Billboards for jewelry proclaim it, comedians and late night hosts repeat it, husbands can be heard spouting it: “Happy wife, happy life!”  Really?  The more I think about this phrase, the more deceit it breeds.

Who is really happy?  Is it the husband, who is led to believe that all of his wishes must be put aside to make his wife happy?  Is it the wife who is believed to be happy because her husband is supposed to set aside everything in order to please her every wish? Is it for any children they may have who witness this incredibly one-sided philosophy or viewpoint?

Many believe that marriage is a 50/50 proposition. It is not. It is compromise, to be sure, yet anything less than 100% on both sides is not fulfilling the meaning of true love. The problem with the, “Happy wife, happy life,” statement leads to a belief that only one person in the relationship needs to be made happy and that the husband is the one who is making all of the sacrifices for fear the wifey will not be happy. Shame on him! Shame on her!

Any wife who believes that she is the one to please, and that all kinds of retribution will follow if she is not made happy, has some serious issues to attend to.  How is she giving 100% to her part of the relationship if there is always a fear or dread on her husband’s part of her getting angry or upset if things do not go her way?  Where is the desire on her part to please her husband and make him happy? Who would want their husband to give in and give up at their every whim? Who wants her husband to be viewed as a wimp or for herself to be viewed as bossy or high maintenance?

So many years of counseling couples in their marriage has shown a definite lopsidedness in this area.  Men have always been thought to be big children, always wanting their toys and “playing” at their hobbies, no matter their age. Many of them, as long as they can have these things and act this way, are willing to let their wives be in charge and keel  to their every wish! This, too, in lopsided and not a very realistic approach to true marital happiness.

My husband has quoted the, “Happy wife, happy life,” more times than I can count to many, many people. Most times, it is received with a laugh or a chuckle. Our family camp recently has morning sessions dedicated to marriage.  Each session had a brief time of discussion between husband and wife on a certain phrase.  One morning, the leader said, “Turn to your spouse and say, ‘I am the most selfish person I know.'” My husband turned to me and said, “How are we supposed to do this exercise? You are the most unselfish person I know!” (Yes, I melted!)

There is a give-and-take in every marriage, a balance of respecting and giving to each one’s happiness. Our primary purpose should be in making sure that the other one is truly happy, and being as unselfish as possible.  There will be times where one spouse will receive more and the other will give more, but there should also be reciprocity.

My mother remarried after my father died, and my husband’s father recently remarried after grieving the death of his wife. In both situations, it has been like watching teenagers or young adults in love! It is a great reminder to us that we forget the small things that fill our hearts with tenderness and joy or make our eyes sparkle just by being in the very presence of the one we love. Time seems to take away the bloom of love, and even though we “settle in” to our marriages and family, we shouldn’t take each other for granted. (Easy to say, harder to do!) I make my husband’s lunch each day, and have taken over mowing our massive lawn in order to make his life a bit easier.  When I am away from him, I like to send him love songs, (although that embarrasses him a bit!) He has recently taken to opening my car door for me – I tell him that I feel like his 2nd wife, with such a sweet gesture!

When is the last time you looked into your husband or wife’s face when they were not looking and just thought about how much you love them and how devastated you would be without them? Give it a try – you might decide that the person you want to make happier, is not yourself, but your mate!

Ephesians 5:31

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

Genesis 2:18

“The Lord God said, “It isn’t good for the man to live alone. I need to make a suitable partner for him.”

I Corinthians  13:4-8
Love is kind and patient,
never jealous, boastful,
    proud, or rude.
Love isn’t selfish
    or quick tempered.
It doesn’t keep a record
    of wrongs that others do.
Love rejoices in the truth,
    but not in evil.
Love is always supportive,
loyal, hopeful,
    and trusting.
Love never fails!

My challenge is to get over yourself and fall in love with the love of your life all over again!!

(Dedicated to the one I have loved all of these past 32 years and many more to come – let’s just get better together!)

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  1. Lynn McMonigal says:

    So happy to see this! I’ve had similar thoughts about this. Why is up to the husband to make the wife happy at his own expense? That phrase just irks me every time I hear it, especially when I hear it from someone who doesn’t seem to be joking about it. Thanks for sharing

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