“Just tell me what to do,” seems to be a common sentiment of many husbands visiting my office. They seem to be at a loss as to how to make their wives happy, or more importantly, how to make them stop nagging. “I can’t seem to do anything right, so why try?” One client went so far as to say, “Isn’t there a list, a list that just tells guys what to do?” So here’s your list men.
Considering my previous Blog was for wives only, I thought it only fair, justifiably so, to write one for husbands. You come to my office just as frustrated as your wives. Of course when I give either gender the spiel that our brains are very different, both believe I’m making excuses for the other gender. No win for me. So I’m not going to give you the scientific data that supports my “spiel” because deep down, you know it.
Husbands, when I tell your wives you just want to make them happy, I get all kinds of reactions:
“Yeah, right!” “Give me a break!” “Seriously?” “If he really wanted to make me happy then he’d __________, or he wouldn’t ___________.” You fill in the blank. Sometimes their words can be stronger, but you get the point. All come with snickers, agitation or laughter.
So why don’t your wives believe you just want to make them happy? They can remember a time when it felt that way for them, when you went out of your way to do the little things, and sometimes the not so little things, to make them happy. What happened… to you…to her?
If you think your wife is wanting daily cards, roses, and diamonds to make her happy I can tell you with 100% certainty, that’s not it. Although an occasional card, roses or diamonds don’t hurt your ranking with her either. It’s the little things, guys. Like talking to her. Yep, that’s actually number one on her list…talk to her. “Communication produces lubrication.” Put that on the screen-saver of your mind.
So I had a couple come in recently and, like I always ask, “What is your hopes for counseling.” He said, “more sex” and received a big elbow punch in his rib from his wife sitting next to him. Her response was “seriously?” He said, “sure, why not?” I looked at her and said, “What is your hopes for counseling?” She said, “I just want him to talk to me.” He laughs. Easy solution on this one, wouldn’t you agree? If he wants more sex, TALK to her. If she wants him to talk to her, have SEX with him. DUH? I actually felt bad charging this couple.
Look, it’s not about the sex, though it matters. It’s about each partner giving what they so freely gave in the beginning of their relationship. Talking to her was a piece of cake. You seemed interested in “her.” Perhaps you’re thinking right now, yeah, I try that and she doesn’t like what I have to say so what’s the point. And then you shut down. The pattern begins.
You’re not the enemy, and neither is your wife. The enemy is the pattern the two of you have co-created. It’s the pattern you need to recognize and change… not the “person/spouse.”
We all know life gets in the way; work, children, finances, in-laws, sports, etc. Marital satisfaction goes down 65% with the birth of a child. The attention is off each other and onto your beautiful creation… for at least 18 years… and longer with each additional child. I get it. We get child-centered, work-centered, select-soccer centered, technology-centered, etc. The marital relationship goes further and further down the priority list. We put bare-minimum in the marriage. Yet, the health of your marriage determines the health of your family.
And today, 2020, with many two income families, women are still doing 85% of the domestic work. Why? If she’s helping to support the family financially, why are husbands not helping more with the kids and household duties. Your job doesn’t end when you get home from work, guys. Domestication can also produce lubrication.
Here’s the bottom line. Talk to her. It matters. Don’t try and “fix” just listen. Most of the time she just wants to vent. That’s how women deal with stress… they talk. Men, they go inward, into their “nothing box.” As you should.
Help with the kids and household. Ask her, “how can I help?” Don’t be surprised if she faints the first time you ask. She’ll get used to it. Pick up after yourself. Don’t become an additional child, something I hear frequently from your wives.
Like I shared in the previous blog for the women, per Gandhi:
"You must be the change you wish to see." It's YOU changing that will have the greatest impact on YOUR EXPERIENCE of your marriage AND it's YOU changing that will be the single most important thing you can do to motivate your spouse to change.