Shaunti Feldhahn -“The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages” (Part 2)

The Surprising Secrets of Hig

During today’s Oxygen365 podcast, Noel Meador talks with Shaunti Feldhahn about her book, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages. Feldhahn was a Wall-Street analyst before becoming a social researcher, best-selling author, and popular speaker. Her groundbreaking research-based books have sold more than two million copies in 23 languages. Her work has been featured on the Today Show, Focus on the Family, and The New York Times. She lives with her husband, Jeff, and three kids in Atlanta. During this show, you will discover:

1. What’s the Secret Sauce?

For Shaunti’s research, she studied the most happily married couples.  The object was to discover their secret sauce—what these couples are doing differently that makes them so happy.

It might not be what you think. The happiest couples don’t necessarily come from perfect families, have temperaments that match one another, or have perfect compatibility.

The day-to-day habits of happier couples tend to be different. It’s the little things, sometimes done subconsciously, that end up being most meaningful. There are actually twelve little habits that tend to be different in happier marriages.

The most important habit: believe the best of your spouse’s intention toward you even when you are legitimately hurt. We all get hurt, and the happiest couples hurt each other’s feelings, too, just like anybody else. The difference is what happens mentally and emotionally when that happens.

It’s almost a standard operating procedure for human beings who are hurt to have a knee-jerk subconscious reaction like, “Ow! My husband knew how that would make me feel and he said it anyway!” Without realizing it, you are really thinking “he doesn’t care about me.”

The happiest of married couples may have started off pretty miserable in their marriages but have become happy because they have undergone this mental shift. When they get hurt, they think, “Ow! That hurt, but I know he loves me. I know he cares about me, so he must not have known how that would make me feel or he wouldn’t have said it.” It is believing the best of their intentions towards you.

It turns out that the vast majority of people really love, appreciate, and care about their spouse, even when there are difficulties.

When you assume otherwise about your spouse, you could be sabotaging your relationship for no reason.

2. The Fantastic Five

There are five things that the happiest married couples do for one another. In her interview, Shaunti was happy to share three of the five:

  1. Wives say “thank you” often. Husbands really need to feel respected, appreciated, and trusted in a marriage. It’s so critical that they might give up on the marriage if they don’t feel appreciated and respected. Saying “thank you” can go a long way, and this is especially true for the little things. For example, “You always put gas in my car so I don’t run out. Thank you for doing that.” Or “I was so tired and you took Johnny to soccer so I didn’t have to. Thank you.” This little stuff builds a guy up because that’s what he most wants to feel.
  2. Say “good job” or something similar in front of someone else. When you are out with friends, or on a double date, turn to your friend and say, “You know what Amy did?  I was so tired from my weekend business conference, and on Sunday night, she arranged to have the kids away and my favorite dinner made. It was so relaxing.” You know your wife is there at the end of the table looking modest, but on the inside she is excited because you just praised her in front of somebody else.
  3. Make sure he knows you desire him sexually. That doesn’t necessarily mean having sex every day; just simply show your husband that you desire him. Whatever that looks like in your relationship, your guy needs to feel desired. It builds his confidence.

3. Changing Attitudes to Change Lives

It takes some effort to change a marriage that is struggling to be happy. It takes some effort not to criticize. For example, if your husband comes home late, try not to get into a fight. Instead, believe the best and say, “Thank you for working so hard. I know you don’t want to be away from us, either. Thank you for providing for the family. You’re such a good husband.” This is not necessarily easy, but it is simple. Try that a couple of times, and you will see a much nicer reaction from him.

Men tend to think it is the really big things that make a wife feel loved, such as buying her jewels or taking her on big vacations. Really, the key is to say sweet, little things to her on a daily basis. Here are some examples:

Communicate that you would choose her all over again. That is the main question in the hearts of women. For example, when both are sitting together at a restaurant or at church, he reaches out and puts his arm around her. Every woman thinks, “Awww!” because that gesture makes women feel loved and special…as if he is saying, “You’re mine.” And guys feel that way, too, they just don’t know that it matters so much to women—just as women don’t know that saying “thank you” matters so much to men. Another example is when both are walking across a parking lot and he takes her hand.  That’s a little thing that says, “I would choose you all over again.”

The little shifts of attitude change are fully laid out in Shaunti’s book, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages.

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