*Fawn Weaver, *The New York Times bestselling author of * Happy Wives Club: One Woman's Worldwide Search for the Secrets of a Great Marriage * and the founder of the Happy Wives Club, reveals the secret to a joyful marriage.
I have, undoubtedly, one of the best jobs in the world. I spend my days interacting with hundreds of thousands of happily married women for research for my book and website, I traveled to 12 countries and six continents in search of the universal secret to a happy marriage. After engaging and interviewing thousands of couples around the world, here are the top five things happily married women know:
Mutual respect is not optional.
Over the past few years, I've posed this question to more than ten thousand happily married women: "What is the secret to your marriage?" Without question, the number one response is always mutual respect. In our culture, we often hear how much men need to be respected. But when you sit in the presence of couples who've been happily married for 25 years or more, one thing becomes abundantly clear: There is no person on earth they respect more than one another.
Happiness in marriage is a choice.
Happiness is not a result of happenstance. Couples who are happiest create that for themselves daily. They determine each day to look for the best in each other. We all have an endless amount of flaws but the happiest couples are those who make a conscious decision to choose happiness each moment of every day.
You need to have your own thing.
For many, saying "I do" is synonymous with losing a part of themselves. In marriage, more often than not, we focus on the importance of interdependence. What is often missed, however, is the beauty of independence. A separate identity is important and keeps each person from "smothering" the other or becoming bored with one another. Having your own pursuits — hobbies, work, volunteering — ensures there is a new discovery to discuss with your spouse daily.
Taking yourself too seriously is a major buzz kill.
Without exception, every happily married couple I've interviewed over the years has fun with each other and laughs a lot. They don't take themselves or each other too seriously, and each can make jokes about the other without offending that spouse. Your relationship should be lighthearted in nature and a remembrance that we are all incredibly flawed is helpful in that process.
Don't sweat the small stuff ... and it's all small stuff.
In 2006, the author of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, Richard Carlson, boarded a plane in San Francisco headed for New York at the age of 45 and never made it off. He was healthy, vibrant, and full of life. In less than a few hours, his young wife became a widow. Happily married women recognize no breath beyond the current is promised, so they treat every moment with their spouse as if it were their last.