It was with glee in my voice that I showed my husband the study I found about how making your wife happy improves the quality of a man’s life. To me, that was a win-win situation, but I should have known better, as my husband had a different idea.
“So, what exactly does a happy life for a man mean?” was the question he asked me. This was not turning out the way I had imagined it would at all. I mean, he should have been asking me about the thing he could do right away to make me happy, not for him to ask me what happiness means to a man. How would I know? I have only ever been a woman and only know what makes a woman happy. I might have an inkling of what happiness is to a man, but I’m no authority in that field.
Knowing I was now on the spot, I gave what I hoped was a fair enough answer; not nagging him about coming home late, making his favourite meal every day, and of course, sex on request. If only I knew, I should have held my peace and, like a typical Nigerian, asked another question instead of answering. I’m held to ransom by those statements of mine.
“What if I need more than that to make me happy?”
Now, you know exactly why I’m writing this piece. What if making me happy all the time isn’t going to make him happy in the long run? What if his life would be worse off by putting my own happiness before his own? Those were not thoughts I wanted to deal with. This was a failed mission, even before it started.
The phrase, “happy wife, happy life” has been around for most likely centuries, mouthed by one man to another, a daddy to son, mother to son, counsellors even. However, it might have more than the effect they wanted. Because, rather than build a relationship, build a life, it actually sees one person carrying so much in a relationship under the guise of wanting to have a happy life.
Men don’t behave true to type, when they put this myth into practice. They don’t share what’s important to them. They diminish their self-worth.
They make assumptions. Through trial and error they try to figure out what works and what doesn’t work to make their wives happy – based on the day, situation, her mood, etc. Oftentimes, these assumptions are incorrect.
The myth leads to long-term disappointment, frustration, resignation, and resentment for a man. Men can begin to develop thoughts like, ‘Why does she get everything she wants and I don’t? Doesn’t she see how much I sacrifice for her?’ It’s why you will hear a frustrated man say, “I have given so much for her already, what else does she want?”
From that popular sad image of a man walking on the sharp edge of a knife, in order to reach his woman, it shows the myth is still being perpetuated till today, even if people don’t say it often. If you were a man, having gone through all sorts of drama on behalf of your partner, surely you would want you’re boo to recognise your sacrifices and that’s where the danger is.
Any man who does this leaves his self-validation up to someone else, other than himself. He is a man…only if he is able to do certain things. Whether he is happy to or not is now dependent on whether his wife is happy. It’s a vulnerable state to be in. A man, who sacrifices his happiness for his spouse, sows the seeds for his own rebellion in the future. He will eventually act out on feeling stuck and suppressed. So, it’s better for him to be himself, act as he would now, rather than suppress his natural pursuit for joy all in the name of pleasing his wife.
Upon further reflection, I have come to realise it is not a joy ride for a woman to have a man who lives to please her too. It spoils her in the end. Take the case of an older married couple, close to me. They are an epitome of what a marriage should be, loving, caring, with a healthy dose of PDA that puts younger couples to shame.
A closer look however shows that someone is in the driver seat in their relationship all the time and it is not the man. Someone is in the funny position of having to please someone all the time, and that is the sad aspect of their relationship.
Before you say two phrases to this man, he is talking about his wife, whom he calls “mommy.” “Mommy would have loved this idea” “Mommy has a different and finer idea”, “Let me talk to mommy first and I will get back to you.” At first, it was romantic and sweet. I can’t remember, but I must have hinted that I wouldn’t mind being treated like that daddy was treating “Mommy”. Well you can guess the answer.
They are still married and do not look as though they would ever leave each other, not that I’m praying for such. On the contrary, this recipe has seen them raising boys and girls, who are already making them grandparents, so it must be working.
On the other hand, here’s a man who is suppressing his natural instincts, all because “mommy” would not like it. In essence, “mommy” is only living with some part of her man, not the whole and that is a huge part of that relationship gone.
When one party of a relationship participates in the myth of a happy wife, happy life, it is unhealthy, however, when both parties willingly participate in the myth, a co-dependent relationship is created.
It now becomes a cycle of “I need you to complete me. I need you to make me happy. I need you to validate my self-worth.” Did you notice the “need”? I kid you not when I say, it is sweet and romantic and you might even crave it like I did, but that is not love. It is a needy relationship.
A lasting and fulfilling relationship is built on trust, honesty and respect. Only through open and vulnerable conversation can a couple understand what is important to each other, and in their relationship. Doing those things will also be done, not based on the expectations of a reward but out of unconditional love.
I don’t know about you but if making me happy will not make my husband happy in the long run, abeg let me remain unhappy, so I can be with a happy husband in the future. Hope you got that.☺
Stay in love!
Kristine is a member of The Lovelint team. She is a down to earth person, who says it as it is. Having given relationship advice for years in a national daily, she has found out that fear is one of the main reasons holding people back from enjoying a healthy, happy relationship. She is married with kids and is willing to listen to you and help as much as you let her to.