Gentlemen – some of you have been lied to.
Someone told you a while ago that they key to a happy marriage was the mantra, “Happy Wife, Happy Life”.
It might even have been someone you trusted, or looked up to, that gave you this advice. I’ve even heard other marital therapists repeat it, sadly.
The implication with this cliché, and what makes it so insane is this: If I can figure out a way to make my wife happy, then I will be happy.
“Nope. Never. Sorry. Ain’t gonna happen. Did I say Never? Never!”
Don’t believe me? You tell me….
How is it working for you? Your focus on making your wife happy…. Is she happy? And are you happy?
If you’re answering yes to that question, you can stop reading here – the rest of this article probably won’t make sense to you.
But….if doing the Happy Wife, Happy Life thing isn’t working for you, I’ll explain to you 5 reasons why this time-honored and conventional piece of wisdom is a poison pill for your marriage.
1. YOU’RE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR WIFE’S HAPPINESS.
She’s responsible for her happiness and you’re responsible for your own happiness. Period.
When we take responsibility for making someone else feeling happy, it will always leave us immensely frustrated because we’ll come to realize at some point that it’s an impossible task.
We will end up on this hamster wheel of appeasement and it will drive us insane.
We can CARE for our wives immensely, and still not take RESPONSIBILITY for their emotional state. What you are responsible for is your emotional state – not hers. Now, I could imagine some reading this are thinking: This guy is so cruel!
He doesn’t care about his wife! Actually, I care immensely about her. But I’ve come to the realization that I truly can’t care for her if I’m caught up in my own head about making her happy and being anxious that I can’t fix her.
True care requires us to come from a place of strength.
I.E. If I’m in a good place and my wife is in a bad place. I will care for her and empathize with her, but I’m still in a good place. It’s that simple (or should be).
2.HAPPY WIFE, HAPPY LIFE IS ABOUT CONFLICT AVOIDANCE AND PEOPLE PLEASING.
As long as our focus is outward on fixing someone else (usually her), we are not connected to our own wants and needs.
Guess what? Yes guys – you have wants and needs.
As long as you’re concerned with Happy Wife, Happy Life, you’re denying your own needs. Having competing needs is a given in relationships and it will often lead to conflict.
Conflict is not a bad thing – unless you’re terrified of it and avoid it at all costs. Gents, we have to get more comfortable with expressing our own needs, even if that evokes conflict in the relationship.
The inability to do so will lead you to #3.
3. HAPPY WIFE, HAPPY LIFE WILL TURN YOU INTO A RAGEAHOLIC.
When we deny ourselves and our own needs, and focus on making someone else happy, it’s a set up for nearly guaranteed rage episodes.
It’s actually predictable.
You see, we want to believe (wrongly) that we can deny our needs, focus on someone else, and be OK in the long run….but in reality, we can’t.
And why should we? Aren’t we just as important? Or did someone lie to you about being less important than your wife?
Many guys we got to extreme lengths to avoid conflict with his wife, only to get to the end of his rope and completely explode with rage. That’s what happens when we do the Happy Wife, Happy Life game and deny ourselves.
This might happen every month, or every year, but it’s bound to happen and eventually unavoidable.
4. YOU’RE NOT AS ALTRUISTIC AS YOU THINK
You’ve convinced yourself that you’re the stronger partner.
That your less emotional than your crazy wife and that you can take care of her by denying yourself.
You’ve come to justify your fear of conflict with her by framing it in a very Saintly way.
Come on – can we be honest? We both know you tend to acquiesce and defer because you’re filled with anxiety about standing up for yourself.
Altruism is always done from a place of strength, and I’d argue that you’re in a place of fear. Fear of conflict. Fear of her anger. Happy Wife, Happy Life is anything but altruistic. It’s actually manipulative to avoid conflict.
5. HAPPY WIFE, HAPPY LIFE GUYS ARE BORING
Guys, it’s not meant to be critical, but it’s really true.
If you focus all your energy on making sure someone else is happy, you lose touch with you.
Who are you? What do you think about things? What do you like? What makes you tick? Etc. Etc.
Because the answers to these questions are never discovered as you play the Happy Wife, Happy Life game, you actually become a fairly uninteresting person to be around.
By boring I mean superficial, flat, and shallow. I know there’s more inside you but you have to get comfortable with letting the inner you show himself. And to do that, you have to stop doing the Happy Wife, Happy Life thing.
What makes people interesting is their unique selves. Focusing on others as a way to not buck the system makes people a bit uninteresting.
The irony is this: You’ve thought that playing the Happy Wife, Happy Life game would make everyone in the marriage happy, but it doesn’t and it never will.
In my experience working with thousands of couples in therapy, women by and large are frustrated beyond belief by their husband’s conflict avoidance and Happy Wife, Happy Life strategy.
These wives plead with me to help them get their guys to stop playing the Happy Wife, Happy Life game. So why are you playing it?
Isn’t it ironic that you’re doing something supposedly for your wife, but it’s actually causing her to feel alone and disconnected.
Guys, there is a better way. There is a way for you to be happy too. And for her to be happy.
It PAINS ME to watch my fellow brothers doing the Happy Wife, Happy Life game and it pains me more to hear the mantra being sold as the way for relationships.
It’s not the way. There is a way though, a much better way, for you to get your needs met and to actually have a more fulfilling relationship in the process.
It takes a lot of courage to expect to be an equal in your relationship, but when you do it, it’s like a 1,000 pound weight being lifted off your shoulders.
Let me know if you want help tapping into your internal strength and learning how to do this – I’d be happy to show you a new world.
CONNECT WITH ME
If you’d like to start a conversation about how we could work together, please shoot me an email. I’d love to hear what is going on for you and how I could help.