Shaunti Feldhahn is a Harvard-educated social researcher who has polled thousands of women to find out what really motivates them, encourages them and discourages them in their relationships. Here is what she learned about how to make your wife feel beautiful:
1. Reflect back the truth about her. You’re her most important mirror—the man who can reflect back to her how lovely you think she is. The man whose opinions of her are the best antidote for the damaging internal dialogue and external pressure that stalk her thoughts.
2. Say it. Think of few affirming words or phrases—and say them.
3. Say it now. Train yourself to say right away, whenever you think it! What she’s looking for is the immediate, reflexive response that proves you’ve been wowed.
4. Erase “Fine” from your response options. “Fine” is not fine unless used in the sense of “She’s so fine.” What your wife is looking for is reassurance that you think she is beautiful and stunning. “Fine” and “OK” are not even on the same planet as that.
5. Answer her real question: “Do I still rock your world?” When she asks the dreaded question, “Do these jeans make me look fat?” she’s not asking if she can leave in that outfit. Instead, she’s feeling insecure about her body, her beauty and whether you still love and appreciate her. If she does truly want feedback on her outfit, ask in advance if she needs reassurance or to know whether an outfit looks good.
6. Let her know you’re on her side. If your wife is overweight or looking to lose weight, realize that she feels terrible about it already. Knowing you are disappointed makes it worse. Be willing to help. Whenever possible, make the effort with her, and keep affirming her in those areas you do find beautiful, including her loveliness as a person.
7. Don’t take no for an answer. You might be thinking, “I try to compliment my wife, and she always brushes it off.” Take her reluctance as a sign that she needs affirmation even more. Her flaws loom large in her mind—even if you hardly notice them. For her, knowing that you find her lovely outside and inside will go a long way.
8. Remember the power of the hammer. As your wife’s reflective mirror, you have the power to shatter her. If your eyes begin wandering to another woman, she won’t feel affirmed and will feel as if she is in competition with the world again—including the one man she thought she already had. A woman whose husband doesn’t control his looking will feel she can no longer measure up to what her husband wants.
9. Porn sends her a message. You injure your wife when you look elsewhere for a thrill that you vowed to look for in only her. You break her trust. And you shatter your ability to reflect beauty back to her.
10. Be her hero. Each day, your wife holds out to you her intense, God-given, little-girl desire (and right) to be treasured. Each day, she’s threatened on all sides by an offensive and abusive world. And each day—with kind words and faithful eyes—we, too, can be our wife’s protector and hero.
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The preceding is based on an excerpt from the newly revised For Men Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Women by Shaunti Feldhahn.