7 Things Your Husband Wants to Tell You
While you may not buy into the idea that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, when it comes to communication, men and women do express themselves in different ways. “For women, the purpose of communication is most often to relate; for men, it’s usually to share information,” says Karen Gail Lewis, EdD, relationship therapist and author of Why Don’t You Understand? So while it may seem to you that he disregards your feelings, he might be wishing like crazy you would just tell him what you want. Read on to learn seven things your husband wants to tell you in order to help bridge the communication gap.
1. A small “thank-you” makes a huge difference.
You might think, “I do plenty around here, so why do I have to say ‘thank you’ whenever he pitches in?” But he probably doesn’t agree: “I’d cook, clean, do the dishes and laundry much more happily if my wife said ‘thank you’ more often,” says James.* Just like you, he needs appreciation and, yes, a little ego-stroking. “Studies have shown that happy couples give compliments often. Offering a simple ‘thank-you’ is an easy way to show appreciation and make him feel significant,” says Todd Creager, licensed marriage therapist and author of The Long, Hot Marriage.
2. I’m more likely to offer you concrete advice than a shoulder to cry on.
When you come home from work and start complaining to your husband about your demanding boss, to him it sounds like you’re asking for help—even if all you want is a sympathetic ear. Dave* encounters this often: “The other day my wife was venting about a problem. Every time I came up with a solution or suggestion she would interrupt and dismiss it. She thinks I’m telling her what to do, or implying that she can’t think of solutions on her own.” Know that when he gives you advice for handling that bad boss or overbearing sister-in-law, “that’s how he shows that he cares,” says Dr. Lewis. Try not to confuse his advice with criticism, but don’t be shy about telling him, “You know, I’ve tried that, too. I think what I really need now is to just vent!”
3. If you want a chore done by a certain day, tell me that.
You asked him four times to fix the wobbly cabinet door to no avail, so your complaints about him not doing it seem justified. “My wife does this all the time. I know I have things on my mental to-do list that she wants me to handle, and I will! But unless she tells me it’s urgent, I’m going to get to it when I can,” says Don.* When he hears you ask for a task or chore to be done, all he’s hearing is that you want it done—not that you want it done based on a time line you’ve set but haven’t shared with him, says Dr. Lewis. “He wishes you knew that he’d be very happy to fix whatever you want fixed, so long as you’re specific: ‘It would be great if you got that cabinet door fixed by the time my parents arrive on Sunday.’”
4. Tell me directly what’s bothering you.
Since human beings lived in caves, men have probably sat around bewildered by their mates’ fluctuating moods, wondering why she won’t just say, “I’m pissed off at you because…” instead of, “I’m fine” through clenched teeth. The thing is, he knows there’s something wrong, thanks to the exaggerated sighing and stomping around. “You may think you’re not communicating, but you are. What you feel is being transmitted,” says Creager, just not in a healthy way. The key is to express it directly––“I’m upset that you came home and went straight to the computer”––rather than being passive-aggressive.
5. Please don’t ask me how you look in that dress.
First of all, there’s no right answer to a question like, “Do these pants make me look fat?” Then there are the times you ask his opinion even though you’ve already made up your mind: “My wife seems to ask things like ‘Should I buy that dress?’ to confirm her choice, not to get my real opinion. And if she asks me how she looks in a dress, I know well enough to say ‘I love it!’ no matter what I really think,” says Alex.* So either don’t ask at all, or be specific, advises Dr. Lewis. “Ask him, ‘Do you think these shoes match this dress?’” And definitely think before you ask things like “Does my butt look big in this skirt?” If you want a blanket “You look great to me all the time, honey!” then you’re fine as long as your husband’s willing to play along. But if it’s honesty you’re after, be careful what you wish for.
6. I wish you didn’t think we had to talk all the time to be close.
You both get home from work, or finally get the kids into bed, and then you just sit there watching television. You call this togetherness? The truth is that he does, even if to you, it’s not “being together” unless you’re actively having a conversation. “The silence in the room, and just your presence, feels like closeness to a man,” says Dr. Lewis. “He doesn’t necessarily need, as you might, to be engaged in conversation in order to feel connected to you.” So every now and then, reach out and squeeze his hand, and if you want to talk, say so––but don’t assume that silence equals lack of interest.
7. I wish you wanted sex more.
You may be thinking that your hubby always wants sex, but what you don’t understand is that by rejecting him you’re making him wonder what he’s doing wrong. “Many men think, ‘I must not be so good at it,’” says Dr. Lewis. It’s not just about his needs; it’s also about pleasing you. “Both men and women want to feel intimate with each other, and what women need to understand is that men often derive intimacy from sex––whereas oftentimes women need intimacy in order to have sex. So talk about what you both really want, and find compromises that work for you,” she adds. And if you are in the mood? Act on it! He’ll not only love that you initiated it, but also appreciate feeling desired by you.