Written by: Haleh Banani, MA Clinical Psychology
*After reading the article, make sure you vote in the polls (two open polls right now)*
As women, we desire to have a deep emotional bond with our husbands. We want to be loved and adored. Our inner core is filled with contentment and happiness when we feel that we are understood and appreciated. It takes little effort to create a wish list of all the traits and qualities we long for our husbands to possess, but bringing out positive traits in them requires a lot more effort.
We need to nurture the relationship by nourishing our husbands. Just like our body is in need of nourishment three times a day and we can’t rely on last week’s buffet to sustain us today – the same is true with marriage. We need to nourish our spouse daily with love, support and understanding. As a therapist, I have seen numerous men who are disappointed with their wives. Many are frustrated and confused. So, here are some suggestions to change all that!
Men’s Top 6 Requests of Their Wives
- Be his friend
- Show him respect
- Fulfill his physical needs
- Make him feel desired
- Make him feel appreciated
- Create variety
It is very common for men and women to feel lonely in their marriages. This loneliness is a result of neglect, avoidance and apathy. Many people do not invest the necessary time and energy that is required to nurture this vital relationship. Most people don’t even know how to nurture, which leads to discontentment and despair.
1. Be his friend
The most important aspect of a marriage is friendship. When there is friendship, any obstacle can be overcome. In the Quran, Allah refers to a man’s wife as his girlfriend in Surah Abasa 80:36 which reveals the type of relationship we need to have with our spouse.
John Gottman, a psychologist who specializes in marriage stability in the States, did a study on married couples and found the one element which determines whether or not couples stay together is friendship. Look at the beautiful examples of Khadija and Aisha (RA) and how they showered the Prophet (peace and salat upon him) with love, providing him with true companionship. Think about your best friend and how he or she became so special in your life. It probably had a lot to do with the amount of time and effort he or she made to get to know you and spend time with you. When was the last time you and your spouse had quality time together where the focus was just on having fun and sharing? An easy way to get started is:
- Set a date night with your spouse and stick to it
- Share likes, dislikes, dreams etc.
Your friends are people who accept you and make you feel happy. How accepting are you of your spouse? Are you always trying to change or nag him? These behaviors push a man away and don’t create positive associations to him of you. Try to hold off a bit before plunging into a long list of complaints about the kids and house chores right when he arrives.
In order to create or strengthen friendship in marriage, try doing the following:
- Listen, listen, listen to him – I mean really listen without being distracted, without making lists in your mind as he talks and without watching T.V. Remember what he shares with you about his work, about his goals, etc.
- Share the highlights of the day & be supportive and understanding,
- Find out what his area of interests are, read about them and be prepared to discuss,
- Always say please and thank you, no matter how long you have been married,
- Eat at least 1 meal a day together,
- Be forgiving – overlook his mistakes and flaws and train yourself to remember his positive traits ( everyone has some – you just have to focus on them),
- Plan activities together (be it traveling together, playing tennis, walking, eating out, going out for movie nights – anything you both enjoy doing together),
- Laugh together – don’t take your relationship so seriously all the time. Couples that can laugh together, stay together,
- Have time to cuddle – being in close contact, hugging & caressing melts away the barriers, anger & frustrations. We all feel better after a nice, big hug,
- Say nice things to each other – If you spoke to your friend the way you speak to your spouse would they remain your friend? Be honest with the answer,
- Always make up before you sleep, and sleep at the same time. Don’t lead separate lives.
The need for men to be respected is so strong that when they are given ample respect, they flourish like a plant that has just been watered. When they are deprived of the respect, they wilt and harbor feelings of sadness and resentment. Many times women put a lot of time and effort in keeping the house clean, taking care of the kids and fulfilling all the “duties”, but because they fall short in showing their husbands respect, the husbands will shut down and not show appreciation for all that she has done. It is critical to be sensitive towards men and their feelings. Even though men may not be as expressive, they can and do get hurt and it is much harder for them to recover from hurt feelings.
Here are some ways to show respect:
- Always speak with kindness and politeness, regardless of how long you have been married. Show the same (if not more) graciousness to your husband than you show your guests,
- Never shout, call him names or use profanity,
- Don’t be sarcastic with sensitive issues – if he has any weaknesses or shortcomings, don’t crack a joke about it. Even if he doesn’t get mad, he may feel hurt inside,
- Listen to his opinion and honor his requests – you will be rewarded in this world with a happy home and in the akhira insha’Allah,
- Don’t have a power struggle with him. When women are demanding and aggressive it makes the men be harsh and rigid. If you show respect for the role that Allah has chosen for him, they are more likely to be accommodating,
- Show love and respect to his family and be a unifying force in his family. Don’t be known as the person who took him away from the family,
- Respect his “alone time”, and allow him to unwind,
- Ask his opinions and value them.
Fulfilling Physical Needs
Intimacy brings about a whole lot of mixed emotions. Some sisters are not interested at all, some can never get enough and others seem to use it as a way to manipulate their husbands. There really needs to be some frank talk about this subject because I have seen many marriages suffer and fall apart due to problems of intimacy.
Sisters, if you withhold sex from your spouse as either a way to get back at him or to control him, you are making a HUGE MISTAKE. Sex is not meant to be a manipulative tool; rather it is a way to bring a necessary fulfillment to your spouse. I have had therapy sessions with numerous men who are addicted to porn because their wives show no interest in them or in sex. Men will feel the urge to fulfill their physical needs and if their wife is never available or interested, then some men will be tempted to either get a second wife or pursue haram (forbidden) avenues. That is why it’s of paramount importance for women to learn how to satisfy their husbands and to be available for them.
Here are some suggestions in improving your intimate relations:
- Talk about sex together – the majority of couples have never spoken about it, so how can they possibly know what the other person’s likes or dislikes are?
- Only encourage with loving words when intimate – never criticize or judge,
- Never laugh at your spouse when they are vulnerable and baring it all,
- Don’t put pressure on him to perform – a large majority of men have performance anxiety. The more you help him to relax, the less stressed he will be, the better he will be able to perform,
- Don’t make sex about having a baby – it will happen if it’s meant to be insha’Allah. None of this, “Quick, I’m ovulating” business. The more relaxed you both are, the more enjoyable it will be, which will increase the frequency and the likelihood of getting pregnant,
- Ask about each other’s fantasies and as long as they are halal (permissible), then go for it – be accepting and non-judgmental when hearing each other’s fantasies.
Your wives are a tilth for you so go to your tilth Surah Baqara 223 meaning that you can have sexual relations in any way you want with your spouse as long as it’s halal.
- Initiate intimacy – don’t wait for your spouse to make the first move every time. Be proactive!
- Don’t avoid sex or make excuses – this will only lead your husband to do haram either by viewing inappropriate material or pursuing haram relationships,
- Be engaging during sex – don’t make him feel like you are doing him a favor,
- Never fake your enjoyment because this will only confuse him and you will not get fulfilled which will make you less enthused about future relations,
- Communicate during relations sharing your likes and dislikes and give gentle directions.
Make Him Feel Desired
When a man gets married he enjoys being the center of his wife’s life. He loves all the attention, the special meals and having his wife exclusively to himself. Once children appear in the picture, everything changes for the man. Not only is he not center stage – he is not even on stage! He sees his wife completely absorbed with the new baby and as much as he loves and adores the child, he simply doesn’t want to be replaced by him.
There are so many times that men are made to feel neglected. Whether it’s because of the newborn baby, her demanding job or her never ending list of errands and voluntarism, men are being overlooked and pushed aside. The man is craving attention. The woman that knows how to shower her man with attention and appreciation will rule his heart. In my practice, working with couples, I have discovered that most people have no idea how to show appreciation. Either they don’t know how to show appreciation or they mistakenly show it the way they would like to receive it.
So here are some practical and easy ways to show appreciation to your husband:
- Greet him with a hug and a kiss when he arrives home. Men have a need to feel important – greeting him and welcoming him home will give him this feeling,
- Make him feel that you are glad that he is home- this will create a positive association to being home; therefore he will WANT to be home more,
- Get off the phone before he arrives,
- Make sure the place is presentable,
- Have a sumptuous dinner ready,
- Be happy – nothing shows appreciation like a content smile,
- Be understanding when he has to stay late or has to travel,
- Listen to him without multitasking – I know it’s hard for us sisters to sit still and just simply listen, but it’s so critical to make a man feel heard,
- *LOOK ATTRACTIVE*
You can lounge around in your sweats all day long chillin’, but before your hubby gets home take 10 minutes to wear something attractive (depending on what he likes – some prefer jeans and cute top, others prefer short skirts or dresses – find out what he enjoys) and dab some lipstick and mascara on.
Men are exposed to so many attractive women at work, at school, in the malls, on billboards, magazines and TV, so in order to strengthen them to lower their gaze they need to have something worthwhile to come home to at night. You don’t have to be a supermodel to look presentable to your husband. Just spend a few minutes to fix your hair and accentuate your best assets.
Make Him Feel Appreciated
When was the last time you gave a compliment to your husband? And I’m not referring to compliments on how well he fixed the leaky faucet. I mean a compliment on his looks or personality that will bring on a genuine smile. It seems that the more comfortable we are with someone, the less polite and gracious we become. Does that make any sense? Each person desires attention and wants to feel attractive. The need to feel attractive increases as men age. They require more assurance that they are still desirable and worthwhile. There are two ways to make a man feel attractive: either tell him by giving him a compliment or show him that you are attracted to him. Here are some ways to show your attraction to your husband:
- Take the time to look at him – deep in his eyes and have your eyes lock. There usually isn’t enough time to make eye contact and since everyone always has to be careful to lower their gaze in public, here is the chance to stare and be rewarded!
- Smile affectionately,
- Verbalize that you appreciate his hard work and all that he provides,
Whosoever does not thank people, has not thanked Allah.
- Be generous in giving compliments – it’s amazing how a person will light up with kind words.
- Be playful, flirt and make him feel like the most attractive person
Variety is always desirable. We enjoy an array of meals, an assortment of clothes and a selection of entertainment. This yearning for variety can be fulfilled even in marriage.
Here are some simple measures you can take to add a little zest and variety to yourself.
- Get different hairstyles and change the shade of your hair color – make sure it is something he will like. Don’t go for shocking – always choose styles and colors that suit you the best. Don’t all of sudden choose jet black if you are blonde for the sake of creating variety – just go a few shades darker or lighter or get highlights.
- Have a nice wardrobe for the house. ”What, dress up at home?” YES! You don’t need to be all decked out, but you need to have casual, nice clothes for around the house. Don’t just hang out in sweats, pajamas or tacky clothes at home and look your best when you go out.
- Get monthly maintenance at the salon. You know the drill: waxing, bleaching, trimming.
Don’t just wait for a lady’s get-together or wedding to get these things done. Make him feel valued by looking well groomed at home for him.
- Invest in nice lingerie – it’s not just for the honeymoon. If you want your honeymoon to last a lifetime have a selection of lingerie. Select items that he would enjoy. Make sure that it looks flattering on you. Not everything that is seductive will look flattering so choose ones that enhance your best features. The secret is to look hot at home!
- Try to create variety by getting intimate in different rooms (make sure you will not be unpleasantly surprised by a little visitor), alter the time of day that you get intimate (it doesn’t always have to be in the evenings), and also change positions (try to be a little adventurous)
- From time to time, go for an overnight stay anywhere without the kids - you will be amazed how a different setting will improve your love life.
As you strive to create a strong bond with your husband by being a true friend, you will become closer and more intimate. This intimacy will lead to a more satisfying and relaxed sexual relationship. With an ego that is showered with compliments, attention and appreciation, men will naturally feel more attractive and desired. As they start feeling debonair, they will be more intrigued by you and your versatility. You will create the variety which will break the monotony and have sparks flying. By investing the necessary time and effort into your marriage, you will be pleasantly rewarded with a more satisfied spouse and you will WIN HIS HEART!
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