Tip #42: Wives, Be Aware of Your Hubby’s Secret Romantic Fears
Most sitcoms today have a staple character and plotline about men and romance: the bumbling husband who forgets his wife’s birthday or buys his wife a power saw for Valentine’s Day. The audience always howls with laughter when some poor fellow tries a big romantic outing and everything goes completely wrong.
Why? Well, it plays to a very popular cultural notion: the idea that guys aren’t very good at romance, do token efforts only, and honestly don’t care about romance for themselves.
Don’t believe it.
Ladies, in my interviews and surveys with thousands of men for For Women Only, I was shocked to discover that men want romance, too. In fact — and you may want to sit down to read this – your husband wants romance just as much as you do.
Once you get over your shock, you may ask, “Well, if he wants romance, why doesn’t he do something about it?!” You need to recognize: guys already deal with a lot of hidden self-doubt. A vulnerability that is exacerbated by feeling a little clumsy at romance. One guy described most men as feeling “left-handed” romantically.
Think about that for a second, ladies. If you’re right-handed you can write with your left hand if you want to, but it feels a bit insecure and uncomfortable. Now, thinking about how much your man fears looking stupid, how much he fears failure, think about how “left-handedness” in romance must feel to him. He deeply wants together time with you… but may feel awkward and uncomfortable trying to create it. Especially those types of sweeping romantic events that he believes you think are romantic. They may not come naturally to him; he may doubt he can pull it off without feeling like he failed.
Or, he may already feel like he failed.
I have heard this over and over. Without realizing it, without intending to, with what we thought was a minor tease or a look or a chuckle, we may have discouraged our man from trying something romantic ever again.
One day, I was talking to a man who tried to describe that feeling. He gestured toward me, and said, “For example, if you’re my wife, I’ll make myself a fool for you. I will. But if you tease me about not quite getting the candlelight dinner right, it’ll be five years before I try that again. And maybe not then!”
So what do we do, ladies? How do we encourage the vulnerable fellow who is inside the big, strong, confident-looking man we love? The man who secretly wants romance with us, as much as we do with him?
Well first, we have to encourage him to do those things he might have been pondering anyway. If he ever randomly says, “I wonder if we should ever go to the mountains for a weekend,” see it for what it is. That is not random. That is a trial balloon. Say, “Oh, I would love that!”
Or if he doesn’t ever throw out those ideas, give him some of your own – don’t make him read your mind. “I don’t know what you’re planning for my birthday, honey, but in case you didn’t have anything picked out, I went to this restaurant for work and it was nice.”
Then, make it clear that no matter how it turns out, you’ll be thrilled. “Yes, I would love to go to the mountains some weekend! And no matter what we do, it’ll be great just to be together.”
Then, most important: no matter what he does, actually be thrilled. Show him how happy it made you, and say absolutely nothing about things that could have been better. Zip, nada, nothing. He will seize on those and forget the other twenty things that you loved.
And finally, if he’s like the majority of men who go to the restaurant hoping for a specific dessert at home, be purposeful about showing him your gratitude in more than just words. Men don’t care about romance just to get sex… but in the male mind, they sure do go together well!
As you can tell, whether a man lets his inner romantic come out depends an awful lot on whether he thinks his wife will be glad that he did. So show him that you are glad, and you’ll see that romantic man a lot more often.
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.