Why “Happy Wife, Happy Life” Is The Most Toxic Advice You Can Give

The other week, I walked around my local park and passed a couple holding hands, looking pretty content. I noticed the man was wearing a t-shirt, saying, "Happy Wife, Happy Life." Contemplating this made me feel odd. I realized I disagreed with the statement.

By Juliana Stewart2 min read
Pexels/Danik Prihodko

I've heard the saying many times before, and I know it's meant to be a joke. It's cute and it rhymes, but to be honest, I find it annoying and cringe-worthy.

I know it's all about context, but I see a defeated man whenever I hear the saying. A man who bases his happiness around his wife's moods sounds weak to me. To me, it implies that a woman can get away with anything in the relationship. She can behave overly emotional, irrational, manipulative, and entitled, and her man should just put up with it. He should always be the rescuer and pathologically give to her. He should bend to her every whim because, if she isn't satisfied, there's no happiness in the house. How is this fair? 

A man who bases his happiness around his wife's moods sounds weak to me. 

This doesn't sound like a healthy relationship. If anything, it sounds exploitive and even abusive. If the shoe were on the other foot, and women were to say, "Happy Husband, Happy Life," there would be outrage.

Marriage Is a Partnership

The “happy wife, happy life” saying undermines the important fact that marriage is a partnership. Both partners should have equal accountability and responsibility in the relationship. Both partners should feel like they can voice their opinions and influence one another. And both partners should share power and privilege. You should have mutual respect.

Of course, you should want to make your spouse happy, but your self-worth, life, and happiness shouldn't revolve around this.

The Subservient Husband

The truth is, most women don't respect men who say yes to everything. It's not just a married issue; it goes with every human relationship. 

Most women don't respect men who say yes to everything.

Sure, it's nice when your husband does nice things for you, but if he always says yes without ever questioning or challenging you, you'll end up walking all over him because he has no boundaries and no backbone. Plus, wouldn't it be better if your husband had a mission of his own instead of being caught up in always pleasing you?

Is the Relationship Unbalanced?

A good way to see if the relationship is unbalanced or has any underlying issues is to self-reflect.

If you catch yourself feeling the need to control or manipulate your husband into doing things your way, pause for a second and ask yourself why.

Some ways in which women control their husband's behavior include:

  • Constantly checking up on him.

  • Telling him how to load the dishwasher (or telling him how to do everything).

  • Dictating who he can and can't spend time with.

  • Crying and being overly emotional to trigger the damsel in distress response.

Grab a pen and paper, ask yourself why you feel the need to do this, and see what comes up. Journaling is a great way to get to the bottom of what's going on internally and in your relationship.

If you catch yourself feeling the need to control your husband, pause and ask yourself why.

People are often unaware of where their anger and frustration stem from, and over time it can manifest into bitterness and resentment. It's essential to slow down and give yourself the space to focus inwards from time to time. 

For example, if you're constantly telling your husband what to do, ask yourself, "Is he a child who needs to be told, or is something else going on? How does that make you feel? If you feel frustrated or angry, why do you feel like this? Are you tired or hungry? Do you wish he’d be more of a man, or are you still annoyed about the time he overstepped your boundaries and now it's manifesting as passive-aggressive behavior in you? Do you need to resolve this issue with him by communicating openly and honestly?"

If things are really bad, and you find you can't get through to your husband, it might be time to ask others for help. 

Closing Thoughts

“Happy wife, happy life” should be more than just a slogan on a t-shirt. Marriage is about a healthy balance between yourself and your husband where you both work to meet each other's needs. Both of you must be happy, loved, and equally served to have a happy life together.

Love Evie? Let us know what you love and what else you want to see from us in the official Evie reader survey.