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What separates happy marriages from miserable ones?
Surprisingly, it's not healthy communication. It's not conflict resolution skills. It's actually the size of the marriage's joy gap .
Joy Gap/joi gap/ (n.)-1. The length of time between moments of shared joy
When the joy gap gets bigger, problems are more likely to overwhelm you, resentment creeps in, and you start to feel distant and alone in your marriage. When the joy gap is smaller, you regularly feel connected and happy, problems feel manageable, and your marriage becomes a reliable source of joy. But how do you ensure that you're experiencing joy regularly?
Marcus Warner and Chris Coursey have studied relationships (and neuroscience) and discovered four habits that keep joy regular and problems small. Some couples do them naturally, but anyone can learn. That's why each chapter includes 15-minute exercises that boost joy and re-train your brain to make joy your default setting. You'll learn new skills including how to:
Find out what your marriage looks like after a little work and a whole lot of joy.
Praise for The 4 Habits of Joy-Filled Marriages
A life-giving, relational “dietary supplement” for increased connection, resilience, and joy in any married couple's relationship! Marcus and Chris have made the brain science easy to “swallow” and the dosing very doable. Warning: The exercises laid out in this book are known to cause increased levels of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin in those married couples who practice them. Greater intimacy, more satisfying rest, more frequent laughter and joy are the most common side effects. Be aware that joy, in full strength, is extremely contagious and habit-forming.
Women's Ministries Coordinator, Community Reformed Church
The 4 Habits of Joy Filled Marriages offers a simple focus on the active practices that make people glad to be married. I have known these two authors for almost twenty years. Chris works tirelessly to train others in relational skills that build joy and resilience. Marcus works just as hard to keep things simple and central to the transformation of character into the likeness of Christ. Now the two have come together to create a book that takes marriage relationships further than the communication willpower solutions can go. This guide to exercising our relational brain does what a weekend of inspiration cannot sustain by focusing on the four practices that build the best marriages. These are not marriages where nothing goes wrong but rather relationships where recovery comes quickly. Get your bounce back or perhaps find the bounce you never had!
E. James Wilder
Neurotheologian and Life Model theoretician at Life Model Works
International speaker and coauthor of Rare Leadership
The integrity of this book is honest and organized. The exercises enable us to experience practical and empowering baby steps forward. In short, the content will reorient your thinking and create skills that empower resilience and playfulness.
CEO and Founder of EWMI (Emotional Wealth Management Inc.)
Emotional Intelligence Executive Coaching
The message and exercises within this book will transform marriages around the world! Marcus and Chris brilliantly take God's design of the brain and bond it with God's purpose for marriage. It's a wonderful, short, practical, and powerful read. Shorten the gaps between your joy and PLAN on an enriched, cherished marriage! This will now be the first book on marriage and life I recommend to friends.
If you are looking for a practical, not pie-in-the-sky, approach to growing your marriage, I strongly recommend this book! Marcus and Chris have written a book filled with simple, easy-to-follow guidelines to make relationships thrive! The 4 Habits of Joy-Filled Marriages is rooted firmly in relational principles of neuroscience and identifies four essential habits that are characteristics of joy-filled marriages. Chris and Marcus's P.L.A.N. outlines strategies that help couples practically apply these principles to grow more joyful habits and stronger bonds. The abundance of practical exercises to help spouses grow these habits together is one of the book's greatest strengths. The step-by-step instructions for these exercises provide a blueprint for husbands and wives who want more joyful connection.
Author and President of Equipping Hearts
This is the book we've all been waiting for! The blend of brain science concepts with practical application makes this book a priceless gift for every marriage. I will be using this book as a daily guide in my own marriage and will have it stocked on the shelves of my office for the clients I serve. As a wife and a therapist, I'm so thankful for this amazing resource.
MS, LPCS, CSAT, Certified EMDR Therapist
Fifteen minutes can transform your marriage. Chris and Marcus show how four simple rhythms can shape the course of your life together and increase the quality of your interactions. Engaging stories inspire you and create understanding while practical exercises support each habit informed by brain science. I love how Chris and Marcus begin the habits with Play; such a brilliant way to start! And if couples were able to create the habit of Listening for emotion, they would put us therapists out of business and I would gladly welcome that. This chapter alone is worth the price of the book. The list of couples I want to share this with is already too long. I can already imagine many small groups will utilize this book to enrich their marriages, families, and community. If you want to change your marriage in fifteen minutes a day, pick up this book. We wholeheartedly recommend this book because the best relationships are built on the willingness to stay in the conversation. This book will support your willingness.
John and Sungshim Loppnow
Authors and creators of Presence and Practice
The Four Habits of Joy-Filled Marriages is a practical look at what makes for a true and lasting “in love” experience in marriage. The emphasis on play and listening, appreciation and nurturing rhythm, is simple and inspiring. Chris and Marcus have boiled down the nineteen Brain Skills of THRIVE Training into four key habits that are game-changers in helping people to make the shift from fear to joy in their relationships.¿I have experienced first-hand the power of these habits in my own marriage. As I have practiced the exercises, I have experienced profound connection with my wife, moments of deep joy, and a total transformation of our relationship.¿Our minds can so easily forget that joy and intimate connection are what life is all about. We need books like this one, full of good stories, clear instruction and playful ways to practice simply being together and noticing one another, that can help us recapture and hold onto the joy for which we were made.
Discipleship Counselor, Grace Ministries International
Joy is a pivotal bonding agent for improving relationships.¿Incorporating daily joy habits can deeply enrich your marriage.¿This book will help you celebrate the gift fun provides by deepening your joy capacity and allowing you to become even better friends and lovers.
Bill and Pam¿Mutz
FamilyLife speakers; Mayor of City of Lakeland, FL, and mother
My wife, Stasi, and I have been through it all, and I can tell you these guys are right—it's all about joy. You can get joy back in your marriage. Really. You can recover intimacy and even playfulness! Read this book!
Author of Wild at Heart and Love and War
Founder of Ransomed Heart Ministries
The authors confirm the conclusions from the Gottman research on marital satisfaction. Warner and Coursey help couples practice specific, joyful activities to implement that research in their marriages in simple, fun ways that only take fifteen minutes a day. The exercises are well described and very helpful for practicing the skills necessary for building a master marriage. Shrink the “joy gap” in your marriage by learning to connect to your beloved in these well-guided, easy-to-do activities—then watch your marriage thrive!
Misa Leonessa Garavaglia