Editor’s Note: This post is by Jennifer Ryan of I Choose Change.
Each time I hear myself in a session with clients say, “Research shows…” immediately following is a little voice inside my head that says, “BORING!” Of course research is important, but sometimes it’s useful to get right to the heart of the matter, quickly: What’s happening here, and how do we change it quickly?
Many couples come to therapy as a last resort – they haven’t slept in the same bed for years, their communication with each other usually comes in the form of growling, and they’ve got one foot out the door. For a therapist, this isn’t unusual, but it is very difficult to get things moving along quickly since they’re so “stuck.” That’s why I like to suggest, “For Men Only” by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhaun.
This nifty little book comes with a “quick-start guide” for men with 5 keys to get a jump on what matters most to their spouse. (Not to worry, men, there’s also a “For Women Only” with the same nifty suggestions on how to please YOU. You aren’t the only one needing a jump start!)
The keys are pretty simple and straightforward. And as a woman, spouse, and mom, I would say these are pretty spot on:
Key 1: Reassurance
Does your wife ask, “Do you love me?” way more than you think is necessary? If so, realize she wants to be doted on and told they she is loved way more than you think she does! There is an underlying insecurity for many women, and it’s not uncommon for your partner to feel like your relationship “off track” when you feel her concerns are “out of nowhere.”
What to do: Offer reassurance that you love your wife. If you feel a bit smothered by the insecurity, simply tell her you need space, but “we’re okay.”
Key 2: Emotions
Notice how your partner seems to obsess over things that you feel like is no big deal? Women don’t “compartmentalize” situations and decide to think about things at another time. In difficult situations, they want to address those situations NOW. Sometimes, women’s emotions seem way more heightened than they you think they should be, but rest assured, this is normal.
What to do: Sometimes it feels physically impossible to your wife to set a difficult scenario on a shelf and revisit it at another time. So it won’t help if you say, “Just don’t think about it.” You can assist by helping take whatever immediate action is necessary to start moving forward, but make sure it’s in a loving, caring and respectful way (and be sure to revisit about Key 4: Listening first!)
Key 3: Security
Can you remember a time your wife said she just didn’t feel as connected or close to you as she once did? Or has she said she feels like you’re “never there for her” when you are in fact working very hard bringing home to provide her the home and other nice things she desires? Here’s why: security comes in two forms – financial and emotional. For women, often times emotional security is FAR more important than financial security. Your wife wants reassurance that you’ll always be her “go to” person.
What to do: Since your wife prefers YOU rather than the things around you (like your big home, fancy car and far away travels), realize that your wife may be willing to downsize her lifestyle. If it means more emotional connection and closeness to you, she’ll compromise in a heartbeat.
Key 4: Listening
Your wife says, “You’re not listening!” when it seems you’ve been listening for over an hour – does this happen? When your wife shares a problem with you, what she is feeling about that problem is far more important than the actual problem. For women, often times the feeling IS the problem!
What to do: Your job is to distinguish between an action and an emotion. Learn to filter through the problem, and get right to the emotions surrounding the issue. After your wife feels like you understand her emotionally, she will feel more connected to you, and have more strength to address the real problem!
Key 5: Sex
Does your wife rarely initiate sex or say she doesn’t feel “close enough” to have sex with you? Most women enjoy sex as much as you do, but they don’t necessarily crave it in the same way. Women crave “closeness” and “warm-up” time – this is time that she anticipates sex and intimacy.
What to do: Create emotional security outside the bedroom, and this will help your wife anticipate being close to you. Give her “warm-up” time so she can start to fantasize having sex – this is foreplay!
Key 6: Beauty
“How do these pants look?” really means, “Am I hot to YOU?” Women have a deep desire to know you find her beautiful. We compare ourselves to other women relentlessly, and often, we come out on the losing end. Your wife wants to know that she still rocks your world!
What to do: Tell your wife she’s beautiful. Do it now, and do it often.
Jennifer Ryan is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach. To read more from her check out her blog, I Choose Change.