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How to make a good marriage great

  • Chicago Tribune
  • Published Thursday, August 29, 2013, at 12 a.m.

Fawn Weaver has been married to her husband, Keith, for almost 10 years, and she’s also incredibly happy. As the founder of HappyWivesClub.com (which has close to 200,000 members from 110 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 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.

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 10 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. ... 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.”

• 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.”

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