“Happy wife, happy life!”
I feel like I am the only one that gets really ticked off by people saying this in my life. It’s almost everywhere. People said it to us before we got married, and the T.V. shows we watch have said it to us. So why does it make my blood boil every time I hear it?
Well, I’ve come to realize there are three reasons why this phrase is absolutely upsetting to me:
1. It makes the husband feel like all the pressure is on him.
2. It makes the wife feel like they cannot show their true emotions.
3. It’s just not biblical.
Let me say before jumping in that, just because this phrase makes me so angry, it does not mean that this philosophy hasn’t penetrated our marriage. I think it makes me so mad because I’ve seen it not work. God has such a better plan for our marriages!
With that said, point number one has been big in our marriage. To say, “happy wife, happy life” is to say that marriage is all about pleasing the wife. If your wife is happy then your life is going great! But doesn’t this put a lot of pressure on the men?
What if the woman is having a hard day at work or just isn’t in the mood to change that ninth diaper of the day? Does that mean that the marriage isn’t good? Does that mean that the husband isn’t doing his job? I think the resounding answer is, NO!
So if the majority of us believe the answer is No to those questions, why should the husband have to feel like a failure if the wife is having a hard day? The husband has too much pressure on his shoulders to carry the happiness of his wife. It just cannot be done successfully 100% of a woman’s life. She will be unhappy at some point and that does not mean that the husband is a failure.
On the other hand, why is it that the woman’s perception of life is more important than the man’s? Shouldn’t the man’s happiness also be accounted for if that is what marriage is all about? I have to think that living in this way would be extremely tiring on the man and would feed bitterness because his feelings aren’t being heard.
This leads me to point number two. If you were told that, if you were unhappy it would make your best friend, your partner in life, feel like a failure, I’m pretty sure you would feel hesitant to show him your true emotions.
I want to have a place I can go where I can share my thoughts and feelings from a day. I want to feel safe opening up to my husband, to tell him things that have been frustrating me, or ways in which God has been pushing me outside my comfort zone. But when I see that sharing these things makes him feel like he has failed me, when he cannot make me happy or cannot fix them, it makes me feel like I’m not doing my part at being the happy wife in his life.
Life isn’t always so perfect. We all have bad days and often feel stretched to be better people. That is enough pressure to feel on your own. Adding the fact that your husband is supposed to make you happy is adding fuel to the fire. At some point the fire is going to explode, and both the husband and wife will feel like failures.
I’ve saved the best for last: point number three! This phrase, “happy wife, happy life,” just isn’t Biblical!
In Ephesians 5 Paul gives us a picture of what marriage should look like. He speaks about the role of the wife and also the role of the husband. The role of the husband really intrigues me. Listen to one of Paul’s statements from Ephesians 5:25-27, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of the water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
Paul says that husbands should love their wives but doesn’t talk at all about happiness. He actually talks more about sanctification; becoming more like Christ. So Paul is actually stating that it isn’t the wife’s happiness that the husband should pursue - but helping her to become more like Christ!
Becoming more like Christ isn’t always a glorious road. Sometimes it means that your husband is going to have to call you out on things you didn’t realize were keeping you from showing people God’s glory! As wives, we need to be open to our husbands helping us becoming more like Christ and not always being there just to make us happy.
It might be harder to live out this calling to push each other to be more like Christ, to “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11), but it’s the way that God calls us to live and the way he designed marriage to work best.
God, I thank you for your Word and for guidance in how to live our lives the best way. I pray that we wouldn’t fall prey to the lies that the world is telling us. Help us to take the words our husbands and wives speak to us to heart, knowing that they are trying to help us be better people, more like Christ. Soften our hearts for those words, Lord.