Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Les and Leslie Parrott’s new book Making Happy: The Art and Science of a Happy Marriage (Worthy Publishing, 2014).

Everyone who gets married wants to enjoy a happy marriage. But too often, people wait in vain for happiness to come to them, hoping that the right spouse or the right circumstances in their marriage will somehow make them happy. The truth is that marriage can’t make anyone happy, but happy people can make their marriages happy.

Enjoying a happy marriage is possible – no matter who you’ve married, or what circumstances you all are dealing with in your lives together – if you rely on God to help you build a happy marriage according to his design. Here’s how:

Understand that your choices significantly affect how happy you become. While your circumstances and genetics do affect the level of happiness that you experience, a significant portion of your happiness is well within your control – it comes down to the choices that you make. So decide throughout each day to pursue happiness through intentional activities. The more you practice behaviors designed to increase your happiness, the more you’ll inspire your spouse to join in, and your marriage will become happier in the process.

Pursue meaning that transcends pleasure. Realize that pursuing pleasure isn’t enough in itself to make you happy; you also need to pursue meaning in order to achieve real happiness. That’s because God has designed holiness (devoting yourself to God by living the way he intends) to lead to happiness. When you move beyond the self-absorbed pursuit of pleasure for its own sake to making meaningful choices that will help you love God and others more, you naturally invite happiness into your life.

Count your blessings. Gratitude for the many gifts that God brings into the life that you and your spouse share will strengthen your relationship with each other. The more you give thanks to God for your blessings, the more blessings you will notice and appreciate, which will cause you to enjoy your lives more and inspire more love between you.  Make a conscious effort to count your blessings regularly, in ways such as: cutting down on complaining, keeping a written record of your blessings in a gratitude journal, going with your spouse to visit someone who has helped either one of you in the past to thank him or her, and savoring the good moments you and your spouse experience together.

Try new things. Moving out of your comfort zones to experience new adventures together keeps your relationships fresh and leads to deeper happiness in your marriage. Some of the ways you can try new things together include: sharing a passion for an activity that both of you can enjoy doing together for fun, spicing up your sex life with new sexual positions and lovemaking locations, making new friends together, and spending your money on experiences together (like vacations and restaurant dinners) rather than material items.

Dream together. Following your dreams together will make your marriage happier by stirring optimism and empowering action in your lives. Plus, when you support each other in the process of pursuing dreams, you can accomplish more together than you could alone. You can dream together in ways such as: envisioning what you each hope your future will be like and discussing details of it together, overcoming your fear of failure by taking steps of faith toward making your dreams come true, building a “bucket list” of experiences you hope to have together during your lifetimes, identifying dreams that are most meaningful to each of you, keeping hope alive by discussing your dreams together often, and setting goals (that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time sensitive) to help you achieve your dreams.