Is Making My Spouse Happy the Most Important Thing?
Happy Wife, Happy Life!
Husbands, can any of you relate to these words?
Wives, how about you- do you agree?
How about this one, for all the parents out there: “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”
Oy… those words certainly strike a chord in my life.
Ask my husband or any one of my kids and they’ll tell you: “Mama hates when the house is cluttered, our rooms are a mess, and our toys aren’t picked up.”
Admittedly, when the house is in disarray, I make a great impression of the big bad wolf; I huff and I puff and threaten to blow the house down…
…and throw away all the junk that’s making my house a mess.
When every floor in the house has legos, stuffed animals, dirty clothes, and art supplies strewn across it, it’s like my inner hulk explodes out and goes on a rampage, yelling, throwing, and pouring out my angry wrath on every person in earshot.
This continues until one of two things happens…
a) the house is cleaned to my standards
b) the frustration overwhelms me, and I give up
Either way, it’s a losing battle.
What’s your domain?
Maybe you don’t relate when it comes to a clean house.
Lest you think you’re immune to the inner hulk and big bad wolf, consider another area in your life where you’ve placed demands on your family. Perhaps one of these resonates?
A garage that’s organized just how you like it
Vehicles kept in pristine condition
The garden/landscaping- lush and beautiful
A workshop, barn, shed- This is MY area, she doesn’t get a say in it.
A studio- This is where I do my work, why does he care how it looks?
We ALL have areas we think belong to US. Though we might have different standards for cleanliness in those areas, we can easily justify our cause and attitude. We insist our family bend to our rules because we think it’s OUR domain.
This isn’t just true of a specific place, it’s also true of our time, priorities, responsibilities, hobbies, etc.
I not only deserve some me time, I need it! So, you all need to leave me alone. (Do you feel overwhelmed and exhausted most of the time? For help and encouragement, check out A Marriage at Rest: Finding Peace and Balance Where You Least Expect It.)
If I don’t get my workout done, I’m gonna be a bear, so you all need to stay out of my way and give me time to do it.
I MUST get this (insert job here) done before I can do anything else! Go handle your own problem so I can finish this.
BE QUIET!!!! I CANNOT THINK WITH ALL THIS NOISE!
In our selfishness, we make it painfully clear what is most important to us. In our “woe-is-me,” “put-out” attitude, in the rules we make, in the demands we place on our loved ones, we show what matters most to me is ME. My comforts, my priorities, my desires.
The same can be true of your spouse.
When we see our spouse (or ourselves) being self-led rather than Spirit-led, how do we help them (and ourselves) change course?
Hey Husbands, I’m talking to you
Some men might be thinking, Hey, if a cluttered house is making my wife upset, I’ll wrangle the kids to help pick up the house. It’s not worth her wrath. We all know this mess will set her off, so let’s just get it done.
Happy wife, happy life.
If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
Men, what you’re saying in those actions is: “I’ll just let her get her way; it’s easier than dealing with the fallout.”
Too many men think they’re glorifying God with the “happy wife, happy life” attitude.
They’re not. (More on this later.)
Wives, think about it…
We can always justify why we should get what we want. But, in our constant demands for our standards to be met, we lose sight of the high cost our selfishness is to our family.
Do you want them to walk on eggshells around you?
Do you want them to fear the fallout if they make a mistake or don’t meet your standards?
Do you want them to live under constant pressure of your dominion and rule?
Do you really want their happiness to be based on yours? Catering to your every call until YOU are happy?
So, what is the primary goal?
We must show our family that true fulfillment can be found only in Christ.
NOT in pleasing someone else... even ourselves.
Does this mean the house gets left in disarray?
It means our motivation must change.
Seek to serve, not punish
Try to teach, not torment with your tantrums
Give grace, not grumbling
Extend encouragement, not disappointment with unmet expectations
Always, in every situation, be an example of God’s love to your family.
God, just give me this and then I’ll be happy
It’s not just our family on whom we place demands.
And it’s not just us who tell God to give us what we want.
The Israelites did it, too.
Take a moment to read 1 Samuel 8:5-20.
Notice: up until that point, the Israelites never followed an earthly king. They already had the BEST king ever (God Himself), so why did they need an earthly one?
But they believed in their finite minds that having a king like all the other nations would set them up for success.
WE know what’s best for us! …or so they thought.
Samuel- who was “God’s mouthpiece” to the Israelites- was worried by the Israelites’ request, because he could see the consequences of their actions, which they could not (I’m so guilty of this!).
But God told him in verse 9: Now listen to them (the Israelites); but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.
Samuel lists the king’s claims in verses 11-17, and the demands aren't pretty.
But the Israelites demanded a king anyway, and traded the Almighty, Perfect God for a schmuck named King Saul.
And things didn’t go the way they expected… at all.
Saul was a selfish man, a terrible ruler, a king on a power trip. He insisted things be done his way, not God’s way.
We can learn a lot from the Israelites and from King Saul. Do you see the a sinful cycle?
Sure, it seems logical that we know what’s best for us and getting what we want would certainly make us happy. Ultimately though, when we demand that everyone serve us and meet our needs, we become terrible taskmasters.
We become enslaved to an idol that will NEVER satisfy, and we rope our families into slavery, too.
God warned the Israelites that their choice would have consequences (v. 18). They chose to ignore All-Knowing. All-Powerful, Almighty God.
And so it is with us.
When we are prideful and DEMAND our way, God’s Way will still win every time, but He will often allow us to go through the painful consequences of our actions.
He may let us have exactly what we desire. Then we’ll understand it will never measure up, never satisfy; it is costly and eternally insufficient.
My house may be perfectly clean with everything in its place. But if my husband and children are miserable, Mama ain’t happy. Ain't nobody happy.
In His love, God allows the “picture-perfect” thing we seek to be unfulfilling.
At the same time, He helps our family learn that serving someone else’s idol will only lead to burnout for everyone.
But, just like kids change from grateful little humans to demanding little terrors, so we become when we don’t get what we want…when we forget what God has done for us through His Son Jesus Christ.
God wants to change our HEART.
Do NOT let your family’s happiness be based on your own.
Set aside your pride; allow your children (and husband) the freedom to see that life is BIGGER than serving you and meeting your demands.
Surrender your time and resources to the Lord- for His glory and His use- not your own.
When we live in humility and say GOD’S WAY is best, we make it our life goal to serve HIM. Then our family will start to understand: the same goes for their lives.
Vow to change: an encouraging call to action
Lay down your “rights” (what you think you need/want) and pick up an attitude of thankfulness to Christ.
Stop forcing your family into serving your demands. Instead, ask how you can meet their needs, serve them, and love them
Allow your husband the freedom to lead. Provide space and opportunity to do so.
Accept and encourage his role in your marriage, not just your own, then humbly watch the natural outflow of gifts that come as he walks in the freedom to be a conduit of God’s love for you.
Release your family from the prison sentence of Happy Wife, Happy Life, and escape to the freedom of serving CHRIST together by serving one another.
Follow Jesus as the example of how to live this out; let the power of the Holy Spirit work in your heart to become more Christ-like.
Your role is to LOVE YOUR WIFE (Ephesians 5:25), not just make her happy. Don’t confuse the two. You need to know her needs and wants, strengths and weaknesses, what stresses and pressures she faces daily. Prioritize your relationship with her second only to your relationship with God.
Lead with generous love; do not force your wife into the leadership role! (This may be acceptable in today’s culture, but not by Biblical standards.) Do NOT make your wife an excuse for your lack of initiative or self-discipline. God has given you a charge AND the ability to follow it through!
Do not ignore your wife’s heart condition; a spiritual leader never leaves his wife in her sin. Pandering to her demands is not what’s most God-honoring; it will provide short-term, temporary payoffs at best, but will mostly likely have long-term consequences.
Be a good steward of your family. How? 1) Create family and individual goals aligned with what you see God wanting to accomplish. 2) Periodically set aside time with each family member and ask them what important things are/aren't happening in the home. 3) Check in with everyone frequently; get an idea of what areas they’re struggling in, and what kind of support they need. 4) If your family has constant drama, isn’t spiritually healthy, is stressed out/frazzled/always running from place to place- it is your responsibility to lead them to a healthier place.
Lead by example; be a role model for your family. If you take care of your commitments, sacrifice “your” time to love on your wife and kids, extend grace, forgiveness, and unending love… they will do the same.
Do all the above unassumingly (i.e., even if they don’t reciprocate/appreciate it)! Read Isaiah 65 and see how God models this with Israel.
Remember, authority is what God gives, leadership is what man does.
Men, regardless of how passive or dominant a woman is, she has a deep desire to be led by a caring, loving, righteous man.
If you lead, your family will follow!
Husbands and Wives,
As I mentioned earlier, no one is immune to the inner hulk or the big bad wolf. Our sin nature will always make us bend toward demanding our own way.
Have you ever thought…
I would better be able to serve God if (fill in the blank) were different/taken care of.
If everyone would just follow my rules (agenda), I would have time and energy to do what God asks of me!
If only my husband/wife would ________, I could do my daily devotions.
If only my kids would/wouldn’t _________, then I’d find the peace I need to _________. (Want to dig into this more? Listen to a powerful podcast on this topic by clicking HERE).
Ask yourself: What am I demanding through my words, attitude, or obstinate silence?
We need to hold each other accountable.
Be a team; when Wife is on the rampage, Husband needs to lovingly step in, offer reprieve, and later admonish the way her ideals are ruling the house. Encourage her to repent, then seek forgiveness from God and family. Take on her causes from a position of passionate service, not fear. (Be her biggest champion! For a great podcast on this, click HERE)
The same goes if the roles are reversed!
Happy wife, happy life? No, scratch that.
How about something like this…
Follow Christ, happy life? Meh, getting closer…
Follow Christ, abundant life? YES!
Follow Christ, abundant life.
After all, it’s not about US, it’s about HIM, right?
Check it out
Knowing our Biblical marriage roles as husband and wife is important. Living them out can be challenging. Through obedience to God’s word and trustful prayer, over the course of time we will reap the rewards of living a God-honoring marriage.
For more information and encouragement on this topic, check out I Don’t Know What to Do! How Fulfilling Our Roles Can Change Our Marriage and listen to How to Help a Hurting Marriage - Roles [Episode 99]
Listen to the corresponding podcast: