A couple weeks ago after writing this post about how marriage is really fucking hard, a friend of mine wrote a comment about how men generally want to be respected first and loved second but women more want to feel loved and validated first, and then I wrote this post based on conversations with my husband and some reading I’ve done about what kinds of things women can do to show their husbands respect.
And since then I’ve been thinking a lot about the other side of the equation.
About what women want from their husbands. About what husbands can do on their end to strengthen their marriages.
I have some thoughts. And they are broad, sweeping statements.
They may not be the case for every single wife in existence, but I know many women feel this way because I’ve had this exact same conversation multiple times.
This is not to say that women don’t want to be respected and this isn’t to say that men don’t want to feel loved and validated.
But for me and for tens and hundreds of thousands — probably millions — of other women, there are two things you can do that would make us incredibly happy, that would show us you love us as much as ever, that would make us feel like you get us and you get it.
First, we want to feel appreciated.
We want an acknowledgement of how hard we work. And the acknowledgement doesn’t mean we need you to say the words, “You worked so hard today.”
It means, if we have been on kid duty all day (or week, or month) and you haven’t, and you walk in the door and see that look, the look that says I am about to rip everyone’s fucking head off, that you say to us, “How about if you take a little break and I’ll cover this.”
It means when you are on kid duty that you try really hard to keep the house from looking like a tornado ran through it. We know it’s not easy. We know it sucks. But it really sucks to have a little time to ourselves but then come back to mass destruction. Because that makes us not want to take a break because what we come home to is sometimes worse than not getting a break at all. And that does not make us feel appreciated.
It means when we are all going out somewhere as a family that you help get the kids ready. You take a shower early. And you say to us, “I’ve got the kids covered. You go take a shower and get dressed and I’ll make sure they are dressed and loaded into the car.”
It means if we have to work late that you offer to take care of dinner or have the kids ready for bed when we come home.
And then there is the second thing.
We want to feel wanted.
Feeling wanted doesn’t mean you come home, grab our ass or grope us and tell us you want to bang us later on. For the moms of young kids who are constantly being touched and clung to all day, that is the least effective approach. I guarantee.
Feeling wanted means feeling pursued. Feeling romanced. It means you plan a date night. And by planning a date night it means you plan the whole night. Yeah, even down to the babysitter.
Don’t tell us you can’t do it.
I’ve seen some pretty crazy “promposals.”
If a high school kid can plan some ridiculously over-the-top way to ask his girlfriend (or some chick he doesn’t even know that well) to the prom, then you still have it in you twenty or thirty years later to plan a date night once every couple months.
Not all the time.
But remember back in the day when you and your wife were dating? Remember when you put a bunch of thought into making plans with her to do something you thought she would really like? Remember when you took charge and wined and dined her? Remember when you recognized the importance of foreplay and the whole build up of a night?
We want some of that shit.
Just like we did when we were dating. Back when we felt like you were really attracted to us and you really wanted us.
We realize that in order for you to initially make the effort to do these things and then continue to do them, we need to acknowledge you doing them. And we need to make sure you know your efforts are appreciated. And if you do take the initiative to load the dishwasher or fold the laundry or plan a date night or whatever, we realize we can’t reload or refold or replan or tell you you did something the wrong way.
Because that would discourage you from making us feel loved and appreciated and pursued.
Which are some of the biggest reasons we fell in love with you in the first place.