When I received my copy of Shaunti Feldhahn’s The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, my wife and I had this conversation:
Me (showing her the book): I’m reviewing this and you can read it when I’m done. If you ever want a Highly Happy Marriage™ this book tells you how.
Her: I already have a Highly Happy Marriage™!
Me: I mean if you want another one.
This is the first time I have read anything from Feldhahn. I picked up For Women Only once and was going to read it just to see how much of it was clichéd gender-essentialist tripe. I didn’t read it, but I can tell my own prejudices of Feldhahn’s work were absolutely overdrawn. Highly Happy Marriages rests firmly on social research. Feldhahn conducted a study of one thousand couples in order to examine not only the pitfalls of unhappy marriages but to discover the characteristics of couples who describe their marriage as a ‘highly happy one.’ Speaking of highly happy couples, check out the cover. This couple exudes happiness and married-ness, don’t they? I assume this is one of those really, really happy couples that Feldhahn spoke with.
Highly happy couples are faithful in doing little things for one another, believe the best of their spouses, go to bed mad (rather than going on an anger-sleep strike), ‘keep score’ of the good things their spouses do for them, manage their emotions and focus on the positive, have realistic fantasies, use sign language (or other signals) which tell the other person that ‘we are okay,’ hang out together, speak with consideration to each other, have God at the center of their relationship, hold nothing back, and believe they ‘hit the jackpot.” Feldhahn peppers her chapters with statistical results to her survey data and anecdotal tales of couples she meets walking down the street that are both highly married and happy.
I think anyone who reads this book (who is actually married, and if you are not stop reading marriage books because that is not healthy) will find good advice and encouraging words for your marriage. I think folks who are in troubled marriages will find a few actionable steps to take to improve their relational health. Of course, a book doesn’t fix every problem but I think Feldhahn has good things to say and she does it with adverbs. I give this book three and a half stars.
Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.