It’s Not Your Job to Keep Your Wife (or Husband) Happy

One of the things I often wrestle with is my desire to fix and control things.  I am someone who values being in the driver’s seat. Often times I like to push the limits of what I think I can do, or the situation that I am in. In a lot of situations that works out well: when I’m casting vision for the church, when I’m leading in the Army Reserve, or even when I am coaching my son’s baseball team. 

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An area where that doesn’t work out well is in my marriage. Whenever I try to fix or control how my wife feels, I always end up with a less-than-desirable outcome. Usually, she is mad – which just so happens to be the exact opposite of what I was going for. 

The one thing that I’m continually learning is that my wife doesn’t want to be married to someone who is not going to let her be her. When I try to “fix” (as if I could) how she is feeling what she hears from me is this: “Could you be in a better mood so we can get back to me?” The funny part is what I am really trying to say is this: “I’m hurting for you and I just want to make it better. I feel inadequate, let me fix something.”

One of the major concepts of my book Unbreakable is the idea that it is impossible to become responsible for your partner’s feelings. Rather, the best option -- and the only healthy option -- is to love, support, and communicate.  Happiness comes from being in a marriage where both partners feel respected and valued; thinking I can “fix” my wife robs her of that.

When I hit one of those moments when I’m feeling responsible for my wife’s feelings I like to ask myself these questions:

Am I being honest?
Am I being authentic?
Am I available to her?

If I can answer yes to those three then I’ve done everything I can to support my wife, and in that moment I have found my own happiness.