Tip #37: Husbands, talk to your wife about whether what you’re working so hard to provide, is what she most needs
Guys, every day you feel the burden to provide. Whether or not you’re the primary bread winner, you’re feeling It is my job to provide for my family. It’s a hard world out there, with lots of financial stresses, and you love your wife and children so much that you exhaust yourself with long hours, a second shift, or lots of travel, to make sure they are taken care of. You wish you had more time with them, but you make that trade-off, that sacrifice, to give them security and show how much you care.
And then comes the day when you start hearing your wife say things like, “Honey, do you always have to work so much?”
What’s a guy to do?!
Here’s what you do: take her comment as a cue that she may be looking to you to provide something more important to her than financial security. When Jeff and I began our research for For Men Only, we learned through interviews and surveys with thousands of women that, more than anything, they desired emotional security with their husbands.
Now, if you’re like Jeff, you’re probably asking “what on earth is emotional security?”
For men, “security” means financial security, period. But for most women, “security” is partly about finances, but far more about your relationship. If she’s like most women, your wife most needs to feel close, because you spend time together. On the survey, seven out of ten married women said they would downsize their lifestyle and even endure financial hardship, if that was what it took in order to get that closeness. This wasn’t universal – three in ten women did need the financial security most – but most women simply prioritize a more family-friendly schedule more than you think they do.
Don’t hear me wrong: This doesn’t mean giving up a challenging job you love, for an ‘easier’ one you hate. The women said they recognized that would be a bad solution all around! But in most cases, there are changes that would work for you and make women feel more secure.
Maybe this means working less overtime so that you can be at dinner with the family more often. Or it could mean being on the road less with work and giving up that extra client revenue in order to have weekends together. Maybe it means you stick with a good but less high-flying career path while the kids are young, so you can leave the office early a few nights a week to make their soccer games. Or maybe you take the high-flying promotion you’ve been angling for, but always always always leave the office at 5 pm on Fridays, to ensure you have a date night with your wife, even if the other executives look at you funny.
When your wife seems to want “more” of you, it would be easy to feel like you’re between a rock and a hard place. Doesn’t she appreciate all I already go through? And now she magically wants more time, more energy, more of me? I only have so much to give! If she’s like most women, your wife does appreciate all that you do. But if you’re hearing things like, “you care about work more than me” she probably wants and needs a trade-off, not more. And the trade-off you’re already making (less time with her; more financial provision) may not be the one she’d choose.
So sit down with your wife and see what is most important. If you’re working overtime for a long vacation or to replace the old car, for example, find out if the less-time-with-you trade-off is really what she prefers. Let her talk it through, as she processes it for a few days. You might find that she truly would prefer the cheaper vacation or to drive the old car, in order to get more time together.
You might find that what she most wants is not what you provide…. but YOU.
Join us next Monday for the next installment in our Marriage Monday series!
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Shaunti Feldhahn is the best-selling author of eye-opening, research-based books about men, women and relationships, including For Women Only, For Men Only, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages and her newest, The Good News About Marriage. A Harvard-trained social researcher and popular speaker, her ﬁndings are regularly featured in media as diverse as The Today Show, Focus on the Family, and the New York Times. Visit www.shaunti.com for more.
Each Monday, join me as I share my top findings on the little, eye-opening things that make a big difference in creating great marriages and relationships. Today’s post is one of a series on the surprising truths that men and women tend not to know about each other–and which change everything once we do.