At a recent marriage conference, a man sidled up to me and began talking while keeping an eye on his wife nearby, clearly trying to ask a question before she noticed.
“So,” he said in a low voice, “I say ‘I love you’ a lot. But it seems to sort of bounce off. It’s like she discounts whether that’s really true because it’s such a common phrase. Is there something I can say to her that won’t just be background noise, so she’ll really hear and understand 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.
Yes, I told him, there is such a phrase. Are you ready? Here it is (drum roll please):
“I’m so glad I’m married to you.”
He seemed a bit puzzled, and you might be too. So I’ll tell you what I then told him.
A Woman Wonders: Am I Lovable?
Most men don’t realize that women privately have a very specific vulnerability. They wonder: Am I lovable? The question might be subconscious, but it’s there. In the same way that you—like most guys—privately wonder whether you’re doing a good job as a husband, as a father, or in your profession, your wife truly wonders whether she’s special and worthy of love. Specifically, whether she’s worthy of your love.
Now you might 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 in our For Men Only surveys (82%, in fact), the question is there.
A Wife Questions: Does He Really Love Me?
You see, 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 in our research surveys 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!”
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!”
A Husband’s Reassurance Says: I Still Choose You
So men, yes, your strong and confident wife needs to hear you say that magical phrase: “I’m so glad I’m married to you.” It’s a statement that reassures, encourages, and inspires her all at the same time. It fills her with a sense of security and confidence in your love. My advice? Use it often.
And after you’ve uttered that powerful phrase, keep talking. Tell her why you’re glad you’re married to her. Because, if you’re like most men, you’ve got many reasons. And your wife needs to hear them.
You’ve got such a sweet spirit… you’re so beautiful, inside and out… you’re a caring mom… I love spending time with you….
Delight Your Wife . . . And Be Delighted In Return
The bottom line? If you tell your wife “I’m so glad I’m married to you” regularly, and share all the reasons why, you’ll bring peace to her mind, joy to her spirit, and delight to her heart. And—as I shared with the man at the conference who was seeking to please his wife—I’m confident that you’ll find yourself delighted by the response she gives you in return.
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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.