I returned home from running errands earlier today, and noticed that, while I was gone, my wife lit a candle on the mantle. It was a small gesture, but symbolic of a bigger role that she plays. For Susan, setting a candle aglow is a way of giving our home an air of elegance and warmth. She strives to bring love into the home, and every day finds creative ways to do so.
Susan is like many wives who have communicated to me over the Internet or talked to me during counseling sessions. These women pay close attention to their environment and the people around them; they are constantly wanting to know: how’s everyone doing?
I’ve spent the last decade researching the differences between men and women, and I’ve come to appreciate that the behavior in wives around the globe are part of women’s natural talent to care about other people. As infants, girls are more likely to seek eye contact with adults and respond to the cries of other babies. They develop verbal skills faster than boys, and, as women, are more likely than men to recognize the emotional content of words and faces. Women have higher amounts of the hormone oxytocin, which is shown to increase the degree of trust and emotional closeness.
Women are endowed with inborn “relationship radar,” and they frequently use it to monitor the health of a relationship. That’s one of the reasons why, if you ask a man whether his marriage is a happy one, most know to say, “I don’t know, I’ll ask my wife!” Yes, women can use their natural abilities to gauge how relationships fare, but, they can also that same talent to make their marriages happy.
Here are seven ways that happy wives get more of what they are looking for in their relationships with their mates:
Know Your Husband:
The first secret of happily married women is to know your husband. Your man has certain qualities that are distinct from your own. When you were dating, you might have thought his ways were cute. But when you get married, sometimes you might find those same qualities irksome. At times, he may seem to be self-absorbed; at other times, he may need to be cared for. He might fight hard to be right about silly things that aren’t at all important to you, or he might get up an wander aimlessly around the house (or worse, crack jokes!) while you’re trying to have a serious discussion.
It’s easy to condemn guys for the things they do. You sure wouldn’t act the same way under similar circumstances. But happily married women know that they shouldn’t judge their husbands harshly just because they act…like men! If you learn to cherish the differences between guys and gals, you’ll be ready to see how to make the most out of the situation.
Nurture His Needs:
Since the woman’s movement of the 1960s, the idea of a woman catering to her husband has been scoffed at. For many good reasons, women have broken free from the strict confines of the “housewife” role. In America, women have pushed through the educational, legal and occupational barriers that have held them back for centuries. So, it’s only natural for women to raise an eyebrow when they hear that one of the paths to a happy marriage is to meet your husband’s needs. But it makes sense to do so.
There are many ways that you can be in tune with your guy, and make it a positive experience for you, too. If your guy wants to play the role of protector, let him be in charge of paying the bills. In fact, it makes less work for you. If he has a competitive edge when he plays dominoes with his buddies, cheer him on! It will mean a lot more to him than if you chide him for being too intense. If he enjoys the look and feel of the female body, then foster an active sex life that will be gratifying for both or you.
Happily married women know that when they use their womanly abilities to improve the connection with their husbands, their husbands respond. Men really want to feel that they can make you happy. When they feel positive about who they are, they are motivated to do more for you.
Men and women were designed differently for battle. Women often understand that discussing areas of disagreement is necessary for solving problems. In fact, one recent study showed that women who didn’t talk about their marital problems had an increased risk of dying early! For most men, though, getting in a fight is something better avoided. In men, conflict can cause a flood of emotional intensity that elicits his primitive instinct at win at all costs. Things can get ugly!
When disagreements arise, there are ways of making it work to your advantage. First, let your husband know, in detail, what you need. “I’d like you to pick up the children after lessons,” is a lot more effective than saying, “I feel like I’m running around town like a chicken with my head cut off!” Next, use your great communication skills to helping to solve problems. You do this by asking questions, reflecting back on what you hear, and seeking to establish an ally, not an adversary. When women keep criticism to a minimum, men get less defensive, and it’s easier to be heard.
Men process verbal communication differently than women. So, you’ve got two choices: 1) Try like the dickens to get your husband to communicate more like a woman or 2) Change your style of verbal interactions to get more of what you want. I think you know which approach works better. From time to time, your guy will be there for you for the heart-to-hearts that matter to you. But if for the day-to-day stuff, sometimes it’s easier to change the way you go about trying to get through to him.
The next time you want to get your point across, try the following techniques: First, put the main point up front. I know in some cultures it’s rude to jump in with what you need, but, that’s not the case with your husband. If you make your preamble too long, he’s likely to have mentally checked out before you get to your point. Speaking of which, when you do get to your point, use as few words as you need to be heard. And remember, timing is everything. If you have an issue that’s really troubling you, and ask for insights from your husband during the last quarter of the Super Bowl, don’t be surprised if he doesn’t respond the way you wish. The important thing for you to realize is that you can get through to him, and often it takes a lot less effort than you think.
Have Lots of Sex
Most women know that most men love sex. What many women don’t realize, though, is that men love sex with their wives because it brings about an unsurpassed sense of emotional closeness with them.
Happily married women know that sexuality can be integrated into each day by gestures as simple as hugging or holding hands. They can enjoy playful encounters out in the park or in the shower. When you begin to integrate intimacy and eroticism into your marital interaction, you can show your husband how to increase his sensitivity to your emotional sexual needs. A little while of doing this, and both of you will be eagerly looking forward to spending more time in bed together!
Take Charge of Your Own Happiness
Being happy as a wife looks a lot different than being happy as a single gal. Both you and your husband need to put the happiness of the marriage before individual happiness, but he may need you to lead the way. Women’s inborn ability to “take the temperature” of a relationship allows them to have a clearer sense of what ingredients will lead to happiness for the couple. You won’t generate good feelings through waiting around–or worse, complaining– to get what you want. You must set the tone for a partnership of sharing and loving; that leads to a sense of fulfillment in everyone.
It’s true, but not very romantic, to say that your husband won’t fulfill all your emotional and physical needs. Some women push for perfection in all aspects of their lives from sun up to sun down. But sometimes the more you try to have it all, the less you have in the end. Women who are happy have four attributes: they are surrounded by friends, they are physically active, they are involved in life, and they are open to spirituality. You may feel that you’re hardly able to do the bare necessities before you collapse by the end of the day, but if you find time to prioritize taking care of yourself, you can take care of others better, and be happier in the process.
Happy Wife, Happy Life!
Weddings are full of laughter and hope. Marriages can also provide a source of enrichment and joy, but it requires using all of your womanly identity to create, and maintain, a special union. When you follow the secrets of women who get to know and nurture their husbands’ nature, learn communication and conflict skills, and take care of themselves, you’re well on the way to happily ever after.
Visit Dr. Scott at secretsofmarriedmen.com
Copyright © 2008 Scott Haltzman, used with permission.