How well do you know your wife?


June 28, 2016

Okay, big man, well, certainly, you know these things, so I am just refreshing your memory. So here are two other things we wives want you to know about us.

Wives need to be known - For a woman, being understood means having her feelings validated and accepted. That's not as easy as it sounds. I'm a psychologist. I often spend my day doing just that with my clients. I know how to empathise with a person's pain, to feel his or her feelings and convey understanding. But when it comes to my marriage, Nalo, like most of you husbands - he wants to solve my problems instead of understanding them. Your wives will tell you about something and you will passively listen until you have heard enough and then you will offer advice. You'll lecture instead of listen.

Husbands, to meet your wife's important needs, you must actively listen to her, reflecting back to her what she is saying and feeling, and genuinely wanting to understand her. This point cannot be overemphasised: Women need to have their feelings validated and accepted. They need to have you see and experience the world the way they do, instead of explaining to them why they shouldn't see it that way.

Men, I know you have a tough time realising that offering a listening ear is all a woman needs at times; or a comforting hug, a loving statement like "You are hurting, aren't you?" or, "You are tired, let me do that."

Listening to your wife talk without offering quick solutions is the only way to meet her need to be known.

They need to be respected - Men, you are usually quite unaware of how much women need to be respected. Why? Because when men are not respected, they react very differently. A man who doesn't feel respected is apt to become self-righteous and indignant. He feels even more worthy of respect when others don't respect him.

Women operate differently when we are not respected. We feel insecure and lose our sense of self. That is why it is so vital for you to take special care of your wife's need for respect.

Do not try to change or manipulate her, but rather, honour her needs, wishes and values. One woman, because of her upbringing, valued having her door opened for her by her husband. It meant a lot to her, and she asked her husband to do it. He never took her request seriously; "You're joking, right?" That's why they put power locks on the door." This husband weakened his opportunity to meet one of his wife's deepest needs.

Respecting your wife also means including her in decisions. I have known men who will make decisions about taking jobs in another parts of the island without even consulting their wives. Husbands, build your wife's self-esteem and sense of security by asking for her input whenever you can. When you make a decision that might affect her, say: "I'm thinking about doing this, what do you think? Respect says, "I support you, you are valuable to me, and you don't have to be any different from who you are." In return for this respect, a woman will be able to relax. She will not have a compulsive need to prove herself as an equal. What a wonderful way to live with a woman!

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