Happy Wife, Happy Life!
How often have you either A) heard this expression or B) said it yourself? Is it really a truthful or fair statement to make?
Relationships need to be built from a stable, balanced foundation. This means couples need to be willing to give and take without feeling diminished or devalued in the process. As much as we value independence, intellect, and initiative, there are times when these strengths can become harmful in our relationships.
In all cultures, there are customary roles and stereotypes for males and females. While some may seem a bit old-fashioned (even demeaning at times), these roles still exist and are brought into relationships. A lot of this goes back to our value system. (For a more in-depth discussion of values, see “What Are Your Values?”)
Relationships are a continuous process of negotiation, where we balance our own wants and desires while also being in service to the other person. We need to recognize that they change as we change, and flow as we flow. However there are times when the negotiations begin to break down, and we may find ourselves resentful over the changes.
Let’s take Tom and Linda as an example. Tom and Linda have been married for over twenty-five years, doing the “typical” family thing where Tom worked and Linda stayed home with the kids. Everything was working well until after the last of their kids moved out. At that point, Linda was left with fewer responsibilities at home, so she could come and go as she pleased without having to cater to their kids’ needs. She could even go back to work as her skills were still very marketable.
The problem was that Tom was afraid she would earn more than he did if she went back to work. His job was steady, but he had gone as high as he could in his company. Linda, on the other hand, could easily punch through that glass ceiling in just three years. She had the drive, education, and motivation to get there.
While Tom understood her desire to work, he thought if she surpassed his income level, he would end up number two in the relationship, which he felt threatened his masculinity.
It might seem sexist to say certain roles belong to certain genders, but there is a lot of truth to that point of view. So in order to keep your relationship solid and thriving, it’s important to break through the typical stereotypes and agree on the roles you will have in your relationship.
Here are some questions to ask yourself if you feel your relationship might have “violated the law of love”:
- Am I spending a lot of time telling my partner what he or she should be doing?
- Am I making too many rules that aren’t open for negotiation?
- Am I taking on added responsibilities because I feel my partner is incapable of doing these tasks?
- Am I refusing to listen to what my partner is telling me because I don’t like it?
It’s important you and your partner both think about your answers to these questions, because if you’re out of sync, one or both of you may become bitter or angry. While the expression “Happy Wife, Happy Life” has truth to it, neither side should feel as if they’re the only one compromising.