“Our Secret for a Happy Life,” Ensign, Mar. 1996, 52
While he was still a boy, my husband learned from his father a principle that has blessed our marriage with happiness and joy. His father called it the secret to a happy wife.
“You must fill your new bride with your love,” he taught. “Then, when her heart is full of love, it will overflow and all that returns will be yours.”
In our early days of marriage, my husband’s task was not easy. I was young and inexperienced in the roles of homemaking and motherhood. “Let me help you,” he often said, working with me to prepare meals, fold laundry, or clean the house. I never felt criticized or condemned as I struggled to become a homemaker and mother. I felt loved.
Each day my dear friend found something for which to express appreciation. Even the smallest effort was received with gratitude: my hug and kiss upon his return from work, a shiny kitchen floor, his white shirt ready for the Sabbath day. Love and respect for who I was began to grow within me as I felt his genuine appreciation.
Each day my husband found little ways to further demonstrate his love: nailing up a sagging kitchen cupboard, washing the supper dishes, giving me an hour of free time, or placing surprise love notes on the bathroom mirror. In all his deeds of kindness and words of appreciation, my husband’s message was that I was worthy to receive his best gifts of time, sacrifice, and love.
Those gifts mean even more to me now as I realize that he gave his love freely and unconditionally; he was not receiving in return that same loving attention. Still, he persisted to seek and encourage the best in me.
As I gained experience in my roles of wife, mother, and homemaker, my feelings of confidence and worth grew. I remember looking in the mirror one day thinking, It’s good to be me, even though I could still see miles of improvements to be made in each area of my life. It was then that the marvelous transformation his father promised began to take place in my heart.
Suddenly I recognized all his deeds of kindness as the gifts of love they truly were, and an eagerness grew within me to fill his heart with my love and adoration.
As I look back on the young bride I was, I see how immeasurably my life has been blessed through the love of this good man. For as my heart filled with love for him and for myself, it also filled with a greater love and desire to please my Heavenly Father. In return, His love began lighting and expanding my soul. A beautiful spiral of peace and joy was born.
Perhaps the most wonderful aspect of our secret of love is that it can work its miracle in any relationship. Ideally, this process is not one-sided; a truly happy and enduring relationship requires selflessness and kind, loving regard on the part of both spouses. However, to initiate the building of a better relationship, it takes only one who is willing to forgive past hurts, to look for good in another, to find things—no matter how small or mundane—for which to express appreciation. It only takes one to begin a circle of love by caring and sharing freely, asking no return.
Jesus taught, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matt. 7:12).
As my husband filled my life with love, it did overflow and return to him. His secret for a happy wife became our secret for a happy life.