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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Finding Contentment and Happiness as a Wife

Finding Contentment and Happiness as a Wife

Author Arlene Pellicane offers encouragement and advice to wives in a discussion based on her book 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife.

Original Air Date: July 13, 2015



Arlene Pellicane: When you think of a happy wife, you know, I always think of, that she’s smiling, that she is enjoying her life as a wife. She’s not complaining and when she thinks of her marriage, she thinks this is a good thing and not like, how did I get myself into this mess?

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: That’s Arlene Pellicane, and today, she’ll encourage you in your journey toward becoming a happier spouse. You’re listening to Focus on the Family with Focus President and author Jim Daly as your host, and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: Today’s program is a lot of fun! We’re circling back to this conversation with Arlene because she is so good about opening our eyes to finding joy in the simple, everyday things.

And you know, often here at Focus on the Family, we talk about building relationships and ways to connect with your spouse. That’s so important for helping your marriage thrive!

But today, we want you to take a step back and evaluate yourself. As we talk about what it means to be a happy wife, we invite you to reflect on your attitude and approach to your relationship.

And even though this is aimed at the wives, it really is applicable to both sides of that equation. So, husbands listen in, you can learn from this, too.

John: I’d agree Jim. And as we’ve said Arlene Pellicane is our guest. She’s been here a number of times. And is a speaker and the author of several books, we’ll be discussing her title 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife today. She’s married to James, and they have three children. And we’re going to pick it up as Arlene talks about the difference between joy and happiness in the context of marriage. [music transition]


Arlene: It’s that whole idea from the Psalms, “In Your presence is fullness of joy.” And if you, as a wife, are in God’s presence, there’s going to be joy there. So, don’t get caught up, where you know, like oh, we’re not supposed to, it’s not all about us and about happiness. Don’t get caught up with that. It’s the idea that your marriage should emanate joy.

Jim: And in fact, you used “HAPPY” because it’s acronym.

Arlene: Yes, it’s easy. I get more in H-A-P-P-Y.

Jim: Just quickly, tell us what does the HAPPY stand for?

Arlene: That’s right. So, if a wife can be more H, hopeful, placing her hope in God, not her marriage or her circumstance, if she can be A, adaptable, that when circumstances don’t go her way, she doesn’t freak out. The P is purposeful, that she is purposeful as a wife. She has goals. And the other P is positive. This doesn’t mean she has to bounce around like Tigger all the time. It just means that she has a grateful attitude. And the Y is everyone’s favorite; it’s yielded, being yielded—soft towards God, soft towards her husband.

Jim: (Laughing) And that’s everyone’s–

Arlene: Everyone’s—

Jim: –favorite.

Arlene: –favorite.

Jim: That’s funny. Let me ask you and we’re gonna talk about different aspects of that acronym, HAPPY—

Arlene: Yes.

Jim: –over the course of the next half hour. But was there ever a time when you weren’t a happy wife? It’s hard to see you and your smile and to think that you don’t have something in your DNA that makes you joyful.

Arlene: You know, I have to admit, so we’ve been married 16 years and like all women, we start happy (Laughing) when we get married. And I have to say, I have been married happily. I have been a happy woman, but this is, I think, the beauty of a book like this or any book about marriage to help you, is you can always learn more.

I can’t say that there’s been a valley time where it was, oh, we were so unhappy for years. We have had a good and happy marriage, but there’s always … so there’s no ceiling to joy you can’t say like, “Oh, we’ve had all the happiness we’ve got, you know. We’re here,” but that there’s always a way to improve, there’s always to grow better as a wife, grow closer to your husband.

Jim: Let me ask you this; is there a difference in this way between happiness and joy? Are they both choices that we make?

Arlene: I really think that this is a choice, that—

Jim: So, both happiness—

Arlene: –they’re—

Jim: –and joy.

Arlene: –both happiness and joy, that these are things that we would, that’s kind of a hard question, you know, so …

Jim: Well, we think of it often. I think we think of it transactionally—

Arlene: Uh-hm.

Jim: –like if we do these things then God gives us joy.

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: I don’t think that’s what He means. He’s—

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: –meaning, in My presence and doing the things that I’ve asked you to do will bring you joy.

Arlene: Yes.

Jim: And that joy is really the gift.

Arlene: And I think that joy, it is; it’s like something that the Lord gives you, where perhaps that happiness is more of a okay, this didn’t go my way, but I’m gonna choose to be happy about it. And that the joy is something that the Holy Spirit gives you.

Jim: Hm.

Arlene: So, there is definitely that element to it. And so, I think that we want, of course, more of the Holy Spirit in our lives as a wife, so we can have that joy and that there are those times where we have to choose, I will choose happiness. I will choose to smile through this.

John: I think that’s where a big benefit of a book like this comes, Jim, because there are many people who, they listen to Christian radio. They do the right things. They go to church. They hear sermons, but there’s something about just having a purposeful day-by-day reminder that, I can really choose something differently. I don’t have to react this way to the circumstances or to our relationship.

Jim: No, I appreciate that and I think, you know, a comical way of saying it, some people have said to me as we’re dealing with very heavy cultural issues, they’ll say, “You Christians, you must be saved except for your faces”–

Arlene: Right. (Laughter)

Jim: –’cause they don’t look—

Arlene: Tell your face.

Jim: –very happy.

Arlene: Yeah. (Laughing)

Jim: And that’s a real indictment against—

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: –the Spirit of God in us.

Arlene: You know, and you think of marriage and say, “Why would I want to be married? You know, they all look so unhappy.” And so, we’re all working very hard to turn that around to say, “Look at those married people; they are very happy and—

Jim: Well, and that’s—

Arlene: –they have joy in that

Jim: –I appreciate the challenge of that and let’s talk about that for a minute—

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: –because when it’s fashionable to be negative.

Arlene: Uh-hm.

Jim: Our culture just likes being critical.

Arlene: Yes.

Jim: And we see it on television. We base our humor in it. But when it comes to Christian marriage particularly, we’ve gotta guard against that, don’t we?

Arlene: That’s right. You know, and most days are filled with irritations.

Jim: (Laughing) Yes, they are.

Arlene: You know, as a wife, the irritations, they come. And so, it’s this idea that I can find hope not in my circumstances, not in my address, but I’m gonna find my hope in God. I remember one day, just a normal day that all of us wives go through. Post Office line is long, kids won’t nap. Dinner’s taking too long. Things are irritating. And my husband, who was learning how to play the guitar at that time—

Jim: Oh, my. (Laughter)

Arlene: –which was not—

Jim: That’s a busy–

Arlene: –adding to the—

Jim: –yeah, that’s a busy household.

Arlene: –the serenity. He was singing a praise song that is, “Great Is Our God.” Of course, it didn’t quite sound like the way that you hear it on the radio maybe, but he was singing this, but I started singing along, not really consciously thinking, but just singing along. And within a minute—

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: –you know, it’s like my attitude was different. My countenance was different, simply because I was now not focusing on my problems, on my irritations, on my chicken, but I was saying, “God, You are great and You’re greatly to be praised.” And if we can put our hope in God, praise Him more during our day, it will make us happier as wives.

Jim: I don’t struggle putting my hope in my chicken.

Arlene: Yeah. (Laughter)

Jim: But a, let me and I think you’ve answered it, but let’s put a punctuation point—

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: –there. Where does a woman, a wife, where does she start to find that hope and that joy?

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: What’s the starting place? Let’s say, saying it differently, can I get into a pattern of negativity?

Arlene: Yes.

Jim: And how do I break out of the pattern?

Arlene: Yeah, and you know, it is as simple as falling to your knees and saying, “God, I am in this pattern where I was thinking bad thoughts. I was going to the dark side of the moon. Will You help me?” And it’s this idea that you cannot do it on your own. You know, you can’t just think yourself out of something, but you can ask God, “God, by Your Holy Spirit, will You transform me?”

And then, you can stop yourself, you know, when you start thinking those negative thoughts. After that negative thought is out, then think of two things you’re grateful for. So, you’ve complained because the Post Office line was long. Okay, turn it around in your mind like a game. Well, at least I have a Post Office to go to. At least my mail will go untampered to this … the destination. Just kind of play with, you know, usually spin is kinda seen as something negative. But in this case, it can be very positive that you take all these negative things that you normally think of and you try to spin them into something positive, something you’re grateful for.

Jim: Arlene, one of the biggest things we hear here at Focus on the Family is the pace of life is killing—

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: –my marriage.

Arlene: Right.

Jim: I mean, he’s busy; I’m busy; we got the kids; they’re keeping us busy. There’s no margin for us.

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: How does the wife who wants to be happy—

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: –and wants to create that right environment, how does she find margin in—

Arlene: It is the word, isn’t it—

Jim: –this pace?

Arlene: –”margin.” And you know, I quote Richard Swenson, who wrote the book Margin and he used—

John: Uh-hm.

Arlene: –that there in the book. And it is about creating, saying no to things. Because one of the joys of being a wife that I talk about is being able to be adaptable, to go with the flow, be more easygoing. But it’s really hard to be adaptable when you’ve got to get to soccer practice in 10 minutes and then you’ve got to get dinner within the next half hour. And then you’ve gotta be a youth group at 7 and you’ve gotta get everyone to bed. So, it’s like, ah, what do we do?

So, some of it is just taking a look at your schedule and saying, “Is there anything that we can take out?” And maybe it’s just one thing, because a lot of times we have a lot of worthwhile things that we’re doing, but if there’s maybe just one thing, one activity.

You know, my daughter wants to be in an ensemble at school and that is a good request, but as we looked at our schedule it was like, “We can’t do that this year.” So, yes, that was disappointing, but for the family life, you have to see, is there something I can take out so I can have more margin?

So, we know, a lot of times we’ll say, “Oh, sure, I can do that Tuesday night,” ‘cause you see your Tuesday night is free. But instead to realize, you know what? That’s the only night this week we’re not doing anything, so no, we can’t do that. So, to have … build in more margin, so you can be more adaptable and easygoing with all the changes that will happen in your schedule.

Jim: Let me ask this question, ‘cause I’m thinking of Jean. My wife, Jean–

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: –she’s a biochemist—

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: –scientist, so adaptability for her could be translated into lowering standards—

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: –you know. And I just want to appeal to that woman who thinks that way, very black and white. When I hear you talk about adaptability, it feels like I need to not hit the standard I’d like us to hit as a family.

Arlene: Well, for that, in that sense maybe you can say, “Well, 80 percent we’ll go with (Laughing) and we’ll have a little 20 percent that we can kinda tinker with,” so that you are still achieving. Because it’s true; you want to aim for excellence. You want to do these things, but in your marriage, let’s take it back to the husband and wife of being adaptable to each other.

In the marriage, just being able to say, “Hey, if we have something that goes wrong between us, that we’re adaptable enough and we have time enough that we can fix this, that we’re not so strapped that we’re not able to communicate with each other.

And the other sense of adaptability is that whole idea of flexing with one another. And I remember when James and I were first married. You know, you’re starry-eyed newlyweds. He wanted to go on a camping trip. That was the last thing on earth I wanted to do, but he … we were new to the city. It was a way to get to know people from the local church and he said, “Let’s do it.” So, we’re on our way and you know how we, as wives, will say, “Okay, we’ll do it,” but the whole time we are making you miserable.

Jim: Right.

John: We know you really don’t want—

Arlene: We are making you—

John: –it, yeah.

Arlene: –miserable. So, usually I’m happy, talking. The whole two-hour ride I was quiet, irritable. And he stops right outside of the campsite and he says to me, “Are you gonna be like this all weekend?”

John: Ooh.

Arlene: “Because if you are, we can go home right now, because I’m here to have fun.” And I was like, “Oh, no.” And then I said to him, “You mean, I didn’t have to come?” (Laughing) But of course, this was not the point. And it was the idea of, I have to be adaptable to this man and to the things that mean something to him. And even if it doesn’t mean something to me and it’s uncomfortable to me, that I will adapt. And I can’t say it was a[n] A+ weekend, probably like a C+, but we made it and I camped and I’m learning to adapt. And you know, he’s learning to go camping and like go in a cabin and then I’m learning to go camping and once in a while go in a tent, you know, these kinds of things. And it’s this idea of being flexible and I will adapt to you.

Jim: Well, you’re descri … and another way to say that and you’re describing it this way for me, my ears are hearing in a … in a kind of a biblical context—

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: –it’s about selflessness.

Arlene: It is.

Jim: And that’s what, you know, so often, John, we’re talkin’ about that here more and more. And in our culture, as modern contemporary people, we are steeped in self-centeredness and we don’t even really see it.

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: We think we’re living a great Christian walk, but it seeps in–

Arlene: Like we’ll—

Jim: –and it grabs us.

Arlene: –in our attitude, we’ll say, “Yeah, we’ll do this for you, but you make sure you know it’s a sacrifice for us,” you know. (Laughter) Like we have this attitude–

Jim: Right.

Arlene: –instead of saying, “You know what? This is not a big deal.” And it is hard and it’s something we have talk ourselves through and pray ourselves through to say, let me be more of a selfless wife. And in doing that, you know, you’re afraid, oh, I’ll lose myself. But in doing that, I mean, the … God is so paradoxical. In doing that you will find yourself. You’ll find your significance as a wife when you’re okay to be selfless.

John: Arlene, one of the things you addressed in the book and we can’t cover all the hot button topics, but you talked about finances and there are … Jim, we hear from so many people.

Jim: Uh-hm.

John: That’s such a big deal.

Jim: Uh-hm.

John: Right now, Dena and I are having kind of an ongoing discussion about where we’re at financially and what’s happening right now. And how do you adapt if you’re not at all alike financially?

Arlene: Yes.

John: I mean, that’s a pretty tough spot. How does a woman respond to that?

Arlene: I think it is understanding where each other are coming from and trying to understand, okay, this is where my husband’s coming from. This is where I’m coming from. You know, my husband and I, we’re … we’re lucky, because we’re both savers, so we both are frugal. In fact, I have like a Top Ten frugal list. You know, I … we tear the Kleenex in half (Laughing) because you can get two (Laughter), I do that, because you can get—

Jim: You really do that?

Arlene: –two uses. I really do that.

Jim: Oh, my goodness.

John: [That’s] extreme.

Arlene: I can get two uses out of that thing. I know, it’s terrible, isn’t it?

Jim: And you wrote the “happy book?”

Arlene: Can you believe it? There I am with my little shred of Kleenex. (Laughter)

John: Oh, my goodness.

Arlene: You know like you pack something and you’ve got this … all this stuff that’s leftover.

Jim: That’s true.

Arlene: So, you know what? So, as a husband, like you come with these different quirks and idiosyncrasies and someone’s a saver and someone’s a spender. And I think being able to understand, where are we coming from, talking about that, finding some middle ground. It’s like any issue of marriage, finding this middle ground that you both can live with and leaning into each other’s strengths to realize–

John: Well, you’ve talked to enough women—

Arlene: –yeah.

John: –though that, that middle ground doesn’t exist for a lot of couples it seems.

Jim: Well, it doesn’t exist in the culture. It’s less and less–

John: You know, you’re right.

Jim: –everywhere.

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: There is no middle ground.

John: It’s that—

Jim: Middle ground—

John: –me in my life.

Jim: –is sacrifice and I don’t like sacrifice.

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: Isn’t that really the issue?

Arlene: Yeah, it’s true. It’s true.

Jim: Okay, Arlene, but I’m gonna put a little bit of pressure on you with this one.

Arlene: Okay.

Jim: In your book, you talk about your 40th birthday party.

Arlene: That’s already pressure, right? (Laughter)

Jim: You just … oh, did I say that?

John: You do not say her age.

Jim: But it had to be very recent.

Arlene: Oh, super recent. (Laughing)

Jim: Well, it is and … but you had a little issue there—

Arlene: You know, when—

Jim: –with James.

Arlene: –a woman … when a wife has a birthday, that is the signal for everyone, especially her husband to be extremely nice on the birthday and really the week preceding also and maybe even the month these days. But you know what? It was leading up to my birthday and you think, wow! Everyone should be so nice to me. I wasn’t feeling well. James and I at that time were going to the gym every other day and he kicks me. “It’s your time to go to the gym.” And I was like, “I don’t feel good. I’m not going to the gym.” And [he’s] like, “Yes you are. It’s your turn. You’re not sick enough.” And I’m coughing, you know, using my half Kleenex, I’m coughing. (Laughter) And I say, “I am so sick enough.”

And so, we went through that and then we went to the breakfast table and he was like, “Aren’t you gonna clean it up?” And I said, “We’re gonna eat cereal. Why should I clean it up? You know, it’s just gettin’ more crumbs.” And then he said, “Well, why should we clean it up anytime then (Laughing), because you’re always getting ready to eat the next meal.” And this is how the day went, so we just, you know, we were driving together. I was driving and you know how that goes, so he gave me advice about driving.

Jim: This is your—

Arlene: So–

Jim: –birthday?

Arlene: –this is not my birthday. It is like maybe a day or two beforehand.

Jim: Okay, whew!

Arlene: And I am just thinking like, what in the world? And we leave that time of just going back and forth with each other and this is life, right, that you have these irritations. And I said to myself, “Okay, I’m writing this book, 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife, how do I recalibrate and become happier in this moment?”

And one of the P’s is positive and it’s this idea of how can I frame this in a positive light? And it doesn’t mean you have to sweep everything under the rug. Later that day I said to James, “You know, honey, this was a little rough. You criticized my driving and then we talked about cleaning the table. And then you kicked me out of bed. You know, I need you to be a little nicer to me when I’m not feeling well.” And he teased and said, you know, “I’m so good at pickin’ on you,” and you know, that kind of thing, but then he said, you know, “I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to say anything to bother you.”

And you know, that’s that adaptability with each other, giving each other sway, thinking the best of the other person instead of thinking that they’re trying to sabotage your life. And then really trying to be honest with each other, but put that positive spin of, you know what? These days come and that’s okay.

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: And tomorrow will be a better day.

Jim: Well, and I like that idea of forgiveness in the—

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: –middle of that. That’s something you mentioned, as well. You gotta forgive on the little things and it’s those …

Arlene: Yeah, because you want him to forgive you—

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: –on the little things and so, you’ve gotta do the same to him.

Jim: You know one thing and it’s not in your acronym, but that honesty usually is fostered in an environment like you’re describing. And I think a lot [of] women are really tuned in to truth. They want that kind of intimacy in their—

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: –relationship. Husbands tend to, you know, prevaricate. That’s a good word. It’s not …

John: I’ll have to go—

Arlene: You got your dictionary–

John: –look it up.

Arlene: –people.

Jim: Prevaricate, you know, it’s not the absolute truth, but it’s close enough (Laughter), but you put a little spin on it. Like you say, “Did you work out today?” “Well, I did a long walk,” between my office and the water cooler. (Laughter) But we can … but we can prevaricate a little bit and women are good at pickin’ that up. They know when a husband is not being forthright. But how do you set that kind of environment in the relationship where you can have a greater depth of honesty because you know it’s save?

Arlene: Yeah. I think for the wife to, when the husband brings something up, not to jump on it, ‘cause a lot of times if a husband introduces an idea that the wife does not like, we’re very defensive. And so, instead for us to be open to new ideas in the same way we want him to be open to new ideas.

And then I think when you are having these talks in terms of a wife relating to her husband, maybe she wants to tell him, you know, 10 minutes’ worth of information. Maybe if she can try to make, whittle it down to four (Laughing). Try to use less words and more hand holding and more cuddling and more stroking the arm while you’re talking and make it kind of more fun for your husband to listen and have conversations, because it’s not his natural way, but for women it is. We love to talk and dissect things and what’s the truth about this? And to make that something your husband, that’s a positive experience instead of a[n], “Oh, no; she wants to talk again.” But try to think, how can I shorten this? And how can I make this more fun for him?

Jim: Arlene, in your book you talk about a career plan and how it relates to being, I guess a joyful, happy wife.

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: How does it create … that doesn’t sound happy to me.

Arlene: It doesn’t sound happy to you.

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: It’s the whole idea of the P of being purposeful, because what you are invested in, you like, you’re into. But a lot of times if I ask someone, you know, do you have a goal, about home decorating, or your children, your parenting? Are you gonna go back to school? They may have goals like that.

But if I say, “Do you have a goal in your marriage?” they’ll look at me blankly like, “To stay married,” you know. (Laughter) Is there anything else? And so, this whole idea that you will come to the marriage and there’s purpose there. It’s not just this endless stream of mundane days–

Jim: What does that do—

Arlene: –but there’s purpose.

Jim: -for you? What does it do for you to have a purpose?

Arlene: It gives you something to shoot for.

Jim: You’re aiming for something.

Arlene: You’re aiming for something. There’s some momentum there. There’s growth there and that’s a lot more fun than every day’s the same boring day of marriage. You know, I interviewed a lot of ladies for this book—Liz Curtis Higgs, Carol Kent–and Dr. Marjorie Blanchard, who is the wife of Ken Blanchard. They’re both these amazing business entrepreneurs. And she talked about how it’s so important to stay interesting to one another and to have things to talk about. You have books that you’ve read, ideas that you have, you know, movies that you’ve watched that you want to talk about. And then she asks this question, which I think is really good to ask yourself. “What new on your marriage resumé in the last three years?”

What have you done? Are you saving up for a cruise or maybe a “staycation” for the weekend? Are you going to a restaurant maybe that is out of the rut of where you always go every Friday night? Are you reading a book together? It could be a finance book, ‘cause we talked about finances earlier. So, what’s new on your marriage resumé in the last three years?

Jim: Well, and you mentioned activities in that regard.

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: They tend to … activity seems not to be the problem for Jean and me. (Laughter) I mean, we’ve got so much activity. I mean, our resumé is—

Arlene: That’s good.

Jim: –plum full, but it … but I would think also in that resumé concept, it’s nice to put characteristics in there—

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: –wouldn’t it be?

Arlene: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you said as a couple, we are going to be more … and pick one; don’t overwhelm yourself, you know, with 10 things, but we are going to be more considerate this year—

Jim: Toward each other.

Arlene: –toward each other.

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: And you say, that’s gonna be our resumé goal—

Jim: I like that.

Arlene: –that a year from now, we will have been more considerate to one another.

Jim: Well, and you know, I’m thinking about this, ‘cause we do this with our boys. We try to pick a theme a year to concentrate on, whether it’s honesty—

Arlene: Right.

Jim: –or treating others the way you want to be treated, but to have a theme and then build that into our dialogue regularly.

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, that’s what you’re saying with marriage—

Arlene: It’s really neat.

Jim: –that kind of thing, to—

Arlene: And it brings life—

Jim: –have a–

Arlene: –to it.

Jim: –yeah, as married couple have a theme for the year or for the month or however often you want to do it, to build in a godly characteristic—

Arlene: Yes.

Jim: –into your marriage. I like that.

John: I do, too.

Jim: That is really, I think a good idea.

Jim: Arlene, let’s talk about the worst word in the English lexicon today, “submission.”

Arlene: “Submission!”

Jim: Bah, bah, bah, bahm.

Arlene: Oh, no!

Jim: I mean, if (Laughter) there’s anybody from The New York Times listening right now, we’ve just—

Arlene: Welcome.

Jim: –we have created the faux pas of the 21st Century. Set into some context—

Arlene: Yeah.

Jim: –what submission is in a Christian way. What do we mean by it?

Arlene: You know, I love what one of my friends said, “Submission is ducking low enough so that God can deck your husband.” (Laughter)

Jim: Okay, that is really funny.

John: I’m gonna make sure Dena doesn’t hear that part. (Laughter)

Jim: Let’s bleep that part. (Laughter) No, I’m kidding. That’s really good.

Arlene: So, it’s this idea, you know, you think, oh, if I submit to him, all these terrible things will happen to me. But it’s this idea of, there is order. The word I use is “yield,” ‘cause it works with HAPPY, but the Y of yielding and you know, when you are coming onto a freeway, an Interstate, you yield to that other car, not because your car is better, not because their car is better, but because there’s order.

And it’s this idea that there is a biblical order, whether you like it or not, of the man being the head of the home. And so, this is nothing new for a woman to say, you know, Eve wanted to rule over her husband and she couldn’t. This is nothing new and for us to realize that there’s an order here. My husband’s the head of the home and if I will bring myself under that protection of respecting him, of listening to him, it does allow God to get your husband. God’s much better at getting your husband’s attention if there’s, let’s say, something wrong happening that you feel like you have to “right.”

God’s much better at that than we are. So, if we will simply and I’m not talking about anything abusive or anything like that, but if we will say, “I will yield to my husband and I will believe in faith, that God will bless me for it.”

I’ll give you a really small example. We live in San Diego, so obviously, it’s pretty sunny there and my daughter, who’s in 3rd grade, really wanted to get boots, because all the little girls in school were wearing boots. So, we were at the store and I said to James, “Oh, honey, can we get these boots for Noelle?” And she’s just like, you know, had these bright eyes, like, “Please can we get these boots?” And he said, “No, why do we need boots in San Diego?” And her face just fell.

And I said, I have a choice here. I can say, “Oh, let me use my ‘mad money,’” talking about money again. “Let me use my ‘mad money,’ honey. I’ll buy her the boots.” Or “Oh, honey, please can we buy the boots?” But the thought of James is the head of our house and what do I want to teach my children. I want to teach them that I respect what he says.

So, I said to Noelle, “I’m sorry; we’re not getting the boots today” and her little face fell. Well, what happened two weeks later, we got a bunch of stuff from my cousin and what was in the bag of clothes and such, boots! And they were much nicer than what I would’ve bought her.

Jim: And you didn’t call her and ask her to buy her [that].

Arlene: And I didn’t ask her, you know, that was God’s gift of His delivery and it was that little message to me saying, “If you will honor your husband, if you will yield to him, if you will submit to him, I will take care of you.”

Now on a side note, James later on had said, “You know, not only do we not need, let’s say the boots,” you know, he’s a realtor. And he said, “You know, at that time that you asked me, I didn’t have any closings in the pipe. You know, there wasn’t anything happening and I thought, why am I spending money on boots?”

And you know, sometimes we as women, we think we know the whole story about something, but we don’t. There’s another reason that your husband is saying something and to be able to trust that what he’s saying is true—

Jim: Ah.

Arlene: –and honor him in that way.

Jim: Well, let’s put the boot on the other foot though.

Arlene: Yeah. (Laughter)

Jim: And what I … what I mean by … what I mean by that is (Laughing) Jean and I, our parenting styles can be a little different at times and she will say to me, “You’re far too accommodating”–

Arlene: Yes.

Jim: –too, you know, lax. And so, I’ll be the one to say, “Okay, let’s buy the boots.” And she’ll be the one feeling like she has to say no. Talk about it in that context, where …

Arlene: That’s a funny thing, ‘cause that’s her submitting to you—

Jim: Right.

Arlene: –being lax and—

Jim: Right.

Arlene: –that’s the opposite.

Jim: Right.

Arlene: So, it’s her having to say, “Okay, we will do this, because Jim wants us to do this.” And then maybe later, having a private conversation with you saying, we need to talk about our budget (Laughter), like why are we doing this?

Jim: Yeah.

Arlene: But to still honor you while you’re buyin’ stuff for the kids that she may not agree with, that she has to kinda hold her tongue. I’m so sorry, Jean, that I’m saying this. (Laughter)

Jim: And I will never repeat this to her. (Laughter) Well, Arlene Pellicane, you have done a fantastic job bringing great thoughts to us, all of us, not just wives about becoming a happy wife, but also husbands, how to create an environment that helps your spouse become a happy wife. Thanks for bein’ with us.

Arlene: It’s such a pleasure. Thank you so much.


John: What a really great conversation with Arlene Pellicane today on Focus on the Family. And Jim, Arlene has such a unique and terrific way of drawing out the positive in life!

Jim: She does, and we all can use a reminder now and again of how to have that more positive outlook and a good attitude, especially in marriage! Ultimately, it’s a reflection of our faith and brings God glory when we do it well.

You know, Focus on the Family cares about you and your marriage. We want your relationship with your spouse to be thriving along with your relationship with Christ. I hope you get that impression when you listen

That’s one reason we created the Focus on Marriage Assessment. This is an online tool…a quick little quiz you can take. It’s free. You’ll get immediate results that tell you where you’re succeeding in your marriage and places that might need a little extra help!

John: Another great place to get some good info is, of course, Arlene’s book, 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife. It’s packed with solid insight and wisdom, like you heard today, along with practical ways to strengthen your marriage—whether you’re just starting out or maybe you’ve been married for a while.

Jim: Let me also ask you to consider supporting the ministry of Focus on the Family. There are many couples and families who need help in their specific situations, and we couldn’t provide them with that help without prayer and financial support from friends like you.

In fact, when you donate today—a gift of any amount–we’ll send you a copy of Arlene’s book 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife as our way of saying thank you for helping us support families.

John: To get in touch with us, and to donate and get your copy of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife, at Or when you call 800 – the letter “A” and the word FAMILY – 800-232-6459.

On behalf of Jim Daly and the rest of the team here, thanks for joining us for Focus on the Family! I’m John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife

31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife

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