We’ve all heard the phrase “happy wife, happy life” and many of us have used it a time or two in our own personal agenda to get what we want. We remind our husbands that if they keep us happy, they too, will remain happy. It’s usually said in a joking manner, with a hint of intention behind it. Many men have used it as an excuse for doing whatever their wife wants, like leaving the gathering early, buying the color couch she wants, or bringing home a new pet. My own husband has used it when negotiating his contracts to include round trip flights for me to visit when he is in another country for baseball. And yes, that does make me happy.
I used to giggle at this phrase, but lately I have been questioning it. I bet you’re thinking, why on earth would you question a time-tested key to a happy marriage. Well, friend, because I do not believe this is the key to a happy marriage, at least not for my marriage.
My husband would give me the world if he were able. I know this. I have even taken advantage of this fact. However, a few years into marriage has led me to the realization that joy in a marriage has nothing to do with a husband doing whatever it is to keep his wife happy. No, joy in a marriage comes more from what we do to keep each other feeling loved, feeling protected, and feeling appreciated.
A happy life starts then, not with a happy wife, but with a marriage filled with unconditional love and actions that reflect God’s love for each of us. God’s Word does not tell man to “keep his wife happy”. God’s Word tells man to cherish his wife and love her as Christ loved the church. (Ephesians 5:25). But what does God’s Word tell us wives? That is the part I am more interested in. That is the direction I am to follow.
“Wives submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:22-24).
If we go along with the old saying “happy wife, happy life”, that leaves the wife as the decision maker. I personally do not want the huge responsibility that God gave my husband as head of the household. My husband is responsible for making wise decisions that effect both him and I, keeping me protected and cherished, and sacrificing himself for me. (Ephesians 5:25). I am responsible for allowing him the space to make those decisions, believing in him to carry that burden, and trusting him enough to follow his lead. If you ask me, I’d say I got the better end of the deal.
The thing is, when I submit myself to my husband, I am not giving up control or happiness. I am putting my faith in him. Along with that, I am putting my faith in the Lord to direct my husband’s steps, leading both of us to all things good. This is where my marriage and life become “happy”. This is where walking in obedience with the Lord brings joy to our lives.
“Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” (Deuteronomy 5:33).
God’s Word should be where we turn to find the key to a happy life. Deuteronomy 5:33 tells us exactly what leads to that, obedience. Ephesians 5 gives us “Instructions for Christian Households” straight from the Word of God and Romans 12:2 cautions us not to “conform to the pattern of this world…”. Because God’s Word tells me to, I have chosen obedience, even within my marriage, as the source of my joy.
Does this mean I will always get my way? Definitely not. Does this mean I will always be happy with the decisions my husband makes? I wish. What this means is that I have trusted God with my marriage enough to live by His guidance rather than the cliché advice of the modern world. Sure, it may be easier to have a husband that obeys my every command, but it certainly wouldn’t be a marriage filled with happiness. Marriage is about two people as one, not me myself and I. (Matthew 19:6). We even have that scripture on the wall in our home as a reminder, one I need every now and again.
I keep my Bible close as my “how to” guide in marriage. I turn through the pages daily, seeking wisdom and truth on how to be a wife that honors God. Marriage, along with life, is not always easy and time and time again I need God to guide me. His Word never fails to do just that. It serves me well to keep His Word surrounding me, whether it be in a frame on my wall or in the book I carry in my purse. It serves my marriage, my husband and I both, to live by these Words and not the words of the world.
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8).