Lessons for Life

How to make a good marriage great

The founder of HappyWivesClub.com shares universal truths to a healthy partnership

Make your marriage great

Make your marriage great (Newton Daly, Lifesize/via Getty Images)

Fawn Weaver has been married to her husband Keith for almost 10 years, and she's also (drum roll please) incredibly happy. As the founder of HappyWivesClub.com (which has close to 200,000 members from 110 different countries), she wants people to know there is an entire community of women (and men) who are enjoying marital bliss.

"I rarely see stories about great marriages and I found this so frustrating," said Weaver, who got the idea to launch her website and blog in February of 2010 while on a date with her husband. "We walked by this bookstore and looked through the window and I saw one of the many books that are out about the dysfunctional aspects of marriage being broken and how to fix it and I said, 'Why is everything that is written about marriage so negative? I am going to start a club for women like me who have great husbands and who love being married and don't have all this drama.'"

Weaver has interviewed thousands of couples to find out what makes a good marriage great. During the summer of 2012, Weaver also traveled to 12 countries covering six continents to interview a variety of happily married couples for her book "Happy Wives Club," which is due to be released in early 2014.

"The places I visited were all very different — the cultures, religions, and economic status of these couples were across the map — but it was really interesting to see how much they had in common," Weaver said.

From her research, here are some tips to help create a successful partnership:

Create a daily ritual.

"There was one couple in Cape Town that would get up and watch the sunrise while talking, and they called that their 'board meeting,'" she said. "One thing that comes out of that kind of time together is trust — because every day you are talking about what happened the day before and what lies ahead of you. If you know what your spouse is doing and you have this connection, there's no need for you to be insecure or concerned. For so many couples that disconnection happens over time and then ten years later they say 'We barely know each other.'"

Don't take yourselves too seriously.

"The couples who were really happy were able to laugh often," she said. "When you are sitting across from couples and studying them as long as I have, you know when someone is smiling through irritation and when it's real. We all have our little quirks. Nobody is perfect. You need to be able to tell jokes about each other."

Ditch "Plan B."

"We've got a bit of a disposability problem in our society," she said. "We've got a camera or phone for a year and we toss it out before there's anything wrong with it and we're kind of doing that with our marriages as well. All of the couples I interviewed who were successful, from the beginning, decided that divorce is not an option. But they also married good people. It's half the battle when you marry a good person. These couples said, 'We are going to remain married until the end of time. If we have problems, we work them out, if we have challenges we will get through them together.' So they would fight the challenge rather than fight each other."

Date your spouse.

"A lot of couples, when they have children, they stopped dating, but the couples I interviewed got very creative to keep dating alive," she said. "For years, Keith and I barely had time so we would turn everything into a date — frozen yogurt, coffee, a walk. The couples should not feel guilty about the kind of date — it's more about the connection than it is about getting all dressed up and going out."

Keep outside interests.

"Every woman in the couples I interviewed stressed this, and their husbands all agreed, that having outside interests allows them to have confidence, and to not smother their spouses. There is something incredibly liberating about working with your spouse toward collective goals. But it's also very healthy to have goals on your own, and to support your partner to succeed in these goals."

jweigel@tribune.com

Twitter: @jenweigel

Featured Stories

CTnow is using Facebook comments on stories. To comment on ctnow.com articles, sign into Facebook and enter your comment in the field below. Comments will appear in your Facebook News Feed unless you choose otherwise. To report spam or abuse, click the X next to the comment. For guidelines on commenting, click here.