No one plays as significant a role in meeting a husband’s unique needs as his wife. Researchers have identified his needs, but only his wife can truly know and satisfy them. Some of your husband’s most basic needs in marriage are: (1) to be admired, (2) to have autonomy, and (3) to enjoy shared activity.
Know: He Needs to be Admired.
Being appreciated is a man’s primary need. He measures his worth through his achievements, big and small, and needs them to be recognized. A woman’s need for admiration and appreciation, while certainly important, is rarely as strong. When a woman seeks appreciation she is more accurately wanting to be understood. She wants to be validated. You see, there is a significant difference between men and women when it comes to being admired. Men derive their worth more from what they do, while women derive their worth more from who they are.
Look at it this way. When women do not receive admiration from their spouse, they tend to be more motivated than ever to earn it. But when a man does not receive admiration from his spouse, he begins to lose motivation to try. Without a feeling of being admired, a man’s energy is drained. He soon feels inadequate and incapable of giving support. Without being admired, men lose their will to give.
You have no idea how damaging a critical statement is to your man’s personal power. He responds to not being admired the same way you do when he invalidates your feelings. It is demoralizing.
I counseled a woman who became confused when, after criticizing her husband, he did not try harder to earn appreciation from her. She mistakenly assumed that she could manipulate him to give more by withdrawing her appreciation. But it’s important to know that this doesn’t work with a man. Admiration is the fuel a man needs to get going. It gives him power.
Now, before you begin heaping words of praise on your spouse, I need to give you a word of caution. Never fake your admiration. By simply saying flattering words to your husband, you can do more harm than good. To have any value, praise must genuinely reflect your feelings.
He Needs to Have Autonomy
During our first year of marriage, I remember bursting into Les’s study to let him know I was home. He was beginning a grueling doctoral program, and I had just begun a new job. “How are you doing?” I asked as I slipped behind his desk and wrapped my arms around his neck.
He sat almost motionless, taking notes on a yellow pad. So I tried again: “Did you have a good day?” This time I heard a slight sound. “Mm-hmm,” he murmured. “You wouldn’t believe all the stuff that happened to me today,” I started to say. Les interrupted, “Give me a minute here, ok?”
I walked out of the room feeling terribly dejected. “Why doesn’t he welcome my caring for him?” I thought. “I would stop anything I was doing if he greeted me that way.”
Only later in our marriage did I know what was actually going on. Men and women cope differently with stress. According to John Gray, author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, men, when faced with stress, “become increasingly focused and withdrawn while women become increasingly overwhelmed and emotionally involved. At these times a man’s needs for feeling good are different from a woman’s. He feels better by solving problems while she feels better by talking about problems.”
Know: He is Needing Space
Once I understood this distinction, I was able to meet one of Les’s primary needs —to be autonomous. It is a universal male need. Whenever a man is under stress (an important deadline is approaching, he is under pressure at work, etc.), he requires a little space.
At such times he becomes absent-minded, unresponsive, absorbed, and preoccupied. Unlike women, men typically don’t want to talk about the situation. They don’t want to be held or comforted —not until they have had time to themselves.
I have learned from experience that if I try too early to disengage Les from his problem, I get only a small part of his attention while he continues to mull over whatever is really on his mind. It is as if he is temporarily incapable of giving me the attention I want until he has a moment to adjust to his agenda. I now know enough to say, “Is this a good time to interrupt?” He can then say, “I need another five minutes.” Or he might say, “I’d really like to unwind by watching the news first.”
You see, part of the need for autonomy is the man’s need to have time to regroup. Some wives complain because their husbands don’t immediately talk about their day when they come home from work. They first want to read the paper or water the lawn. They want to do anything to clear their mind before engaging in the relationship. It’s a male thing. But giving your husband space when he needs it, whether you understand it or not, will gain you a happier husband.
Giving What You Want
This idea of giving my husband autonomy was a difficult lesson for me to learn. I instinctively wanted to support him in the way that I would want to be supported. If I were in his shoes, for example, I would want to be asked lots of questions about how I was feeling. I would want to be held and pampered. But that’s a woman’s way, not a man’s….
One of the great gaps between husbands and wives is in their notions of emotional intimacy. If you are like most women, intimacy means sharing secrets, talking things over, cuddling, and so on. But a man builds intimacy differently. He connects by doing things together. (Remember, men focus on achievement.) Working in the garden or going to a movie with his wife gives him a feeling of closeness.
Husbands place surprising importance on having their wives as recreational companions. The commercial caricature of men out in the wilderness, cold beer in hand, saying, “It doesn’t get any better than this,” is false. It can get a lot better than that when a wife joins her husband in a shared activity that he enjoys.
Les recently came home from a speaking engagement in Lake Tahoe. Before he left he was excited because he was going to fly in a day early. And then he could do some skiing on his own time. I was so happy for him. He loves to ski —fast. And when we go together I always feel like I am slowing him down. But when he came home from his trip I was shocked by his report. He said, “Well, the powder was great and the weather was perfect. But it’s just not the same skiing without you.” Wow! All the time I thought I was a tag-along. It turns out that he doesn’t really enjoy it without me.
Now, I’ve counseled enough women to know that you might be saying. “What do you do if your activities have little in common?” The answer: Cultivate your spheres of interest. Don’t allow you and your partner to drift apart because you can’t find something enjoyable to do together. I have seen too many marriages fizzle because a wife didn’t use her creative energies to build enjoyable moments of fun and relaxation with her husband.
Know His Recreational Interests
Make a careful list of recreational interests your husband enjoys. Here are a few to get you started: antique collecting, any and all sports, camping, canoeing, table games, puzzles, cooking, dancing, hiking, horseback riding, jogging, movie-going, ice-skating, sailing, listening to music, swimming, traveling, walking, woodworking, and so on. Your list should be as long as possible. Next, circle those activities that you might find somewhat pleasurable. You can probably find a good half-dozen activities that you can enjoy with your husband. Your next task is to schedule these activities into your recreational time together.
If you learn to meet your husband’s need for recreational companionship, you will discover that you are not only husband and wife, but best friends too.
The above article comes from the book, Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts: Seven Questions to Ask Before and After You Marry, written by Dr Les Parrott and Dr Leslie Parrott, published by Zondervan Publishing. This book is based on the fact that marriage doesn’t have to be a gamble. As psychologist Les and marriage and family therapist Leslie, who counsel hundreds of married couples, they have learned that living happily ever after is less a mystery than a mastery of certain skills. Although married life will always have its difficulties, you will steadily and dramatically improve your relationship skills.” They’ve also written two companion workbooks —one for the man and one for the woman.
To read additional articles on this subject,
please click onto the Marriagetrac.com and CBN links
and then the Familylife.com link below to read:
• THE SECRETS OF HAPPILY MARRIED WOMEN
• 10 THINGS GUYS WISH WOMEN KNEW ABOUT MEN
• 15 THINGS WIVES SHOULD STOP DOING
From the web site, Happywivesclub.com an article written by Fawn Weaver:
• MASTERING YOUR HUSBAND’S LOVE LANGUAGE
If you have additional tips you can share to help others in this area of marriage, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.
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Filed under: For Married Women
133 responses to “What Every Wife Should Know About Her Husband”
I’m sorry but why does it fall on the woman to make the man content, happy, and care about his interest with a laundry list? What about the other way around?
What makes you think it doesn’t go the other way around? If you read the Bible you see where God has high requirements upon husbands too. You’re just reading one article here directed towards wives. You need to look through the articles posted in the “For Married Men” topic to see the other side of this matter.
You must have forgotten your wedding vows.
Hello and Good day to you all. I have a question that has been weighing heavy on my heart. I’m a newlywed wife of 1 1/2 years to my husband. We both have a beautiful infant son. My husband and I married before we moved in together. Shortly after we got married we both were expecting a son. I have two girls from a previous marriage. We recently lost our house a few months ago in which we only stayed there in the house for three months. Myself and my children are currently living with my mom. My husband is currently living in our car.
My husband has his own business that hasn’t been bringing in steady income since June of 2015. We both agreed that I would go back to work in January of 2016 after I had our son. Before my husband and I moved into our house we agreed that he would look for extra work to supplement our income and to sustain the house. I’m currently receiving income from a previous marriage in which my husband passed away. That income was not enough to help us stay in the house. I was pregnant at the time and wasn’t working due to a complicated pregnancy.
While living in the house my husband didn’t find employment during that time and we ended up losing the house. While in the house my husband wasn’t actively seeking employment and turned down two possible job leads and gave excuses as why he refused it. After losing the house my husband still isn’t looking for work. My question is… How can I be a submissive wife and be supportive when my husband doesn’t seem to see the importance of being the provider?
Should I now look for work knowing we both have a baby in spite of his lack of seeking employment? It has been 4 months since we lost our home. Does that put me as the wife out of alinement of our roles in a marriage if I took charge and look for employment to regain a new home for us? I’m totally confused. I talked it over with my husband several times as far as him getting a steady job but it seems as if there is a disconnect. What should I do?
Tameka, I love your heart. You want to be the wife you know God would have you be to your husband, but he is not making this easy because he is not taking care of you and his family as he should –biblically, and otherwise. Many women would be bitter, but thankfully, you are still trying to be the wife you’re created to be. You say that there seems to be a “disconnect” and unfortunately, I believe you are right. Please know Tameka, that being submissive does not mean emptying your head of brains and not using the wisdom God gives you. The husband may be the “head” of the home (it is a God appointment that men can grab onto or neglect), but the wife is the neck that can turn the head. It is an awesome responsibility. We see in the Bible and in everyday life that some women apply pressure onto the head and the husband goes in a direction he shouldn’t (Eve and Sarah were two of many). But then there are other wives who prayerfully take their responsibility seriously (like Queen Esther, and the Proverbs 31 woman) and wisely help their husbands in the ways that are best so they become better men.
Your husband is going down a road that will lead to further problems for him and for you and your family. If he’s a good guy he will wake up and take his God-given position seriously. He’s neglecting the scripture (in Ephesians 5:25) that says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” He isn’t giving himself up for you and your son. He also isn’t living his life in such a way that he can show his son (as he grows up) what it is to be a responsible, supportive, upstanding man who treats his wife and family in ways that is loving and a great example to all. We need more men like this. I hope and pray your husband will step up to this role.
In the meantime, please take to heart a couple of scriptures that may give you guidance (and show the place he’s putting himself into, which he needs to get out of). In 1 Timothy 5:7-8 we’re told: “Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” This is addressed to those who should be supporting widows… how much more so is this applicable to the wife of a husband. Also, in 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 we’re told, “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.’ We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat.”
This means that your husband needs to wake up and get a job. Even if it’s not a great job, it will most likely be a good stepping stone to another better one in the future as God will honor his actions and prayers. It also means that you are not to enable him to keep going on his lazy way –one in which I’m sure he is making many excuses. He is married, has a son, and needs to step up to the plate to do what it takes to help support you. And it also means that yes, you should get a job to support yourself and your son. If your husband won’t do it, someone will need to do so. Perhaps in the future you will both need to work, or you can eventually quit your job –I don’t know. But right now, you need to provide for this family in ways that your husband isn’t.
There’s a book I recommend you read. It’s written by James Dobson and is titled, Love Must Be Tough: New Hope for Marriages in Crisis. Sometimes, the most loving thing you can do for your spouse is to apply tough love so they turn in a better direction than they are headed at this time. Right now you are being submissive directly to God until your husband takes his rightful place. You aren’t being mean-spirited or prideful, but applying tough love and being his helpmate in waking him up so he will be the good man that God created him to be.
And if he’s not a Christian right now, please go into the Spiritual Matters topic and read the articles that pertain to being unequally yoked –being married to those who do not love and serve God as you do. You can find it at: https://marriagemissions.com/category/spiritual-matters/. You can still love your husband as “unto the Lord.” I pray for you Tameka… I pray God helps you and works within you to help your husband and your family. I pray God gives you favor in finding the type of job that will support yourselves at this time. I also pray for your husband that God wakes him up and hope that makes the wise choice to step up and become the wonderful man that God would have him be.
Cindy, Thank you. I thought you were against wives, and were writing what you were told, but tonight I got a totally different view of you and it is good. I just tearfully read your response to Tameka and I felt a ray of hope. I had previously written a comment out of anger, because I have gotten discouraged at how so many writers tell wives to coddle their husbands when he pouts and acts distant. Wives get tired and want to be spoiled too, but wives do not usually take that approach. I know that is wrong and that a grown man who fears God would recognize that he should not pout and act distant from his wife. This practice of justifying men’s sins, angered me.
I love my female gender and I hurt for us. I see all the things that male dominated society has done to us. It has tricked women and brainwashed us so that we are separated from the love of God, by pgiving their bodies to men to view, abuse, and use up.
But you have given me a glimmer of hope.
Hi Jean, From a husband married 36 years, on behalf of the men who are not stepping up to their repsonsibilities… sorry. Women derserve better. WP
Thank you Jean for your kind words. I pray that this glimmer of hope is opened up by God to give you more and more light and insight beyond anything you had hoped for. May the Lord bless you as you lean upon Him. “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ —to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11) “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18)
Very well said! :)) The women do not have it easy, that’s for sure. WP (Work in Progress)
It would seem some of the comments here aren’t derived from a heart of humility, love, or simply owning there own side of the relationship. Yes, reciprocation of respect, love, honor, and such are appreciated, needed, and cherished yet I find it necessary to stand back and take the stance of “how can I serve you today princess” as my way of showing my genuine love, care, and concern for my spouse.
Jesus served though He has all power and authority to have rulers beckoned to His will so as my example I too must have that mindset. When both the man and the woman try to out do each other in acts of love and appreciation it makes for a sound relationship. Do I always agree with my spouse? No. Do I ever disagree with my spouse, get frustrated, get let down, or disappointed? Yes. Fact is though, taking the service route with my spouse shows love as a verb and not a feeling and represents the kingdom. We come back together after such a spat with a resolve to keep it forward and be a unit. That couldn’t happen with a you and me solo attitude. I would encourage people to own only what THEY can do to make the relationship a unit and by default it will synch like an iPhone to WiFi… BTW I really dig these articles; keep it up.
Hi Jean, As a husband for now 36 years, I would agree with everything you are saying. Perhaps there are not enough articles written to men by women… could well be!
Your last question: “But when man pouts or acts distant, why would we justify and excuse that behavior. Is it okay for him to do that and not the wife?” I would answer, “Of course it is not OK!” You said, “Somebody should be teaching them to be God fearing men and to go to their wife and say, lets talk honey.” You’re absolutely right.
I would welcome articles written by women for men, I am happy to learn something more. After all, God said, “It is not good for a man to be alone, I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Yes… we DO need help!! Thank you Jean. Cheers, WP (Work in Progress)
I am reading this with tears of joy and hopelessness and hopefulness thank you for your wise words.
Larry, well I’ve been married to my wife 30 yrs and the last few weeks after her going through the menopause I asked her for intercourse and the answer was “NO” I am just not interested; so I figured something was wrong. She’s been doing herself and just doesn’t want me even touching her. I saw her but didn’t say a word; then after a few days she said ok and I just felt so let down. I couldn’t go off at all and bingo that night I heard her doing herself and snuck down stairs and watched her. Every night she does herslf and gets off then I ask her and she says, well Ok but I am not interested as I have no feelings for sex (lie) she has no feeling for sex with me but only with herself. I am totally baffled. It really hurts me bad as I love her so much but I don’t know how much longer I can handle this situation!!!
I haven’t seen anything about keeping him from cheering. How can that be stopped? You know it isn’t just about taking care of the man all the time it’s also about him taking care of his wife!
Do you mean “cheering” or cheating? I’m not sure what cheering has to do with this article, or even cheating, for that matter. Could you clarify?
I am a 53year old, married working woman. My husband is complaining about my lack of sexual interest for the last three years. I find it extremely difficult to adapt to the changes in my body since menopause started. I admit that my sexual drive disappeared, completely. I understand the role of sex in a marriage. I so much want to uphold my part of the marriage. I want to honour God through my marriage. But I am so exhausted…empty inside. I have tried some pills. However, my body’s reactions are very seldom positive to these remedies. I am a very sensitive person on a emotional and physical level. I am a 53 year old wife desperately trying to become sexualy active. I am exhausted of complaints from my husband. I am exhausted of the attempts to grow or find an urge for sex.
While I can see some of what you describe here, I think what you are describing here is a bit of a throwback to less empowered & more misogynist times. It basically puts the bulk of the burden of the relationship work on the wife who is most likely already playing half the masculine role nowadays by also being a provider. Men shouldn’t be admired if they are not doing something (as doers) admirable. To admire a lazy self-involved man is enabling narcissism. Any man who doesn’t put the time, effort or work (if it doesn’t come naturally) into feeding the relationship & cherishing by actions his wife will lose her admiration and the relationship and deserves to lose it.
This really touched my heart…
Respect your husband, period. That’s the standard the Bible gives to women. One thing I know is that men gravitate to the place where they receive honor and respect. In Ephesians 5:33, Paul writes, “let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
#1. We guys like attention from our wives. We may tell the same stories, laugh at stupid stuff, but we like our wives to notice us. We like to think that we are 1st in your life.
2. We guys are wired different emotionally. We may not cry when our children are born, but may cry at the end of a movie. That is OK.
3. We guys are visual creatures. We like seeing things, like our wives in the shower. So let us see you. This helps us keep our eyes at ‘home.’
4. We may buy something crazy, new fishing rod, new leaf blower, golf clubs. Remember this is our ‘hobby’; hobbies help us with our frustrations, short comings, and helps our marriage. Your hobby may be getting nails done, or beauty shop, which helps you.
5. If we don’t want to kiss a baby, it’s OK.
Thanks, Bob, for this short synopsis on how we guys are wired. Let us know when you write your first book. We want one. :-) We appreciate your contributions on this web site.
I would love to write a book!! Being married for 36+ years I have earned multiple doctorates! Some of my comments are a little crude and to the point and may wander away from my faith a little, but come on, grow up, we are adults!!
The stereotypes in this article. They drive me crazy!