Happy Wife, Happy Life

Do you hate the phrase “Happy wife, happy life?” Does it feel manipulative to you? Or does it feel like a wise warning? Regardless of how you feel about it, there’s a great deal of truth in it. What’s more, God seems to support the idea:

If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.” [Deut 24:5 NIV]

It looks to me like God wanted men to spend the first year of their marriage focused on learning how to make their wife happy. Granted, you can’t make her happy if she chooses to be miserable, but you can do a great deal to move your wife towards happiness.

Happy Couples © Baker © Andriy Petrenkpo © Sonya Etchison © Alexander Raths| dreamstime.com

What does it take for your wife to be happy?

1 Security

This is important to all humans, but women desire it more than men do, and mothers even more than women without children. She needs to feel safe, and she needs to feel prepared for the future. There are many components to this, which I will be discussing in the future. For now know this: if she doesn’t feel secure it’s impossible for her to feel happy.

2 Loved

She wants to be loved and appreciated. We all need to be needed. We desire to be important and necessary. We want to feel our life has purpose; that what we do matters to someone. The best place to get this need met is our spouse, If that doesn’t happen we’ll look to have it fulfilled by others. Most affairs, especially for women, are about this need, not sex. 

The tricky thing about love and appreciation is we all feel it in different ways. If you don’t show your love in a way that matters to her she will feel unloved even though you do in fact love her. If you show her you appreciate her in a way that means nothing to her, she will feel unappreciated. If she’s not feeling what you intended, you need to find ways to fix that. In large part, this means learning to communicate it in ways she feels. You can also work to help her see the things you’re doing as proof of your love and acceptance.

Become a Student of your Wife

mini-upgradeThe most important thing you can do to improve your marriage is to become a student of your wife. Watch her. Pay attention to what she does and says. Learn to listen to what’s behind her words; dig for the feelings and try to understand what motivates her. The better you understand her, the better things will go for both of you.

  • If you discover certain words or phrases upset her, you can avoid those.
  • If you learn when she is most likely to be stressed, you can help her relax at those times.
  • If you can see when she’s getting flooded, you can come to her rescue.
  • As you learn to tell when she is more open to sex you’ll not just have more sex, sex will be better for her.

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19 Comments on “Happy Wife, Happy Life

  1. themarriagebed GenerousHusband If a man has recently married For one year he is to be free to bring happiness to the wife he has married

  2. This is great advice.  When I read the part about becoming a student of your wife I instantly thought about the part from Fireproof where they were talking about how good they knew their wives.

  3. Here’s what I’ve learned:  She’d rather play a computer game than talk to me.  She has difficulty acknowledging, or even noticing my needs or feelings.  She takes for granted my efforts to make her happy.   She rarely shows affection to me, but will return a hug once a day if I initiate.  She doesn’t like mouth kisses anymore, but turns her cheek to me.  The question is, what should an unhappy husband do with this knowledge? – See more at: http://www.the-generous-husband.com/2014/01/01/happy-wife-happy-life/#comments

  4. You nailed it. I often say that the most important thing women want in marriage is security, which comes in all forms (financial, emotional, physical, sexual, etc.). And then to feel cherished or valued. Thanks, Paul!

  5. oldandtired I am assuming from your username that you have been married a good while. This makes it tricky because she may have given up. If she no longer looks to you to meet her needs, she may not notice even when you get it right. If this is the case, you need to understand why she gave up, and then deal with that. 

    Usually the root of this is years of her needs not being met by you. Unfortunately’ you may have had no clue because she never communicated this to you in a way that you could understand. If you see this is the case, I would suggest telling her you did not get it in the past, but you do now. Apologise and tell her you want to do better – but understand talk is cheap at this point, it will take a lot of doing.

    It is still possible to make inroads if you find the right ways to touch her heart and mind. Look at what she does that she enjoys, and what she does with her friends. Figure out what needs these things meet, and how, then look for ways to do something similar.

  6. TheGenerousHusband oldandtired Well.  Maybe *I’m* the one who’s ready to give up.  Or maybe I’m just too STUPID to learn how to meet her needs.  When is it *her* turn to be responsible?

  7. My wife also shows no appreciation, affection, respect and can’t or won’t let go of past issues. Her live as she calls it is a feeling that changes like the wind, leaving me clueless as to what her needs are today. Most days she chooses to be miserable. It’s easy to understand how it would be easy to give up.

  8. It is interesting that “security” changes through the years. My wife tells our younger couples that when our children were at home, security meant that there was enough money to pay the bills and supply the “necessities”.

    After our children left home, the pressure shifted to “security” being less important and now the focus is more about helping others than ourselves. Both personal maturity and our children being out on their own help us to be more relaxed. It helps to have followed Dave Ramey’s plan to becoming debt free a few years ago.

    Just be sensitive to your wife’s inner needs.  The last part is key, “Become a student of your wife. as it pay great dividends.

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  10. oldandtired TheGenerousHusband It is always her turn, just as it is always your turn. When both make an effort it is far easier and faster.
    You could just ask her what would make a difference. If she does not give a real answer, ask her how she expects it to get better.

  11. She is on antidepressant medication which has helped some. But some days it seems like she is withdrawn and generally not happy. I try to stay as positive as I can. But when it seems like it’s a constant battle to know what type of mood she is in,when I believe unconditional love doesn’t depend on how you feel today.

  12. Needinglove Yup, that is tough. You need to go beyond being a student, you need to be a detective. 

    From the outside you can see patterns and triggers that she may never see. If you figure some of those out, you can help her avoid some of the worst of it. This is easier if she is open to your input of course.

  13. I hear the “happy wife” phrase all the time in jokes, and I suppose there’s a certain level of truth in it…but it does sound manipulative in the vein of “I’ll make you miserable if I don;t get what I need / want.” That’s not the kind of marriage I’m after at all. When I finally do get hitched, I want both she and I to be happy and holy, with no blame or shame from either side.

  14. I hear the “happy wife” phrase all the time in jokes, and I suppose there’s a certain level of truth in it…but it does sound manipulative in the vein of “I’ll make you miserable if I don;t get what I need / want.” That’s not the kind of marriage I’m after at all. When I finally do get hitched, I want both she and I to be happy and holy, with no blame or shame from either side.

  15. Joshua Belyeu It can be manipulative, but often it is not. Several studies have shown that the wife’s happiness is more critical for a good marriage. I think that has some roots in how God made men and women.

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