FOR MEN ONLY! How to win your wife’s heart…….for life!

0
676

By Michael Holland, Executive Director

a-womans-heartOK. I lied. This article isn’t just for men only, so ladies, if you are reading this it can help you to understand your husband. AND GUYS, it really can help you if you will apply these skills. That’s right. I said skills.  You see, getting better at our relationships is similar to practicing your free throws. It is a skill that you have to practice, and practice makes us better at what we are interested in.

Now as men, we are often at a disadvantage. A nationally known marriage and relationship expert, John Gottman, (who happens to be a man!) has even stated: “Men are generally less competent at relationship skills than women.” So why is that? Why are we men told that we aren’t good at relationship skills? Is that even true? To be honest, there is some research that refutes the assertion that men aren’t good at relationship skills. Some researchers suggest that many men’s relationship skills are very good and are actually highly developed.

For example, many men are skilled at sales, business relationships, teaching, writing, conducting seminars, politics and so forth, all of which require many well developed relationship skills. Many of us have heard it stated that women speak twice as many words each day as men do. However, there is actually some very good research that shows men and women speak about the same number of words each day…..just on very different subjects! It is my belief after working with hundreds of couples that the perception that men aren’t good at relationship skills is based on factors that are often out of our control: media and advertising messages that depict men as incompetent, pop culture that displays men as only driven by a need for sexual conquests, and the lack of male leadership and positive male role models in our society and families only further contributes to the messages that men are incompetent at relationships. I tend to believe that most men have the skills to be good at relationships, but sometimes just need the right “tools” to put those skills to good use.

Also, it is important that we understand and value the fact that men and women have different relationship skill sets. One marriage and relationship expert, Dr. Pat Love, (who happens to be a woman) put it this way: “if we want successful male/female relationships, we must stop expecting men to communicate with us (women) like we want our girlfriends to communicate with us.” So, it is important that we learn to value our differences as men and women, and learn to work with those differences, not against them!

So, with that in mind, here are some suggestions for ways that men can learn to win their wife’s heart, and keep it for life! These are skills that I believe most men already possess, but sometimes need additional time for practice and development!

Winning Skill #1.

Approach your marriage as if it were a very important job. Think about your “job description.” Is it one that you and your wife have discussed? Or is it one that has been defined by the culture we live in, and the expectations of others? If not, it is important to discuss your duties and responsibilities. Write them down. Honestly assess how effective you are in each of those areas. Where can you improve? Where can you celebrate? Is there something that you can delegate or remove from your “plate?” Discuss with your wife the strengths each of you bring to your marriage, and how these can best be used as you cooperate as a team.  Knowing each other’s strengths, discussing them, and then utilizing them to accomplish your goals will help you to know the game plan, and work together to form the best team ever!

Winning Skill #2.

Become a homebody. Yep. I said it. The truth is that you can’t be a husband and a bachelor! Becoming a work-a-holic doesn’t benefit your marriage either. Some research shows that men actually spend less time with their wife AFTER they get married than before they get married. Developing common interests, playing together, sharing the household responsibilities, and discussing your future are all ways to become more focused on your home life. Many of us begin to live out our married lives without ever discussing our expectations, desires, hopes and dreams, and then get frustrated that our spouse isn’t “getting it.” Developing a life together occurs through spending time together working on common goals and interests. Men, take note: this is very reassuring to women—when you are focused on your home life, you are in essence saying to your wife: “You are important to me, and you are the number 1 woman in my life.”

Winning Skill #3

Practice Good Listening. Do all you can to make your wife feel like you have heard her. It may seem trite, but try to restate what she has said to you before you give your response. Try a statement such as: “let me make sure I understand what you said” before you restate what you heard. For both men and women, when you have something to say, try to state it in shorter statements, and ask your spouse to tell you what they heard. Another important part of listening is being honest about losing focus. Just ask your partner to repeat what they heard. Losing focus is something that happens to all of us. Let it be ok, and cooperate together for good teamwork in listening.

Winning Skill #4

Expect Conflict. While it may seem obvious to expect conflict, many men avoid conflict with their wife’s  if at all possible. There are many reasons for this, but the important thing for men to understand is that conflict, if managed appropriately, can actually bring you closer to your wife. For women, it is important to understand that men often feel that the message in conflict is “you’ve done something wrong.” This sets up a confrontational situation where each of you is headed to battle. However, marriage is a team sport, and you either win together, or lose together. Recognize that conflict is the result of differing needs and perceptions, and if you cooperate as a team to solve the issue, you will feel closer afterword.

Men need to be aware of feeling overwhelmed during conflict, because if you feel overwhelmed, men tend to either fight or engage in “flight” by leaving the room, or withdrawing emotionally. Neither will help the situation. Taking a time out if the discussion is too heated can be productive, but ONLY if you are willing to tell your spouse how long the time out will last. For men, the number one question to ask yourself during conflict is: “What does my wife need right now?” If you really get stuck in conflict, seek help! The Family Lifeline is available to help you through our classes and mentoring program.

Winning Skill #5

Be the hero. Men want to be the hero. More importantly, they want to be their wife’s hero. So, men you’ve got to celebrate when you’ve done something well, or done something right, especially if it is for your marriage! As men we celebrate the homerun or the well placed basket, begin to recognize and celebrate the successes in your marriage and family! Yes, it will feel strange at first, but do it anyway! You will be surprised at how you feel, and perhaps more importantly, how your wife will respond!

Winning Skill #6

Be a Lifelong Learner about Love and Sex. Ok, let’s be frank here. Men and women are different when it comes to our intimate lives. In general, most men feel more connected and close to their wife through the sexual relationship. There are many reasons for this, but it is primarily driven because of biological factors. Study your spouse. Learn her moods and cycles. What does she respond best to, and when? Someone once made the observation that men are like microwaves, and women are like slow cookers, or crock pots.  Men, romance your wife all day long. Send her a text or voicemail early in the day. Let her know that she is number one to you. When you get home, offer to do the dishes, give the kids a bath, and send her to take a bath and relax. This will speak loudly to her. Send her a single rose now and then for no other reason than to say that you love her and are thinking of her. Study, learn, and understand that your love life will be a reflection of the effort that you put into connecting with your wife in all the other areas of your marriage.

Winning Skill #7

Let Her Really Get to Know You! Be willing to share your thoughts, dreams, and desires with your wife. Let her know what really makes you tick. Be willing to answer the question “Who is this guy?” Try answering it for yourself first, before you discuss it with your wife. Next ask yourself: “What needs do I have, and how do I get those needs met?” Use the answers for the basis of several discussions with your wife about meeting each other’s needs. Finally, and here is the question none of us like to face: “What changes do I need to make in my life?” Be honest in your responses. Be willing to admit where you need to make changes. If you think you need help, or more information or skills, there are many resources available in our community.

Finally, if you need any motivation to get started, just tell yourself: “My marriage is important to me. I want to do this. Period!”  So, get out there and practice these seven winning skills! If you find you need help refining them, or want more information, please contact The Family Lifeline!! We want to coach you!

Michael Holland and Rebecca Holland are the directors of The Family Lifeline, Inc. (FLL), an organization in Rio Rancho, NM that has served over 35,000 clients in the past 11 years. The FLL offers relationship strengthening services including marriage mentoring, marriage enrichment events and classes, premarital and youth education, and even business team building and life skills training. Their mission is “building healthy relationships for stronger communities.”  To reach The Family LifeLine, call 505-891-1846 or visit them on the web at www.thefamilylifeline.net