There’s a reason why superhero movies are so popular, right? What’s not to love about someone who defies all odds, defeats the villain, rescues the vulnerable and saves the day? And while most of you men do not wear a cape on a regular basis, I know from my research for the book For Men Only, that you guys want to make your wife happy (and have her view you as her personal superhero). For most men, the everyday things that you do are your expressions of love and are designed to make your wife feel loved and cared for. But what if you want to make a superhero-sized impact on your wife’s heart? Here are 4 key phrases she will love to hear:
Phrase #1: “Here, let me do that.”
“What can I do to help?” is a good question and it will likely elicit a smile from your wife. She will appreciate that you recognize her need for a helping hand. Maybe it’s washing the dishes or folding the laundry. Perhaps it’s taking her car in for that pesky oil change or helping your fourth-grader with that book report. By stepping up and taking something off her hands, she will feel as if a couple dozen roses were dropped in by parachute.
Phrase #2: “You’re right. I didn’t do that quite right. Show me again.”
Maybe you stepped in and said, “here, let me do that,” only to be shown a “better” way to do the task at hand (like cleaning the kitchen or dressing the kids). As a man, your gut instinct is to think, “Nothing I do is good enough for you,” and then you backed off. Men, understand that your woman has no idea that you secretly worry about being inadequate. Because of that, she doesn’t understand why you would be upset by her implying something wasn’t done right. She’s not trying to criticize you; she’s merely taking you at your word that you want to help and showing you how best to help. Believe the best of your wife’s intentions, hang in there, and don’t back off.
Phrase #3: “I’m angry and I need some space. But I’ll be back in a bit. We’re okay.”
When you’re mad or hurt and just need some space to process things, it’s important to let her know that the relationship is safe and that you still love her—before you take a walk or retreat to the man-cave. Or maybe you’re dealing with work stuff and need to switch of the “husband” box in your brain for a few minutes and will deal with the argument later. While you’re tinkering in the man-cave and thinking about things, she’s standing outside the door with her stomach in knots wondering if this is THAT fight—the one that’s going to hurt your love for her. She will probably go on about her day but if she’s like most women in my research, part of her brain is worrying, “Are we okay?” So reassure her before you go get your space and you’ll be protecting her from hours of stress.
Phrase #4: “I’m so sorry that happened. How did that feel?”
Most men would rephrase this question like this: “I’m so sorry that happened. Here’s what I suggest you do.” Men are wired to fix things. But as my husband Jeff and I wrote in our book, For Men Only, “How she feels about the problem is the problem.” Being a hero to your wife doesn’t mean that you try to remove whatever caused the pain—at least not immediately. For most women (although not all), removing the pain is Step 2. Step One is helping her talk through all those jangling feelings she’s dealing with. Because of the way the female brain is wired, that is what will reduce the pain most. After a few minutes, you’ll see her tension ease as she feels heard and cared for. Then you can move on to Step Two to solve the problem if needed. But most importantly, she’ll feel so loved by the superhero in her life—YOU.
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Shaunti Feldhahn loves sharing eye-opening information that helps people thrive in life and relationships. She herself started out with a Harvard graduate degree and Wall Street credentials but no clue about life. After an unexpected shift into relationship research for average people like her, she now is a popular speaker and author of best-selling books about men, women and relationships. (Including For Women Only, For Men Only, and the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage).
Her newest book, The Kindness Challenge demonstrates that kindness is the answer to pretty much every life problem, and is sparking a much-needed movement of kindness across the country. Visit www.shaunti.com for more.