Understanding the inner lives of wivesWritten by Jeff Feldhahn
What's inside this article
Guys, I have good news: It’s easier than you probably realize to understand your wife and make her happy.
I’m just an average, sometimes oblivious guy, but when I found myself caught up in some research about women’s inner lives – research that my wife and I did for a book – I realized how wrong I’d been to assume women were impossible to understand. Let me share a couple of my eye-opening discoveries.
An open-ended deal
You said, "I do." You thought the deal was closed. In all likelihood, the question "Does she love me?" has never again crossed your mind.
But according to our nationwide survey of 400 women, your wife probably sees the transaction differently. For her, the deal is never closed. Her "I do" will probably always mean "Do you?"
Buried inside even the most secure woman is a latent insecurity about whether her man really loves her. Yes, she knows her husband loves her, but sometimes her feelings need to be convinced. When this vulnerability is triggered – by marital conflict, for example, or even your silence – most women show signs of distress until the concern is resolved. You can read "show signs of distress" as "drive their man nuts." Peace at home comes when men understand this insecurity.
Most guys coast along unconcerned about their relationship’s health. But to eight out of 10 women, this is unthinkable. When something’s not quite right with their marriages, it’s difficult or impossible for them to get it off their mind. As several women put it, "When we’re at odds, nothing is right with the world until the issue is resolved."
A woman is likely to experience emotional insecurity about her marriage even if her husband isn’t the cause. Still, her man can be part of the solution. Here are two key techniques – both completely doable for ordinary guys.
First, reassure her. During conflict, remind her that you love her and your relationship is OK. When you need space, make sure she knows it’s not about her. Understand that sometimes she may seem clingy or critical because of her insecurity; keep reassuring her of your love. Yes, hug the porcupine – and you might just see all those quills disappear.
Second, keep pursuing her. You can prevent a lot of insecurity by romancing your wife. And it’s not the big exhausting efforts that speak to her so much as the little day-to-day expressions. Flirting. Listening. Simple notes. Compliments.
Sex isn’t the same to her
Guys expect wives to have female bodies wrapped around a male mind. Subconsciously, we think men and women have basically the same sexual wiring. Mismatches leave us baffled. As one of my buddies put it, "If sex is free and it’s fun, why doesn’t she want lots of free fun?"
When we hear "Not tonight, I’m tired," we take it personally. We assume it means we’re not desirable. Surprise, guys! Ninety-six per cent of women we surveyed said their man’s desirability had nothing to do with their "no." Most women find their husbands desirable and want a great sexual relationship. One survey taker summed it up: "Even though I don’t want sex as often, I still love him deeply and find him very attractive."
Your ego doesn’t need to take a hit. Instead, realize that your wife is not wired the way you are. She needs a lot more anticipation time to get her mind and emotions ready for sex. Flirting over breakfast helps her look forward to an evening of sexual intimacy.
She’s also stimulated differently. You’re set off by what you see. But she needs to feel connected emotionally. She can’t help remembering how you treated her throughout the day. Hurt feelings or neglect have to be healed and forgiven; positive memories make her ready.
Those positive memories are surprisingly easy to create by gently touching her, by listening and empathizing, by helping around the house. During our research, one woman said she tells her husband, "Honey, there’s nothing more sexy than watching you clean something!" She just wanted to feel cared for.
If there’s a lot you have misunderstood about your wife, you’re not alone. Like me and other formerly oblivious guys, you really can learn how to make your wife happy.
Jeff Feldhahn and his wife, Shaunti, are co-authors of For Men Only: A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women.
If you liked this article and would like to go deeper, we have some helpful resources below.Our recommended resources
Free advice on marriage, parenting and Christian living delivered straight to your inbox