In my research with thousands of men for For Women Only, I discovered that the things that light your man up—and the things that hurt him—are quite different from those that would do the same for women. And while we know men are indeed visual and many times “external” in their thinking, there are actually much deeper areas of a man than we might realize. This means that if we want to improve our relationships with the man we love, we must be willing to learn. We must set aside what we think we know about him and see our husband for who he really is on the inside.
Here are four secret inner thoughts going on inside your husband’s mind and heart:
Your Man’s Heart Is Far More Vulnerable Than You Realize
Men and women each have a burning question inside of them—but the two questions are very different. For women, the question goes like this: “Am I loveable, beautiful, and worthy of being loved?” Our question doesn’t go away just because we get married. This is why it’s painful for us when we are in an emotional conflict with our man and he shuts down and withdraws. It triggers our internal question and we need to know that our relationship is still okay.
For men, however, the question looks like this: “Am I able, do I measure up, and am I any good at what I do?” When surveyed, 75-85% of men state that they have this question burning on the inside most of the time. They wonder whether they are any good at what they try to do for you, whether you think they are a good husband, whether you think they measure up. With every little thing they do for you, they are secretly holding their hearts out, wanting to please you yet doubting they are up to the task. Realize when you respond to your husband, you’re responding to the inner, vulnerable man—not the confident-looking outer one.
Your Husband Is Always Looking For Signals About How He Is Doing (And You’re Always Sending Signals Whether You Know It Or Not)
Because of that internal question of whether he’s good enough, your husband is always looking for signals from the people around him about whether he’s doing a good job. (Does my wife think I’m a good dad? Does my co-worker think I have what it takes to run this project?)
When you regularly show discontent (“Why did you send the kids outside without their coats?” or “You got the wrong brand of lunch meat at the grocery store again.”), you send a signal that is as painful to your man as it would be for you to try to hug him during an emotional conflict and he stonily set you aside and said, “I don’t want to talk to you today.” By contrast, when you express appreciation for the little things he does, you affirm your husband in the most tender places of his heart.
The Reason He Needs To Hear Affirmation Is That He Probably Doesn’t See It The Way You Would
Men typically don’t pick up on “vibes” or body language the way many women do so he may truly have no idea how you feel about something he did. He needs to hear your words of affirmation telling him that he’s good enough. He needs to hear how proud you are of his work or just a simple “thank you” for his efforts. Don’t leave it to chance for him to try and figure it out—actually tell him!
“But shouldn’t he just know that I think he’s doing a great job?” I’m asked that question many times at women’s events and I always answer this way: He probably does “know” intellectually that you appreciate him but he still deeply needs to “hear” you say it. Wouldn’t you hate it if he rarely told you that he loves you because he figures you already know? Your words of affirmation reassure his inner question of “Am I good enough?” Your words encourage him and keep him going.
Affirmation In The Bedroom Is The Deepest Salve For His Secret Vulnerability
Women often tend to misunderstand what physical intimacy means to our man. We think of it as a physical need—which can often feel quite optional, especially when our physical need is sleep!
What we must understand is that the importance of sex for a man is primarily emotional. When he knows that you desire him, it gives him confidence about how he’s doing in every other area of his life! When you sexually flirt with him, respond to him in the bedroom, or even initiate intimacy, it says something very powerful to those vulnerable places in his heart: “I do desire you . . . you do measure up . . . you are not alone.”
There are always exceptions but most likely, your man is secretly longing for sexual connection not primarily for physical pleasure, but for a deep connection with you, the woman he loves, and for the deep reassurance that you care, that you believe in him, and he is worth you being one with him in every way.
Beneath the rugged and tough exterior of your man is a much softer and deeper part that he keeps hidden. Learning and understanding these four inner thoughts in his mind and heart will help unlock new levels of your relationship that you may have never seen.
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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 latest book, Find Rest: A Women’s Devotional for Lasting Peace in Busy Life, focuses on a journey to rest even with life’s constant demands.
Visit www.shaunti.com for more.