Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Jennifer Ryan of I Choose Change.
It’s no secret that it feels like women and men speak different languages sometimes. And, as a relationship therapist, often couples will come in with one goal in mind: FIX HIM! (Or, HER!)
We hardly take a step back to see how to take personal responsibility for our own actions in our marriages. Yet when we do, the outcome is incredibly rewarding.
When each of us, men and women, decide to look beyond our own needs momentarily to see what our spouse needs, the value is almost instantly realized. Sure, taking care of ourselves is paramount, but marriage is a challenge because we have a constant companion by which we interact with more than any other person on the planet (usually).
Recently, I wrote about the secret lives of women. Husbands took note of the most important aspects of the inner lives of their wives.
Now, women take note: what you don’t know about the inner workings of your husband can be hurting your marriage – bigtime! And, as Shaunti Feldhahn shows us in her book, For Women Only, just a few simple strategies can reap great rewards.
Key #1: Respect versus Love
Ladies, this may come as a shock: research shows that men would rather be unloved than disrespected. Stop for a moment and think about how it would feel if you felt your spouse didn’t love you. Pretty horrible, right? The same is true for men who feel disrespected!
What to do: In his judgment, abilities, and capabilities and in communication, show your husband you respect him and believe in him as often as you can. The difference in love and respect are slight, and when your husband hears, “I’m proud of you” this is a show of love for him. Believe in the best from your spouse, and chances are, he’ll have more confidence to give you his very best.
Key #2: Security and Supply
Both men and women often feel a deep sense of insecurity. We fear being “found out” or that we’re always just slightly above our optimal working level. Husbands also feel a deep need to provide for his family, both financially and in security. Your husband wants to know he is the “protector,” even if his wife supplies more monetary support to the family.
What to do: The truth is, we all want to be affirmed in our abilities as humans. And, when we don’t get the “at-a-boys” at home, we seek them elsewhere. From working too many hours, to immersing himself in sports and outside activities at the expense of family time, to crossing the boundaries with female coworkers, husbands will figure out a way to feel admired for what he brings to the table. Therefore, our job as wives is to show confidence in our spouse! Affirm him, encourage him, and support him (just as we would want, right?).
Key #3: Sex and Emotions
Sounds like an oxymoron to some women, but despite popular belief, your husband IS an emotional being! And, while it may seem like sex and emotions don’t go hand-in-hand, they do. However, men feel more connected to their wives through the act of sex, and your husband wants to know you want him. He feels loved to his core when you crave him sexually.
What to do: Imagine what it feels like to feel emotionally disconnected from your spouse, as if he doesn’t understand you and you’re on two different planes. That doesn’t feel good at all! That’s exactly how your husband feels when he isn’t sexually connected. The mere act alone helps him feel loved, secure, respected and confident. Women, make sex a priority in your marriage. Instead of seeing the act as a “duty” or a job, see it for what it is: an emotional connection. Just as women want emotional connection, men do as well, and it can often come in the form of sex.
Key #4: Romance
This may come as a shock, but your husband wants romance, too! However, it’s important to note that men not only view romance differently, but they also feel somewhat insecure about romancing you the way you want to be romanced (I mean, it does make a man step out of his comfort zone when he’s doing what YOU want rather than what HE wants, right?)
What to do: Understand that when your husband wants to go to a sporting event with you, “hang out” with you, or have you on his arm in various social situations, this very well could be romance for him. He enjoys being able to show you off and be proud of you with his friends. Also, encourage your husband through the “rough” spots of romance: encourage him when he steps out of his comfort zone, show him you appreciate his efforts, and let him know he’s your number one. And remember this from Key #3 above, for some men, romance may not feel complete without sex. Understanding why is key: men see the act of sex as the connection itself, whereas women see the connection as a stand-alone. When your husband steps out of his comfort zone to romance you the way you want to be romanced (and yes, some even enjoy it!), he may feel discouraged not getting his “connection” (through sex).
Key #5: Appearance
Yes, your spouse cares about your appearance, but perhaps not in the way you think. Your appearance is more about how you take care of and carry yourself, not your size. Yes, size does matter, but it matters less when you are clean, tidy, smelling good, and have confidence to boot! Your husband wants to feel proud of you, because you help him look good.
What to do: Examine all parts of your appearance: size, physical exercise, overall cleanliness and tidiness. If you feel MOSTLY bad about your appearance overall, chances are your husband does, too. He won’t admit it, but he does want you to fix yourself up and show more confidence in the way you look and feel about yourself.
Read more from Jennifer Ryan, Licensed Counselor and Life Coach at her blog: I Choose Change.