What Women Really Want

Part 2 of the Quest for Happiness Series

If equality in work isn’t the answer for making happy wives (see Smart Loving, The Equality Myth), what is?

According to the same study that looked at the division of labour*, the best predictor of marital satisfaction among wives was emotional connection. ‘Emotion work’, as psychologists call it, is being responsive to your spouse’s feelings and open about your own.

In practice, it means showing an interest in her day, being attentive when she debriefs (aka prattles about every detail), acknowledging her feelings (without trying to problem solve for her), and reassuring her that she is doing a great job as a wife and mum. Typically, when a wife feels listened to and understood, she relaxes and can let go of a lot of her obsessing.

The second part of ‘emotion work’, is being open and honest with her. When a husband is emotionally vulnerable and tender, she feels secure in the relationship. Women on the whole don’t like being out of touch with their man. When a husband is withdrawn and emotionally unavailable, they will fear the worst. Being open about where you have been, what you are doing and what you are thinking is good marital practice.

So a word of advice for those desperate husbands out there. If you do only one thing to rescue your marriage from misery or disaster (or both), pay attention to the emotional intimacy in your marriage. When a woman feels emotionally connected to her man, it makes up for a lot of other shortcomings.

*Wilcox and Nock, University of Virginia

Francine & Byron Pirola

Francine & Byron Pirola are the founders and principal authors of the SmartLoving series. They are passionate about living Catholic marriage to the full and helping couples reach their marital potential. They have been married since 1988 and have five children. Their articles may be reproduced for non commercial purposes with appropriate acknowledgement and back links. For Media Enquiries Please Contact us here

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