My book, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, originated from a call on my show that I will never forget.
Caller (*crying and sniffling*): I'm very upset about what my husband did on my birthday.
Dr. Laura: What happened?
Caller: He took me out to dinner and gave me flowers.
Dr. Laura: Well, that was nice, no?
Caller: Well yeah. And he gave me a present.
Dr. Laura: Was it something he knew you hated?
Caller: No, it was a nice present. And he took me to a movie.
Dr. Laura: What kind of movie?
Caller: A chick flick.
Dr. Laura: Wait, so let me get this straight: Your husband came home from a hard day at work, took you out to dinner, gave you flowers and a present, and sat through a chick flick with you. Why are you upset?
Caller: Well, when we got home, he went into the living room and started watching some sports. He should have shown me MORE attention!
I couldn't believe it! After all this husband had done for his wife, he got to endure the wrath of Khan because he put his feet up for five minutes to relax.
When I finished with the call, I actually slammed down my pen on the table and exclaimed, "THAT'S IT! I need to write a book about how so many women demand and demand and demand of their husbands but give very little back."
And voilà - The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands was born.
It's awfully frustrating listening to wives complain about feeling put upon to be nice to their husbands. Here are some ways to make your husband feel loved and respected:
- Spend time with him. If he's watching sports, cuddle next to him. It doesn't matter if you're not interested. He just wants you to be close.
- Leave him little notes - in his lunch, on the mirror in the morning, on the windshield of his car, etc.
- Spontaneously touch him. Ever notice how in movies when somebody lays their hand on top of someone else's, their eyes just come together and they both feel more peaceful? Touch is SO important.
- Wake him up with a smile. Make him breakfast or get him coffee.
- Praise him in front of others. When you're in public or have people over, find ways to praise him and make him feel good.
- Buy him a small gift. Little nothings over a period of time add up to something. It lets him know that you're thinking about him.
- Encourage him. It's easy to criticize. Encouragement builds him up and makes him feel good about himself.
- Show interest in his hobbies. Allow him time and space to have his hobbies.
- Focus on what he's doing right rather than how he's making you mad. Don't concentrate on the negative.
- Give him time to unwind. Don't dump your day's problems and concerns on your husband the moment he walks through the door after a hard day. A lot of you women don't get this when you're stay-at-home moms. You haven't done any of his work all day long. You have a lot of freedom that he does not have.
- Don't overcommit yourself. Don't constantly give other activities or people priority over time spent with your husband.
- Find ways to show him that you need him. My joking way to do this is if I can't open something or figure out something, I go up to my husband and say, "This is man's work." Even if you can figure it out, let him do it. This makes him feel like you need him the way he needs you.
- Tell him you're sorry. When you've hurt him, swallow your pride.
- Resolve conflict quickly. Don't let your anger grow or come into the marital bed.
- Defend him. If you're in a situation where someone is not being polite to him (e.g. your mother, father, sibling, etc.) IMMEDIATELY stand up for him and tell them all the things that you appreciate about him.
- Honor him in front of the kids. Don't make him look bad in front of the children.
- Initiate intimacy. This is an area of conflict in probably most marriages. You may not have a need at the particular moment for intimacy, but that's how men register that you love them.
- Don't expect him to read your mind. Husbands are NOT mind-readers. If you have something to say, say it! (But in a kind way, please).
- Flirt with him. It doesn't hurt to be flirty! Flirting is a good way to show your affection and love. Exhibiting that Mom and Dad love each other strengthens your family and makes the kids feel incredibly safe at any age.
Showing your love makes a VERY big difference - not only to the quality of your marriage, but to your own happiness as well. If you would like more depth and clarity, read my book, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands.
The Dr. Laura Call of the Day Podcast