“I have no idea what she wants! I’ve tried everything!”
I hear such things often from clients (both husbands and wives) and they’re not usually fond of my response.
“Everything? Really? Well then … tell me everything you’ve tried…”
Usually I get the eye roll and get some half-baked answer like: “Well, you know … Everything.”
The truth is, most women need five basic things. And most men need five basic things (although different from what women want and need).
For this week I’m addressing women.
Guys, if you’ll read this carefully and take it to heart, it can turn your Valentine’s Day dilemma around!
The honest to goodness truth is this… Far too often, after we win our “prize,” we let our efforts slip, and we fall into the arena of “familiarity.” I say that’s just a nice way to say that we have “gotten lazy with our efforts” and are now “taking the other for granted.”
Guys, I know that’s not who you are, but it is a hypnotic state that we all get lulled into if we are not making keen efforts to giving dedicated efforts to keep the love alive.
I’m sharing five things that most every woman needs and wants, and I’m adding some ways that you might incorporate these into Valentine’s Day.
So what is it that us “mysterious women” need and want?
1. TO BE SEEN AND HEARD.
When I shared that with my client, he responded as most men do: “So what on earth does that even mean?”
I chuckled and said, “It likely means that you don’t do it! LOL!”
Don’t try to turn this in to rocket science. It means to see her. To notice what she’s doing. To notice what she has on. To notice what she has done for you.
And to hear her. We all are guilty of turning our ears off to our spouses. We just don’t listen to what they say. Then we accuse them of never telling us. When the truth is, you are likely not listening. (Wives do this too. More on that next week)!
Not only do we want to be seen and heard, but we would also like feedback and interaction about what you see and hear.
When we sigh when opening a piece of mail, ask us what disappointed us. When we have dressed up, tell us we look nice. When we do things for you, notice and express appreciation.
When we get to the place where we no longer see nor hear one another, the marriage is already in the process of dying. But here’s a newsflash: It does not take that much to bring it back to life.
When she says dinner is ready, instead of grunting or ignoring her, tell her you’ll be right there. When she has just put away all of your clean laundry, how about thanking her? How about telling her how nice it is to have your clothes folded neatly and hung up neatly so they’re easy to fine?
It’s these very small little efforts that will make her feel seen and heard. For Valentine’s Day, you can make her feel seen and heard by making reservations at a restaurant that she likes. And when she gets dressed, tell her how beautiful she is!
My client did a great job of this. He went home the evening after this conversation and followed her around the house, thanking her for dinner, for cleaning up, for letting him prop his feet up, for her looking so pretty.
I knew because she sent me an email and asked me what Kool-Aid I’d made him drink? She said: “I can’t remember a time in 10 years that he noticed anything I did. It was like all of a sudden, he thought he’d won the lottery for things I’ve done faithfully through the years!”
2. TO BE HONORED WITH PRESENCE.
This is one we all struggle with, but women crave it. What is presence? It’s being in the moment, with eye contact, no distractions, and making a true effort to connect.
90% of the couples that I see have a woman who is starving to death for her husband’s (or boyfriend’s) presence.
My client said, “Well I do that all the time.”
I said, “That’s great!”
“So you mean you put your cell phone away and turn the television off and actually reach out to connect with her?”
He tucked head and justified, “Well a lotta the time, I watch what she wants to watch.”
I assured him that was certainly great, it is not the same as “presence.”
He told me he struggled to know what to talk about with her. I suggested he go back to the basics with questions such as these:
- What was the best thing that happened for you today?
- How are you feeling about our marriage?
- What could make it better?
- What was your favorite moment we had together this past month?
- What things are worrying you or concerning you?
For Valentine’s Day, may I suggest that you arrange some time together. No cell phones. If you take her out, do not position yourself so you can see sports on the television. JUST BE PRESENT.
She will be delighted!
3. TO BE UNDERSTOOD
Every woman desires to be understood. When we say, “You just don’t understand!” That’s not an invitation for you to leave. It’s an invitation to you to make an honest attempt to understand.
I’m sure you’ve heard these words about something in the past few weeks.
Sit down with her and say, “Hey when you were trying to tell me about how difficult it is for you to go to social events where there’s lots of drinking, I know you said I didn’t understand. And you are right. But I would like to understand.”
As she begins to pour out information, just listen and reflect. Don’t try to fix it. Don’t judge it. Don’t agree with it. Don’t disagree with it. Just try to understand her perspective.
After she has shared, find at least one thing that does make sense to you and validate.
For example, if she had said something like: “It reminds me of all the parties at my parent’s home growing up when people drank too much and horrible things happened.”
To validate, you could say, “It makes sense to me that it’s hard for you to be at events where lots of drinking is happening if when your parents parties involved too much drinking, you saw horrible things happen.”
My client did some thing wonderful after our first session about this. He went home and told his wife that one of the things, “I want to do for you for Valentine’s Day this year is I want to take you to dinner, and I want you to choose one thing you would really like for me to understand, and I’m going to listen with all my heart until I do understand.”
I asked how she responded, and he smiled real big and said, “She melted! That harsh edge just melted away, and she smiled and looked at me like I was a hero!”
You too can be a hero for Valentine’s Day (or any day) if you will just make a sincere effort to understand something about her.
4. TO BE MADE A TOP PRIORITY.
This is one that often men have a hard time understanding. Because in their heart of hearts, they believe they work hard because she and the family are both a priority to him. In their minds, they come home at night because she’s a priority. How can she not feel like a priority?
Perhaps because when you do come home you are consumed in television. Perhaps because when you are home on weekends you don’t shower, and you wear scruffy clothes.
But during the week you leave home at your best. Perhaps because you’re so busy with other things, you do not make any quality time for her.
You do not see her, you do not hear her, you do not understand her. That feels to a woman like she is not a priority.
Forewarning for Valentine’s day: you can’t try to get reservations for Valentine’s Day dinner on February 13 or 14th, and expect to be able to get in. If she’s a priority, you should already have those reservations. And she will know she’s a priority!
Make her a priority by making time for her. By bringing your best self to her (showered, cheerful, fun and engaging!) THAT feels like we are a priority!
My clients scowled as he said, “You mean no more hat hair? And showering every day?” I asked him if he wore a ball cap over greasy hair to work? To which he nodded no. I asked him if he showered every evening or morning before work? To which he nodded affirmatively.
Then I suggested he make her the same priority. He grinned and said, “I guess I have to spray my ‘smell good stuff’ on too?”
I asked, “Do you do that before you go to work?” His response was: “OK, I get the point!”
I hope you will too. Make her a priority. Bring her your best!
5. TO BE TREATED WITH KINDNESS, TENDERNESS AND RESPECT ON A CONSISTENT BASIS.
Hey guys, we are not your locker room friends, we are not your mom, and we don’t want your “leftovers.”
We want to be treated with kindness. Say nice things to us. Cut the angry edge and the furrowed brow. Take the harshness out of your voice.
Touch us tenderly. Don’t just say I love you, put your hand on her face and tell her tenderly that you love her.
Save your crass language, your burping and other gas expelling, your nose picking, teeth picking and sore picking, for private moments away from her.
Don’t find yourself guilty of giving your best all day long every day at work, and then offering leftovers of stress once you get home.
I’m sure you’ve heard the story about the man and the worry tree. The story goes that the man was always very diligent and stressed at work. One day his car would not start after work, and his boss offered to take him home.
He asked the boss to come in and meet his wife and children, and the boss saw a totally different man when he walked in the door and saw the man greet his wife with a bright smile and kiss, and hugged his children joyfully. After the introductions, he walked the boss back out.
The boss said to him: “You’ve been working with me for over 10 years. You are stressed and very focused on your work all day, every day. But I saw a man I did not know when you walked in your front door. What happened?”
The man smiled and pointed to the tree by the porch. He said, “We barely make enough to get by and so there’s always stress. But when I get home, I reach out and touch the tree and leave all my stresses and worries there, so that I can have a great evening with my family. They don’t need my stress, they need my love!”
Perhaps you need to have a worry tree. Perhaps you need to remind yourself that the stresses can be left outside.
After a number of sessions going over these five things, my client was so proud of himself (as I was as well) at what he put together for Valentine’s Day. He had found a place up on a ridge to watch the sun set down over the lake. His plan was to take her there, tell her the many things that he loved and appreciated about her. And to hold her hand tenderly while the sunset. He had even arranged a play list of “their songs” from through the years to play softly.
Then he had taken the time and effort to contact a friend of hers, because there was a little French restaurant that she and her girlfriends loved gather for lunch. (He said he hope to God they didn’t serve him escargot, but he would enjoy whatever food they had together.)
Not only that, but he knew she loves pink roses, and he was planning to take them by the restaurant earlier in the day and ask them to set them on their table.
I hope it will be a wonderful evening for them! And I hope you, my friend, will make that gal you love feel incredibly special on Valentine’s Day.
But may I make a suggestion? Why don’t you treat her like it’s Valentine’s Day every day? A dozen roses are not necessary daily, and you don’t have to eat escargot regularly. But create some tender moments. See her. Hear her. Honor her with your presence. Take time to understand her. Treat her with kindness, tenderness and respect.
I can assure you there will be a new explosion of love in your home! And don’t worry, I will be telling her what you need next week!
Please don’t just read through these. Please take them to heart, and implement them. They aren’t that hard, but the reward will be worth it! You can re-capture her heart!