Keeping Your Wife Happy Is Not Easy but Studies Show the Effort Is Worth the Benefits

John M. Dabbs

Many of us have heard, “Happy wife, happy life.” But is this more than just a saying? Years of watching my parents and grandparents have led me to believe it's true. Sullivan County is a great place to get married and raise a family. I met my wife in neighboring Washington County, and we spent lots of quality time supporting each other.

Making your partner happy is the cornerstone of a happy marriage. You'd think wives want something specific to women, but you'd be wrong. They generally want what we all want - connection, honesty, support, and validation. How we go about our tasks is often misunderstood as we might have a different "love language" than our partner. A love language is how we express our love, and best feel it ourselves.

Here are some tips from the experts to meet the basic human needs of our spouse:

Make communication a priority.

To make spouses happy, Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., says important to communicate regularly as a couple, "Many spouses find incredible joy simply as a result of being listened to." This does not mean you'll always agree on things. You'll feel more connected and heard if you listen to one another. Focus on your spouse when talking - turn the TV off, put down the phone or close the computer. They deserve your full attention.

Pay attention to the little things they love.

Dr. Manly believes people feel happy when their spouse pays attention to the little things. "Most wives thrive and feel deeply loved when their husbands attend to their little preferences in life." Make it a point to have her cup of coffee or tea the way she likes it in the morning. If you pass by her favorite bakery, bring her home a slide of something special - just because. If she likes it when you put the toilet seat down after, be the person who does this for her. If they like you calling or texting during work hours, make it part of your schedule - if they do this for you, let them know if you like it and make it a habit.

The power of touch

The power of physical touch can't be understated. People feel loved when their partner often gives them touches of affection. One study revealed that somatic intimacy plays a crucial stress-protecting role in relationships. This study is in line with others, suggesting happy marriages include mindful, physical touch. It acts to reduce cortisol in the body. "If your wife likes to be touched, be sure to hug her, stroke her hair, and cuddle with her," Manly suggests.

Divvy up household chores in a way that works for you both

Many cultures expect women to bear the brunt of housework, child care, social scheduling, and emotional labor. These are based on stereotypical gender expectations, which result in less free time and creativity periods for women. A 2017 study found women who did most of the housework were less satisfied in their relationships. If you want to make your wife happier, look at the division of labor in your household and be honest about where you might pick up some slack.

Show interest in their ideas and feelings.

"Part of marriage is just listening with interest about the mundane," says Emmy Crouter, LCSW. "Ask questions about her day, listen, and ask follow-up questions. It's important that both people feel heard and understood in any relationship."

If you know something with which your wife is struggling, ask about it, even if it's not that interesting to you. This shows that you care about her inner life. When she's down, ask questions—unless she specifically asks for space, don't leave her to wallow alone.

Fight better.

Disagreements are part of any healthy relationship; it's how you engage in those conflicts that matter. Learn not to lash out - listen and be kind and compassionate -even when arguing! "When engaging in conflict (which you should do rather than avoid it), express your side, listen to hers, and then approach the issue together in a solution-focused manner," Crouter advises. 

Rather than playing the blame game, work together to resolve the problem. In terms of key phrases to implement, Crouter suggests the following:

  • How can we solve this?
  • What can we do to change this pattern?
  • I want to find a solution in which we both feel less anxious.

Remember, it's not you against her. It's the two of you against a problem.

Don't text-fight

Disagree in person—not over text. A study at Brigham Young University revealed that couples who argue via text aren't as happy as those who don't. Being there - in person - is important not only when voicing and resolving disagreements, but it's also best for apologies and any decision-making other than the benign. Being present is the best way to see body language and cues as to what's really being said - if you are listening and paying attention.

Make your wife's pleasure a priority.

It's not just about bedroom escapades. Take time to learn how to please women and help them over the edge, but learn about what is good for women in general - and what your wife prefers. Even in the bedroom, don't take things for granted. Ask if you are unsure if she made "it."

Don't push the intimacy.

While intercourse is a healthy part of a happy relationship, studies find couples who are more satisfied in bed tend to be happier in their relationships. As a marriage progresses (whether due to children, medication, or life changes affecting libido), that part of a relationship is likely to change.

If your wife is the lower-libido partner in your marriage and unequal libidos cause tension, find a way to celebrate your wife and her needs, and talk about what you could do to make the relationship mutually satisfying. Here is a link to psychotherapist Vanessa Marin's full guide to supporting a lower-libido partner.


Celebrate your wife and support her. Make her feel important by celebrating her accomplishments, and take time to make her happy by doing what she likes. A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found couples who celebrated their partner's achievements as if they were their own were happier and more satisfied. Show enthusiasm when celebrating your wife's accomplishments, and let her shine and be seen.


A study from Rutgers University in New Jersey says yes. It found that the happier the wife is in a long-term marriage, the happier the husband.

Previous studies have suggested health benefits to a happy marriage; one suggested a happy marriage or partnership could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Another study suggests marital happiness hinges on wives keeping calm after an argument with their spouses.

In the study, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, Professor Deborah Carr of Rutgers, and Professor Vicki Freedman, of the University of Michigan analyzed data from the 2009 Disability and Use of Time daily diary supplement to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to assess marital quality and happiness in older adults.

“I think it comes down to the fact that when a wife is satisfied with the marriage, she tends to do a lot more for her husband, which has a positive effect on his life," says Carr.

She says men are typically less vocal about their relationships, “their level of marital unhappiness might not be translated to their wives.”

The study focused on 394 couples where one of the spouses was 60 years old or more. On average, the couples were married for 39 years.

The participants had a high level of general life satisfaction, at 5 out of 6 points, and the husbands tended to rate their marriage slightly more positively than their wives. Carr says being in a better-rated marriage “was linked to greater life satisfaction and happiness” for both spouses.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Bristol, TN

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