It’s Valentine’s Day, the predestined time of the year to prove you’re the romantic maestro who knows your wife or girlfriend better than you know yourself. If you’ve been married for 30 years, you probably (and had better) know them damn well; but you might find it near impossible to surprise them year after year. Allow us to help you shout your love with these reliable strategies.
Make her Feel Special
“She already knows she’s important to me,” is not a useful response. If you haven’t done something to demonstrate how special she is in the past four hours, then you’ve already waited too long. This is not a high budget item; it’s high consideration item. How about an I love you phone call, a simple card slipped in her purse, a midweek lunch date, or flowers delivered to her office. Do you still open the car door? Serve her hot tea, wash her car, deliver an unexpected embrace, a foot rub, or candles with dinner? You get the idea.
Use Some Imagination
Plan events, dates, evenings at home, vacations – even stolen moments – with the kind of creative thinking that motivated you when you first asked her out. There’s a psychological concept known as the “self-fulfilling prophecy.” Simply put: Believe she’s worth the trouble and she will be; stop trying hard and so will she; and bring some creative intention to your wife as if she still knocks your socks off – and she will.
Talk about Her: And make sure it’s Positive
Keep your wife in your mind, on your heart, and in a positive light. Research suggests it takes seven positives to counteract one negative. Well, load those odds by always talking your wife up. To your friends, at work, at the gym, to other relatives; it doesn’t matter where you are or who you’re talking to, talk positively about your wife and you will love her more. Brag about her to others, both in front of her and when she is not with you. Guard your tongue from saying “unwholesome words” or downgrading her. Hold her hand in public. Because there’s nothing sweeter than being affectionate in front of others.
Common sense, boys. Your wife is giving you a steady stream of information, 24 hours a day, about who she is and what she needs and how she feels. Turn off your phone, watch sports later, and watch her. Listen to her. Observe her day, the things that cause her stress and the things that bring her joy and the things that frustrate her. Then use your problem-solving skills to step into her routine and offer what she needs (help with getting the kids ready, a date night to a local Thai place, or a gift certificate to her favorite store).
Help out around the House
There is much to be done in any home. The most common practical thing wives say they would appreciate from their man is a helping hand around the house. Wash the dishes. Fold the laundry. Hang up your clothes. Teach your kids how to sweep and mop and vacuum and then make them do it. Clean the kitchen while you’re at it. Ask her to make a list of little projects around the house that she wants to see completed then get to work on them. Ask her every day where she needs help. Then help her. Be helpful, both before and during the time you have visitors in your home. (If you’re not sure of what to do, ask your wife “What can I do that would help the most?”
Take Care of Yourself
Check the scales, think about how you dress around your wife, throw away the cigarettes, start some regular exercise, don’t be a slob. When she sees you, does she take a second look – or does she look away? Does the way you present yourself tell your wife you want her to be attracted to you or do you take all that for granted? Maintain good grooming habits so you look and smell good. It shows you care. Further, encourage your spouse to do the same. When both parties are better rested and recharged, marriages tend to be smoother and happier.
Be Attentive to the Little Things She Loves
People tend to feel very happy when their partner pays attention to the little things about them. Most wives thrive and feel deeply loved when their husbands attend to their little preferences in life. For example, make a point to make her cup of coffee in the morning exactly the way you know she likes. If you happen to pass by her favorite bakery while you’re running an errand, bring her home a slice of special cake. If she likes it when you put the toilet seat down after you go, show her that kindness. If she feels connected when you call or text during the workday, make that a part of your schedule. If she likes hearing you tell her you love her frequently, make that a habit.
Celebrate Each Other’s Achievements
Supporting your wife, celebrating her, and making her feel important are all keys in making her happy. And science corroborates this: A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that couples who celebrated their partner’s achievements as if they were their own were happier and more satisfied together. So, next time your wife accomplishes something she’s been working toward, don’t hold back: Celebrate her with enthusiasm, in the way that will make her feel most seen.
Support Women’s Rights and Equality
A study published in the journal Sex Roles found that straight couples who were feminist were more satisfied with their relationship, and this was particularly true for women with feminist boyfriends or husbands. If this isn’t your strong suit, spend some time listening to podcasts about gender inequality, reading news sites geared toward women (yes, Cosmopolitan and Teen Vogue and the like—these are great places to learn the basics!), or pick up a book about feminist philosophy.
Be her Knight in Shining Armor
This one might sound cliché, but most women, whether they recognize it or not, want a knight in shining armor. That doesn’t mean you need to buy a horse and ride in to save her. It does mean helping to minimize her hurt and stress. When times get tough, find ways to lessen her load and take the reins to make it happen. This might mean scheduling a massage or date night during stressful times or taking over with the kids while she takes a few minutes to read. One of my favorite “knightly” things to do is hand her a coffee gift card and tell her to go relax for a bit while the kids and I hang out. Helping her take time to step back from life’s stressors will serve as another reminder of how much you care.