I have the best man in the world as my husband, but sometimes I just don’t understand him – I know I’m not the only woman who feels this way
Social researcher and novelist Shaunti Feldhahn explains some of the surprising differences of men and women in her book “For Women Only.” If you have a hard time understanding your man sometimes, here are some guidelines on why he thinks how he thinks.
1. He REALLY needs respect
Seventy-five percent of men would prefer to feel respected by their wife than to feel loved by her. When a man feels disrespected, he also feels unloved. These are some of the ways you can help him feel respected (and in turn, loved).
Respect his judgment
He has thought through his decisions. So, be willing to defer to his choices.
Respect his abilities
If he says he can do it, let him do it.
Respect his accomplishments
He works hard, so thank him for it. He might not have done exactly what you would’ve done, but he has accomplished a lot.
Respect in communication
Feldhahn used the example of a wife coming home to find that her husband wiped down the counters. She casually thanks him and then points out that he missed a spot under the toaster oven. Be careful that you are not subconsciously attacking him.
Respect in public
Teasing your husband around your friends can make your man feel that you don’t respect him.
Respect in assumption
Stop assuming he doesn’t know what he’s doing. “Why did you do that?,” to him sounds like, “Stupid man, you shouldn’t have done that.”
If you want to understand, say “Help me understand why you did that” instead.
2. He feels insecure
“There is no male ego. What it is, is male self-doubt,” Feldhahn said in a presentation. Insecurity for men is a bigger deal than you think.
Men look at life as a series of challenges. They want to tackle big problems, but inside they fear they might fail. They feel that people are watching their every move and judging them. Therefore, they struggle with imposter syndrome.
The only time he feels that he doesn’t have to be perfect is when he is with you. When a man’s wife believes he can do what he needs, he believes it too. Be the number one source of encouragement for your husband. Build him up, don’t tear him down and make your home a safe place for your man to make mistakes.
3. He doesn’t know how he feels
Men’s brains are wired differently than women’s, in a literal sense. Women have a greater connecting between the left and right sides of their brains, according to Feldhahn. This allows women to process thoughts and feelings all at once.
You have probably heard your husband say “I don’t know what I’m feeling.” Don’t get upset when this happens. Generally, your man doesn’t really know how he feels at that moment. It might take him hours to understand and explain his feelings.
Feldhahn refers to men’s thought process as an internal chess match. He has to think through each part of the conflict separately and then consider all the different outcomes. This process can occur as he sits in front of a TV or plays a computer game. What he feels and why he feels that way require two different mental chess matches.
To avoid frustration, talk about the conflict later.. This allows your husband to have the time he needs to process his thoughts and feelings.
4. He wants to provide
Even if you provide financially for your family without your husband’s help, he still feels the need to provide for you. To men, bringing home the paycheck is his way of saying “I love you.”
Occasionally you confuse your husband by saying you wish he would spend more time at home, but also want a new house. For a new house your husband has to work more. For him to be home he has to not work. How can he balance both? It makes him stressed and feel unappreciated when he feels you are demanding more of him than he can give.
Communicate clearly about what is most important to you. This will relieve his pressure.
5. He wants more sex
Society tells you this over and over, but he doesn’t like sex just because it’s physically pleasurable.
“I wish that my wife understood that making a priority of meeting my intimacy needs is the loudest and clearest way she can say you are more important to me than anything else in the world,” said one of the survey respondents in Feldhahn’s study. “It is a form of communication that speaks more forcefully, with less room of misinterpretation, than any other.”
Sex fills an emotional and physical need. When you are intimate with him it gives him confidence. Sex says you desire him, that he is worthy of your love, time and attention.
6. He is visual
Men’s brains react to an attractive female in a way women struggle to understand. Generally, when a woman sees an attractive man a thought will pop in her head that says “He is attractive.” For men it’s very different.
Before men can even think “She is attractive,” his body is already reacting to the attractive woman (whether the woman is present or in a picture). It is an instinctive reaction. A man mentally and physically cannot stop himself from noticing an attractive woman.
Bidden and unbidden images will often appear in the forefront of a man’s mind. Once the image is there he can choose to think about it or push it out of his mind. The more he thinks about it, the harder it is to push the image out of his mind.
He’s more susceptible to these images when he is hungry, angry, lonely or tired.
This doesn’t mean he wants to cheat on you or doesn’t think you are attractive. It’s just a part of his brain. According to Feldhahn’s study, husbands generally want to think only of their wife and they struggle to fight their visual nature.
7. He is romantic
Men want to be romantic, and generally (according to Feldhahn’s study) they have an idea of how to be romantic, but they have a few holdups:
He’s scared. Thoughts like “what if she doesn’t like this?” or “how can I beat the last date?” might be going through your man’s mind.
He defines it differently. Men think “playing” together is romantic. Playing could include throwing a frisbee around or going golfing. Also, men generally believe that sex is part of romance. Feldhahn put it as, “Romance is all about escaping with the one you love.”
Your man may be trying to be romantic, so recognize his efforts.
8. He cares about your appearance
Your husband loves it when you make an effort to look good. He doesn’t necessarily care if you are an XS or an 5XL. He cares about you wanting to look good for him.
Remember, men are visual. Making an effort to look nice for him makes him feel loved and take time to dress up for him.
You’ll never think like your man thinks, but you can be more understanding. Making this small effort to understand your husband could strengthen and possibly save your marriage.