True of False? “Happy Wife, Happy Life!” Not surprisingly, the correct answer to this ditty is true. But not for the reasons often implied. Usually when we use this phrase, the implication is that if a spouse wants to be happy it is their duty to make their spouse happy. If the husband does the right combination of acts of service, avoids doing things that upset or anger her and is generally subservient to his wife’s wishes and demands, then everything will go smoothly and everyone will be happy.
While I am a huge proponent of putting love first, avoiding fighting and arguing, and for the most part meeting the needs and wishes of your spouse, the fact is it is not your responsibility to make your spouse happy. I repeat, it is not your responsibility to make your spouse happy. Nor is it their responsibility to make you happy. There has been a great deal of research conducted lately in the field of positive phycology. It used to be assumed that a happy wife, led to a happy marriage. The thought was that if “momma is not happy, nobody’s happy”. But the research is showing a different reality.
Individuals who are looking for happiness inside of their marriage, end up not having happy marriages. Happy people who bring their happiness to the marriage, have happy marriages. In other words, it is not the marriage that creates the happy person, the happy person creates a happy marriage. When individuals begin to understand that happiness in “inside” work and not the result of “outside” circumstances falling into place, their own happiness level begins to soar. Positive phycology is teaching that there are pathways that lead to happiness. When individuals learn these pathways they generally increase their own happiness. Some of these pathways include learning to become a more positive person, understanding the power of gratitude, learning positive self talk and developing a healthier life style. In my work with couples I frequently hear people who are experiencing mid-life crisis say, “I am just not happy”. They say this as an excuse to leave the marriage. Frequently they believe that by changing spouses they will be happier. They fall into the trap of believing that the source of their unhappiness is their spouse.
For this reason, at every day long intensive that I conduct I have both of the spouses watch the documentary, “Happy”. (I highly recommend this documentary). The truth is if you are not happy, leaving your marriage is not going to make you happy. You are going to end up more miserable. Happiness is inside work not out side work. If you want to increase the happiness ratio of your marriage, work on becoming a happier person. When happy people, bring their happiness to the marriage, they have happy marriages. There is nothing wrong with focusing on your happiness, just be certain that you are not looking at your spouse as the source of that happiness. Happy wife, happy husband, happy marriage.