Don’t forget this simple way to make your wife happy

Don’t forget this simple way to make your wife happy

Dear Shaunti,

I’m in hot water. My wife is the most beautiful, amazing woman I know. (I’m sure she’d tell you otherwise, but it’s true.) But I just don’t talk a lot, and it is hard for me to remember to say things like “You look pretty” out loud. Last week, she had an epic melt-down while I was watching TV. She snatched the remote out of my hand, and told me I never compliment her, don’t appreciate her and all she does, never notice her efforts to keep the house neat or take care of the kids… and the list goes on (for a while). But I do appreciate her!  I bring her flowers regularly, and I try to help her keep the house neat. She’s an amazing wife. And even after more than 10 years of marriage, she’s a looker – I just don’t remember to say that kind of stuff. How can I suddenly become a “talker,” when that just isn’t me?

In the Doghouse

Dear Doghouse,

That old saying, “actions speak louder than words” can sometimes get us in a lot of trouble. Because both matter. A lot. And all the bring-her-flowers actions in the world won’t matter if your wife needs to hear you say “I love you” and “You’re beautiful”… and you don’t. I don’t know what happened with the whole TV-room meltdown, but my guess is that your wife wants to know that you to notice her more than the TV.

Your wife, like most women, needs to hear you say out loud that she’s beautiful to you.  In our For Men Only surveys, we found that overwhelmingly true especially among women like your wife. Among women in that busy, raising-kids season, 85% are longing for their husbands to say these things, not just think them.

Because unless you say it, how will she know you feel that way? After all, this culture pretty much ensures she will assume the opposite. It is tough out there in a world where the “ideal” female image is Photoshopped so that even the supermodels hardly measure up!  And if they don’t, even the best wife and mom can easily feel that she’s just one step this side of ugly. Every day the magazines in the check-out line and the commercials on television tell your wife that she needs to lose weight, look younger, be sexy – in all honesty, be perfect. This kind of pressure can be crippling and hurtful, and it is constantly in your wife’s face.

As her man, you have incredible power to build her up (or tear her down) by what you say… or don’t say. Because staying silent while your wife is beaten up by those “you’re not enough” messages is not a neutral posture. Either you’re fighting those messages by what you tell her (“You get more beautiful every year”), or you’re leaving her to get beat up alone.

You say you don’t remember to “say that kind of stuff?” Picture me trying really hard to not roll my eyes.

Do you remember to tell your boss what happened in that meeting yesterday? Do you remember to call back your client?

I guarantee you that every day at work or in other parts of your life there are dozens of things you’ve trained yourself to say out loud. Why? Because they absolutely need to be said in order for your job or that activity to function well.

Well, guess what? Telling your wife that she is beautiful, or that you appreciate what she does, is what needs to be said in order for your marriage to function well.

This isn’t an option. It is not a “nice to have” that you can afford to forget at the end of a long, tiring day. You must learn the habit and the skill of complimenting and thanking your wife, just like you learn the habit and the skill of telling your boss what he or she needs to know.

So here’s your assignment to build that habit: Every day for the next month, think of at least three affirming words or expressions of gratitude – “You look beautiful today” or “Thank you so much for making this great dinner” – and say them.

That kind of compliment might not feel natural at first, but if you stick with it, it’ll eventually feel as comfortable as “Pass the remote.”


Want to know how to be kind, when you really don’t want to be? My research uncovered three daily actions that will transform your relationships – and you. Check out The Kindness Challenge, now available!

Shaunti Feldhahn loves sharing eye-opening information that helps people thrive in life and relationships. She herself started out with a Harvard graduate degree and Wall Street credentials but no clue about life. After an unexpected shift into relationship research for average, clueless people like her, she now is a popular speaker and author of best-selling books about men, women and relationships. (Including For Women Only, For Men Only, and the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage).

Her newest book, The Kindness Challenge demonstrates that kindness is the answer to pretty much every life problem, and is sparking a much-needed movement of kindness across the country. Visit www.shaunti.com for more.

This article first appeared at Patheos.

2 Comments

  1. Libl says:

    Here’s an idea: subtly set a timer or reminder app on your cell phone. When it goes off you have 5 minutes to pay your wife a loving compliment. If you are away from her, send it to her in text.

    I also think after this blow-up, you could give her a card or a letter that says that you DO appreciate her and love her and will actively work on expressing it more.

    Don’t just think dinner is good, and don’t just tell her it is good. Tell her she is a good cook and you appreciate the effort she puts into making delicious meals.

    Do you say grace together? Insert a thanks to God for her. My husband started doing that a couple years ago after a very rough spot in our marriage and it started to melt the hardened heart I had built up in self defence.

    Do you attend church? Does she put some extra effort into how she looks on Sundays? Don’t let it go unnoticed.

    Are the kids giving her a hard time at bedtime? Don’t be passive. Stand up for her and don’t let the kids disrespect her. When my hubby takes my side this way it not only makes me feel good, but it makes the kids behave better. “Don’t you dare treat my wife this way. You’ll have to answer to me. You pay her the same respect and obedience you would pay me!”

    Then, tell her she is an amazing mother and you admire her patience and nurturing of the children.

    You can do this!

  2. Aeroart says:

    When we were married a few years a friend, who was celebrating his 50th anniversary with his wife, commented that he told his wife every night before they went to sleep that he loved her. This made me realise that it wasn’t something I did very often. She finds it hard to accept due to self confidence issues. Since then I have told her most nights before we go to sleep that I love her. On the down side it could be seen as habitual, but as we are going to sleep it is a statement, that whatever has happened through the day I do love her, and there’s no suggestion that I am saying it with ulterior motives. One of my better habits

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