Obviously, there will be quite a bit of satire in this post and we don’t actually want you to ruin your wife’s day, but the serious part is this: we want to highlight some key gender differences between guys and gals.
Perhaps some of you are like Caleb – you came to marriage having been raised in an all-boys family, and educated in an all-boys school while going to an all-boys church… only to discover that women have certain sensitivities that aren’t even on your male radar….
Before we start, we want you to know that we believe in the equality of women and men and that your wife is worthy of respect at all times and without exception. We also believe that teasing mixed with sarcastic truth is a form of verbal abuse. However, we both enjoy teasing each other and being teased. There is a healthy way to do that. So that’s our disclaimer, and without further ado, let’s get to the top three ways to ruin your wife’s day!
Number One: Miss your lunch date with her. Later, have your secretary call, or text to apologize.
A few researchers did a study of college women and men, asking what they wanted in a marriage partner. They were asking about qualities one would want in a spouse and looking for qualities where there were gender differences and where women, in particular, placed a higher emphasis.
One of those qualities was intelligence. Really, we can’t do much about our intelligence! The other two qualities are ones we want to emphasize: women desired a spouse who would be considerate and dependable. That’s why the best way to ruin your wife’s day is to completely let her down.
Women don’t need men (in our culture) for food, housing, and basic necessities – they can get these things on their own. What they do want is a man who is dependable as a husband for themselves and a father for their children.
So, if you want to ruin your wife’s day, just make sure you’re not dependable. Don’t keep your commitments. Don’t follow through with what you promise. Let her down.
The other thing women want is a husband who is considerate. That just means being careful not to cause inconvenience or hurt to others. This is about being very thoughtful of your spouse. It will delight your wife if you are a husband who is a considerate person – you are intentional about thinking about her, her needs, her concerns and how your actions and choices impact her.
Being inconsiderate will most definitely ruin her day because it’ll feel like you don’t care about her. It can feel dismissive and make her feel neglected. Being considerate though requires you to take those moments to pause and consider her so that she is not inconvenienced or hurt.
Really, these are gentlemanly qualities.
Guys: your wife may be the type to like some grease under your fingernails, or she may like you in a tweed coat with a stack of essays under your arm as you come through the door. Regardless, what she really wants is to be married to a gentleman.
So be considerate. But also, be dependable.[i]
Number Two: Take her for granted. Best started the day after you get back from your honeymoon.
Not being considerate can be like taking your wife for granted, but we want to drill a little deeper into this second way to best ruin your wife’s day. Women just love being taken for granted… NOT!
News flash here for you husbands: most men come into marriage with the belief that their wife will keep working on the relationship. Actually, women are significantly more likely than men to carry the belief that couples stop working on their relationship when they marry.
In fact, studies of marital and dating relationships have repeatedly shown that women report lower levels of overall satisfaction and need fulfillment than men. Most women are less satisfied with their marriages than men are.[ii]
Why is this?
This is, in part, because women are more sensitive to conflict, tensions and unmet expectations in their romantic relationships. On top of this, women are expected to do most of the emotion-work of most romantic relationships.
So, men, this is a wake-up call for you. Both of you create the marriage that you have. It is time to step up to the plate, to be men and to lead in your relationship. That does not mean dominate or boss or be the dictator. Lead your relationship, not your wife. Take ownership of the quality of your marriage and work with your wife to always keep that marital satisfaction turned up high.
Because if you want to ruin your wife’s day, all you have to do is get married and then just take her for granted. Don’t show interest or motivation in making your relationship as awesome as possible. Don’t treat her special. Don’t act like you’re especially attracted to her. Don’t bother acknowledging her significance as your only beloved and as the mother of your children.
Just, you know, get her to produce an income so you can buy more toys, encourage her to stay on top of the dishes, laundry, dirty diapers, and so on.
NO! That’s all wrong. You have to romance your wife.
So let us give you an easy way to do that, as well as a little hint for you.
Women are more aware of the presence and absence of compliments in their romantic relationships.[iii] Compliments, to sound nerdy, are just a speech act that allows for intimate talk and sharing positive feelings that contribute to and/or reflect the overall satisfaction and value of the relationship.
So when you pay for wife a compliment – That was an awesome supper, babe! – or, You look cute in that! – you’re sending a very clear signal that says you’re satisfied with her.
Number Three: Pass a comment about her less than perfect body, and then hit her up for some action that night!
This is very important, but also a little complicated, so let’s look into it.
In one study, researchers asked spouses to complete a one-page diary in which they responded to the question, “Thinking about the next 24 hours, how satisfied do you expect to be with your sex life?”
They took out as many variables as they could to just isolate wives’ expectations for sexual satisfaction. They found that the more satisfied a wife expected to be, the more satisfied she became. The less satisfied she expected to be, the less satisfied she became. The expectation, for husbands, did not predict satisfaction in any way.
This tells us that how your wife feels about her sexuality is very, very important. She needs to feel both sexually competent and also confident.
So, if you want to ruin your wife’s day, just take a crack at her confidence by making her feel uncomfortable in her own skin.
This is very sensitive stuff because now we’re into body esteem which I think is a pandemic issue amongst North American females.
Let’s talk to wives first: It’s standard fair to complain to your girlfriends about your body. We think you should stop that. Your goal for your body should be to have it healthy, and you can decide what healthy looks like.
But here’s the point we really want wives to hear – learn to accept your husband’s love and appreciate for your body. Even if you don’t agree. If he appreciates it, don’t question that or try to talk him out of that. Ideally, you want to buy into that and be happy that he appreciates your body. Love him for that.
And to husbands: There is a wire that runs in a women’s brain straight from her body esteem over to her trust and jealousy signals. It doesn’t happen for men so you’re probably not seeing yourself do this but you can bet she is. Trust and jealousy are significantly associated with body esteem.[iv]
There is a much stronger connection for women between self or body esteem and their romantic relationships. What this means is body shape and weight concerns for your wife likely lead her to question your fidelity and may make her sensitive to perceptions of you flirting.
Your marriage should be a place that strengthens, builds up, encourages your wife towards a positive body self-image and positive self-esteem. Your wife wants to know that you find her sexy. If you’ve been nagging her about her weight, or rubbernecking at other women or flirting with the skinny waitresses… guess what? You’re probably getting less sex because you’re fuelling body image concerns for your wife.
Be sensitive to the pressures your wife is under in a culture that objectifies women and teaches them that their bodies allow them – or deny them – access to social goods including deeper romance with you.
There are three best ways to ruin your wife’s day. I’m sure there’s probably some jerk out there who’s going to find this list and use the ideas, so let’s be clear: this is only for you husbands out there who are gentlemen and who want to honour and cherish your wife. We’re glad you’re listening and so thankful for your interest in your marriage.
[i] Sarah O’Reilly, David Knox, and Marty Zusman, “What College Women Want in a Marriage Partner,” College Student Journal 43, no. 2 (June 2009): 503–6.
[ii] Deborah A. Abowitz et al., “Beliefs About Romantic Relationships: Gender Differences Among Undergraudates,” College Student Journal 43, no. 2 (June 2009): 276–84.
[iii] Eve-Anne M. Doohan and Valerie Manusov, “The Communication of Compliments in Romantic Relationships: An Investigation of Relational Satisfaction and Sex Differences and Similarities in Compliment Behavior,” Western Journal of Communication 68, no. 2 (Spring 2004): 170–94.
[iv] Suman Ambwani and Jaine Strauss, “Love Thyself Before Loving Others? A Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Gender Differences in Body Image and Romantic Love,” Sex Roles 56, no. 1–2 (January 2007): 13–21, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-006-9143-7.