I am really into etymology. No, no, not entymology; that’s the study of bugs. I’m into finding the original source, or closest original source possible, for quotes. Especially in today’s internet age, they get misattributed far too often. Most uses of quotes are ripped off from someone else and repurposed by some flashy new speaker, writer, or other communicator. That’s not fair to the original person that opined their quip for their pre-internet audience to internalize. Quotations must be property attributed!
Ok, enough of that highfalutin talk.
Because I like to find the source of quotes, I worked to try to find the original source for the phrase “Happy wife, happy life”. Here’s what I found: it seems to have come from a newspaper short called “The Work and Wages Party” from Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette, October 22, 1903. It reads like this:
I’m a work and wages party man,
I say that’s what I am.
You’ll find me true and hearty, man,
For that is what I am.
Now, let’s rejoice to end the strife,
With all the kids in clover,
A happy wife, a happy life,
And a jolly good turn over.
I really want to be able to tell you that this looks like something more than a little ditty with some rhyming words, but I think that’s exactly what we’ve got here. It just sounded really good, and page 38, or wherever it was, needed some filler. However, that line sure does make a lot of sense, when taken away from the other context around it, or lack thereof. And, fortunately for us, The Bible has a lot to say about this valuable insight.
King Solomon, in the book of Proverbs, offers us several important ways to live well as married couples. His first piece of advice is to choose your friends carefully and to choose friends that will support you in your fidelity. In Proverbs 2:16-22, Solomon wrote:
“Wise friends will rescue you from the Temptress—that smooth-talking Seductress Who’s faithless to the husband she married years ago, never gave a second thought to her promises before God. Her whole way of life is doomed; every step she takes brings her closer to hell. No one who joins her company ever comes back, ever sets foot on the path to real living. So—join the company of good men and women, keep your feet on the tried-and-true paths. It’s the men who walk straight who will settle this land, the women with integrity who will last here. The corrupt will lose their lives; the dishonest will be gone for good.”
When you lie down with dogs, you get fleas. Choosing the right friends will influence the outcome of your marriage and the relationship you have with your spouse.
Solomon also advised us that the best way to prevent temptation is to avoid exposing ourselves to the opportunity. In Proverbs 5:3-9, Solomon warned us:
“The lips of a seductive woman are oh so sweet, her soft words are oh so smooth. But it won’t be long before she’s gravel in your mouth, a pain in your gut, a wound in your heart. She’s dancing down the perfumed path to Death; she’s headed straight for Hell and taking you with her. She hasn’t a clue about Real Life, about who she is or where she’s going. So, my friend, listen closely; don’t treat my words casually. Keep your distance from such a woman; absolutely stay out of her neighborhood. You don’t want to squander your wonderful life, to waste your precious life among the hardhearted.”
Happy wives are women that don’t have to worry about where their husbands have been while away from one another. Remember the article about absolutes? Fidelity and faithfulness are absolutes. There’s no such thing as being “mostly” faithful, just like a woman can’t be “mostly” pregnant. She either is or isn’t, and you either are or are not.
The wise Solomon reminded us that sometimes, we just need to be reminded. Sounds a bit redundant and confusing? Well, it’s true; sometimes, we don’t need to be taught, we just need to be reminded. Solomon reminded us in Proverbs 5:18-19 that we married a beautiful woman, and we shouldn’t forget it. Solomon wrote, “Enjoy the wife you married as a young man! Lovely as an angel, beautiful as a rose— don’t ever quit taking delight in her body. Never take her love for granted!”
Solomon told us again in Proverbs 31:10 and 31:
“A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. Her husband joins in with words of praise: ‘Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!’ Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-GOD. Give her everything she deserves! Adorn her life with praises!”
Perhaps the thing we take the most for granted as marriage progresses is the value of praise. Everyone craves sincere praise, especially those that love us most. Take the time every day to offer loving, sincere praise to your wife. She will value it more than any monetary gift you could offer her. I’ve seen some of the wealthiest couples divorce in unrelenting anger and revenge, and seen some of the poorest couples live spiritually rich, fulfilling lives filled with love for one another. Treat your wife with the kindness and respect she deserves, and you’ll find she will do the same for you as well.
Don’t ever fall victim to “The Seven Year Itch” or any other loss of love and devotion for your spouse. She was beautiful to you when you married her, and she still should be in your eyes. Whether it’s been seven years or seventy, love your wife every day and admire her beauty as you grow old together. No amount of jewelry or fancy clothing will replace the beauty of a committed husband and wife taking life’s journey together in fidelity, love, and faith in God.
So, what were those “happy wife, happy life” things again?
- Be friends with people that are supportive of your fidelity and your marriage
- Avoid trouble by staying away from temptation in the first place
- Love your wife like you did when you married her – or even more
- A good woman is hard to find – adorn her with praise
If you’ll get these things right, no matter how long you’ve been married, you will make an immediate, ongoing positive impact on your marriage. A happy wife truly does make for a happy life, and Solomon knew it. Now, so do you.
May God bless you, now and always.