[Disclaimer: we take no responsibility for the advice tendered in this column unless husbands read it to the end. :-)]
A few weeks ago, Francine came across a blog post by Shaunti Feldhahn in which she described for men how to cut above the noise to really, truly communicate their love to their wife. It was pretty simple: tell her “I’m so glad I’m married to you”. Ok, easy enough, but how does it work?
So it turns out that for many women, saying ‘I love you’ is important, but it doesn’t speak into the heart of her secret vulnerability: the terrifying fear that she is not lovable, not desirable, not special, not totally the best thing that ever happened to him. It’s referred to as ‘abandonment anxiety’ and it sits in the background of her consciousness, subtly undermining her confidence in his devotion to her.
As a result many wives discount it when he says ‘I love you’ because they tell themselves that their husband is obligated to love her, much like they are obligated to love their children. What she really longs to hear, is that he delights in being with her. That he likes being married to her. She wants to know that she is not just a decision of the head, but also a desire of the heart.
More than anything, she wants to be reassured she is unsurpassed in his affections. This helps her to feel secure in his love and in his devotion.
Being a SmartLover (that is, one who makes it easy for the other to figure out how to love her), Francine forwarded the blog post to me with a simple note: “good tip!”
Now being a SmartLover myself, I dutifully read the blog. Well almost read it.
Truth be told, I read the first few paragraphs, got to the golden nugget and, being the mightily efficient man that I am, I left the rest and deleted the email.
An hour later, climbing into bed I leaned over to Francine and whispered triumphantly…. “I’m so glad to be married to you!” Delighted, she turned to me expectantly and…nothing.
Had I read on, I would have discovered that to hit a home run with this gem, the phrase should always be followed with a reason. Apparently to have full effect we have to back up the statement with some evidence! Before she’ll believe you, she needs to hear some proof!
And let’s face it, guys, there are SO many reasons why we are ‘glad to be married to her’.
So that’s Shaunti’s tip: “I’m so glad to be married to you because… [fill in the blank]”. You only need to articulate one reason, not a thesis. So give it a try. It works a treat and is a great reminder for us men along the way about how lucky we are.
Oh, and for the super efficient men out there like me… here’s another tip: when your wife sends you an email with ‘good tip’ in the subject line, read the darn thing – The. Whole. Darn. Thing.