Happy Spouse, Happy House

happiness in marriage

For years I have been hearing the quote, "Happy wife - happy life." It has honestly never set well with me. The imbalance is jarring. The same goes for when a bride says it's HER wedding, as if the groom isn't half of the day.  It also doesn't speak to the myriad of options when it comes to what a couple might consist of - man/woman, man/man, woman/woman, non-binary.

It takes 2 to have a good relationship
One day while running down my Facebook feed I noticed a post by my friend - Mark Jarder - a young husband and father who expressed exactly the same sentiments, but he went a step further. He shared a more inclusive phrase I had not heard before that hit the mark for me. Happy spouse, happy house.  I loved it instantly. To that I would like to add the old bit of wisdom that has held true in our marriage - it takes two.

Whenever there is an imbalance in a relationship, there can be trouble.  I have seen it happen many times over my lifetime, relationships where one partner's needs are put above the other's It happens slowly over time. And it usually comes from a great place - one person wants the other person who they truly love to be happy. They decide out of love to put their partner's needs front and center. This beautiful gift can unfortunately create a pattern in the relationship where what makes one partner happy becomes the entire focus, while the other partner's needs become less and less important. 

One day, a reckoning can occur. The spouse doing most of the giving and adjusting stops and looks at their life. They realize they aren't happy any more and often that means leaving the relationship. All those little steps along the way where they thought they were doing the right thing by keeping their spouse happy and not sharing clearly what they needed has born very sad fruit. I am sure it happens with both men and women, but I know I was raised as a female to be exactly that kind of spouse. I was taught it was my job to keep everyone in the family happy. Not once was I taught to take time to fill my own cup.

Build each other up

When one of my children feel deeply in love and was ready to build a life with another, I remember talking with them about this. There were several ideas I threw out to consider. What they chose to do with these ideas was up to them. Their life to live - their relationship to build.

  • First was if they found something increasingly bothering them, they should start to talk about it with their partner while it was still a small thing, not wait until they had reached the breaking point and were angry. Holding onto our feelings until they explode doesn't give the other person a chance to have the time to explore the problem, or even see the tidal wave coming. So when we explode out of the blue,they are lost as to what we are talking about and can often become defensive.
  • Another was to always find a way to make some time for self care. Whoever in a relationship that takes a larger role in caregiving can spend all their time making sure everyone in the family is heard and getting the self-care time they need, while forgetting to - without apology - make sure they are getting the same in return. Those in a relationship who take a larger role in creating income don't have it easy either. They can get so immersed in trying to create financial security, they don't make time to just be there with the family enjoying life. 
relationships are a choice
To this day, I continue to encourage those I know who are married, as well as all those I know in a long term relationships, to sometimes set aside the needs of their family for a bit and consider what they really need at that moment.  It's so easy to lose sight of our own needs when we are dealing with work, kids, health, aging parents and more, and end up with a cup that is empty. 

To me, the phrase happy spouse, happy house embraces the best way to approach the goal of a love that lasts a lifetime.  Each spouse takes time to notice how the person they love is doing, encourages them to take time for self-care, and gives them the support they need to thrive. Two people supporting each other 100%. It the recipe that can help two people both grow as individuals as well as create a strong foundation as a couple.

How can you as a couple start to build this type of relationship?  I want to share something I shared at my daughter's wedding.  I admitted I didn't know what the perfect recipe was for a long marriage as all relationships are different. We come to them with our own unique needs. The one thing I did know was loving each other was a choice. Each day when you wake, you both make a commitment to love and accept each other for one more day...then one more day...then one more day.  This commitment comes before work, children, family and other life demands. Simple. Have a day you don't succeed, just wake up the next morning and commit to doing your best that day. 

One day you'll turn around and realize decades have passed.  And even then, you still have to wake up each morning and choose to love each other for one more day. 


  1. Hi Marilyn,
    Thank you.

    Your words and ideas are exactly the spirit and intent I am(we are) trying (sometimes successfully) to implement in my/our relationship.

    It is hard for me to disappoint anyone and especially my wife/spouse, on top of that she is considered to be someone who has high standards to begin with so I really chose a good challenge there. Smile.

    In my experience the hardest thing for me is to be aware of my own needs and to recognize in time before I explode. Mainly the recognizing part.

    I am working on connecting better with myself to be able to recognize when the needs wave starts and to communicate it to my spouse so that we can give it the space I need so it won't become a tidal wave.

    Thank you again for sharing and publishing for others,


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