Not long ago, someone we know got engaged via a multi-stage, elaborate proposal that had clearly taken an immense amount of thought and effort. A mutual friend, upon hearing the story, told him, “Good job. Only 9,999,999 tests left to go.” The lucky groom, of course, wondered: why do women “test” and “play games” with their men at all? He said, “She wouldn’t just tell me she wanted me to come up with something big like that. She said, ‘Whatever you want’ but I suspected that she didn’t really mean it. I wish she would have just told me. But at least I got it right this time.”
Guys, there are 3 key reasons your wife wants you to figure out what she wants, rather than just telling you. (These aren’t my opinion, but are the results of years of research and nationally representative surveys of women for For Men Only.) I know these may seem absolutely crazy, but once you realize the truth of these factors – and learn to see and respond to them — you’ve truly cracked the code. Those things that probably most confuse you about women won’t confuse you anymore.
So read closely – and if you don’t think these three reasons could possibly be true, ask your wife!
Reason #1: If you make the effort to figure it out, it means she’s worth the effort.
You know how you look confident, but on the inside you privately worry whether you measure up? Well your wife has a different private worry: somewhere deep inside, every day, she wonders whether she is worth loving. Whether she matters. Whether she is lovable.
That question never goes away (just like you probably never get to a point that you feel as confident as you look). So each day, she’s looking for your signals as to the answer to that question. When you say “I love you” it signals that she is lovable. It reassures her that she must be worth loving, when you, this amazing man, make an effort to think through and understand why she might be upset rather than making her simply tell you. For example, it reassures her that she’s special, when you study her enough to know that she is completely frazzled and that it would mean a lot if you offered to take the kids so she can rest – without her having to tell you that.
Reason #2: If you figure it out and do something about it, it shows that you care.
You think it is the action that matters – which is why you wish she would just tell you what action she wants. Do you want me to take the kids to the park so you can rest? Do you want me to take you out to a quiet dinner for your birthday, or have a get-together with friends? While you’re upset with me right now, do you want me to apologize or leave you alone?
In the midst of those conundrums you’re probably thinking, “Just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it!” But always remember that the “doing” isn’t always the most crucial thing. What matters to her is the fact that you made the effort to figure out what matters to her. It shows she is worth that effort (see Reason #1) and – even more important – it shows that you care enough about her to make that effort for her.
Reason #3: If she has to tell you, she’ll never know whether you did it because you wanted to, or simply because she told you to.
Guys, we women don’t realize that you want to do those things that will make us happy. In other words, because of that secret “am I loveable” insecurity, we subconsciously may not believe that you want to “do” things for us because you care about us.
So when we tell you what we want you to do, and you do it, we honestly, truly don’t know whether you are doing it because you really wanted to –or just because you are putting up with us and doing it because we asked you to.
So men, here’s the bottom line: practice studying your wife. Don’t roll your eyes whenever you see what feels like a test. (As you can imagine, that makes her self-doubt worse!) Instead, use it as an opportunity to show her that she is someone who is loveable – and loved. And if you build up that certainty in her, you’ll see those tests a lot less often.
Wish Shaunti could speak at an event in your area? You can help! Forward this piece or others to a leader at your organization or church, with a note of recommendation. They can reach Shaunti at NDuncan@shaunti.com.
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.