If someone were to ask me what makes me happy, my answer would most likely vary depending on the day. The obvious answer would be being a mama to my two girls. While I love being a mother nothing makes me happier than being their mama. It always feels like God handpicked us for each other. Although being a parent can be scary and challenging nothing has brought me more joy.
Another obvious answer would be being married to my husband. We annoy each other sometimes but we truly love each other and one of the things that I love about him is that he genuinely wants me to be happy. We both want that for each other. Other things that make me happy - smiling children, dessert, puppy breath, the sale section at Anthropologie, reading something that evokes emotion and making a difference in the life of another human being (and that's just my short list).
I wouldn't say my husband mopping the floor makes me happy or the fact that he cooked dinner last night so I could rest my still very stuffy head. I am grateful for those things but they aren't what comes to mind when I think of happiness. On the other hand watching him sitting on the couch reading to his girls or showering them with hugs and kisses does.
A survey featured in an article by The Huffington Post has all these things at the forefront of my mind. Essentially the article revealed what husbands can do to make their wives happy. According to a survey of married couples with children under the age of five, wives who "perceived" their husband as being active participants in family life, including the completing of tasks, had better relationships with their husbands. Moreover the quality of the marriage relationship improved when "wives felt that their husbands were close to their children."
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There have been various posts that highlight the notion of shared household tasks and the impact it can have on spouses. And at the end of the day all I can do is speak for myself. Clearly the participants in this study were happier given that their husbands were actively helping but then again it would depend on how you define happiness.
This particular study found that sharing an equal load when it came to chores didn't necessarily matter. Instead it came down to "how satisfied people were with the division of labor." And from what I know firsthand about satisfaction is that it isn't a one size fits all emotion. Some of us are easily satisfied while others might require you to move mountains. My husband falls on the easily satisfied side of things for example, he is just happy I take the time to cook dinner. While it is nice if it actually tastes good he will still be satisfied simply because I cooked. I would like to think of myself as easily satisfied but in doing some self-reflection at the moment I imagine that sometimes my actions suggest otherwise. I've probably said this before as changing habits can be quite a process, but instead of whining that he made pork chops again I need to be grateful that he took the time to make them
As for the happiness thing - research supports the notion that sharing chores results in increased marital satisfaction. When you don't feel like you are carrying the load by yourself and you aren't consumed with task completion then there is more room for the good stuff. And I think that's what it boils down to. So in my case, while my husband does look quite handsome vacuuming it isn't his vacuuming that makes me happy or the fact that he cooked. It is the fact that through his willingness to share the load I have more time to do the things that I need to do and more time to do some of the things that I want to do. The things that I want to do tend to be things that make me happy, things like spending time with him and our daughters or eating chocolate lava cake from Trader Joes.
So with most things in life, it all depends on how you look at it. For some maybe seeing their spouse engage in the actual act of doing chores does result in happiness. For others it might simply result in less stress, more time, and an ability to make more room for the good stuff life has to offer.
Although I think this research is important because it highlights the value of sharing the load, when it comes to responsibilities within the family unit if my husband was to ask me what's the one thing he could do to make me happy I wouldn't say grab a broom (and sweep those crumbs you just dropped all over the floor because you didn't use a plate!). I might say something more along the lines of continue to make your family a priority. Because here's the thing; even though things may not always be ideal or be exactly how we want them to be, by being each other's priority we are able to come together to work on the things that need fixing. We are able to make adjustments and do some fine-tuning in an effort to meet each other's needs. We are able to realize the importance of happiness. Last week my husband noticed that I was struggling in the happy department. I was all-good when it came to gratitude but it isn't always so easy to "choose happiness." He asked me what we needed to do to get me happier and that spoke volumes.
Perhaps the secret to making your spouse happy rests in your genuine desire to see them happy, and your willingness to help them get their happiness back in moments when it doesn't quite feel so easy as making a choice to be happy. And doing all of that while holding a feather duster certainly doesn't hurt.
-By Krishann Briscoe
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