Does a Happy Wife Guarantee a Happy Life?

One of the most common phrases I've heard about how to make a marriage last is "happy wife, happy life". Rarely do the people who use this phrase explain what they mean, but one common translation is summed up by advice President Obama gave a husband at a campaign stop during his 2012 reelection bid: "Just do whatever she tells you to".

Conflating a wife's happiness with her husband's compliance is not uncommon. I asked a question on Facebook about how people interpret the phrase and multiple people made references to appeasement in their responses. While others did talk about making your wife a priority and meeting her needs, I think it's important to ask whether every strategy for making your wife happy will lead to a happy life.

One of the biggest problems with thinking happiness will come from doing whatever your mate desires is that relationships can't be built on the idea that one person will always get their way. For starters, it isn't practical. My wife isn't always right and the same can certainly be said about me. Doing whatever she wants would do nothing to advance our relationship. We function best when we discuss issues honestly and openly and create space for dialogue. Not every decision requires this level of communication--at times because of one person's indifference on a particular subject--but we have benefited from creating a culture of communication in our home that helps us talk about major decisions without feeling like we're competing on opposing teams.

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Delano Squires
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