Please don’t say, “Happy Wife, Happy Life.”

Twice in the past couple of weeks the phrase “happy wife, happy life” has been spoken to my husband in my presence. I’m not sure if I was more annoyed, offended, or sad.

“Happy wife, happy life,” said with a wink by one man to another, insinuates that if a man gives a woman whatever she wants she’ll reciprocate with a favor that she might withhold if she doesn’t get her way.

To suggest that catering to a wife’s whims is the secret to happiness just irks me. It makes women sound irrational, whiny, and selfish. The concept of buying affection also feels condescending and dehumanizing.

Maybe the wife doesn’t see it as endearing that her partner calls her “the boss.” Maybe the wife doesn’t want to make every decision by herself and sincerely desires to reach a mutual decision with her partner.

My husband is very gifted at weighing options analytically. Without his input I could be tempted to make quick decisions that would have less than desirable outcomes. I value his opinions, concerns, and suggestions. In making major decisions that affect our relationship or our family, I prefer open communication and honest, level-headed dialogue. Decision-making together can be a lot of work, but I want to hear and seek to understand my husband’s point of view and the reasons for his opinions.

Let’s try to move past gender stereotypes and strive to develop relationships where everyone has a voice and each person’s feelings matter.

“The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together.”

Robert C. Dodds

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