Am I Responsible for my Husband’s Happiness?

Am I Responsible for my Husband’s Happiness?

As a newlywed, I was a bit obsessed with keeping my husband happy. To the point that I often denied my own feelings.

Husband: “Are you okay?’ Me: “I’m fine.”

Husband: “Anything wrong?” Me: “Nope, all is good.”

Meanwhile, inside, I would be struggling with anger or hurt. My motto which I adopted when I was young was, “Don’t rock the boat.” I assumed if I didn’t disagree or confront anyone, everyone would stay happy. The problem is this way of being is disingenuous, and it doesn’t build intimacy. In fact, it creates walls between husband and wife. If I have to keep someone cheerful, I can never be totally real.

The truth was, my husband wanted to know how I really felt. He wanted honesty and openness. He didn’t want me to only say what I thought he wanted to hear. I think that’s true in most relationships. Certainly, in any healthy relationship.

It’d be impossible to take responsibility for someone else’s happiness. I can do everything my husband might want as he wants it done and he can still choose to be unhappy, or he may have underlying depression or anxiety. I have zero control over his responses or mental health.

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  • What Is Happiness?

    What Is Happiness?


    Happiness is defined as, “A state of well-being and contentment or a pleasurable or satisfying experience.” We usually think of it as a state of mind in which we’re enjoying ourselves in the moment. What brings a person to this place could be different for everyone. I’m happy when the sun is shining and I can sit on my screened in porch or when I’ve just enjoyed a great meal with my family.

    Happiness is tied to feelings and I can’t control what my husband feels. This doesn’t mean I’m not accountable for my actions or how I treat him. It means I’m not responsible for his responses.

    We also need to remember that no one can be happy every second of their lives. We’re human. We also feel pain, sickness, fatigue, sorrow, anger, and unrest. All our emotions are part of who we are and are valid. Early in my marriage, when I thought my husband shouldn’t be angry or sad, I was greatly misinformed and struggled with a skewed view of reality.

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  • 5 <strong>Signs You Feel Responsible for His Happiness</strong>&nbsp;

    5 Signs You Feel Responsible for His Happiness 


    1. You’re careful not to say things you think will upset him.

    The misbelief here is that your husband will be happy only when he gets his way or no one disagrees. Unfortunately, there are marriages where the husband makes his wife responsible for his happiness. This is too big of a burden and responsibility to place on any person. If you are in an abusive situation, please seek help. If necessary, get to a safe place. Just know this is manipulation on his part.

    You’re not responsible for his feelings. Even if he threatens suicide, that’s a sign he needs help. You can’t fix him or guarantee he won’t make that choice. It’s true we should choose our words with love and care, because there’s great power in what we say. As Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Though we shouldn’t use our tongue to criticize or tear down, God does want us to be honest. God wants us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

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  • couple sitting on couch with popcorn watching movie looking tired and annoyed, keep marriage alive under lockdown

    2. You always defer to his preferences, like which restaurant or movie you go to.


    If you’re frequently yielding the right to choose, examine your motives. Could you be feeling insecure and fear your husband won’t accept you if your wish doesn’t line up with his? Consider that your husband wants to know what you like so he can please you. If you insist on always being the one to defer, it may have the opposite effect. It’s like saying, “No, I’ll always be the humble one.” Could you actually be promoting yourself when you do this? There should be a balance where each one expresses their desires and take turns deferring to the other. It should be give and take.

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  • 3. If he appears to be unhappy, you feel a sense of guilt as if his displeasure is your fault.

    3. If he appears to be unhappy, you feel a sense of guilt as if his displeasure is your fault.


    Again, I think this comes from the false idea that no one should ever be unhappy. Whether this idea comes from our childhood or our own personal fears, we need to learn to embrace all our emotions and allow our husband to do the same.

    4. You hide your anger. 

    Especially in the first years of our marriage, this was a problem for me. I had decided that anger was bad and expressing anger was just too confrontational. What if the other person got even angrier? What if they verbally attacked me? I determined it was better to just keep everyone happy. But operating this way made me unhappy and me being unhappy bothers my husband more than if I simply expressed my thoughts. The key is to be genuine and authentic. To own your feelings and allow your husband to own his. If dealing with anger is an issue, you might want to search for a recommended book on healthy ways to express anger.

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  • couple backs to each other upset disagreement

    5. If he is unhappy, you are unhappy.


    This is a hard one because it’s not easy when a loved one is unhappy. If your husband is unhappy, of course you want to find out if there’s something you can do to help. You don’t want to be cold and cavalier about it. But, if you offered all the help you can and he’s just in a funk, it’s not your fault or responsibility. You can move on and do what makes you happy.

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  • <strong>What Does the Bible Say You Are Responsible For?</strong>

    What Does the Bible Say You Are Responsible For?


    1. God designed you to be your husband’s helper.

    God’s original purpose for creating Eve to be Adam’s wife is given in Genesis 2:18: “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

    God desires for husbands and wives to help one another. Every marriage is different. You need to know your husband and understand what he needs. Then your role is not to be subservient to him or to tell him what to do but to come alongside as a partner and support him. The Bible teaches that we as believers in Jesus are to submit to one another out of respect for the Lord (Ephesians 5:21). Husband and wife are to be one flesh, not only through the physical act of intercourse, but in spirit. They are to help each other.

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  • <strong>2. You are called to respect him.</strong>

    2. You are called to respect him.


    According to Paul in Ephesians 5:33, “...the wife must respect her husband.” This means she should have regard for her husband’s feelings, wishes, and rights and treat him with admiration. Your words and actions should build him up not tear him down (Proverbs 14:11).

    3. You are commanded to love him.

    Jesus said in John 15:12, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” And in verse 17, he repeated Himself, saying “This is my command: Love each other.” In our culture, most of us get married because we are in love, meaning we are attracted to the person and feel an emotional connection. We are usually caught up in the romance of the relationship. As the years go by, those feelings come and go, but Jesus says we are to choose every day to love our spouse with the kind of love He has for us. This is a love that goes beyond physical attraction or emotions. This is the kind of love that chooses to stick with someone no matter what, even when the giddiness of being in love isn’t always there.

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  • <strong>4. You are commanded to stay faithful and to not neglect your husband’s needs.</strong>

    4. You are commanded to stay faithful and to not neglect your husband’s needs.


    Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, gave clear commands for marital relations in 1 Corinthians 7: “The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.” (1 Corinthians 7:4-5)

    You and your husband are mutually responsible to meet each other's sexual needs as long as you’re healthy and able. Marriage is the safe and blessed place God created for sexual intimacy. If you feel paralyzed in your sexual relations with your husband because of past or current abuse, please consider seeing a counselor.

    Paul also wrote in Hebrews 11:4: “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”

    God considers marriage to be a sacred union between one woman and one man. We are to keep that pure by not including anyone else through affairs with others or with pornography.

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  • <strong>5. Pray for your husband daily.</strong>

    5. Pray for your husband daily.


    Whatever struggles he might have, any weaknesses or perceived character flaws, the only one who can change him is God. Pray for him and ask God by the power of His Holy Spirit to work in your husband’s life, then accept him as he is, leaving the rest to God. If you fear for your safety, however, please get to a safe place or seek help.

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  • <strong>How Do I Let Go of Feeling Responsible?</strong>

    How Do I Let Go of Feeling Responsible?


    1. Have an honest conversation with your husband.

    Tell your husband how you’re feeling and what you’re struggling with. Ask him to hold you accountable to sharing honestly.

    2. Ask God to help you.

    God loves you, wants you to experience freedom, and wants your marriage to succeed. He will give you the grace, healing, insight, and strength you need to build a healthy relationship.

    3. Realize your relationship will be much stronger.

    Even though it might feel like a good thing to always make your husband happy, your relationship will be stronger, healthier, and more intimate when you focus on love and truth.

    4. Give yourself grace. It takes time to change habits.

    I still struggle with this sometimes, and I’ve been married for almost 37 years! The point is I’m better than I used to be and I keep learning. Take it one step at a time and one day at a time.

    5. Recognize that over time, dishonesty and inauthenticity will hurt your marriage.

    You might manage to keep your husband happy temporarily but if that requires hiding your true feelings, in time you will do more harm than good.

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  • <strong>What if my husband doesn’t like this new me?</strong>

    What if my husband doesn’t like this new me?


    Remember you’re not responsible for his reactions good or bad. Change is always a challenge. If you focus on the love Jesus Christ has for you and rest in that truth, you won’t feel as threatened by your husband’s potential displeasure. Find your strength in His unconditional love.

    When you make the decision to live openly and honestly, speak the truth in love, seek God above all, relying on His strength, and realize your husband is responsible for himself, you will find more freedom to be yourself. Your husband will come to know you better. You can move to a place where you not only find more happiness but learn how to find joy which goes so much deeper. You learn that joy comes from God’s love and nothing can take that away.

    Please note: For anyone who is in a relationship where there is abuse and you feel making such changes would put you in danger of harm, please seek help.


    Susan Aken writes devotions and articles for Wholly Loved Ministries, is an Oklahoma native who’s lived in Nebraska since 1987 and has been in public education for over thirty years. She and her husband have one son and a wonderful daughter-in-law. Besides writing she has a passion for special needs and prayer ministries. She enjoys time with family, reading, photography, movies, walking in nature, and a nice cup of tea. She believes life is a journey and we’re all in different places. Jesus is everything to her and it’s all about grace. Visit her at susanaken53.wordpress.com or on Facebook.

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    Susan Aken writes devotions and articles for Wholly Loved Ministries, is an Oklahoma native who’s lived in Nebraska since 1987 and has been in public education for over thirty years. She and her husband have one son and a wonderful daughter-in-law. Besides writing she has a passion for special needs and prayer ministries. She enjoys time with family, reading, photography, movies, walking in nature, and a nice cup of tea. She believes life is a journey and we’re all in different places. Jesus is everything to her and it’s all about grace. Visit her at susanaken53.wordpress.com or on Facebook.