I remember watching What Women Want not long after its release in 2001. The movie chronicles a man, Nick Marshall, who receives a fresh perspective on women after a fluke accident. And by “fresh perspective,” I mean he has the ability to read women’s minds. Sounds fascinating, right? I thought so too.
Then I watched the movie.
Don’t get me wrong, I laughed quite often. But I was also terrified. I left the theater with one of those “I just saw a ghost” looks. Totally dazed and confused. For like two hours, I vowed never to date a woman again. I would be single the rest of my life, maybe become a monk or something. Singleness would be easier than trying to figure out a woman.
Fast forward 15 years. I’ve been married to an amazing woman for over 6 years, we have two children, and our marriage gets better every day. I’m still convinced women are the most beautifully complex beings on earth, but it’s possible to understand what they need.
By no means do I have women (or anything else, for that matter) figured out. I’m only 30. I’ve only been married 6 years. So, I don’t write as an expert. Instead, I write as a man who loves his wife and wants to know her better. If you’ve ever thought, “I just can’t figure her out” maybe this post can be a launching pad to deeper conversations with your spouse.
What wives want but won’t tell you she needs:
1.) Security and protection
The world is uncertain and unreliable, and your wife needs you to create a culture of stability, a place where she can rest from the world’s craziness.
Your wife also wants you to protect your marriage from outside attacks. And I’m not talking about physical attacks (although, of course, that’s part of it). She wants you to fight for purity. Here’s an example. A man I would call my second father told this story several years ago. While living in Florida, his wife stayed at home with the kids. More days than not, she went to the beach. That’s what you do in Florida. But not this man. He never went. Ever.
At this point in his story, I was puzzled. Who would choose to stay away from the beach? Sun. Sand. Sharks. What more could you want? Then he explained why, and I will never forget his words.
“At the time, I struggled with lust, and protecting the purity of our marriage meant more than a few hours of relaxation.”
That’s called fighting for your marriage.
The greatest threat to your marriage is, of course, Satan. So, husbands, if you want evil to stay outside, you must let Jesus in. Every day, make sure your wife knows Jesus is the most important person in your marriage.
2.) Undivided attention
Husbands, your wife needs your undivided attention. She wants to feel valued. Making sure you focus on her is a huge component of feeling valued. And, guys, you need to know something about undivided attention. The word “undivided” means…not divided.
“Thanks, Captain Obvious.”
Right. But most husbands don’t understand why their wife doesn’t feel valued even though they sat on the couch together for three hours. Here’s why. You stared at the TV or your phone most of the time while occasionally nodding your head, pretending to listen. That’s called divided attention.
Guys, you’re not spending quality time with her because you’re in the same general area. This isn’t about proximity. This is about posture and attitude. When you wife speaks, look at her. Eye contact says you’re valuable.
Your wife won’t tell you this, but she needs undivided attention. And she should. If you don’t turn off the TV or put down the phone when your wife speaks, you’re not just sending your wife a signal. You’re sending yourself one. You’re saying your relationship isn’t important and you want out.
3.) Open and Honest Communication
Generally speaking, guys don’t want details. If I’m talking with friends, I don’t care for details. If they’re are necessary for making a decision, by all means, give me the details. Otherwise, I only need the important stuff.
Your wife is wired differently. When she says, “How was your day?” she wants the details. “It was good” is more of a slap in the face than a sufficient response to her question. Your wife loves you, and she wants to know everything about you, even stuff you consider insignificant. But she probably won’t tell you this.
Communication is the linchpin of a healthy relationship. Anytime I withhold information from Tiffani, whether I am scared of how she will respond, I want to “protect” her, or I just don’t have the energy to share all the details, it goes bad. The longer I’m married, the more I realize the importance of open and honest communication.
Even if openly communicating means revealing painful information, your marriage will be better off in the long run. For many years, I hid a pornography addiction from Tiffani. She discovered my addiction only when she opened my computer and stumbled across a pornographic site. I was always afraid to tell her because I didn’t want to hurt her. Turns out, the wound she sustained was deeper (and took longer to heal) because she discovered it rather than me being honest with her.
Husbands, your wife (and your relationship) needs open and honest communication.
4.) Help with daily tasks.
Marriages don’t have assigned tasks. You won’t hear phrases like “that’s her job” in a healthy marriage. Whether your wife stays at home or works 9-5, you should help with daily tasks. And husbands, know this. She probably won’t tell you she wants help. But she does.
So, change a diaper without being asked. Fold the clothes. Clean the dishes. Maybe you’re tired from work. Maybe your wife doesn’t like to clean. But instead of coming home and telling her exactly how you feel, be a servant. Clean the house yourself. Pick up the dishes yourself.
Help your wife. Do so without being asked. Her respect for you will increase exponentially.
5.) A break
Culture places impossible expectations on women. Your wife feels those expectations. She might be completely overwhelmed. She might feel totally inadequate. She might be exhausted, sick, or hurting. But she won’t tell you. And if you ask, she will probably say, “I’m fine.”
Husbands, first and foremost, you should understand the weighty expectations on your wife. Be sympathetic to them. Secondly, you must look beyond the words. Don’t ignore them, but don’t accept them either. Watch her. Study her. When you notice her struggling, step in and give her a break. Give her permission to sit down or get out of the house.
Ask her what needs to be done, and do those things. This will not only help her, it will improve your marriage.
6.) A leader
Before diving into this point, let’s define leadership. You ready? One word…servant.
Leading your wife has nothing to do with rigid rules or doing things your way. It’s not about control, manipulation, or selfish gain. Husbands, if you use power selfishly way, God will hold you accountable.
If you want to know whether you’re leading your wife well, look at whether she lives with courage. Is she unafraid to fail? Is she using her gifts? Show me a woman who feels empowered and isn’t afraid to fail, and I will show you a husband who leads well.
Great leaders empower others.
My relationship is healthiest when I make Jesus the top priority, take my job seriously, choose hard decisions over easy ones, and serve my wife. Husbands are the bedrock of the home. Selfish, passive husbands create unhealthy marriages (and families).
Don’t be one of those.
Women need intimacy. This comes in many different ways. Undivided attention is one component. Holding her is another. Sex is yet another. But, husbands, you need to understand something. Your wife doesn’t see sex like you. Guys love the outcome of sex (the climatic ending). Women love this too, but they also love the process. For women, sex is emotional, as well as physical.
Husbands, if you’re selfish sexually, your wife will be reluctant to have sex with you (and, quite frankly, I don’t blame her.) For much of my marriage, I was very selfish with sex. And it affected our relationship. Explore sex with your wife. Caress her. Hold her. Talk about sex with her.
Your wife probably won’t tell you this, but she needs more than physical pleasure. She needs intimacy. Don’t be selfish sexually. Try things her way for a change. Think about her needs. In turn, your sex life (and your marriage) will improve.
I don’t care much about dates. I know like five birthdays. One of those is mine. I can’t tell you how many times Tiffani has said, “Do you know it’s ________ birthday?” My wife NEVER misses a birthday. Her record on remembering birthdays is near perfect.
Guys, you might not care about birthdays and anniversaries, but your wife does. And, I’m not talking about remembering her birthday. God knows that would be a fatal error. This is about prioritizing birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Valentine’s, or any other day she thinks is important.
The word here is thoughtfulness. Again, your wife wants to feel valued. When you prioritize special days, she feels valued.
Thoughtfulness also includes random text messages, reminding her you’re thankful for her. It means planning date nights. Basically, thoughtfulness means you think about her. Because here’s the thing. You can know you’re thankful for your wife, but if you don’t show her, it means nothing. She needs to know you love her.
She probably won’t tell you this, however. If you don’t go out of your way to make her feel valued, particularly on the “special” days, she might express frustration or sadness. Eventually, however, she will accept your actions as the way things are, but her doing this will hurt your relationship.
9.) Permission to be imperfect
Husbands, you must take the lead here. If you never talk about flaws or failures, your wife won’t either. But your wife (much like yourself) needs a space where she can be imperfect. She needs a space where she doesn’t have to put on a mask and pretend everything is ok.
Husbands, you must create this space.
This means listening, especially when she talks about her feelings. You might think her issues are trivial. You’d be wrong. If you write her off, eventually she will stop sharing and spend her days trying to be perfect.
There won’t be a declaration before this happens. You won’t hear, “That’s it. I tried sharing my feelings and being vulnerable. From this point forward, you won’t know how I’m feeling.” It will just happen. If or when your wife does this, your marriage will take an enormous hit. Fight for this space.
Your wife doesn’t want you to fly her around the world as much as she wants day-to-day marriage to be fun. Marriage is ordinary and routine. But it should never be boring. A fun relationship can’t be bought. If it could, only a small percentage of couples would have fun. Everyone else would twiddle their thumbs until they died. How miserable!
The key to an adventurous marriage is finding the extraordinary in the mundane. Be present every day. Be spontaneous. Find ways to have fun in the familiar. Look for opportunities in the ordinary.
Your wife won’t tell you this, but she wants marriage to be fun and adventurous. And she should.
God created it, after all.
It’s possible to know what your wife really needs. Discovering her underneath needs will require much effort, constant communication, and a steady stream of grace from both sides. But it can happen.
It’s your turn. I would love to hear from you. Wives, what do you really want from your husband? Husbands, what does your wife really want? Leave a comment below!
I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!