Are you living in a sexless marriage? Frustrated by a spouse who never gives you exactly what it is you need? Do you often wonder if you’d be better off starting over from scratch?
You’re not alone. As a matter of fact, it is quite likely your marriage falls within the majority. But that’s why I absolutely love what I do. Why I wake up each morning bouncing off the walls with excitement to share this with married couples each day:
Your marriage can be great one. It can be a happy one. And it is 100 percent our choice.
After traveling the world and interviewing happily married couples in 12 countries on six continents in search of the universal secrets of a happy marriage for my book, Happy Wives Club, there are seven things I know for sure about happy marriages.
1. Happiness is a moment-by-moment decision. One of the greatest mistakes we make is believing happiness is a result of happenstance. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Those who are happiest create that for themselves. They determine each day to look for the best in their spouse. Of course, there are idiosyncrasies and flaws (you have those too, by the way), but the happiest couples are those who make a conscious decision to choose happiness every moment of every day. And the gateway to happiness is gratitude. Couples who begin their morning focused on what they are grateful for that day, in their marriage and life, find that happiness chases after them the remainder of the day.
2. Divorce is not an option. Okay, I know I hear an uproar out there. And of course, I’m not advocating for staying in a marriage where infidelity or abuse is prevalent. But this is, in fact, a common denominator among all the happy couples I’ve interviewed. When divorce is removed from the marital equation to things happen: 1) Arguments are diminished; and 2) Love is able to reign. The reason is simple. When you know you will be together forever, you remove the pressure to come to a “meeting of the minds” by the end of the day. It becomes okay to agree to disagree. Your spouse’s flaws are not a huge deal because you know, in five or 10 years, they’ll grow out of them. Just as you will your similar flaws and weaknesses.
3. Effort and consistency are not an option. The happiest couples I’ve interacted with over the years, more than I can even count, all have this in common: Effort and Consistency. Like a farmer tending his fields, he knows there is a time to break up the soil, a time to lay the seed, prune what has grown, and a time for harvest. Marriage is a lot like that field. If you and your spouse tend to your marriage daily, and consistently, it will continue to reap a harvest beyond your wildest imagination.
4. Friendship is essential. For a lot of married couples, as they began their life together, their personalities and various traits start off pretty far apart (hand raised in the air here). Then over time, the distance between their various differences begin to shrink. My husband and I are 100x more similar now than we were when we married. Friends naturally rub off on one another. True friends accept each other’s differences and love you into becoming your best self. This is why friendship is something marriages cannot flourish without.
5. Laughter is paramount. Crack a joke. Any joke, any time a day, and just laugh together. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Those happily married can joke about each other’s shortcomings, quirks and idiosyncrasies without getting offended. Seriously, it’s okay, your poop does stink (that, my friends, is universal).
6. Teamwork makes the marriage work. Although I live in Los Angeles, home of the L.A. Lakers, I am a huge San Antonio Spurs fan (loud, out of control, fly to the playoffs just for one day, kind of fan). Have been since The Admiral (David Robinson) and Tim Duncan began playing together. They were known as the Twin Towers because of their height and because no one could get through them when they were playing side-by-side.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are the Lakers. When Kobe and Shaq played together, they were two of the most dynamic men in the NBA. But they couldn’t play together and we all know how that worked out. A mantra often quoted in the corporate and sport’s worlds is teamwork makes the dream work. What I’ve discovered in my own life, and the lives of the countless couples I’ve interviewed, is this is even more true when it comes to marriage.
7. Happiness in marriage, just as in life, is not based on external circumstances.Contrary to popular belief, scientists and psychologists have long proven that genuine happiness is not based on external circumstances. Sure, a new car or a cone of ice cream can bring momentary happiness; a boost in that wonderful emotion, if you will. But genuine happiness is something that must be cultivated. Making a moment-by-moment decision to see the glass as half full is not by luck or coincidence; it is by choice.
There are 12 universal secrets to a happy marriage you can apply to your own marriage every day. You can find them in my newly released book, Happy Wives Club. It’s been described as Eat, Pray, Love meets The 5 Love Languages but I simply call it inspiring. The couples I interviewed inspired me, revolutionized my own marriage, and I trust it will do the same for you.