Editor’s Note: Fawn Weaver set out on a journey through 12 countries and 6 continents to find the 12 Secrets of a Great Marriage she’s sharing with you here in this exclusive excerpt from her book, The Happy Wives Club — a New York Times bestseller! Join her on this exciting, exotic trip! Walk the streets of Mauritius, the historic ruins in Italy, and the vistas of New Zealand and Australia. Go from Cape Town to London, Manila to Buenos Aires, Winnipeg to Zagreb. Along the way, you will meet everyday women whose marriage secrets span cultures. You will hear their stories, witness their love, and be inspired by the proof that happy, healthy marriages do exist — and yours can be one of them! Now here’s Fawn to tell you more…
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I set out on a trip around the world interviewing happily married couples to prove two things:
* First, that happy marriages are alive and well. The cries of their demise have been highly exaggerated, and couples happily married do indeed exist.
* Second, that there are universal truths to happy and successful marriages, and any couple can apply them to create the marriage they always dreamed of but never knew was possible.
Happy marriage is not an oxymoron.
There are couples in every corner of every continent enjoying the life that seems to elude so many. And based on my interaction with them, they are more than happy to share their secrets with anyone and everyone who asks the question and has the heart to listen.
Although I didn’t write this article to give advice, I thought it might be helpful to succinctly relay what I learned throughout this journey. This is all covered by one important approach to life and marriage: happiness is a choice.
The 12 Secrets of a Great Marriage
Each couple had mutual respect for each other.
Trust was an essential ingredient and seemed to be a natural result of giving each other respect.
3. Belief in God
The couples may not all agree on who they believe God to be, but they certainly all believe in a Higher Being, someone greater than themselves, and they have a healthy fear of disappointing God in relation to their spouses.
4. Laughter Is the Best Medicine
Each of the couples have fun with each other and laugh a lot. They don’t take themselves or each other that seriously, and each can make jokes about the other without offending that spouse. Their relationships are lighthearted in nature.
5. Keep Outside Interests
Each couple (especially the wives) pointed out the importance of having interests (hobbies, work, etc.) outside of the home and outside of their family. A separate identity is important and keeps each person from “smothering” the other or becoming bored with the other.
6. Create a Daily Ritual
Every couple I interviewed had a daily ritual they’ve maintained for decades. Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon, port and appetizers every night, etc. The purpose of these daily rituals was to connect daily and to always know what’s going on with the other person. These daily “connections” build trust day by day.
7. Date Your Spouse
Regular dates were always a must, even (or perhaps especially) when kids entered the picture. When the kids were young, many couples did not maintain weekly date nights, but they all continued to date each other throughout their marriage and to impress one another as they had when they were initially dating.
8. Support Your Spouse
Each of these couples supported one another through school, life changes, career changes, hobbies and interests, and goals and dreams. They constantly built each other up throughout the years. Sometimes the husband supported the household, and sometimes the wife did. Which spouse brought in more money didn’t matter. The respect and support of one another is what mattered.
9. Friendship Is Essential
Above all else, these couples are all best friends. Each person’s spouse is his or her number one confidant. They all have friends outside of the marriage, but their greatest friendship, the one they’ve spent the most time building over the years, is with their spouse.
10. Nurture Your Marriage
This is controversial, but every couple put their marriage as the number one relationship in their lives. Even those who temporarily made their children and spouse number one at the same time agreed that the elevation was temporary. Once the kids were in high school, they’d want to be left alone anyhow, but the marital relationship would need to continue to grow.
11. No Plan B
Each couple decided at the outset that they’d have no plan B. They subtracted divorce from the marital equation, and by doing so, they found they had a much greater level of patience with each other. Disagreements didn’t need to be resolved immediately because husbands and wives would be together and would find common ground over time. Sometimes they just agreed to disagree, but when that wasn’t the case, they approached their differences with more patience because they knew they had until the end of time to resolve every challenge together.
12. Choose Your Friends Wisely
Surrounding yourself with others who build up your marriage rather than attempt to tear it down was a must. People who believe in the power of love and the ability of a marriage to last a lifetime, these are the ones who were allowed into the inner circle of these couples.
13. Bonus: Happy Wife + Happy Husband = Fountain of Youth
This is not a principle but my own observation with each couple. If these couples are an indication of the general population, it would appear a happy marriage knocks ten to twenty years off one’s looks — no matter where you live in the world. The couples I interviewed are energetic, they look young, and they are all extremely active.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, it does prove that love is alive and well around the world and represents some universal elements of a great marriage and being a happy wife.
Watch the Video for Happy Wives Club
Excerpted with permission from Happy Wives Club by Fawn Weaver, copyright Fawn E. Weaver.
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Are you happily married? What are your secrets to a great marriage? We’d love to hear your stories! Leave a comment on our blog! ~ Faith.Full