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Q. This is your first big marriage-related research study since your break-out books For Women Only in 2004 and For Men Only in 2006; you’ve been researching completely different topics since then. Why did you go back to studying marriage, and happy marriages in particular?
A. As a culture, I feel like we’ve been so focused on problems in marriage that people are unnecessarily discouraged. We dig only into the problems, so we can figure out how to fix them. That’s certainly important, but we don’t want to always be fixing problems! We want to have a vision to aim for, a role model to study on how to do it right. We want to know how the best marriages do it, and how we can do it too!
Q. But can the average couple relate to and learn from these super-happy marriages? Don’t some couples just have everything going for them?
A. I was wondering about that, too, when I started this project. I wondered if the people in the happiest marriages were all just happy-temperament, low-conflict rich people or something. But instead, I found people of every conceivable life path and socio-economic background, including many couples who came from the most shocking disadvantages or couples who had nearly divorced and had ended up with an absolutely delightful marriage. Those were the people I got the greatest gold from!
Q. Can you give an example?
A. Sure. I can remember sitting in the living room of a couple who ran a little restaurant; it was a hard business and they didn’t have much money, but they had such a great relationship. And they had overcome such difficult family backgrounds. He grew up in a terribly poor community with a single mom and five siblings all by different fathers, and she lived in something like 10 houses growing up because her parents each divorced two or three times. Let me tell you, when you see a couple who overcame all of that and has a wonderful marriage, you listen to what they have to say.
Q. You interviewed and surveyed more than 1,000 couples and must have been flooded with great advice, but this is a fairly small book. How did you decide what ‘gold’ to concentrate on?
A. I had three rules. First, I decided to focus almost entirely on the process of relationships, rather than on the needs of men and women, which is a lot of what I was studying for my other books (For Women Only and For Men Only). Second, I tried to get past the advice these couples gave (although that was helpful), and dig out what they actually did in real life, day to day. Because sometimes what they actually did was different than what they said to do! And third, I decided to leave out anything that I thought wouldn’t be a surprise. It was so hard to cut some chapters. In the end, I wanted to focus on the things people may not know are important, rather than what they know is important but have probably already heard before.
Q. Has this helped your own marriage?
A. Yes! Jeff and I already had a good relationship, but like everyone else we had things that could improve. We just didn’t always know what to do differently! Jeff and I actually conducted a lot of the interviews together early on and almost naturally started trying to copy various things these couples did. I was so shocked to find that such small little changes could have such a big impact!
Shaunti's book is the icing on the cake. I'm a communication and conflict resolution specialist in private marriage counseling practice. Read morePublished 21 days ago by Sundowner
This is probably my favorite book on marriage ever. I love all the research that Shaunti did for this book as it provides you with a very clear understanding of just what makes up... Read morePublished 22 days ago by Amazon Customer
Couples in crisis, happy couples looking for improvement, singles looking for advice for future relationships.Published 28 days ago by PawValleyCathi
This book holds keys that if followed will guarantee no divorce. I am in a highly happy marriage and found this book helpful.Published 29 days ago by Patricia Johnson
I have been married for 14 yrs and found this book to be one of the all time best marriage advice books I've ever read- and I've read quite a few! Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jack Pinkerton
This book was pretty well written and was thought provoking. The only problem that I had was to really utilize all of the tips my husband would have to read it as well and I don't... Read morePublished 1 month ago by EES
Amazing, simple reminders of keeping your marriage your top priority! This was a quick read that was packed full of great advice and challenges to make your marriage solid!Published 2 months ago by M. Lesho
Shaunti has done her homework. She is an amazing author and will surprise you with what she's ferreted out on the subject.Published 2 months ago by Carol Freeman