I’ll never forget the night. It was the end of a long, stressful week, and I was tired. I just wanted to call it a night and get some sleep. My wife’s week had been just as long and stressful. She wanted to unwind and have an actual adult conversation to, since her week consisted of conversations with toddlers.
But I was zoned out, consumed with my own weariness. I think there was even a football game on that took my attention. I could see the look on her face. She wasn’t angry or demanding, belligerent or shameful, she was hurt. Genuinely hurt. My week had consisted of meetings, deadlines, and conversations…lots of conversations. With adults, no less. People who could intelligibly respond to my question or dialogue without snickering under their breath, calling me a doo-doo head, or screaming “I have to go potty” in my face.
“I want you to want to be with me,” she said, when I finally clued in and asked what was wrong. “I don’t feel as important as all of these other things.”
It was a wake-up call. One I needed. In fact, it’s still one I need from time to time. I’m a long way from getting this down to a science. After nearly 16 years of marriage you learn some things. I tend to learn the hard way. In my heart, I want my wife to know, and feel, that she’s the most important person on earth to me. The questions is, how? How do I make her feel like she’s the luckiest girl in the world? Here’s what I’ve learned, and continue to learn:
- Put her needs above your own. Last year I wrote a post called The Serving Spouse. In it, I talked about the importance of putting your spouse’s needs above your own. I believe that if more married couples did this, the marital success rate would increase exponentially. Husbands, this is crucial. Become the biggest servant of your wife. You will win when you do this. Trust me! That’s why it’s the first bullet point. If you and I can get this one right, our wives will feel honored every single day of their lives.
- Show up unexpectedly, often. Only stay at work late 3 out of the 5 days of the week. Come home early (or on time) the other 2. Surprise her for lunch and spend time with her when she’s at home. Voluntarily go with her to the things she’s involved in. You and I should not only show up unexpectedly often, but also pack surprises when we can. This is bigger than flowers. Surprise her by farming all of the kids out for the evening and taking her on a date. Surprise her by coming home early, volunteering to clean the kitchen or take it upon yourself to carry a load of laundry upstairs. She’ll feel valued and cherished when you do these random, seemingly minuscule, acts for her.
- Think like you’re in college. There was no distance you and I weren’t willing to walk, or measure we weren’t willing to go to see her, talk to her, or be with her. Somehow this dies (or goes on life-support) when you move from sharing a college campus to sharing a house, a bed, and a life with her. Why is that? I remember finagling my class schedule (even if it cost me a better grade) to see my future wife when we were in college. Heck, I even blew off class to hang out in the city with her. Why don’t I think like that these days? Why don’t you? Maybe we should start thinking, or even acting like we’re in college more often. Disclaimer- if you got caught making out in the back of the library or something when you were in college, you may want to modify acting like you’re in college with every thing. 🙂
- Give her 1 for every 3. For every 3 hours you’re working or spending time doing what you love, give her 1 full hour of your undivided attention. For instance, if your work day is 9 hours long, give her 3 hours. After a week that adds up to 15. You’ve got your weekend covered!
- Actually want to be with her. It’s one thing to say you want to spend time with your wife, but it’s another thing to actually want to do it. Guess what fellas? She can tell when you’re faking it. Our wives are not stupid. Just because you got the college degree and she didn’t finish because she married you and eventually began the most important job in the world as a stay-at-home-mom, doesn’t mean she’s not smart. She is!
- Ignore your phone at home. This is a big one for me. I bet it is for a lot of you guys too. I know the struggle- work is important, so are exterior relationships. I get it. I’ve got a blog that averages 50,000+ views a month and a Twitter following that’s over 16,000. My email subscriber list is growing too. While those aren’t astronomical numbers, they’re still high enough to keep me busy, all the time. The reality, however, is that I don’t always need to be on my phone answering Tweets, or responding to commenters on this blog. I need downtime, away time, but, so does my wife. More importantly, she needs me. Not just my presence, but my focus.
- Date her. I know you’ve heard this a million times in the past but it’s such an important thing to do. For some odd reason we lose the value of this after we get married. We did too for a time. And the funny thing is, I lived to take my wife on dates before we got married. Why is this a chore for me at times? Why is it for you? What I’ve learned is simple: when I intentionally plan times for her and I to get away (for a good amount of time, not just a trip to Target) she feels valued. Plain and simple. Guys, you and I need make this a priority. We need to spend time away from our kids and our home so we can invest in our marriages and get to know our wives on a deeper level.
As I said earlier in this post, I’m far from getting this down to a science. In fact, I blow this often. Guys, you and I are rowing in the same boat. We’ve got work to do. It’s the most important work in the world. Our marriages are worth it. Our wives are worth it. Remember, she was the girl of your dreams back in the day. She’s the one human being who could actually get your heart beating fast. Treat her like she’s still all of this and more. In fact, treat her like the queen of the world!
Men, anything else to add to this list? I would love to hear from you.