if you say “happy wife, happy life” again, i will scream
I need to say this for a moment.
And I want to preface this by saying I am not, I repeat not, an ideal “Proverbs 31” wife. I speak my mind, I don’t bow when my husband comes in the door, we argue (a lot), we are both the most stubborn people on the planet, I still make a lot of the household decisions, I don’t clean all the time, I lose my temper, I’m lazy, and during naptime, I’d rather check my blog instead of clean the bathroom.
“Happy wife, happy life”
But could any phrase be more sexist, more blatantly de-masculating? Sure, some men love their wives to high heaven and would walk off a cliff for them because of that love, but men deserve happiness too. And their wives’ happiness should not be at the detriment of the man or his dignity. I hear this phrase way too often, or others like it: “her way or the highway” “she’s the boss” “she rules the roost” “if mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy”.
I went to the post office the other day to drop off some items I’m returning and other things that I sold. There were two postal workers there, at 5:20. And I was the only customer there. I began talking about my children with the kind woman serving me (I know, a kind postal worker!) and the man next to her started talking about his sweet 10 month old son.
Me: “Oh you have a 10 month old son, so sweet!”
Him: “I know, he’s so amazing, I’m so tired, but it’s worth it.”
Me: “Does he wake up a lot at night? My girl does at least once, it’s so hard, but they are only young for a short time.”
Him: “Yes, I feed him once, sometimes twice a night depending on when he wakes up.”
Me: “Wow, that’s amazing, does your wife work then, and you two switch off?” — this was a nosy question, but he was being open and didn’t mind the question.
Him: “No, she stays home.”
I was silent for a moment. A wife and mother who stays home and has her husband take care of the baby at night? This is foreign to me. And, to be honest, I think it’s wrong. By my choosing, I got up, and still get up, with my babies every night. I nursed their sweet selves back to bed, from newborn perfection and on. This got very difficult when my son was about 15 months and was getting up three times a night — my husband went into his room a couple, rare times (maybe 3?) during those difficult days, so my son wouldn’t want to just nurse. But other than that, it has been all me.
I am the mother. Was I tired? (“A monster,” as my husband so affectionately referred to me? Absolutely.) But I cherish those moments. Of course I am tired and sometimes a zombie and I’m not saying that lack of sleep is pretty or roses, but I try to see my children as 10, 15, 20 years old in that moment. When they are that age, I will never regret holding them and nursing them back to sleep. They are my babies. And it is my job, the stay-at-home mom, to care for them at night.
Me: “And you work? She doesn’t get up with him?”
Him: “She doesn’t want to get up. She is not a morning person.”
The postal worker woman: “I know, isn’t that crazy?”
Me: “Wow, I don’t want to overstep here, but that isn’t right, I stay home and I cherish my role as a stay at home mom, but my husband has never gotten up with my babies. That’s my job.”
Him: “Well, I just do it because she doesn’t want to.”
Me: “But you are making the money, you are providing for her to stay home, you need your sleep to do your job! Again, I shouldn’t overstep, please excuse me.”
Woman: “We tell him all the time, he’s so tired all the time.”
I should also say that I am a very outspoken person. It gets me trouble or a laugh — I hope that my words were at least helpful to this poor, wonderful new father.
Him: “Well you know happy wife, happy life.”
Me: “Well that’s bullshit. Happy husband, happy life, why does she get to be happy and you are at work trying to keep your eyes open? I’m sure she is a great lady, but she’s home all day, she has one child and could rest during his nap, you can’t rest, that’s crazy. Again, forgive me.”
Him: “But that’s what she wants. She says she works too.”
Me: “It’s not the same, and I think I can say that because I stay home too. You need your rest to provide for your family.”
I know way too many people who are living this same scenario. Some men want to take care of their children at night or cook dinner after a full day’s work — and bravo for them — but are most scared of their wives? Does the wife deserve more sleep than the man? Is it out of fear? Of sleeping on the couch? Of their spouse withholding sex?
Tired man. He looked at me like I had just quoted Einstein’s theory of relativity. He couldn’t believe that I’d said it. Men deserve respect. He deserves respect.
Except, when some men don’t — there are many men who don’t deserve the respect of their families — for that, there is prayer. So please don’t misunderstand — I am talking about the specific scenario of a working, committed father and stay-at-home mom. Of course there are many people in many different situations. Many of my friends work, both inside and outside of the home, and these families share household and childcare responsibilities. That is different. If the woman is also in the workplace, then there must be different expectations — I don’t believe all responsibility should be all on the woman.
I am beyond grateful for my husband. He also kicks me in the pants sometimes. He reminds me when I’m not respecting him. He reminds me that he goes to work, gets home late, and deserves to have a say in the household. I don’t like his expectations for a clean home (no, it’s not a day care, but yes, we have children, so some toys on the floor is going to happen). Sometimes dinner isn’t ready (or started), and sometimes I bought one too many things that day. (Whoops.)
I fail miserably. But I am trying. And sometimes he doesn’t notice. And sometimes he does. And I keep trying.
I cook dinner every evening. I get up with my babies. I clean (mostly, though I’ll admit that my husband sometimes washes the bathtub because I don’t do it right apparently). As stay at home moms, these are my responsibilities. (We don’t have a cleaning service, but a girl can pray and hope, right?!) There is a fine line to this — my children come first — not the chores, and my husband knows this, and is trying to accept it…. — I am not a “cleaning lady at home.”
Thankfully (he is just as outspoken as me), he reminds me that he provides for my lifestyle. He goes to work so his children can stay home with their mother to raise them. He deserves respect.
I adore him.
His sacrifice and hard work should not be taken lightly.
He should be praised and honored in his home.
I COMPLETELY agree. Thank you for this article. I love your transparency. Although I didn’t start out as a “good” wife who respected her husband because I just didn’t have an example of that growing up as an only child and my parents divorced. Thanks to an older lady at my church who mentored me. Through a lot of prayer and heart to hearts with my husband we are better then ever. Although yes we still fight. But I’m better for it and I thank my husband everyday for working so that I can stay home and enjoy my children and homeschool them.
Yes, it is such a blessing to stay home — and I hope to homeschool my children throughout their elementary years as well, I can’t imagine it any other way and I know so many who aren’t able to! Thanks for visiting ♥
Great article. I loathe the expression “Happy Wife; Happy Life” too. My late husband & I respected each other equally. How self absorbed does a woman have to be to think that is an acceptable statement & how whimpy of a husband to entertain it. I know some say it jokingly but it is awful.
I personally like these phrases. Some people use these phrases in a playful way… :) Also, Marshall has given you the life that you want and that probably makes him happy.
That being said, I really enjoyed your post. I agree that this phrase shouldn’t mean that the man should work AND clean AND take care of the kids if the wife is not doing anything. It is surprising what some men (or people in general) put up with…!
I agree, sometimes people say these things in jest, but I still get annoyed by it! And you’re right, he does want me and our family to be happy, not just him :) xo
Amen! A responsible, good father and husband should be respected and supported, not treated like someone to wipe your feet on. I feel as though women in our society like to treat men as inferior … and it is so wrong. But I would like to add, be careful with interfering! You don’t want to cause contention between that husband and his wife! What they do is their choice.
BTW, I love to read your blog! I really like your insights.
AMEN AMEN AMEN! I feel like you’ve written down about 100 conversations/discussions/thoughts in my own head in this one post! A lot of friends think I’m ‘too’ submissive; or that my hubby is too demanding of me. But what it comes down to is I respect my husband’s authority and place in our home as the head of the house- I am his helpmate- we are a team. My role is at home to help him be at work. If I neglect my duties, he suffers and vice versa. I am so grateful to have his blessing and choosing for me to stay at home for this season while our children are young! His colleagues, btw- are absolutely incredulous when they find out I don’t ‘work’ and cannot fathom how we live on 1 income. :) It’s tough, but smart shopping and praying over our purchases is one of my spiritual gifts!
Oh yes, I totally agree! I was shocked as well one time when a SAHM friend of mine mentioned that hubby and her take turns feeding the baby at night. It is a little harder now with two kids because I can’t nap during the day, but I still nurse the baby throughout the night. My hubby did the same as yours when our toddler was getting close to 2 and still waking up several times a night. But yes, I couldn’t agree more that a working father who provides for his family deserves some respect AND some sleep! (And I WANT my husband rested because his performance at work is our paycheck!).
Thank you for (re)sharing this. I really needed to hear something like this. All too often we focus only on ourselves, forgetting that we are partners in a marriage relationship — and that all will NOT be equal. When one parent stays at home, the other works. There is give and take, balancing of responsibilities, and all too often the working parent is the one who is “scolded” for being absent from the home. In reality, it is their absence that allows the other to stay home and parent. Sometimes we forget how blessed we are, and how we need to extend grace and understanding to our spouse :(.
Thanks so much for commenting Betsy, I have to remind myself of this all the time, he supports us and blesses us, so I must bless him!! xo
While I understand that you were trying to give advice, I think that you totally overstepped your bounds in this situation. You not only made judgments about this man’s wife without hearing her side of the story, you put your two cents in about her to her husband. If I found out that another person was giving my husband advice about what I should and shouldn’t do as a mother/wife, I would be highly upset. While you may be able to function as a wife and mother and get up with a child every night, some people may not be able to do the same. She may have other things going on in her life that he didn’t mention to you– a complete stranger!
“Happy wife, happy life” is basically a man saying he has handed full control over all family decisions and spending over to the female. Men who say “Happy Wife, Happy Life!” are emasculated cowards who will soon be divorced anyways because a women given complete control over the family and the money is never going to be happy anyways.
Happy Wife Happy Life feeds into the natural narcissism of women, borne of the arrogance and sin of pride of Eve.
Men who hand the reigns over to women are not real men, and they are not married to real women.
Feminism sells this poison to society, and men – not being above their lustful ways – allow women to manipulate them. The first step in having power over women is having power over one’s sexuality. When a woman’s charms are no longer effective over a man, he can now be rational and reasonable and effectively manage her as a partner.
So long as he is lustful, she will then fall back to her natural (sinful) instincts and manipulate him.
The terrible state of women today is because of the failing of men to be real men.
This is a very traditional point of view which is disproportionately favorable to the working spouse in my opinion. Taking care of an infant can be much more challenging than the intellectual and/or social stimulation of a professional occupation. As such I believe the stay-at-home parent deserves as much help as possible when his/her spouse comes back from work. Infant care coupled to house care is most often at least as demanding as a professional job. It seems normal then for duties and chores to be split equally when both parents are home.
— Another father who works and helps feed his baby at night.
If you live by what you wrote you will be happy. I am so tired of happy wife, happy life. The woman is not to mold the man into what she wants and the man isn’t to mold the woman into what he wants. It’s love folks, not slavery.
lol, glad it resonated with you :) still trying to live the dream 10 years in :)