The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things that Make Big Difference

by Shaunti Feldhahn

A Review By Tom Kennedy

Most marriages are happy.  That is the result of the research Shaunti Feldhahn reports in her book, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things that Make Big Difference. 

It does not take much to make a marriage happy either, according to Feldhahn.  It is mostly changing little things that could turn a marriage from a discontented one into a happy one.

She points out, “Nearly every wife or husband who thinks, My spouse doesn’t care is flat wrong”. Almost all spouses “care for each other,” but do not show it in ways that are understood as love or caring.  Correcting some little things in the marriage can revitalize it.

Feldhahn points out that happy marrieds just enjoy being with each other and plan to spend a lot of time together.  Time together is important, and happy marrieds many times don’t realize that their time together may not feel “happy” but it a satisfaction that strengthens the relationship.

Feldhahn also covers the following important issues: how to keep score, how “thank you and I love you” are similar, marital generosity, should you try to resolve a problem before bed, negative thoughts, false expectations, the importance of gratitude, how religion helps a marriage, and many more.

If you are irritated with your partner, you need to read this book.



My Take: I recommend this book for all young marrieds to read.  In fact, it will probably help any couple that is feeling chronic relationship stress and yet can’t put their finger on the problem. Family ministers of churches should require this book to be read as a supplemental book to a marriage-focused Bible study.


If you know someone who doesn’t like to read very much, this book has a solution.  Feldhahn summarizes the important information in highlighted sections or sections with a light bulb by it.  Just reading those highlighted areas will give the reader a good summary of the insights of how to make a happy marriage.  Enjoy.

Marry Him: The Case of Settling for Mr. Good Enough

Marry Him: The Case of Settling for Mr. Good Enough

by Lori Gottlieb


A Review By Tom Kennedy

This National Bestseller, Marry Him: The Case of Settling for Mr. Good Enough, is a secular examination of why some women fail to find a husband by age 40.  Lori Gottlieb discovered that one group of women, of which she belongs, cannot be satisfied with Mr. Good Enough.  They reject any idea of “settling” for a man who doesn’t check off all of items on the to-be-married list.  “They can’t let go of their ideal man.”  Unfortunately, the ideal man is impossible to find.  Gottlieb’s own check list at the beginning of the book contained 61 items a man had to have in order to be considered marriage material.  She states that most men have far fewer requirements and are more willing to compromise.

In her research, Gottlieb found women’s reluctance to compromise pushes away men who would make good marital partners, just not perfect ones.   After years of not compromising, many women arrive at age 40 and find that men are rarely asking them out on dates. Those men who are available are usually much less perfect than the ones when she was 30. The good, but not perfect, men get married much earlier.

Some women, like Gottlieb, have an artificially inseminated child to avoid the biological clock problem.  Yet the need for the idealized man does not diminish after having a child.

At the end of her book Gottlieb put herself under the care of a dating coach and wrote about what she went through.  Her addiction (my term) to her ideal man resulted in a constant source of conflict with her coach.  Eventually she compromised and had a few good dates. Yet at the end of the book, she was still single.

My take: this is a great book for those women who dated for years and still can’t find the right guy to marry.  Perhaps your expectations are too high.  As a former marriage counselor, I can tell you that compromise is necessary, no matter how close to perfection your guy might beThis book will explain some of the deprogramming you may need to go through in order to land that great, but flawed, man.  Gottlieb’s book is very readable, well researched, enjoyable and timely.  I recommend it highly.

Using Love Languages Will Improve Communication With Your Spouse

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, became a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into 49 languages

by Dr. Gary Chapman

A Review By Tom Kennedy

What is the best way to communicate with your spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend?  Use their preferred Love Language.  They will love you for it.

The 5 Love Languages were discovered by Dr. Gary Chapman during his years as a Christian counselor.  He found that people had a preference in how love was communicated to them.  Some people preferred receiving words of encouragement.  Others preferred spending quality time together, receiving gifts, acts of service, or physical touch.  He found that a person who communicated to their spouse in the spouse’s preferred Love Language received the greatest positive reaction.

Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, became a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into 49 languages.   It has helped countless couples understand that if you want to express love best, do it in the Love Language that the other person most desires to receive.

An example of this occurred with one of my graduate students.  Her Love Language was physical touch.  When her husband had a heart attack, she spent extra effort hugging and touching him to show him her support and love.  A few months later she asked him about his memory of her hugs.  He didn’t understand the hugs were an extra expression of her love.  In fact, he didn’t remember too much about the hugs at all.  He had a different Love Language.  If she had expressed her love in his Love Language, he would have noticed her efforts more.

Note: The book is not a complete understanding of how to communicate with your spouse.  It is just a critical beginning.

For learning some of the basic communication skills, I consider this book essential reading for couples.  Applying the basic Love Languages will help, but it is not a complete fix.  Chapman points out there are many “dialects” of a Love Language.  He unpacks these dialects in his book.

On the back of the book one can find a link to a website where a couple can take the Love Languages test to determine their top 1 or 2 Love Languages.

I strongly suggest this book be a part of a couple’s communication life.  Nothing is more important than learning and implementing your partner’s favorite Love Language.  This book should also be used in churches for marrieds as a part of marital enrichment classes, as well as in pre-marital programs.

Communication is not very difficult, if you know how your partner wants to receive it.

Click on the picture of the Love Languages book to order it through Amazon.