‘Happy Wife, Happy Life?’ How about ‘Happy Spouse, Happy House’ Instead?

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About Zach Rosenberg

Zach Rosenberg is a husband and father living in Southern California. He is co-founder of
fatherhood news site 8BitDad.com, and a contributor to HLNtv.com. You can also find him on Twitter @zjrosenberg.


  1. No matter how you phrase it, you better make sure the wife/partner is happy or you WON”T be. Years ago, when the wife and I had a disagreement on some appliances during a remodeling, my boss, about 20 years my senior at the time, offered what was probably the best advice ever. He said” to you, the home is where you go after you’re done making you’r way in the world. For her, the home IS the center of the world”. Go with her choice and you’ll be much happier, I gaurentee it!

    • So… by “best advice ever” you mean “best advice that assumes the man’s sphere is outside the home and the woman’s sphere is inside the home”… which is exactly the thing that doesn’t actually apply in a substantial way any more in most marriages, and the crux of the problem with the “happy wife, happy life” thing.

      • FlyingKal says:

        Well, if the paint scheme at home is totally non-negotiable for her, my only assumption is that it is, by default, important to her. For whatever reason.

        Any 1950′s spin you want to apply to that is totally in your head…

    • John Smith says:

      If your wife is making you unhappy because you don’t give in then the answer is not to start letting her have what she wants, but to seriously reconsider your relationship and to talk about it…

      That is such outdated and sexist advice. ” For her, the home IS the center of the world”… Shesh, thats almost “The wifes place is in the home”

  2. I couldn’t agree more! Dreadful mantra and I’ve never understood the appeal. (I say that as a woman who never would have thought of using that expression with my husband or anyone else.)

    Caring for one another. Exactly.

    But what do we do about the profusion of media sources spouting these sophomoric slogans so frequently that some begin to believe them?

  3. @ D.A Wolf

    The media doesn’t create it, they simply promote what they already know sells.

  4. A better mantra is “secure your own mask before trying to help others,” like on the airplane. If you’re not happy, you can’t help anyone else be happy, and trying to do so is the definition of co-dependence. Take care of yourself, then share the surplus joy and energy with your spouse, kids, etc…

  5. Let me be very post-modern and both agree and disagree. I have never, ever liked the phrase “Happy Wife, Happy Life”. it sounds (to me, just my opinion) very 1950s, and in any case privileges no one – it renders the husband an emasculated “wife pleaser” and the woman a mindless recipient of “being pleased”. I find that my old school guy friends are the ones who say this, and they say things like, “let your wife choose the paint color and the carpet when you re-model – it is way more important to her than you”. I think your reaction to this phrase depends on your view of gender roles. If you believe in so-called traditional gender roles then you probably like to take this approach – that making the little woman happy is important if you want to get what you want from the relationship. If you follow more recent definitions of gender and roles in relationships (as I do) you chafe at this statement, and prefer to see your partner — male or female — as your equal.

    • This is definitely a “where you’re at” argument. Some people still live and breathe by the “Happy Wife, Happy Life” thing, and it works for them. But I think it works for them because they want the kind of relationship where they think letting the wife choose the paint color makes her happy. And oh, sure – it does…in that decision, for that moment. But a deeper happiness is attained by both partners in asking “what do you want out of this marriage?”

      Then, of course, following through on it.

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