I don’t fancy myself an expert on the keys to a wife’s heart. Nor do I think I have a large amount of knowledge or experience in understanding relationship issues and marriage. What I am is a husband who’s been married for a couple decades and struggled the whole time through. My wife is an absolutely wonderful woman. We’ve been through some troublesome times, and her patience has helped me learn about some keys to a woman’s heart that all men should know.
Is one of your wife’s main complaints that you’ve changed since the wedding? It’s a common concern among women that once marriage vows are taken husbands become inaccessible. Men have no intentions of not being affectionate or to stop talking with their wives, but nonetheless it happens in nearly every case. Your wife’s heart was won because of certain keys you were using prior to marriage. Most men don’t even realize we had those keys or were using them, but every wife is keenly aware of the changes.
I believe it’s because of our way of thinking. Men view life as a series of challenges or accomplishments and, whether or not we even put words to this attitude, it exists and will always be this way. It’s a perfect mindset for much of life but when it comes to relationships it’s completely the wrong approach. This is because a relationship is not a goal, but rather a growing and living bond between people. Marriage is the most important relationship and therefore is not a goal either. You may still need to internally realize this difference and learn to use the keys to your wife’s heart again.
The First Key to Your Wife’s Heart is Conversation
When you and your wife dated, you more than likely spent hours in conversation. Sometimes it was small talk while at other times it was deep and probing. You shared hopes, dreams, fears, and what was good and bad about your lives. Most men aren’t truly aware that they were in fact using one of the keys to a woman’s heart. Unlike men, women bond through conversation. It’s how they get to know a person and it’s also how they fall in love with a man. Conversation is more than an exchange of information for most women but a fully emotional experience.
Therein lays the difference in how we use words. For men they’re tools to exchange information. It’s why we like things filled with facts and without “emotion tag words”. On the other hand women can live inside a conversation. It’s an emotional experience with layers of meaning built in. A man may learn about others through teamwork in work or play. For women, conversation can serve the same purpose.
These are not gender specific roles of conversation. Instead what I’ve described is the default settings men and women operate in. If these were solid differences women would have a much harder time falling in love than they already do. Furthermore it would be very difficult for piggish men to seduce even the most vulnerable women.
Conversation is one of the major keys to your wife’s heart. You used it deftly while courting her but, because of your default uses of conversation, you ceased using it shortly after you said your wedding vows.
So we know that, as men, we can use the keys of conversation. You could even think of it as a super power that exposed itself in a time of need, but that you’ve not yet learned to use on purpose. Your marriage may not be what it should be for your wife’s needs. And the only way to learn to use conversation the way your wife craves is to practice.
In the hard hitting book His Needs Her Needs author Willard F. Harley, Jr. goes into detail about what this looks like. His counsel is based on decades of counseling thousands of troubled couples. He says, “If a husband seriously wants to meet his wife’s need to feel close to him, he will give the task sufficient time and attention. I tell male clients they should learn to set aside fifteen hours a week to give their wives undivided attention.” (65) He goes on to say that when men think this is impossible, he asks how much time they spent giving undivided attention while dating. “Any bachelor who fails to devote something close to fifteen hours a week to his girlfriend faces the strong likelihood of losing her.” (65)
Yes, fifteen hours a week. It reminds me of advice I heard from a preacher many years ago. He said a husband should continue doing everything he did when he was just a boyfriend. I misunderstood this to mean acts of chivalry like opening doors for my wife. Time spent in conversation is the more likely center of that preacher’s advice.
Great opportunities for conversation with your wife exist at mealtimes, during household chores, or riding in the car together. You can also surprise her with SHMILY appointments (read this article to learn what a SHMILY is) to take walks in favorite areas. One thing my wife loves is reading a book together and discussing it. Start with these ideas and expand on them, or come up with your own ingenious ways for using this key to your wife’s heart.
The Second Key to Your Wife’s Heart is Affection
A stereotypical accusation against men is that we’re not affectionate. It’s a generalization based in some solid truth. Thankfully this is one of the easier to keys to use.
Two Kinds of Affection Keys: Physical and Verbal
I define physical affection as any kind of touching, hugging or kissing that is not intended to lead towards sex. And believe me, your wife can tell the difference.
A litmus test to know if a type of affection falls into a non-sexual category is whether or not it’s appropriate to display in public. In fact, in public is the perfect place to practice affection. Whenever you and your wife go places, hold her hand as you’re walking or sitting together. When you’re watching movies put your arm around her as much as possible. A little unexpected “peck” kiss can also go a long way in showing your wife that you care about her for who she is.
Hugs are an immensely powerful key to use. Hug her when you separate for your day’s activities and then hug her again when you come home. If she’s working in the kitchen you can sneak up to her and gently wrap your arms around her waist. And no, do not let your hands roam during a long hug. This key is for her heart and not for your libido. And besides, when you’ve practiced non-sexual affection with fifteen hours of conversation a week, over a period of time, your wife will want you sexually more than you can imagine.
Or you can use a more subtle approach. Say my wife is reading in the living room and for one reason or other I’m walking through. I’ll gently brush her shoulder with a soft touch without stopping. This kind of key is ideal for really busy days and tells your wife that you’re thinking of her.
Verbal affections are those words you used to use when dating your wife. I can just about bet you used this key more than any other keys and her heart melted from your expert use of it. Start with “I love you’ often every day. But that’s not enough and is kind of cliché, so it needs support from more well thought out phrases. One thing I do is when walking through a room my wife is in I’ll off-handedly comment on how pretty she is. Another is if we’re sitting close I’ll conspicuously sniff her and then crow about her sweet smell.
Flirting is another verbal affection key. It’s a lot of fun and isn’t against the rules if done with your wife. I sometimes use humor by making Austin Powers type comments with my practiced fake English accent (It sounds authentic since Austin Powers’ accent is fake as well). I mix them up, maybe using “Oh behave” when she’s folding laundry and an hour later “I’m a one-woman man, man!”
But that’s not all. You have to come up with your own little trademarks. One of mine is the word “beautimus” (which at one time I thought I’d invented but really didn’t). It’s a blending of the words “most”, “beautiful” and “gorgeous”. I tell my wife she’s too good looking for only one of those words, and it’s true.
A Word of Caution When You Start Using These Keys Again
There’s a really good chance that your wife has become accustomed to your current routine. She may have even given up and stopped hoping for the kind of tenderness the keys to her heart provide. When you start turning these keys you might feel some resistance. Just like an unused padlock, the lock to your wife’s heart has probably gotten difficult to turn from lack of use. Don’t expect things to get better between you two in just a day or even in a week or two. These are keys you should have been using for years and it will take time for her heart to fully open again. Thankfully, however, these are things she desperately needs so it won’t take a long time for married life to get better for you both.
Plan on using these keys to your wife’s heart frequently each day for the rest of your life. At the start, even if your wife doesn’t seem to respond, she’s still storing your conversation and affection in her heart and savoring the feel of them. And I promise, you’ll enjoy their use, too. They may not be our default setting as men, but we are capable of using these keys, and in fact we need them as well.
There are other keys to your wife’s heart, but in my experience and in talking with my own wife, these are the two most important. Talk with your wife a couple hours each day and repeatedly show her affection. She’ll be a much happier and fulfilled wife, which of course means you’ll be a happier husband.
Harley, Willard, Jr. His Needs Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage. Revell, 2001.