By Lady Chatterley
Lady Chatterley writes of her frustration with the expression “happy wife happy life” and of the importance of being able to discuss marriage from all angles.
A few months ago at a wedding for a close friend, the groom’s father stood up and gave a genuinely warm and funny speech about the newlyweds that had the room in utter hysterics. At the end however, he turned to his son and, in the tradition of wedding speeches, offered his advice for a successful marriage. To paraphrase, his “advice” was something along the lines of the wife always being right, even when she’s wrong, followed by the tired cliché “happy wife happy life.” He then asked his son to put his hand on top of his new bride’s stating, “that’s the last time you’ll ever have the upper hand.” Hilarious. Or not.
I was reminded of this speech when I read Maggie Reyes’ piece on the Good Men Project about the 19 Things Happy Husbands do. Reyes wrote: “build on pieces of happy every day. And before you know it, you’ll have a happy life and a happy wife.” That saying again. Facepalm. Yes, it’s often used in jest (although admittedly not in this case). But that doesn’t make it any less irritating.
I wholeheartedly agree with the central idea in Reyes’ piece that it’s the little things that go a long way when it comes to enhancing a relationship. Listening. Displays of kindness. An unexpected gift, just because. I also agree with the sentiments expressed by many of the commenters that having a good relationship takes two. A number of people in the Good Men community felt that Reyes focusing on what men could do to make their wives happy, placed the responsibility for the success of their marriage squarely on them. In Reyes’ defense though, nowhere did she state that it doesn’t take two. Her article simply focused on and shared the feedback from the wives surveyed on her ModernMarried Facebook page about what makes them happy. The Good Men Project is, after all, a website with primarily male readership so focusing on advice to husbands is hardly unexpected. I do wonder however, whether Reyes’ use of the ‘happy wife happy life” expression distracted from her core message: that it’s the little things that count.