We all know some pretty obvious things that lead to happy husbands … his favorite meal, physical time with you, a day for him to just do nothing. But social researcher, author, and iSpecialist, Shaunti Feldhahn says her research has uncovered something else that makes men happier. She shares her findings in her book, For Women Only. She’s also sharing it with iMOM subscribers today.
Shaunti says women find it hard to believe that something so basic can be so powerful. But she says it’s because those words get to the heart of what your husband really needs from you. Here’s the secret to making your husband happy.
Appreciating What He Accomplishes
Very few things are as powerful to a man as feeling that he has tried something, accomplished it, done it well, and someone noticed. I didn’t see how profound this need was until a few years after the original edition of For Women Only came out. At that time, my friend Lisa Rice and I were researching teenagers for For Parents Only—and talking to both males and females at the same time. We found that the girls (and women) tended to have deep, hidden questions like Am I special? Am I lovable? and thus deeply needed to feel accepted and worthy of being loved for who they were on the inside. But here’s the thing: the men and boys really didn’t have those questions. Instead (as we’ll cover in Chapter 3), they worried, Do I measure up? Am I any good at what I do? They deeply needed to feel noticed, able, and appreciated for what they do on the outside.
We, women, need to feel special and worthy of being loved for who we are on the inside. Men deeply need to feel able and appreciated for what they do on the outside. As strange as it sounds to women, hearing “You did a great job at that meeting” or “You are such a great dad” or even “Thank you for fixing that broken kitchen cabinet” is far more emotionally powerful to a man than hearing “I love you.” In the survey for my book, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, more than seven out of ten men said that if their wife simply noticed something and said thank you, it had a big impact on their happiness level.
The Wrong Way to Show Appreciation
I cannot tell you the number of times a man has shared how secretly painful it is when his wife tries to thank him but instead sends the (accidental!) signal “But it wasn’t good enough.” As one man told me, “She’ll come into the kitchen after I’ve finished wiping down all the countertops. I’m proud it looks so good, and she’ll say, ‘Thanks, honey. Oh, but you missed the crumbs under the toaster.’ Under the toaster! I know she doesn’t mean it to say, ‘You’ve failed,’ but privately it just kills me.”
Many women have been confused about why their man would say, “Nothing I do is good enough for you.” Huh? Well, guess what: that is a giant red flag. Without realizing it, we’ve been sending him the ultimate in painful messages: “You tried…and failed.”
Thankfully, even simple appreciation (if it is undiluted by criticism) is powerful. One of my favorite speaking formats is when pastors interview me on these subjects during their sermon time. One Sunday I was with Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church near Atlanta, when he relayed to the congregation something I’ll never forget—a conversation where he told his wife, “If you never told me that you loved me again, but throughout our marriage you simply told me how proud you are…I’m not sure I would miss ‘I love you’ because of what it means in my heart to hear that you’re proud of me. It is that big of a deal.”
Tell us! What are some compliments you can tell your spouse this week to brighten up his day?