What does it take to have a happier marriage?
It’s a book I had the privilege of reading before it hit bookstore shelves and Amazon shopping carts. And it’s one I couldn’t recommend more highly. Not only is it an easy read — organized into thirty-one daily readings — but it’s a great reminder that our daily choices matter to our marriages.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Arlene about her new book. Here’s what she had to say.
What inspired you to write 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife?
Two reasons come to mind: There are so many wives who seem unhappy with their spouses and they tend to complain about their men. I wanted to help these women find an out — not through divorce — but through gratitude, being thankful for their marriages instead of letting resentment rob them. The second reason is to give young people the hope that marriage is something wonderful to experience, instead of something to be avoided. Children, teens, and twenty-somethings need to see healthy marriages modeled all around them.
The book is divided into five “becoming” areas. What are they and why is each of them important?
I’ve taken the word HAPPY and used it to express skills in marriage that we can improve to become more joy-filled:
H — Becoming Hopeful — this acts as the foundation for transformation
A — Becoming Adaptable — you’ve got to be able to roll with life
P — Becoming Positive — optimism has many benefits
P — Becoming Purposeful — keep growing as a spouse so you feel alive
Y — Becoming Yielded — allow God to take control of your heart and home
You introduce this idea of turning bothers into blessings. What does this mean and how is it helpful in the day-to-day of marriage?
Every day, your spouse will do something to get on your nerves and believe it or not, you will do the same to him! If you focus on the things your husband is doing wrong (or not doing at all), these weaknesses will grow large in your mind, leaving very little room for respect or admiration. So don’t think about the “bothers” (Why doesn’t he talk to me? Why does he leave his laundry on the floor? Why does he watch so much football?). Instead, focus on the blessings. What does your husband do right? What do you appreciate about him? My husband makes our family a green smoothie every morning. Some days it tastes good, other days, we’re just drinking to our health. But that green “bother” is really a “blessing” if I can remember to see it that way.
What does it mean to be a “professional wife”?
We have goals in different areas of our lives. At work, there are new skills to learn, sales numbers to hit. As a parent, you have certain things you want your child to master. But when it comes to being a wife, sometimes we are direction-less. If we can think of being a wife as our profession, we can ask some good questions: ow am I doing as a wife? What are a few areas of improvement for me to work on this year? What is working really well (ask your husband for feedback)? What’s a new skill I want to learn as a wife (it could be cooking, giving massages, or joining your husband on a morning run)?
As you were writing, did you find yourself convicted and freshly motivated in certain areas of your own marriage? If so, can you share one example?
Yes, I have positive peer pressure to be happy — no matter what is happening! The other day, James had the kids out later than I would have liked on a school night. When they got home, I was not very happy about it and that was plain by the look on my face. But then, I walked myself through the acronym HAPPY and asked myself, “Am I putting my hope in God? Am I being adaptable with how the evening turned out? What’s something positive I could think of about tonight? How can I be purposefully gracious to James? Am I yielded to God and James’ leadership?” I honestly run those questions in my mind whenever I am feeling unhappy, and it helps me focus on how to redeem a situation and make the best of things.
Before we close, I have to ask: What’s your favorite way to unwind?
Laying in bed with two pillows under my head, covers pulled up, and a great book in hand to read. In quiet! I also love vanilla lattes and good movies.
Enter to Win a Copy of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife!
We are excited to have one copy of Arlene’s book, 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife, to give away. Enter here for a chance to win this helpful and encouraging read!
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What Women Are Saying
-- Suzanne Hadley Gosselin, author of Expectant Parents: Preparing Together for the Journey of Parenthood
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
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