What Women REALLY Want: Ten Things a Man Can Do To Improve His Relationship
Marriage Can Be Like Wine--More Sweet With Time
What Does a Woman Want?
What does a woman want? Have you ever gotten a response from a woman that perplexed you? This article is for all you men out there. It's not a secret—we women know that we can be complex. The very things that make us hard to live with are sometimes the very same that make us hard to live without. But if you are in a relationship, learning how to "live with" your woman may be a challenging experience at times. I'm here to help shed some light on some things I believe MOST (not all) women have in common. If you read this article, try these suggestions, and if after a qualified period of time you see no results, then perhaps your woman falls in the "not all" category.
Although it may see seem that it is easy to mess up or offend a woman, it can also be quite simple to make us happy and feel cherished. I guess I need one more disclaimer here. This article refers to an average, relationally healthy-for-the-most-part, mature-for-the-most-part relationship. Some relationships are made up of one or two highly immature, selfish people. This article will probably not help that couple very much. There are also relationships where one partner or the other is highly wounded and needs quite a bit of emotional healing—this article, alone, will not be enough to help that scenario either. This is just for your every-day "we love each other but sometimes can't stand each other but I'm willing to try" kind of couple.
Additionally, I must state that these are not the only ingredients necessary for a healthy relationship. I have listed ten things--but relationships consist of more than ten things. Women have their individual preferences--some want an intelligent man--some want a man who can make them laugh, etc. I'm not talking about preferences--I'm talking about basic, relational needs. Consider this article to be like one tool among many. You can have an entire garage full of tools, but without the right building materials, blueprints, and people willing to use the tools and do the work, the tools in of themselves don't have much value.
Furthermore, I want to say that this article is only one-half of a whole. Women are not excluded from having to work at a relationship to understand, respect, and love their husbands. I invite anyone reading this to write a Hub for relational tips women can utilize. The focus of this particular article, however, is on what men can do to improve their relationships.
Finally, I want to make the point that men and women are indeed VERY different in many respects. I am not advocating that men need to change and become more "woman-like." Men are designed to be men. Men don't need to become somebody who they are not in order to please a woman. Many relationships would benefit if men and women could simply understand that gender differences in terms of how men and women view, experience, and interact in the world greatly color the perspective from which the other experiences the relationship. What is a big deal to her doesn't have to be a big deal to you--but if she is a big deal to you--then you will want to learn how to meet needs in her that you don't have and hopefully she will learn to meet needs in you that she doesn't have.
Having said that, let's begin! Okay men, write these down or print this out, because you'll want to keep these simple strategies close-at-hand!
10 Things That Women Want:
- To feel understood.
- To be appreciated.
- To be heard.
- To be cherished.
- To feel beautiful.
- To feel secure.
- To be honored.
- To be encouraged.
- To be celebrated.
- To be loved.
1. To Feel Understood
Just because it's not a big deal to you, doesn't mean it's not a big deal to her! You can try to understand (good luck) but the truth is, often times it just won't make sense to you. As the author of the popular book on relationships, Love and Respect suggests, women perceive the world through pink sunglasses while men perceive the world through blue sunglasses. It's not about right and wrong--its just different. The good news is, you don't have to fully understand in order to respond well! A woman wants to feel like she is heard, understood, and that you care about her.
Example Scenario: You spill a few crumbs on the floor as you grab a piece of pizza out of the box and forgo the plate so you can go straight from box to mouth. You leave the kitchen and turn around a few moments later to see your wife standing there, hands on her hips, pointing at the crumbs. "You don't even care!" she cries. You don't even know what she's talking about! The conversation might typically go like this:
You: "What are you talking about?"
Her: "See, you don't even know."
You: "Know what!?!"
Her: "Forget it, it doesn't matter."
Now it is just a matter of time before she explodes because she really doesn't want you to "forget it" and trust me—it matters!
Instead of getting annoyed because she's "being overly sensitive again," try showing her that you care about her and are willing to seek understanding. You can do this by listening. Try this:
You: "What's wrong honey—what don't I care about? Help me understand."
Her: "I spent all day cleaning the house and making it perfect and you just throw crumbs around like it's no big deal. You don't even love me enough to use a plate."
You: "I'm sorry you feel that way. I really appreciate all the work you did cleaning the house today—it looks great" [as you reach for the dustpan to clean up the crumbs].
***NOTE: This article does not focus on triggers --but in this scenario, the crumbs on the floor are clearly not the issue, the crumbs are a "trigger." When a person over-reacts, it is because there is something deeper underneath. All fruit has a deeper root. For more information on this, see my Hub about ANGER, in which this concept is more fully developed.
2. To Be Appreciated
Just because you appreciate her, doesn't mean she knows it!
Example Scenario: Wife just finished making dinner. It's on the table and she tells you the food is ready. You finish what you are working on and come in ten minutes later to find your wife highly frustrated. "You don't appreciate me," she cries and runs out of the kitchen. What went wrong?
It can be a tricky task to cook and to get each dish to finish at the same time so that all elements of the meal are warm. That ten minutes that you took to finish your work were ten minutes that your wife spent feeling like you don't care about the fact that she cooks for you or that she wants to feed you a warm meal. Her nature is to nurture and when this gets blocked, frustration is often the result. You can always go back to your work later. Next time try to come into the kitchen right away and let the first words out of your mouth be, "Wow, this looks great. Thank you—I really appreciate you making this meal." If you really want to go the extra mile, tell her that you appreciate all she does and that you will do the dishes afterwards. This simple task will touch her heart more than you realize. Women typically melt when they feel truly appreciated. If you do this, you may want to "go to bed" early instead of getting back to your briefcase—perhaps she'll want to show you how much she appreciates being appreciated!
3. To Be Heard
Women want to know that you not only listen, but that you hear what they say. They want you to respond to their emotions, not to try to "fix everything." You don't have to experience the same emotions she is feeling; simply acknowledging, affirming, and responding to her emotions will validate the need she has to be heard. If a woman wants your advice—she will ask you. Most times, she just wants to be heard. She feels loved when she is really listened to.
Example Scenario: Your wife complains that she is tired and that her days are too busy. Between her job, the kids, and other commitments, she feels like there is no time for her. Your initial response might be to identify the problems and find a solution. But none of this shows that you are responding to the emotions that she just expressed. Respond to emotion with emotion. And try paraphrasing or summarizing a few things she said—this will show her that you are really paying attention! Logic and problem-solving can come a little later.
So instead of:
Her:"…and that's why I'm so tired."
You: "Well the first thing you need to do is…and this other thing is a problem because… etc."
Her:"…and that's why I'm so tired."
You: "I'm sorry that you are feeling so tired. I can see how x and y and z can take a lot out of you. Come here. (Give her a hug). I want you to know I'm here for you. Is there something I can do to help?"
She may take you up on the offer to help—but most times she's just looking for empathy. After you've shown her that you've listened and that you care, you will probably see her relax a little and maybe even breathe a sigh of relief. This might be a time for problem-solving if you have ideas. You could say something like, "I don’t like too see you so tired. I have a few ideas that might help if you want to hear them." If she says yes, she's ready for your help and now you can help do that fixing thing that you love!
NOTE: I am not suggesting that you enable your wife to vent unceasingly, or agree with complaining or gossip. The healthy expression women need is to talk about their feelings, emotions, frustrations, and fears. If your wife has issues with complaining and wants you to listen to hours of unhealthy venting, then you may need to look into setting some healthy boundaries.
4. To Be Cherished
DO sweat the small stuff! It's the little things that often get you into trouble—and can get you out of trouble or even prevent it! There are lots of "small" ways to show your wife that you cherish her that will go a long way. Women don't need to be cherished because they are spoiled or weak--they need to be cherished because this is a deep need built within their very fabric. Just because men may not experience this same need, doesn't mean that its not a genuine need for women. Never judge your spouse's needs according to your own!
What does the word "cherish" mean? The opposite of cherish is "to neglect." Some words you may find in the dictionary to define cherish are: "to hold or treat as dear; to feel love for; to care for tenderly; giving affection, care, or to shelter something; treating something as valuable; to nourish with care; to promote, increase, or strengthen; to foster a hope."
Can you imagine what your wife would experience if you did even this one thing on this list of ten? Instead of giving an example scenario, here are just a few ideas of ways that you can show your wife that you cherish her:
- Give her a hug and tell her why she's important to you, etc.
- Leave a little love note in a place where you know she will find it—list some reasons why you love her, etc.
- Hold her near and touch her tenderly; perhaps run your fingers through her hair, rub her back or feet; make sure she knows that you are not trying to get something from her but are offering affection to her freely without expectation of more.
- Make her feel protected; hold her hand while walking down the street or offer her a blanket or sweater is she's cold, etc.
- Leave post-it notes around the house with short declarations of why you love her, etc.
- Buy her a small gift—maybe surprise her with a favorite coffee drink, a beautiful flower, a thoughtful card (include your own hand-written message!), or gourmet chocolate, etc.
- Support her in something that is important to her—if she is an advocate of feeding hungry children, offer to volunteer with her on a Saturday at a shelter; if she is a writer, read something she's written and give her encouraging feedback; if she's been teaching your child to read, comment on what a wonderful job she's been doing, etc.
- Inspire hope in the dreams of her heart—has she always dreamed of opening up her own home spa? Buy her a small item for the spa room and tell her you believe in her. Has she desired to home-school the kids? Find a little knick-knack that says "Best Teacher" or something similar, etc.
5. To Feel Beautiful
Not all women are as attractive as the most attractive person on earth, but each woman is beautiful in her own way. There is an inner beauty and an outer beauty that is unique to each individual. Seek out the beauty in her and let her know you notice it! Let her know when she looks nice in a dress, when her make-up is done well, or when her hair looks good. Notice when she gets a haircut or colors her hair. Compliment her on her eye color or on how smooth her skin is. And remember, beauty is not just external. Let her know how cute she is when she laughs, how beautiful she is when she helps others, or how sexy she is when she's studying. Remember, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," so if you struggle to find beauty in your wife, check your heart to see what's blocking you!
6. To Feel Secure
A woman should not feel like all of her security comes from you, lest you become an idol unable to fulfill such expectations. But women want to feel that you are safe and that they can trust you. They want to know that you are a person of integrity in whom they can trust. You don't have to be perfect--just honest and full of good will towards her. She will appreciate even your intentions if they are genuine.
One of the ways that you can build trust with the women in your life is by consistency. Whatever you do the most, is noticed most! If you spend most of your time neglecting your wife, and only focus on noticing her for major holidays, she will not trust that you really care. You don't have to feel pressured to do all ten things on this list every day and in a big way. Remember, the little things count! If it is not easy for you to consistently demonstrate the things on this list of ten, then it may benefit you to make a plan. Try this:
A. - Get 10 note cards—on the front of each note card write one of each of these ten ways to love your woman as mentioned in this article
B - Use the back of the note cards to write down some ways that you might demonstrate each principle. There are examples in this article, you can find countless examples online, and you can also come up with your own ideas! Look for ways to add ideas to your note card over time—when you see a movie, hear a woman tell a story, or read a book, snatch up good ideas and jot them down on the cards.
C - Rotate the cards throughout the week. Perhaps start by trying to do just one idea from a card every day. Don't get overwhelmed—I'm talking about a minimum of 5 minutes out of your day to show the woman you love that you care. Of course some of the ideas will take longer than 5 minutes—but at the very least—be intentional about at least 5 minutes of each day to tangibly show your woman that you love her. When she's having a harder time, go the extra mile. Keep the cards in a place that you will see them regularly and be able to use them.
If you develop a track record of consistently showing your woman that you love her, it will be much easier for her to give you grace for the times you mess up or forget because she is secure in your love for her since she experiences it on a regular basis.
7. To be Honored
Once upon a time ago, men did things such as open doors for women. I know there are still many men that do this today—thank you! But my observation is that as generations go by, the idea of "chivalry" has gotten lost. I could speculate as to the reasons why, but that would be a diversion. I can't speak on behalf of all women, but I know many who love the idea of being treated as honorable by a man. Offer to carry the groceries, the luggage, or the baby bag. Hold open doors, open car doors, or drop her off at the front door. There is a reason that many women love to watch movies and read books from the era of the 1800s when women dressed up in beautiful gowns and men tipped their hats and used fine manners. There is a beautiful and gentle soul in every woman—there is also a crabby nag inside each, as well. You will experience the one that you groom. Whichever of the two is most often spoken to, is the one that will most often respond! Do you want your woman to treat you like a King? Then treat her as the King's worthy Queen.
8. To be Encouraged
Think of words like deposits and withdraws in a bank account. Every time you speak a kind word, you deposit $1. Every time you speak a negative word, you withdraw $4. If you speak more negative words than kind words, you will quickly be in relational debt! Take some time to speak positively about your wife. Speak kindly about her, to her, and to others. Take initiative to say please and thank you—showing her your appreciation for what she does. Give her compliments. Let her know that it is going to be OK when she's had a rough day. Remind her of her successes, as it can be easy for her to focus on her faults.
To illustrate this principle, let me tell you a quick story from my own life. One of the areas in which I am still growing in, is patience. It can be hard for me to wait for things. I am pretty quick-paced and efficient. So wouldn't you know that I ended up marrying a man who is more laid-back? It is not that one way is better than another—we are just different. On one particular day, I was being extremely impatient with my husband. I just wanted him to go faster. Now let me make it clear that it was I, not he, who was in the wrong. I was simply being impatient and wasn't being very gracious in my interactions with my husband. Instead of getting angry at me (which would have been a reasonable reaction) he looked at me, smiled, and said in a very kind manner, "Jenna—my patient princess—come here," and he hugged me. I melted in his arms. He didn't have to scold me. He reminded me of my true identity and in the embrace of grace, I was motivated and empowered to be more patient. I apologized to him as tears formed in the corner of my eyes (for his demonstration of unconditional love deeply convicted my heart), and I became more like a "patient princess" for the rest of the day.
9. To be Celebrated
Celebrate your woman, not the holidays! Don't get me wrong, it is important to celebrate your anniversary, your wife's birthday, and Valentine's Day. But don't limit your celebrations to just those! Celebrate your wife on a regular basis just because she's worthy to be celebrated. Here are some ways you can celebrate your woman:
A. – Take her out on a surprise date and tell her that you two are going to celebrate. When she asks what the occasion, tell her you want to celebrate her!
B. – Be happy with your wife. You may not be personally excited if she finishes knitting a blanket, but if she's excited, be excited with her! Celebrate her accomplishments by using kind words, meaningful cards or letters, or small gifts.
C. – Make a big deal out of the things that are a big deal to her. Maybe she's been working for two months to lose a pound and she finally did—don't blow it off as no big deal—if she's excited, be excited with her.
D. – Throw a surprise party in honor of your wife. Invite friends and family to come prepared with kind words or memories written down on an index card. Collect the index cards and put them in a small photo album so your wife can have a keepsake to remind her that she is loved.
E. – Make her a cake—or muffins—or her favorite sandwich. Surprise her at work or plan a weekend picnic. Include a written note on a napkin. It can be as simple as, "Because I love you."
10. To be Loved
Love is the foundation—it is the most important component of a relationship to women. Love is what breathes life into their spirits. Love is to be unconditional. It is freely given. It is not earned. Love does not say, "Make yourself more lovable and then I'll love you." It does not say, "Do this for me and then I'll love you." Love simply loves for the sake of loving. Love is a choice, not a feeling. It is a lifestyle, not a fleeting experience. Love is a thought—a choice—and an action. In our culture today, we can say in the same sentence, "I love cheeseburgers—and I love you too." People are not to be loved as one loves a cheeseburger. The Bible has one of the best descriptions of love that I know in 1 Corinthians 13:
1I may speak in the languages of humans and of angels. But if I don’t have love, I am a loud gong or a clashing cymbal. 2I may have the gift to speak what God has revealed, and I may understand all mysteries and have all knowledge. I may even have enough faith to move mountains. But if I don’t have love, I am nothing. 3I may even give away all that I have and give up my body to be burned.[a] But if I don’t have love, none of these things will help me. 4Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn’t jealous. It doesn’t sing its own praises. It isn’t arrogant. 5It isn’t rude. It doesn’t think about itself. It isn’t irritable. It doesn’t keep track of wrongs. 6It isn’t happy when injustice is done, but it is happy with the truth. 7Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, and never gives up. 8Love never comes to an end.
I've heard men say, "She should just know that I love her by the fact that I'm with her." Sorry guys--but we're women and we tend to be more emotional than you. Not only do we see the world through pink sunglasses, but we communicate in pink too. The blue idea of "I go to work every day to provide for her and that shows her I love her" doesn't actually make her feel loved. She may be appreciative of your efforts or feel provided for, but that doesn't mean she feels loved. Since each individual is so different, it is best to do a little research on your lady to find out what makes her feel most loved. Here's a clue: people tend to do for others what they hope others will do for them. Does she shower you with encouraging words and compliments? Then this is probably one of her primary love languages. We often tend to express love in the ways in which we prefer to be loved. This is the most natural way that we "show" love. People feel loved in different ways, however, so to make sure your spouse feels loved, you need to find out his/her preferred "love language." There are five main categories to these love languages:
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
- Acts of Service
- Words of Affirmation
Example Scenario: Your main love language is Gifts, followed by Acts of Service. Your wife, however, values Words of Affirmation, followed by Quality Time. So you think you are loving her well when you bring home flowers and tell her that you fixed the car. She may barely notice, because you haven't told her that you love her in several days or spoken any positive words of encouragement to her. And to top it off, you've been so busy with a work project, that you haven't spent much time together. Does that football game you watched together count as quality time? If she doesn’t care for sports and the two of you didn't interact much, then that time "together" doesn't count as "quality time" in her book! Find out what makes her feel loved and go out of your way to make her feel loved according to her preference, not yours! A little love will go a long way.
Is Love Enough?
I want to mention that love is not the ONLY essential ingredient necessary for a successful relationship. Just as women need to be loved unconditionally, men need to be respected unconditionally. Although I've written this article focused on what men can do to better love their wives, I did at least want to mention this point: Our culture is very focused on how men can love women, but the need men have for unconditional respect is often overlooked. Women--if you are reading this--let me tell you that a man needs your respect the same way you need his love. Even when he doesn't deserve to be respected, show him respect. Don't you want to be loved even when you don't deserve to be loved?
Withholding your spouse's deepest needs will never motivate him or her to change. If both spouses are good-willed people, they don't wake up in the morning thinking about how they can hurt the other. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt and assume that their desire is to do good, not to harm you. If you are unhappy with the manner in which your spouse acts towards you, the best place to start is to see if there are ways in which your spouse is unhappy with you.
We cannot change another person--but we can make a choice about the kind of person we want to become. If you've been trying the same thing over and over and over and over and over and it doesn't work--perhaps its time to try something different altogether. Don't wait for your spouse to change--let the change begin with you! You may be surprised at how the change in you elicits a change in your partner down the road! The mature one will make the first move! Is that you?
I hope you have found this article to be helpful. May your marriage prosper and may your love and respect for each other grow deeper with each year. Please feel free to leave any comments and remember to "vote up" if you liked the article. Thank you!
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