Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve heard this phrase. If you have said it, you are forgiven. But NEVER say it again! “Happy wife happy life” is so ingrained into our culture that many believe it is actually true. Feminist leaning publications like HuffPo praise any study which may “prove” this. In this article I’ll talk about how for BOTH parties happiness matters and what the hell happiness is anyway.
Why “Happy Wife, Happy Life” Is Harmful To Marriage
This phrase makes us think about catering to the whims and desires of our wife. As all of you should know by now, women are very emotional beings. Their current mood is often dictated by the current emotional state. If she is “happy” now is predicated on many things, and may change on a moments notice.
Often when men think of happiness, our thoughts go to more stable or consistent factors, such as the house, the career, overall issues with children, etc. Men’s mood fluctuations tend to be less drastic on a day to day basis than a woman’s. This is not to say one is better or worse, it is merely to point out the difference. By basing your relationship “happiness” on your wife’s “happiness” you are making a few (wrong) assumptions.
- Pussy pedestal – You are elevating her to a level she does not want to be elevated. Do not serve and cater to her every whim. Women instead wish to be desired, respected and appreciated. If you place yourself in a position where she is above you, she will treat you like you are beneath her.
- Her happiness is more important – You are both in this relationship together. Together you are partners. You should be the Captain and her your First Mate. Her needs are no more relevant than yours. Make sure one person is not always the one not getting their needs met.
- Her mood is based on her emotions, those always change – You must be that rock for her to count on. I like to give the analogy this way: You are the lighthouse built on a firm foundation that is the stable constant to her ever-changing seas.
History of Statement
The earliest use of this phrase I could find was from the play “1776.” Released on Broadway in March of 1969, right in the midst of the 2nd wave of feminism in the United States. There are a few other mentions of the phrase, but they appear to be two different phrases next to each other, and mostly in advertisements.
It hasn’t been until recently that this phrase has taken on any sort of significant foothold in culture.
Usage vs. Meaning
How it’s used: A man must do what a woman wants in order to keep her happy, if she is happy then he is happy. Typically a married man will say “happy wife, happy life” where there is some sort of justification to others for complying with her whims.
What it means: The underlying statement has some truth to it, a relationship is doomed to fail when one partner is miserable. The statement I’ve come to love instead of “happy wife happy life”, is “happy spouse, happy house”. This phrase encapsulates that both partners share responsibility for the house. One person isn’t solely responsible, or self-sacrificial for the happiness of the other.
“We are as happy as we decide to be”Abraham Lincoln
What Is Happiness Anyway?
First and Most Important, happiness is a conscious decision, not an emotion.
Read that again.
Happiness is a conscious decision, not an emotion.
Emotions we have include Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, Disgust, etc. Just think about the characters from the Pixar movie, “Inside Out”.
If you need to do some research, watch the movie. Those are emotions. You can be “happy” and simultaneously feel tremendous sadness. Think about when you first left for college or moved out of your parent house. There was a degree of sadness as well as happiness.
A Moral Obligation
Being “happy” is a choice. It’s a conscious decision. Acting happy has a way of making you happy. Think about people you come in contact with on a daily basis. What effect does it have on you if you ask someone how their day is going, and they respond with “just trying to survive”. Now think if the person responds with “outstanding, as always” Much different take away for sure.
Now translate that into parenthood. What’s the difference in the household from the continually melancholy parent vs the “happy” parent? So much different for that child with the two attitudes. What about for the spouse? The friends? There is a serious domino effect here.
“Happiness” is an outward display, often of joy, however, outward displays don’t necessarily depict what’s going on inside someone. You should always be comfortable sharing your emotions, your troubles, your problems with those close to you. However, keep in mind your outward display is contagious.
Think of happiness as the superhero mask you don at the start of each day.
As Dennis Prager states “Happiness is a Moral Obligation”. We OWE it to others to be happy. We OWE it to ourselves to be happy. One of the most simple steps to take is to smile, it only takes 3 seconds.
“It’s how we act that affects others, not how we feel.”Dennis Prager
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash