I once heard a comedian say, “Happy wife, happy life,” and I thought: that pretty much says it all. Over the last two decades, I’ve spent a lot of time interacting with men and women, trying to help them in their efforts to build strong, healthy relationships. And one thing never fails: if I am speaking to a group of women, I always hear, “I wish my husband had been here to hear this.” The same thing happens after I speak to a group of men.
My takeaway through the years is that couples desperately want great marriage relationships, even though women struggle to figure out what is going on in the mind of their husbands and men get frustrated in their attempts to understand their wives.
So men: how well do you know your wife? It doesn’t matter how long you have been married. If you want to understand what makes your wife tick, you have to pay attention to the big stuff and little stuff. Become her “private eye.” Watch for those things that make her laugh, get excited, or dance around the kitchen. One reason why couples struggle is because they never take the time to study each other. They just expect things to work. That isn’t how it works with your career or your golf swing, so why should it work that way in your marriage? Here are some tips for better understanding your wife and hopefully, enhancing your marriage.
13 Ways to Rekindle the Romance
By Julie Baumgardner
1. Say “I love you.”
I know you don’t understand why you have to keep saying it, but you do. Write it on the bathroom mirror. Leave her a love note. Send her a text. Think about the things you did to woo her when you were dating and do those things!
2. Ask her to put together a punch list.
Men often say to me that they would be happy— O.K., maybe not exactly happy—but willing to help out with chores or whatever, if their wife would just tell them what to do. But instead of waiting for her to tell you the things she needs help with, why not ask her to put together a punch list of the things she would like for you to complete?
3. Engage the kids in an activity.
Most women love it when their husbands take the initiative to do this. In fact, many find it rather sexy. Dr. Kevin Leman wrote a book called Sex Begins in the Kitchen. The overarching focus is that foreplay begins long before you get to the bedroom.
4. Make time to cuddle with her, talk to her and romance her.
Your wife craves your affection, so make time to cuddle with her, talk to her, and romance her. She needs to know you cherish her.
5. Listen without trying to fix the problem.
Whether it’s your children, the in-laws or a problem at work, verbally processing a situation helps many women get to a place where they can make a decision about the best next step. You might want to ask at the beginning of the conversation what she wants from you. Just to listen? Or to offer suggestions for a possible solution? That way, she doesn’t get frustrated—and neither do you!
6. Don’t talk down to your wife.
Just as you don’t like feeling disrespected, neither does she. Women appreciate honest, open communication when it’s shared in a respectful, loving manner.
7. Show appreciation for what she does to keep things together at home.
Whether your wife works or not, most women keep several balls up in the air when it comes to taking care of the family. Tell her how much you appreciate her effort. Just knowing that you noticed can go a long way.
8. Take the initiative to plan a fun surprise.
In many marriages, women are the ones who have to take the initiative to plan date night, get the babysitter, and make sure everybody is fed. When guys take the initiative to plan something and take care of everything, women are often turned on. It could be a weekend getaway, but a date night works too!
9. If you don’t know her love language, become a super sleuth and figure it out.
You can ask her what her love language is, but you will probably have more fun if you work to figure it out. There are five love languages: quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, physical touch, and acts of service (see The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman). The way you will be able to identify your wife’s main love language is by the way she responds when you do these things. For example, if you get an over-the-top response when you vacuum the house or help with other chores, it’s highly likely that acts of service is her main love language.
10. Don’t assume that your wife doesn’t enjoy being intimate with you.
Women tend to believe that all a man thinks about is sex and men often mistakenly believe that women aren’t interested. The truth is, both are usually clueless about their spouse’s needs when it comes to sex and intimacy, and few couples actually talk about it. Having that conversation could lead to a much better sex life for you and your mate.
11. Focus on your wife’s needs and your opportunities for growth.
Once the honeymoon phase is over, couples frequently decide to start extreme makeover projects on each other. Big mistake!
12. Encourage your wife to be who she is called to be.
Simply acknowledge her gifts and talents.
13. Look for the win!
Marriage is a team sport. The goal is win/win, not having the last word or always being right.
People talk about finding their “soulmate,” but I really think having a great marriage is much more about becoming a great soulmate. If people put as much effort into making their marriage awesome as they do into improving their golf game (or whatever sport you are into) or climbing the corporate ladder, I am totally convinced we would have a dramatic increase in people saying they are happily married. Men, you’ve just been given the key to winning your wife’s heart. Now, go and do married well.
Julie Baumgardner is the executive director of First Things First, a research and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening families through education, collaboration and mobilization. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.