The man sidled up to me at one of our recent marriage conferences, and was clearly trying to ask a question before his wife noticed. “So I say ‘I love you’ a lot,” he explained in a low voice, “But it seems to sort of bounce off. It’s like she discounts whether that is really true because it is such a common phrase. Is there one thing I can say to her that won’t be background noise, so she’ll really hear how much I love her?”
“Why are we talking so quietly?” I whispered.
“Because,” he whispered back, “I want to be able to say whatever it is, without her thinking, ‘You’re only saying that because she told you to.’”
Ah. I get it.
And yes, I told him, there is such a phrase: “I’m so glad I’m married to you.”
In case you’re puzzled by that, I’ll tell you what I then told him. Most men don’t realize that women privately have a very specific vulnerability inside: Am I lovable? That question may be subconscious, but it’s there. In the same way that you as a guy privately wonder whether you’re doing a good job as a husband, father or salesman, she truly wonders whether she is special and someone who is worthy of your love.
Especially, your love.
Deep down, we women look at the wonderful guy we are married to, and think: How on earth did I ever get so lucky? So blessed? Why would he love me? As one woman summarized, “I think in the heart of even the most confident woman, there’s a secret worry: that there may come a point when he realizes we aren’t as special as he thinks we are!”
You may think that is a ridiculous doubt –and it certainly isn’t politically correct to talk about! — but if your wife is like most of the women on our For Men Only surveys (82%), that question is there.
In the book, we quote another woman who put it this way: “The fact that I get to live with him over the course of my lifetime is one of the biggest scams I’ve pulled off. I keep waiting for him to wake up, jump over the mound of unwashed clothes, and bolt out the door!”
So men, yes, your strong and confident wife needs to hear that magical phrase: “I’m so glad I’m married to you.”
That one phrase reassures and inspires her all at the same time. It fills her with a sense of security in your love.
Then tell her why you’re glad you’re married to her. She’s got such a sweet spirit… she’s so beautiful, inside and out… she’s a caring mom… you love spending time with her…
If you’re like most men, you’ve got many, many reasons. And your wife needs to hear those too.
If you tell her that phrase regularly, and share all the reasons why, you will be bringing delight to your wife’s heart. And I think you will find yourself delighted by her response, in return!
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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 groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage, and her newest book, Through A Man’s Eyes. 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.