Tag Archives: secrets to happy marriage

6 Habits for Happy Lives & Marriages

Happy Life: Happy Marriage Series

I came across this awesome visual from the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) on 6 Habits of Happiness Worth Cultivating, and I think it has great applications for marriage as well. Cultivate these 6 habits for a happier life and a happier marriage.

  1. Practice Kindness. Yes, it’s an important life habit, but it also makes you feel good. “Altrustic acts light up the same pleasure centers in the brain as food and sex,” according to GGSC. Many people stop there, but they end up being kinder to the checker at the grocery store than to their spouse at home. Or at least we would never say things to our friends that we are willing to say in anger to our spouse. Ouch. Kindness will pay great dividends in the long run. Say “please” and “thank you” for starters. Offer to help, especially when your spouse is stressed. Give an extra hug and kiss, just because.
  2. Drop Grudges. As I wrote in First Kiss to Lasting Bliss, forgiveness is just as much a gift for the giver as the receiver. Offering forgiveness to those who have wronged us takes away the bitterness that can rob us of health and wellbeing. This goes double in a marriage, when grudges are very detrimental. If a past hurt from our spouse is important, discuss how you feel hurt and explain what would make you feel better. But figure out how to get past it.
  3. Get Moving. GGSC reports that “regular exercise increases self-esteem, reduces anxiety and stress, and may well be the most effective instant happiness booster of all.” Why not do something active with your spouse? You’ll both benefit from the increased oxytocin release, you’ll both be doing something good for your health, and you’ll be spending quality time together.
  4. Give Thanks. Lots of research has shown the benefits of living with gratitude, and I’ve written a good deal about it. “Regular expressions of gratitude promote optimism, better health, and greater satisfaction with life,” says GGSC. Research also shows that couples who express gratitude toward one another and who spending time being thankful for their spouse and thinking positively about him or her are also more satisfied with their relationship. Read “Two words that have improved my marriage.”
  5. Keep Friends Close. “Make time for those closest to you,” says GGSC. That means regular, dedicated, uninterrupted face time with your spouse. No excuses. Remember that your spouse can’t meet all your emotional needs, so spend time with close friends as a way to boost your happiness and bring a brighter you to your marriage.
  6. Pay Attention. The idea of being more mindful as a means of boosting immunity and reducing anxiety is not one commonly discussed. But in our world of multitasking and ubiquitous social media, it’s so key. How many minutes a day to we spend completely engaged with our spouse, listening or discussing meaningful issues in our lives?

What are the most important habits you feel cultivates your personal happiness and your relationship happiness?

Order in time for Valentine’s Day: First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage , which tells the stories of a dozen amazing couples who used adversity to improve their marriage. Go here for links to Amazon print version or e-books for Kindle, iTunes, Sony, Nook or PDF. If you already have the book, don’t forget to email me for your 7 free marriage improvement gifts, including everything from an e-book to improve your sex life to date night suggestions, an iPhone app with daily marriage tips, a marriage refresher workbook, a video to hone your communication skills, and tips for how to connect on a daily basis with your spouse in just 15 minutes a day.

Are You Hunting for Perfection in Your Spouse?

The following is based on the introduction to my upcoming book, FIRST KISS TO LASTING BLISS: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage.

Wading waist-deep down Missouri’s Fox River on a hot summer day, I learned to hunt for geodes. These semi-round sedimentary rocks, said to be 350 million years old, contain hidden crystals. The casual hiker sees rocks, but geode hunters notice their cauliflower-shaped exterior and envision gem-like interiors.

At the sweet, shallow spot of “The Fox,” abundant geodes range in size from a newborn’s fist to more than 100 pounds, discovered under the water and lying nearby in the grass, as if tossed there during an Easter egg hunt for us to find. We also found them lodged in the riverbanks with ten feet of earth pressing down on them—half circles poking out of the earthen wall, waiting for erosion to release them into the river.

Geodes’ sparkling interiors are generally white or clear, but some are colored, depending on mineral content. The product of a combination of water, natural chemicals, pressure, and heat, each porous geode is unique. There is no way to tell which will open to reveal a crystal treasure and which will reveal a solid mass or a greasy ball of sediment.

We’re a lot like geodes, and so are our marriages. Without exception, we feel pressure from all sides, which can at times feel like the weight of the world. There is no shortage of muck dredged up in our society and no way to prevent seepage of this sediment into our lives. Some people, like geodes, use stressful situations to help shape, improve, and crystallize themselves. Others crumble under the pressure, store the muck for someone else to discover, or become hardened masses—of no real value to others.

For my upcoming book, FIRST KISS TO LASTING BLISS: Hope & Inspiration For Your Marriage, I interviewed happily married couples across the country, some who have faced intense adversity—the kind that would pummel most marriages—yet became closer as a result. I tried to discover what made some marriages succeed despite hardship, while others wash away with the first storm. Successful couples don’t just “overcome” adversity; instead, they become changed by it and incorporate what they have learned into a more perfect union.

We’re all hunting for perfection—in ourselves, in others, and in our relationships. We won’t find it by looking at the outer shell. Just as there isn’t just one path for creating an ideal geode (volcanic geodes differ greatly in composition and form from Mexican “coconut” geodes, for example), there certainly isn’t one recipe for an extraordinary marriage, although there are some common ingredients. Since we have different needs and personalities, no magic technique will work for all marriages. Still, despite our range of challenges, we humans share similar fears, desires, and longings. So when some couples uncover what makes a marriage—even one fraught with major obstacles—work well, we want to hear their story, to draw our own conclusions and to add them to our own life experiences. Success stories are all around us if we listen.

At some point, all marriages will face intense pressure. Will the pressure change you? Undoubtedly. Will it break you apart? Maybe. It may also create something entirely new and better than expected, like the twin-chambered geode, a merger of two hollow geodes. Learning how others have handled crises can help you prepare for your own.

Lest we think true love is a one-in-a-million find, consider that each spring, countless geodes are released from the earth, a seemingly impossible product of millions of years of time and energy. Be open to the possibility that your hunt for perfection is over, that your marriage is perfect but unfinished, being honed by outside forces, in the same way that a child is a perfect but incomplete person—no less perfect because of he or she is in the early stages in life.

The couples profiled in this book are from different generations and walks of life, but they all became united in their difficulties. Those who faced multiple tests found their marriage became stronger with each one. Each couple found joy together, even amidst chaotic lives. These are not couples who merely “stuck it out”; theirs are great love stories whose commitment is not dependent on their circumstances. I hope they contribute to your own love story.

First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage will be available December 8th on Amazon.com. To learn more, go to www.LoriDLowe.com.  The book’s Facebook page is www.Facebook.com/LastingBliss.

Photo by Lori Lowe

4 Obvious Marriage Tips You Still May Not Be Doing

“Keeping the Sparks Alive” Series

Sometimes marriage tips are so obvious, yet we find we are not doing enough of them. My husband and I are as guilty as any couple on these. For example, business travel often separates us. Often, it takes a little while to re-acclimate to our routine and to each other.

I read these three tips in an article about keeping your marriage strong with kids, which pulled from authors Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz, of Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage. Their not-so-surprising (in my opinion) tips are things we still may not be doing, even though we know we should. Just like I know I shouldn’t be eating chocolate chip cookies, but I had two today.

  1. Time in — Whether it’s a date night or going for a walk, “you have to spend time together to keep the flame alive,” Elizabeth says. “You have to allow time for each other.”

In our case, we have lots of time in, but it’s surrounded by kids, work and home responsibilities. When we go out, we often feel rushed. We aren’t prioritizing time alone together as much as we should be. How are you doing here?

  1. Time out — Conversely, time apart is also key. “In the best marriages, spouses allow each other time for solitude, so they can think private thoughts or just get things done,” Elizabeth says.

We’ve done a little better here with both of us taking up tennis with friends. He frequently works on home projects on his own, while I do my own thing. Spouses should be able to spend this alone time as they wish (within reason, of course).

  1. Touchy, touchy — Successful couples use the “Morse code of marriage,” Charles says. “It’s called touching. It’s a substitute for talking about feelings. You are saying, ‘I love you so much I have to touch you.'”

I’ve frequently written about the tremendous effects of touch shown in research. (Read Little Touches Make Big Impact.) In my house, we probably touch more than we used to, but it’s still a surprise when one of us stops to hug or kiss during the day. We’re more used to rushing than being deliberate about that, but when he reaches over to touch me in the car, it’s a nice feeling. At first, you may have to force yourselves to touch more if it doesn’t feel natural. Eventually it will feel more normal, and you will feel more connected and unified.

  1. R-E-S-P-E-C-T–Respect (for your partner or yourself) is one thing I’ve noticed can be lacking in many relationships. Treat your spouse with at least the same level of respect that you would treat your friends and coworkers. Use your manners. (Yes, you still have to say please and thank you, even if it’s your mate.) Don’t speak poorly about your spouse behind his/her back. Be respectful. Be patient and kind. You know that feeling you get when you spend time with friends who are interested in what you have to say? Try to project that same level of support and interest with your spouse. The couples I know who say they are best friends seem to have a strong element of respect and kindness for one another.

Photo by Photostock courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Resurrect Romance in Your Relationship

 “Keeping the Sparks Alive” Series

Romance is a state of mind. If you have the right mindset, you can make cleaning the bathroom romantic; if you have the wrong mindset, you can turn a moonlit stroll on the beach into a fight.”

I couldn’t agree with Gregory Godek more than this intro to 1001 Ways to Be Romantic. When we consider how to keep the romantic fires of marriage burning, we may be looking for a quick fix or a list of three things to do. And with the right attitude, those three things might make a big difference, but the key is the heart we put into our actions. I’ve shared hundreds of tips on this blog, but the tips themselves aren’t the secret, it’s what you put into the tips that can elevate your love to new heights.

If a man brings home flowers once a month because his wife convinced him that this is an obligation of marriage, the romance may not be present. If a husband brings home wildflowers cut from a field or a book from his wife’s favorite author because he was thinking about her and wanted to do something special, then she will feel the romance.

Even so, Godek says some obligatory romantic gestures should always be followed by spouses—celebrating his or her birthday, getting a gift for Christmas (if you celebrate that holiday), and remembering and celebrating your anniversary and Valentine’s Day. He says these are important must-dos and should be overlooked. Just because they are obligatory doesn’t mean we can’t do them with love!

The fun “optional” romance includes everything else you might do—big or little surprises, candlelit dinners, sharing a bottle of wine on the deck and making a toast to your future, planning a getaway together, sending a card, giving a massage, writing a love note (sticky note or long love letter), buying flowers just because, drawing a bubble bath for two, lighting candles and cooking a special meal, greeting each other at the door each day as if you’ve been apart for months, or any other sweet gesture you can think of.

Romance is a balance of two concepts, says Godek: 1) Actions speak louder than words. 2) It’s the thought that counts. These are two sides of the same coin.

Romance is worth the effort because it will improve your relationship. It will make you feel more loved and secure, and it will make your spouse feel more loved and secure.

Read Celebrate each day in your own way for more on living with an attitude of celebration and romance.

We are one-fourth of the way through the year. How are you doing with planning romance and celebration into your life and marriage?

Photo courtesy of PhotoXpress.com