Tip #41: Husbands, signal love in a way she can feel it
Recently at an event, a man came up to me looking worried – and confused. His wife had just told him that she felt they were “settling” in their marriage. That their marriage was mediocre. That she didn’t feel particularly loved. He was flabbergasted, since they had been married for 15 years, he was very happy, and he thought he was showing her how much he loved her. He looked at me blankly, as he tried to figure out the disconnect and what to do.
Guys, does this sound familiar? Do you ever hear your wife say things that could be quietly (or not so quietly) signaling a similar concern?
Let me encourage you to not let it go. Don’t ignore those signals from her. It is not necessarily that you have been living in some parallel universe, and have completely misread the last decade or two of your marriage. What you may have misread, however is the way you are letting your wife know that you love her. You may be saying it –but not in a way that she can get the message.
I have a friend who once told me that being with her husband was a bit like being a lonely radio receiving tower. She’s was sure, mentally, that her husband loved her, but since he didn’t broadcast that message on a frequency she could receive, well…she never received it. So she simply didn’t feel loved. After years of that, when the kids graduated from high school and they were empty nesters, she simply couldn’t take living in a loveless marriage anymore and asked him to move out. It took that big of an action to wake him up to what she’d been trying to tell him for so long. And thankfully, he did wake up, took it seriously, and worked hard to learn how to show his love, and their marriage is now better than it has ever been.
Here’s the key you need to know. You as a man probably rarely question whether your wife loves you. (“We’re married and living in the same house; of course we love each other!”) But most women never get that sense of certainty. My husband, Jeff, and I found in our research with women that 80% of women — even confident women in great relationships — have a subconscious daily question about whether they are loved and loveable. So you can put a ring on her finger and vow to love and cherish her forever… you can work seventy hour weeks to provide for her… but that doesn’t mean she’s going to feel loved and cherished for as long as you both shall live unless you send her one key message every day: that you would choose her all over again.
You may wonder how on earth you do that. Don’t be intimidated. You’ll be relieved to know that it is not usually the big, difficult-to-do actions that send her that message, but the little day-to-day ones.
When was the last time you sent her a text message telling her that you love her and that you are so grateful that she’s such a great mom to your kids? When is the last time you took a five minute break during work to call her and ask how her day was going? Have you put your arm around her recently, when you were out at a restaurant with friends? If she needed to talk about her problems with the kids or her work colleagues, have you learned how to listen to her feelings so she feels heard? When you’re grumpy or upset, when was the last time you pulled yourself out of it and reassured her that ‘Yeah, I’m having a bad day, but don’t worry: we’re okay.”
These little things add up, so learn them. They may not seem like a lot but, put together, they communicate your love to her in a way she can’t miss.
And start to pay attention to when she needs extra care! If it seems like your wife is having a rough day, mute your football game, put down the remote and go talk to her. Give her a hug or plant a kiss on her cheek as you walk through the kitchen. Tell her to go sit down, and that you’ll do the dishes. Get the kids ready for school in the mornings and let her sleep in.
Doing these little things that show your wife how much you love her will make her feel wooed and pursued all over again. And when you see your wife start to perk up and say she feels more loved…. Don’t stop! Do it more. You’ll be glad you did.
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.
This post first appeared as part of Marriage Mondays at Christian Post. 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.