It’s a Tuesday, and that means it’s time for our Top 10 post! It’s a new feature I’m starting this year, and I’m so excited that one of my FIRST Top 10 posts is for my darling friend Fawn Weaver of The Happy Wives Club.
Fawn is a happy wife. But a few years ago she was just overwhelmed by all the negativity towards marriage in the media. So she told her husband Keith (my husband is Keith, too; Keiths are great!) that she was going to do something about it. She was going to start “talking up” happy wives, because she knew she wasn’t alone.
From that dream started her awesome blog (where I guest post sometimes) and her fabulous Facebook Page. And now she has a book out which is hitting bookstores TODAY!
Happy Wives Club isn’t a self-help book. Instead, it’s more of a memoir, with a “Under the Tuscan Sun” flavor. She hops on a plane and circles the globe, interviewing couples who have been blissfully married 25 years or more on all the different continents, to discover the commonalities, the threads, the secrets to these happy marriages.
The book is about her travels, her discoveries, and even her introspection as she’s challenged to risk more, to love more, and to be open to change. And it will make you hungry. Seriously. She ate such great food!
I actually met Fawn two years ago when she was in the middle of all of these travels. She’s honestly a delight, and she’s so humble. And I pray that she meets her goal of changing the way our culture sees marriage!
In her book she gives away, at the end, the 12 “threads” that she found in happy marriages. Instead of trying to narrow those down to 10, to fit my Top 10 meme, I’ll just tell you to buy the book if you want to know all 12 (and you should buy the book!). I thought, though, that I’d share the 10 Best Discoveries About Marriage I found on the pages. Some of them are more minor things, but they stood out to me, and I know you’ll recognize these themes from my writings.
1. Sex is great. Why waste time by avoiding it?
Okay, Fawn would be MORTIFIED that I put that as my #1. Whenever she wants to write about sex she asks me to guest post because she’s kind of shy. But she included this little nugget in the book, and I’m so proud of her for opening up! And I think she said it brilliantly. After being away from her husband for several weeks traveling, they’re reunited in London. And they have FUN.
Making love is not equivalent to love. But not making love is most certainly a waste. We didn’t want to be wasteful.
Seriously, sex is lovely. If you look for a reason not to have sex, you will always find one. Instead, let’s just change our mindset, and not waste the time!
2. Gratitude is the Key to Happiness
Every happily married person I interviewed on my trip was grateful for his or her spouse, thanking God daily for one another.
Do you thank God for your spouse? Here’s your challenge from me for you today: before you go to sleep tonight, put your hand on your husband’s shoulder as you lie in bed and thank God for your husband. Bonus points if you do it out loud so he can hear!
3. Happy Marriages are Contagious
When I was reading Fawn’s book, my husband was sitting at the island in our kitchen, working on some corporate forms he had to submit to the government. It was seriously boring and he was aggravated. And as I was reading about these happy couples bubbling over with love for one another, I realized how happy I was to have a husband who would do the boring things so I didn’t have to. And I got up and gave him a big hug.
I did it because I was inspired by a couple from New Zealand that’s featured in Fawn’s book. Hearing about couples who love each other, and seeing how they hold hands, and finish each other’s sentences, and touch each other’s knees, is adorable. And it makes you want to reach for that, too.
Don’t be afraid to let others see your happy marriage. It will inspire them to love their spouses, too!
4. A Happy Marriage Is a Key to the Fountain of Youth
Ever notice how adorable older couples are who are still in love? They look YOUNGER. And on her voyages, Fawn kept running into couples in their fifties, sixties, and seventies who looked a decade or so younger than their years. Staying happy keeps you young!
So treat each other well. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It pays such great dividends!
5. Deal with Problems When They Happen
Treating each other well and being grateful for each other doesn’t mean that you ignore problems. On the contrary: it means that you deal with them all the more, and as soon as they crop up, because you don’t want anything jeopardizing what you’ve got together.
I’ve known plenty of couples who choose to ignore budding problems or dissatisfactions because it’s easier in the moment. But too much of that for long enough, and you all of a sudden have a huge problem on your hands, or a midlife crisis, or a broken marriage.
Like I said in my post on being a Peace-Maker not a Peace-Keeper, keeping problems to yourself doesn’t help in the long run. Sometimes the route to peace lies through conflict, and that’s okay.
6. Listen to the Heart, not the Words
I’m a great listener when Keith and I argue. The only problem: I tend to be listening to the loophole, so that I can smash him over the head with it and win, rather than listening to what Keith is really feeling.
Happy marriages value the other person’s feelings. Instead of trying to “win” an argument, they try to make each feel respected and valued.
Kris, one of the women Fawn interviewed, understood this.
In that conversation with Richard, Kris did precisely what she’d done before offering her tennis quitting advice from years before. She paid attention. Instead of getting swept up in a reaction–regardless of how legitimate it would have been–she unseated herself and chose to focus on what Richard was saying. That kind of awareness is rare. It’s rare in a person and even more so with a couple.
But that awareness, when you let go of your own feelings and push them aside for now to truly listen to your husband’s heart–that makes all the difference in the world. You can always come back to your own feelings later. But if you don’t give him the right to air what he is feeling, and don’t give him the respect he needs, you’ll never come to a true feeling of intimacy or peace.
7. When You Get Into the Habit of Serving Each Other, Marriage Doesn’t Seem Like Work
Have you heard it said, “marriage takes a lot of work”?
I think that’s true–but I don’t think that’s the whole story. And so I was excited to see this echoed in Fawn’s book.
Here’s what I think happens: as you love your husband, you do nice things for him. You start to think, how can I make him smile right now? What could I do to make his load lighter, even if it’s only a small thing? Maybe it’s just getting him a cup of coffee, or giving him a kiss of the cheek as you pass by his desk. Yes, remembering to do these things takes work. But eventually it becomes so second nature that it isn’t work anymore.
That’s when things really get fun. I’m almost there in my marriage. I have a ways to go in getting my eyes off of myself and thinking more about how to show my husband love. But I am finding that marriage takes much less “work” than it used to because we’ve built good marriage habits. And now showing him love is actually fun!
8. Marriage Can Be One of the Best Healing Forces in the World
One of the things I so appreciated about Fawn’s book was her own story and struggles. She touches on some of the heartaches and problems and baggage that she brought into marriage. She felt lonely, and she felt useless, and she so needed to succeed to feel validated. And so she tends to overwork, and throw herself into business too much.
At the same time, she’s really nervous about having a child, because what if it wrecks her marriage? And what if she fails at that?
As Fawn talks to other couples, she relays how many of these fears are brought to the surface by God, as He starts to poke her in her tender places to get her to grow. But as you read the book, you realize that so much of that growth is not just between God and Fawn; it’s between Fawn and Keith, whom God is using to be a balm in her life.
I’ve had a week where baggage from my past has reared its ugly head again. I go through periods in my life where I feel paralyzed to open some emails, and the root of it is that I’m afraid people will reject me and not like me. It all stems from my childhood. But as I spoke to Keith about it, I realized that he is such a healing force in my life, and these things are slowly getting better. Marriage is a beautiful tool that God can use to heal some of our deepest wounds.
9. Life is More Fun when Experienced with Someone Else
Have you ever seen the most beautiful sunset, and then become immediately disappointed because your husband isn’t there to share it with?
Much of Fawn’s book is like that. You can feel how she enjoyed her travels and interviews so much more when her husband joined her. Yes, we need to have our own lives, and it’s important to develop hobbies outside of our husbands. But let’s never forget that life is richer when shared.
10. Happy Marriages are Alive and Well
I know many of you who come to this blog come here for help, because you’re not in a happy marriage right now. Perhaps that’s because we’ve lost that inspiration that it is possible. If more of us could sit at the feet of happy couples, we would move mountains to be able to have that for ourselves. I pray that both you AND your husband will feel that kind of urgency to create a truly happy marriage.
And let me end the way Fawn does, saying, it is totally possible! She writes,
Happy marriages are alive and well. The cries of their demise have been highly overrated, and couples happily married do indeed exist.
Happy Wives Club hits bookstores today! Order your copy now, and you’ll be encouraged and inspired, too.
And now, just for your pleasure, here’s a happily married couple that will put a smile on your face: