There are many reasons that couples enter my office. Some are beginning their marriage journey and want to “start off well.” Others have been married for more than two decades, are now “empty nesters” and find that they long to regain the intimacy that they once had. Some couples are in crises and are considering separation and divorce, but they want to give it “one more shot.”
For almost all of these couples, the husband’s main desire is that “I just want her to be happy.” These husbands want a check sheet. And they want to know that if they do the things on the list (or don’t do the things that are on the “never do” list), then their wife will be happy with them.
Unfortunately, no check sheet exists. Jeff Feldhahn puts it this way: “Guys think of a woman as a swamp. You can’t see where you are stepping, and sooner or later you just know you’re going to get stuck in quicksand. And the more you struggle to get free, the deeper you get sucked in.”
The key is to realize that no check sheet exists, because what our wives want is us – they want a relationship that meets their needs.
But since we as men long for a check sheet, here is a starting point. For every couple with whom I have met, the wife needs these things. They are not easy, but some are simple. So here goes . . . . .
She needs to be completely confident that you are committed to her.
No hint of “I can’t do this anymore.” Use the pronoun “we” instead of “I” when you talk about the future. When there is an argument or disagreement, do not dive into the area that sometimes you so much want to go – to quit, give up, and leave the relationship. After all, you are a man of character and really want to keep your commitments to her and to God.
She needs to feel completely safe in the relationship.
What does this mean to her? It means that even in intense arguments, you do not verbally attack her. No matter how angry you are. She must feel that she can be honest, transparent, (sometimes even mean), and you are still committed to her. It means that when she does share a concern or problem she is having, it is normally not a request to “fix her” – but simply to listen and to try and join her in her fear, hurt, frustration, or concern.
Take the lead in spending your money wisely. Get out of debt and stay there. Consult her and agree as couple before making expensive purchases.
When she gets angry, do not match anger with anger.
After all, you pride yourself with your ability to control your emotions. You consider her to be the “emotional one.” So prove it! When she gets angry, try your best to realize that her anger is usually based on some type of “primary emotion” – like hurt, fear, sorrow, isolated, abandoned, lonely, . . . .
You both might want to look at the list of “Soul Words” by Milan and Kay Yerkovich to help you identify your “primary emotions” instead of anger. https://www.howwelove.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/SoulWordList.pdf
When you make a mistake or get angry, quickly ask for forgiveness.
See my blog “Why Saying ‘I’m Sorry’ is Not Enough: The Seven Keys to Seeking and Receiving Forgiveness” http://wp.me/p1soGL-JT
Plan (and schedule) one-on-one time with her.
You do this in almost every other area of your life. You would be a disaster at work if you did not keep track of your commitments and schedules. And what about that golf game that’s scheduled the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of every month? I am sure that without trying, you can think of many other commitments.
So why don’t we do this with our wives? Our own motivation really isn’t important. She interprets this as you not making her a priority. So plan focused, “face-to-face” time with her. Like you once did when you were dating. You sometimes went out on activities, but often it was simply looking into her eyes and talking about life. Try it again. You’ll be surprised at what might happen.
Be creative in showing her ways that you cherish her.
This is a tough one. After all, how many times have we tried and failed. A good place to start is to ask her to take a simple “test” to find out her “love language.” This will give you an idea of how you can best show your love to her. http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/couples/
Do the unexpected. Even the planning and effort that it took will show her that you cherish her.
Let her know over and over that she is attractive and desirable.
Guys note: If your goal is sex, then it does not count! The idea is to show her that she is attractive and desirable both physically and as a person with no “alternative” (read that selfish) goal in mind.
When you have sex, focus on what pleases her.
This does not make sense. “You mean, if I focus on her, I will also enjoy it?” Yes! Try it and you will be surprised.
Also, realize that when she is affectionate, her goal may not be sex. She may be simply expressing her love for you with no other “goal” in mind.
Verbally express your appreciation and gratefulness.
Even for the mundane things you now take for granted. Look at each day from a fresh perspective. And don’t just think it . . . . express it.
You might look at two blogs from CrossRoads Counseling:
The Secrets to a Lifelong Marriage: Lessons from Kindergarten: http://wp.me/p1soGL-y6
or: “The Power of Gratitude” http://wp.me/p1soGL-pi
Pray for her and your relationship
Pursue your relationship with God. Your focus should not be on simply becoming the spiritual leader of the family. As you grow in your relationship with God, you will find that your spiritual leadership will be an overflow. It will come more naturally and your wife and your children will want to follow your lead because they see who you are and what you do – not just what you say.
BTW Wives – feel free to contact me with any suggestions (or deletions) that will help me modify my list. Steve@CrossroadCounselor.com