Happy Wife, Happy Life?

Note: Just to be clear, I'm talking about the average, mentally healthy female here.  There are many women who struggle with clinical depression or anxiety, and I don't pretend that those people can just "choose" to change their attitudes or feelings.  These women may need to seek some sort of professional help to address those issues or disorders, and there is no shame in that.  This post is meant to address the rest of us who just complain too much sometimes!

Dc 091

We've all heard the phrases.

"Happy wife, happy life."

"If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."

There is certainly some truth to those statements.  Wives and mothers often do set the atmosphere for the household, and if they are unhappy, it's harder for everyone else in the house to be happy.

However, I was reading a book recently (The Happiest Life by Hugh Hewitt - read my review here), and something I read made me think of these phrases again - and about how, while they are accurate to a certain degree, they also can lead to some attitudes that might not exactly be correct.

First of all, I always hear these phrases mentioned in reference to the woman needing something to ensure that she's happy - whether that is needing "me time", needing to take care of herself, etc.  But I feel like looking at those phrases that way implies that it is up to everyone else in the household to keep her happy - and if they fail, everyone in the house should also be miserable, because if mom isn't happy, no one else can be either.

That is an incredibly selfish thing.

I think by and large people have taken the idea behind this phrase and turned it backward.  The truth is, it's not up to everyone else to keep the lady of the house happy - it's up to the lady of the house to choose to be happy.  It's up to her to choose to set a happy tone for her household.  Expecting your husband or your kids to do things to keep you happy is unfairly placing the burden onto them when it is your responsibility to create a happy atmosphere by choosing to have a cheerful attitude yourself. 

Secondly, I think these phrases overlook the second half of the equation - because a happy husband makes a much happier household too.    I'm not sure why "happy husband, happy house" isn't a phrase people say (maybe because it doesn't rhyme?), but something Hewitt said in his book made me realize that such a statement would be just as true as "happy wife, happy life."  

I feel like focusing so much on the "happy wife" phrase might make us overlook the fact that as much as we as wives appreciate (and maybe even expect) gestures to make us happy, it wold also be a good thing to think of little things we could do to make a happy husband.  His mental state affects the atmosphere in the home just as much as ours does.  And even though it is his responsibility to choose to be happy, just as it is ours, I think we can all agree that it is that much easier to choose to be happy when little gestures of love are received.  Especially from a spouse.

Bottom line - as a wife and mother, focusing on what would (or wouldn't) make me happy is not going to make anyone else's life happier.  Choosing to focus on making the lives of my family happier, through my choices about my own attitude, is what is going to lead to a "happy life".  I need to choose to have a cheerful attitude for the sake of my family . . . I need to choose to do things that will help others in my family feel a little happier as well.

Maybe it would be better (and more clear) to rephrase the statement.

"If you choose to be a happy wife, you (and your family) will have a happy life."

The beauty of it is that giving happiness to others usually comes back to make your own life happier as well - it is more blessed to give than to receive.  That applies to happiness too.

Dc 096blog

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Hannah said...

You said this so perfectly. It is a choice we have to make and a happy husband makes for a much happier house too. Sometimes it is hard to choose to be happy, but it is your responsibility, not someone else's.

HickChickBritt said...

Love this so much! I often find myself complaining about how the boys didn't listen. Or the dog chewed up something. I pray daily for a calm soul that doesn't yell or complain. Haha hopefully one day I will get there!

Veronica and Daniel said...

Love this! What a great reminder (especially with this long winter, it seems easier to choose not to be happy!). We have a couple we are friends with that (while, like your disclaimer at the beginning, I do not know if there are other things that contribute to the situation) it seems like the wife is more often than not unhappy, which causes the husband (who works with my husband) to also be unhappy...and it just makes us so sad for them! I will have to check out that Hewitt book to see if he has any tips on helping a friend who is unhappy :)

Ashley said...

I love this post! Very, very true!

Melanie said...

Couldn't agree more!! Great post!!

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