We all know your husband came out ahead when he married you. But- and don’t take this personally!- husbands often feel they’ve given up some things once they’ve tied the knot, and we’re not talking about sleeping with different women. Since he won’t tell you what these are, our experts shared 10 things your guy’s secretly pining for, and how to give him more of what he wants without making yourself crazy.
1. Not explaining every purchase.
Your husband just won a vintage Kiss doll on eBay. For $200. Do you say “Congratulations” or “I thought we were saving for a vacation”? “Indulge your husband’s material desires sometimes, or else he doesn’t feel respected,” says Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, a psychologist and author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. Of course, budget-busting purchases or hobbies shouldn’t be the norm. But even then, don’t reprimand him. “Instead, say, ‘I want you to enjoy golfing. Can we find a way you can do it that works financially?'” suggests Dr. Lombardo.
2. Attending only one set of family events.
When he got hitched, the number of his family obligations likely doubled, while his supply of patience for cheek-pinching aunts remained the same. What to do? “It’s all about picking battles,” says Kristin B. Hodson, a psychotherapist and co-author of Real Intimacy: A Couple’s Guide to Healthy, Genuine Sexuality. Don’t make family plans without consulting him, and hammer out a balanced schedule for celebrating major holidays. If you’re traveling to your parents’ home for Christmas, for instance, maybe stay at a hotel instead of their house, so your man can still hog the bathroom like he does at home.
3. Looking unfashionable in public.
If your husband’s dorky wardrobe embarrasses you, the problem is mostly yours, says Dr. Lombardo. “What are you afraid of-being judged by other people based on what your husband wears?” Her advice: Let him choose his own threads on nearly all occasions, and make the best of it. If there’s a special event for which you want your husband to look a certain way, “give encouragement rather than orders,” advises Dr. Lombardo. “Tell him, ‘You look sexy in your chocolate-brown suede jacket,'” instead of “You’d better not wear the Members Only stuff again!”
4. Having a woman hang on every word of his stories.
“We feel important when people are wrapped up in what we’re saying,” says Dr. Lombardo. But it’s hard to be enthralled with your husband’s tales when you’ve heard ’em all before! Still, cutting off one of his repeat stories cuts him down. Try to share his excitement, she advises. Isn’t a minute of restraint well worth how special he’ll feel? Another idea: “When he comes home, run to give him a kiss, and ask him how his day was,” Dr. Lombardo advises. You’ll get to hear new stories for a change!
5. Being a slob.
Guys miss tossing things wherever they want without getting the evil eye, says certified relationship coach Stephanie D. McKenzie, author of The Book of Bye: 12 Little Things That Might Be Reasons to End it, But That You Probably Never Thought Were a Big Deal. “When you scold him over making a mess, you seem less like a partner and more like a parent,” she explains. If you can swing it, set aside an area where your man can be sloppy without consequences. And schedule chores for both of you so you’re not always picking up after him.
6. Having an entire bed to himself.
It has nothing to do with loving you! “They sometimes like spreading out,” says Dr. Lombardo. They also like the luxury of snoring (or worse) without anyone telling them to knock it off. A king-size mattress means you can each claim some real estate. Also, get a quilt that’s one size larger than your bed-“you won’t annoy each other by stealing it then,” explains Dr. Lombardo.
7. Not sharing in the stress of your day-or talking about his feelings.
You’re waiting anxiously for your husband to walk through the door so you can tell him about your frustrating colleagues. But this kind of download can feel overwhelming, cautions McKenzie. “They think their job is to fix the problem.” Give your husband a half-hour-long breather before bombarding him, and when you do, make it clear you’re seeking sympathy, not solutions. At the same time, know that men tend to prefer to sit silently when something’s bugging them. “If he’s on the couch looking glum but says nothing’s wrong, say, ‘I don’t believe nothing’s wrong, but I’ll leave you alone. If you want to talk, I’m here,'” recommends McKenzie.
8. His mom and her unconditional love.
This can be a good thing. “It means you’re not mothering and smothering him.” Still, he may pine for Mama’s outsized confidence in him. Don’t fill that void-instead, encourage him to call her every week and arrange occasional just-them outings. Show him you value his mom, too: “Go out with her once in a while, even if she’s not your favorite person, and ask her how to make your husband’s favorite dish, even if you think it’s awful,” McKenzie says.
9. Making little decisions.
Men often defer to their wives’ preferences once they get married because it’s an easy way to get along, says Dr. Lombardo. If you choose the radio station in the car, the painting on the wall and everything else, though, your man may feel disenfranchised. “Rather than always saying, ‘Hey, let’s watch this movie,’ try asking, ‘What movie would you like to watch?’ once in a while,” Dr. Lombardo advises. And if you really can’t stand your husband’s tastes in something more permanent, like furniture, at least go shopping together so you can compromise.
10. Openly checking out other women.
Men are visual creatures-giving a gorgeous woman a quick up-and-down is a hard-to-break habit. And if you get upset about it, your husband may feel guilty and fenced in. He’s just noticing and appreciating beauty-it doesn’t mean he wants to sleep with the woman,” says Dr. Lombardo. Try to shrug it off, as long as his double-takes aren’t frequent: “You could even say, ‘I know, she’s hot, right?'” says McKenzie. If he replies with “Not compared to you,” he’s a winner!