According to Studio 5 Family & Relationship Contributor Dr. Liz Hale; A LOT!
Women have the power and ability to touch a man so deeply by caring for him that he wants to be more …he wants to be better. At his core, a man is hardwired to please his wife and make her happy. Understanding a man’s nature helps you reach the core of who he is and get back from him all that you need to be happily married. We just need to learn how to use our power wisely!
The more we understand the nature of each other, and can appreciate that even our brain structure is microscopically but monumentally different, the stronger the foundation we can build upon. Men do not need to be reformed; they need to be understood. Through that understanding, women can operate in such a way that they then get their needs happily met. It starts by accepting that the power and control is in our hands, first and foremost.
I’ve identified four secrets of happily married women. The first one refers to how we should care for men.
Giving Attention Begets Attention
Men can be thoughtful…but there not always thoughtful in the ways women want them to be. If it’s attention you want from your husband, then give more attention. For example, one woman repeatedly told her husband that she needed more affection from him. She even told him, “I need you to tell me that I’m beautiful!” He didn’t comply to her demands; imagine that! Then one day, out-of-the-blue, her husband paid her an unexpected compliment. She immediately stopped what she was doing, hugged and kissed him, and told him how much that meant to her. She began to do that every time he did or said something kind….and guess what? He pays a lot more attention to her every day now.
We all want out needs met – but females are wired to be the ones who give more emotionally and pay attention to the details…and it pays off when a man feels you care for him. Happily married women know that playing the who-does-what-card gets them nowhere. Most men have a strong need to be taken care of by their wife; domestically speaking. Attending to a man’s need makes a man feel cared for. Caring could be as simple as warming up the oven to heat-up left-over pizza so he has something hot to eat when he comes home late from his meeting; or, surprising him with his favorite ice cream when he opens the freezer door.
Happily married women realize they have something going for them that men don’t have: they are women! We have the touch….and we must use it well! Ample research finds that women who are happiest in their marriages are the ones who see themselves in the traditional role of nurturing caregiver – even if they work outside the home. Perhaps this is because it is congruent with how and who we are biologically and emotionally as women. And it’s this very power that men so readily respond to. When a woman can support and love and cheer on her man, without the complaints and nagging, he is a man that will go to the ends of the earth to please, protect and provide for his woman.
Rewards Leads to Repetition
You want to get a man’s attention: praise! And just like at work, men need rewards for their effort; they don’t want to work for nothing. They need to know their efforts matter. Acknowledge what they do! We all want to be recognized for what we do: but for men, the need is greater. (It’s quite possible that your man is one of the many men who need to feel like super hero!)
Freely give praise and thanks while refraining from nagging and complaining. Can you imagine a boss coming up to your husband saying, “You don’t pay attention to me anymore, John. I’m hurt hat you’re always focused on some project and you never pick up around the office!”
When your husband performs an act of service (I know, you’ve done that act many times over the years for your family and no one’s given you a gold star but just hang on with me), don’t just say “Thanks.” Say “THANK YOU, HONEY!” Follow it with a big hug, since men tend to communicate with action not words. It is no skin off our nose to say, “I so appreciate you doing the dishes; it makes the evening routine go so much smoother.” Trust me, in this spilt-second you have motivated your guy to help again in the future – and he will more than likely do it without being asked because you have made a positive indelible imprint on his brain. And, you get YOUR needs met! Since men are motivated by this request for reward and if keeps them doing the wonderful things they do, and it makes life easier for YOU, why not give it to them??
A husband in my practice the other night said, “I stay at work late because at least there I know what’s expected of me. I know how to be successful there; I don’t have a clue how to be successful at home. “When a woman can say to her husband, “Thank you for working so hard for us,” it melts him to have his efforts and “love” recognized. Without you, a man will still go to work everyday and slay the dragons but without you…it doesn’t have nearly the same meaning.
Love & Regret ~ Often Seen and Not Heard
As women, we re the verbally blessed of the two genders. Our brains are wired to communicate. For men, talk is cheap, action is deep. Certainly men can verbalize their feelings but it doesn’t come naturally the way it does for us as women. When pressured to speak, men default to the left side of their logical brain – the side controlling literal not emotional content. Men express love and regret differently than women. We say, “I’m sorry,” and “I love you.” Easy for us to say because we have we have more nerve cells in the left side of the brain where language is processed. We have to be wise enough to “look” for how men show their regret and love. Men express their emotions more through actions than words. Look for the romantic expressions he does show; filling up your car with gas, picking your clothes up from the dry cleaners,
Instead of sitting down and talking with you about feelings, he may see his hard work as a source of support and a gift to you. This is not necessarily romantic by your standards….by doing things for their wives is what love is all about for a man.
A dear uncle of mine once said, “There is one thing I have the hardest time saying to my sweet wife, and that is, ‘I’m sorry. Even when I absolutely know I was a jerk…those words get stuck!” For most men, saying “I’m sorry” is a much harder challenge than saying “I love you.” Like so many interactions, it is about hierarchy and one-upmanship. When a man apologizes, he doesn’t’ see it as a way of bonding like we women do; for him, it is losing stature. A man does not want to feel like less of a man – even though they are sorry. A happily married women “sees” the apology in her man as he quietly polishes and vacuums her car, or loads the dishwasher, or takes out the garbage.
Notice when your husband speaks his heart through his actions without insisting that he say the words, “I’m sorry.” He may eventually realize that apologizing is not shameful and you will begin to hear those words of love and regret. But we will only be successful if we first stop demanding words and start seeing actions.
Sexual Intimacy Solidifies Connection
Women who are happy in their marriage rarely discount the importance of sexual intimacy as a way for a man to attain emotional closeness to a woman. For men, sexual intimacy makes him feel loved and makes him love you. It is a virtually important part of marriage, and for many men it is the glue that makes their marriage solid. Sex to please a husband is the one of the simplest things a woman can do to boost the happiness level of her marriage. Sex does not mean just intercourse; it means connecting on a daily basis in away that only the two of you can share. It is being intimate, loving, and connected. Too often we are in the habit of spoiling children…when we need to be in the habit of spoiling spouses!
In your mind, picture good, satisfying, bonding, fulfilling, loving marital sex? Now ask yourself if that image compares to your real life. Does what you desire and dream of match what you get? If not, use your skills, influence, and his great desire to make you happy to improve your sex life in ways that make you both happy!
“The Secrets of Happily Married Women,” by Scott Haltzman.
“The Secrets of Happily Married Men,” by Scott Haltzman.
Dr. Liz Hale is a licensed clinical psychologist and a regular Studio 5 Contributor. Your comments and questions are welcomed! Please visit www.drlizhale.com to add your thoughts to today’s discussion or learn more about her private practice.