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Let’s face it, guys. Sometimes it feels like a success when we can have a conversation of three sentences with the wife without it turning into an argument. Needless to say, that’s not optimal.
I know. You would rather stick needles in your eyes than sit down and try to discuss things with her. Talking about “feelings” and “needs” is just code for letting her rip you a new one in the nicest kind of way, and she always has a way of running you naked through the prickly gauntlet of shame.
The lifestyle and family thing you have going is pretty comfortable, the relationship has a lot of awesome moments and your wife really is a great lady. She doesn’t seem to get that you have to put in some extra hours at work when you’re climbing the ladder or that you can see the guys once a week and still be crazy about her.
Or maybe you’re just too dog-tired when you get home to chase the kids around, throw in a load of laundry or get supper started before she arrives.
The big things are great, but the annoying little details keep tripping you up. You want to make your marriage better again, but you’re afraid that talking has just as much potential for making things worse.
Besides, if a word in your manly voice comes out too harsh, loud or profane for your dainty flower, she’s likely to have one more reason to be mad — or worse, hurt.
If you want to improve your marriage, you need to preempt “the talk” with a strategic attack.
You know what she wants and needs, and you know what buttons you’re pushing to upset her at times (unintentionally, of course). You know you have to start acting more like her ideal man, but you don’t want to give her all of the power.
Don’t worry, the man she wants is a strong, decisive and firm but fair leader.
If you get up first, kiss her on the cheek and whisper some words of love in her ear. Before the first one leaves for work, put your arms around her waist and share some of the things you might have going on at work today, face to face in a very up-close-and-personal way.
Send a short text to her mid-morning and ask her how her day is going. Call her at lunchtime and text again in the afternoon. The kiss, two texts and a call will take about two or three minutes out of your day. She’s worth it, and a happy wife is worth it to you, too.
If you’re not leaving work at 5 p.m. sharp, call her and give her some specifics. When you get home, find her wherever she is in the house and give her a hug and a real kiss. If the house looks clean and there’s a great smell coming from the kitchen, let her know. She will be pleased that you noticed.
When she calls the family to the table for dinner, drop everything and go! When you get up from dinner, do a small chore. Clear the table, rinse the plates and load the dishwasher. It only takes three minutes.
Show acknowledgment and genuine appreciation for what she does, and do something to lighten her load. These small gestures take mere seconds or minutes of your time, but they are huge in her eyes. Be a junior partner in her side of the world.
If she notices your increased interaction and involvement (and she will), then she’s is going to ask you what’s up. She might be wondering if you want new golf clubs, a night out with the guys or even a new car.
Don’t start talking yet. Just tell her know you’re a lucky man and you know it.
“Take care of the little things and the
big things will take care of themselves.”
Once the kids are tucked in and the house is at peace, ask her if she wants to slip off to bed a little early with you. Give her the whole nine yards, including music and a glass of wine.
After the laughing and loving, it’s a great time to have a very targeted heart-to-heart, intermixed with sweet little kisses and warm hugs. She will be feeling the love and receptive to your leadership and ideas.
Try not to let this become a two-way conversation as much as possible. It should be a monologue from you to her.
You are not going to solve all of the problems of the world in one night, but you are going to sweeten the mood of your relationship.
Like Superman bending the broken rail back into place before the train arrives, you are going to put the course of your individual lives back on parallel tracks that can allow your joint relationship to return to a stable path that is working in unison.
Solve one of her recurring stressful issues first, and then get her to understand one important thing about how your life works. The issues could be a million different things.
She may tell you that there are still a lot more nights that need to be fixed too, but don’t try to do too much. Take one step at a time, and get her on board.
While she’s in the afterglow of a romantic interlude, do something for yourself, too. Right now she is feeling that you are a goodhearted and well-intentioned man, so explain to her why that Sunday morning golf game is so important to you, or why it’s important to her and the kids for you to get those extra hours in at work right now.
You could compromise with golf every other Sunday if you have to and try to get home a little earlier from the office, or at least call. Just make sure she knows she is the number one priority in your life, even though your life has to include time for some other thing, too.
The fact is that the two biggest things that can cause tension in a marriage are actually small hurdles: her emotional stress and your diminishing attention.
She’s not really mad at you all the time. Her fuse just gets short when she has so many things to deal with, and it seems like you’re not always there to lean on when she needs you.
Lighten her load, help her organize things so they are manageable, relieve her stress emotionally and physically, and be a constant, reassuring and reliable presence in her life.