“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ~ Lao Tzu
With all the uncertainty and stress that has come with 2020, you may have found yourself craving closeness with your loved ones more than ever before. This is because humans are wired for connection; it is part of how you and I cope with life’s stresses. Because of this, I am dedicating a series of posts to specifically address these relationships and offer guidance on how you can strengthen the connection with your loved ones.
I would like to begin by offering suggestions to many of my male clients who wish to improve their relationship with their female partner. First off, let me say that I applaud you for seeking direction on how to strengthen your bond with your spouse. That simple act right there shows you are committed to strengthening your relationship with her. Here are some suggestions you can start doing today:
- Make memories instead of buying them. Men often struggle to get the “right” gift for the woman in their life. Might I suggest skipping the gift altogether? Make memories. Quality time may be just what the two of you need to boost your relationship. Plan a trip! My brother-in-law once planned a quick surprise trip to San Francisco for my sister and she still says it was her favorite trio ever. Or consider even doing a “staycation” in your hometown; couples time is so rejuvenating regardless of where you are!
- Invite her on a date. In that same vein, when was the last time you took your woman on a date? Sure, Covid and/or children may have complicated that. But I urge you to make it happen–it is possible! Your dates do not need to be long or expensive. What you do does not really matter; letting her know that you want to spend time with her is what matters. Invite her on dates and I can assure you it will strengthen your relationship.
- Listen and ask questions. Most women like to talk and many men do not know what is expected of them and thus turn to offering solutions or giving advice. Might I suggest simply listening? Then ask follow-up questions. If you do not understand something, ask questions; try to continue the conversation. Sometimes men hear but do not fully understand what their spouse is saying.
- Do stuff for her. You know, wash the dishes, take the trash out, clean the floor, put your laundry away. Good old acts of service. And do it before being asked. Many arguments and issues can be resolved by just taking action! You could also try spoiling her. Bring home flowers or a treat. Pamper her with breakfast in bed or maybe a massage. Clean your living space–give her a break from some of her responsibilities.
- Take care of yourself. Before life got routine, you likely took some time for yourself for self-care. Maybe you would exercise, wear clothes she likes, put on cologne, etc. Get back into that. I understand that life is demanding and it is hard to find time for such things, but I can assure you that women love a man who looks and feels his best!
- Compliment her. Tell her you like the new way she is wearing her hair. Or she looks cute in her loungewear and bun. Or you admire how she parents a certain child. Or that she is amazing for working so hard and pursuing her career. Or that you appreciate her talent of __________. Whatever it may be, offer her words of affirmation.
- Talk with her. Women want to know what is happening in their man’s life. They want to be included in important decisions and know what is on his mind. So I encourage you to let her in. Confide in her. Ask for her opinion. Share what you are thinking and feeling.
- Respect her by caring about the important people in her life. When I see men respecting and honoring the strength in all women, it empowers me and says a lot about the man speaking. Additionally, love your in-laws, your wife’s family and friends. It means a lot to any woman to know that her man loves her village (or can at least be polite around them).
There is no need to spend lavish amounts of money or make Herculean efforts to grow closer to your partner. With a little bit of planning, and an understanding of what your wife likes and dislikes, you can make her feel extremely special and loved in simple ways each day. As you focus on connecting with the special woman in your life, you will strengthen your relationship. As always, I am here to help however I can. Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions or to schedule a session!
Melissa Cluff is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in North Texas, providing face-to-face and telehealth therapy options to clients in Texas.