“While science has shown that men and women are in fact wired differently—that gender differences have as much to do with the biology of the brain as with the way we were raised—we have difficulty accepting, let alone appreciating our differences. And that’s where a great deal of trouble in marriage begins.” (from “Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts”, by Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott).
A wife’s most basic needs are:
- To be cherished: she needs to know that you would choose her first, that you think of her during the day, and that you want to be with her. Some examples (because men usually need examples!): a note, a text or email during the day, or choosing to spend your day off with her.
- To be known: this requires active listening and reflecting back what you hear her say. Women need to have their feelings heard and validated. Examples: a comforting hug, a loving statement like, “you’re hurting aren’t you?”, listen to your wife without offering solutions. Ask questions and be interested in her past, present, and future (dream with her). Get a Ph.D. in your partner!
- To be respected: a woman who doesn’t feel respected tends to lose confidence and doubt herself. Honor her needs, wishes, values, and rights. Include her in your decisions.
A husband’s most basic needs are:
- To be admired: praise and encourage him! Respect him and include him in your decisions.
- To have autonomy: men usually deal with stress by becoming focused and withdrawn, while women tend to become increasingly overwhelmed and emotionally involved. Respect your husband’s need to unwind, or mull over a problem by asking, “is this a good time?” before interrupting him or by allowing him to watch the news and unwind before telling him about your day.
- To have shared activity: men connect by doing things together, while women tend to think of intimacy as sharing secrets and talking things over. Remember that he feels connected by shared activity and find a way to make it happen!