“He’s the most miserable and unhappy man I’ve ever known. I truly am doing everything I know to do to make him happy. But no matter what, he is snappy and very unpleasant. What am I doing wrong? Where am I missing it? How do I reach him?”
Her brokenness and desperation were obvious, even, without the tears.
I knew it was a sincere cry for help.
I reached across and took her hand and assured her that although I did not know him, I did know the five things most men need and want (according to research).
I suggested we start there, and she was grateful to have anything to hold onto!
Last week I began with the five things that women need and want and this week we will turn our attention to what men need and want.
We don’t come in cookie cutter sizes and shapes, but at least having some generalities to work with could improve all our relationships! Trust me, your man would greatly appreciate any of these!
Men, need respect.
Quite often when I share this, women ask, “Shouldn’t respect be earned?” That question makes sense, and yes, ideally, respect should be earned. But that does not mean that we should not treat men with respect.
It has been written that:
Just as women want to experience “unconditional love” in a marriage, even when we are not acting particularly loveable, men want to experience “Unconditional respect” even if their actions are not up to our standards. Our culture says, “Love should be freely given, but respect must be earned.”
The reality is this: Men need to feel respected for who they are, apart from what they do.
Let’s look at what respect really means.
It has been defined as “esteem toward someone or something who has demonstrated good, quality behavior, strong character, or some action to be admired.”
Then how might we show respect?
Listen carefully and with your undivided attention when they speak to you.
Do not interrupt.
Affirm their thoughts and feelings before expressing any disagreement.
Complement them on things they do well.
And express gratitude for the things they do for you.
Those are the few ways you can show respect whether or not they are doing their part to earn it.
My client agreed that she needed to step up her displays of respect. Like many of us, she had found herself guilty of responding in like kind to him. When he had a harsh tone or an annoyed tone, she would respond in the same way.
Alice Miller, a great psychologist said: “Disrespect is the weapon of the weak.”
I suggested to my client that ultimately, respect is being able to respond with kindness regardless of how we are spoken to. Give him respect, whether he has earned it or not, and I believe you’ll see more respectable behavior!
2. To feel like a hero.
Every man wants to feel like he is a hero. Sometimes we have to look for small ways in which they’re our heroes.
When I shared this with my client, her eyes filled with tears. She said that she knew that was so true and that she had been failing at it over the past year or so.
She shared a story with me about early in their relationship. She’d had a flat tire on her way to work, but had been able to call AAA to come and put the little donut on her car.
When she got off work that day, he was sitting in the parking lot awaiting her walk to her car. He handed her his keys and told her to drive his car on home, and he would go and get a new tire for her car.
She talked about throwing her arms around him and telling him what a hero he was, and how she actually saw some tears in his eyes too.
I suggested that she look for some additional ways that she could regard him as her hero.
According to psychologist James Bauer:
Superman has Lois Lane, Spider-man has Mary Jane, and so on.
Heroes love saving cities and impressing their leading ladies.
They win females over their “heroic” deeds.
According to Bauer, all men desire this.
It’s more than just wishful thinking, it’s biology and psychology combined.
Just like women want to feel wanted all the time, men want to feel needed.
According to the hero instinct, men are driven by three basic things in life:
- Appreciation for his efforts
- Accomplishing his role as a provider
- Respect by those around him
All men want to live a meaningful life. They want to feel appreciated. They also want to be the one to “provide” for his family—especially to the one he loves.
He desires to be your hero, so make him your hero!
3. For you to look pretty and sexy.
I get it that sometimes, jogging pants, a loose T-shirt, and a messy bun is the best we can do. But it shouldn’t be the best we always do.
It’s important to understand that men are primarily visual. Their tone and attitude are set by what they see.
How long has it been since you took your hair out of a bun, put on a cute pair of jeans, and met him at the door with a big smile?
Don’t make the mistake of thinking, “Oh … I thought we were past all of that!”
We should never be past all of that. Certainly, I don’t think you have to be perfectly put together every time he walks into the door. But go that extra mile. At least a day or two a week.
My client said to me that she did not think she had dressed nicely or taken her hair down for months and months. Her fear was that he would not notice.
He will notice. It may take him a while, and he may even be a bit of a knucklehead and say something silly like: “Oh my God where are you going all dressed up?” She assured me that was what her husband would say.
I told her rather than letting it upset her, to be prepared with a fun answer.
If he asked her where on earth she was going, to respond with some thing he did not expect to like: “I was planning on walking straight into your heart!”
One more thing that we should all consider … I understand with time, our bodies change. I’m not saying that you need to be back to the size you were when you met him, but you can shape yourself up a little with some exercise, wear clothes that are attractive, and make him proud.
And may I suggest to you that the thing that makes you the most beautiful is your smile? Research indicates that with familiarity, we stop smiling at one another. Smiles are a big part of beauty that men see.
Light up his world with your beautiful smile as often as possible.
Every man loves to see the woman he loves looking her very best.
4. Praise and appreciation.
In a way, there’s a little boy inside of every man that needs to know that he does things right, and that he is appreciated.
When we got to this, my client said, “I already know I do this all wrong. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but it’s like what I do is not enough and he has to be showered with praise for things he does.”
She gave me an example of how when she would prepare something to eat, he would pick around on it and make some negative comments, even though he might eventually say it was good. But when he prepared food, he wanted to make sure everyone knew he prepared it and that everyone tells him how good it was.
I told her I understood how that sometimes, could feel a little bit unfair.
But I encouraged her, as I will encourage you, to do your best to see the little boy that wants so badly to know that he has done something right.
It really does not hurt us to put ourselves aside at moments and let them know that they’re appreciated.
My mother was absolutely wonderful at this. My dad was often not pleasant to be around when I was young. He spoke harshly, he said mean things, and he was rarely kind or affirming.
But when my dad and I were doing things like working on his boat in the garage… My mother would come out and tell him how she could not understand how he could make those boards curve on the bow without popping them, and she would tell him how awesome he was.
She also wrote notes and had my sister and I write notes for his lunchbox. I remember asking her what I should say. She would say think of something that you have that he got for you and tell him you know that you have it because he works so hard.
I remember that day writing a note to him about how much I loved my little bicycle. We were quite poor, and I didn’t even know that he had gone and gotten several bicycles from the junkyard, chosen the good parts from each, sanded them down, painted it, and put it together for me.
I just told him how much I loved my bicycle and how happy I was that he worked so hard so I could have the coolest bicycle on the block.
I remember him putting that note on our refrigerator, and it staying there for a very long time.
Appreciate your man, tell him what he does well. It will mean something to him!
5. Be playful and adventurous.
“Oh no! Do I really have to do this one?” My client moaned. She said, “I’m just not that into adventure. I like to keep things safe.”
I told her that occasionally stretching herself out of her comfort zone to do something playful and adventuring to him, wouldn’t kill her.
I asked her what kinds of things he liked to do, and she responded that he liked to go fishing. He liked to ride four wheelers and do most anything outdoors.
We put together a little plan for Valentine’s Day. Because he has a flexible work schedule, she asked him if he could take off for the morning and lunch of Valentine’s Day.
She’s going to pack a little lunch and take him fishing at one of his favorite fishing spots. I gave her some suggested questions and some things to read about fishing so that she could participate too.
- What kind of fish are in this lake?
- Do you catch them to eat, or do you throw them back?
- Are they good to eat?
- What makes you enjoy fishing so much?
- How do you know when to use a bait and when to use a lure?
Although this is a stretch for her (because I’m certain her fingernails have not been dirty in years) … She’s actually excited about this little adventure. Mostly because she knows it will delight him.
Being venturesome. Being playful.
Sometimes it helps if we put aside all the adult stuff and just become childlike for a few minutes. It does a world of good for most of us!
Just as I said to guys last week, don’t just do these things because it’s Valentine’s Day. Make them a regular practice. I can assure you that it will get his attention and move your relationship forward in a positive way!
Let’s get committed to giving men what they really want and need! Although those things are different than what rocks our world, let’s rock theirs in their own unique style!