Filling Your Marriage with Joy

How big is your marriage’s joy gap?

Dr. Marcus Warner and Chris Coursey, authors of the book The 4 Habits of Joy-Filled Marriages, describe a “joy gap” as the length of time between moments of joy. If you apply that unit of measurement to your marriage, how long has it been?




The joy gap can be especially lengthy if we’re waiting for our circumstances to change, for our spouse to make us joyful, or for God to zap us with joy.

Joy isn’t self-sustaining. It must be cultivated. As Adam and Eve tended the garden (Genesis 2:15), so we must tend the garden of our marriage. We’ve got to pull the weeds, work the soil, and intentionally pursue joy in our relationship.

Dr. Warner and Chris say that “joy” is a relational word from a brain science perspective, meaning couples can make choices that cause them to be happier together. If you want a joy-filled marriage, they suggest remembering the acronym PLAN to help you build habits that create joy.

  • Play. Do things together. Treat your spouse as you would a friend with whom you enjoy spending time.
  • Listen for emotion. Hear how your spouse is feeling. Help them feel seen. Help them feel understood.
  • Appreciate daily. Let your spouse know every day how they impact your life for the better.
  • Nurture rhythm. Couples can only grow joy when they have sufficient margin in life.

Fostering joy in marriage isn’t always easy. Focus on the Family is here to help equip you with the tools you need to cultivate a spirit of joy in your marriage.

Dr. Marcus Warner and Chris Coursey are with us on our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Filling Your Marriage with Joy” to explain the brain science behind joy. They offer practical ways you can increase joy in your marriage by playing together and nurturing a rhythm of rest. Listen on your local radio station, online, on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or on our free phone app for our full conversation.

Dr. Warner is the president of Deeper Walk International. Chris is an ordained minister and pastoral counselor. I’d like to offer you a copy of their book The 4 Habits of Joy-Filled Marriages for a gift of any amount. Visit our website for more information.

Photo from Shutterstock

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Jim Daly with Paul Batura

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