out our final days replaying that last conversation.  Instead of grieving our lover, we would grieve our last words together; that bitter moment when pride took precedence over love.

Even those who are happily married, adore their spouse, and have a wonderful relationship sometimes fall into this trap of arguing over the insignificant.  But what a better life those live who are reminded of this important point every moment of the day.  All of a sudden, nothing is so urgent as to not warrant patience and nothing is so important as to cause a lapse in our gentle approach.  

Today, in this moment, I challenge you to make a commitment to each other not to fall into that trap.  Never argue over things that will not matter in the last five minutes of your life, because after all, you never know when that time will come.

When my father passed away, my mother in all her sadness was comforted by the fact that she had no regrets.  She loved him to the very end and if she could do it all over again, she’d do it just the same.  We should all be so wise.  We should all be so in love.

Until tomorrow…make it a great day!

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