In my relationship, I tend to do most of the talking. I can’t help it, I’m a woman. In our conversations, my hubby and I talk mostly about the kids (natch), work, upcoming appointments, weekend warrior home projects, my never-ending to-do lists, blah blah blah. And my sweet guy typically just smiles and listens to me chatter on. But when it comes to communicating, there are some surprising things all men want to hear from their partners that have nothing to do with to-do lists.
It’s not that men never speak. In fact, a study reported in Time found that men are more vocal when it comes to public speaking than women are. When it comes to relationships and friendships, though, women are far more talkative than their male counterparts. Since you can’t conduct all of your private convos in a boardroom, you’ll need to learn the things that men wish you would tell them. I spoke to a variety of men IRL to find out what they want to hear from their partners, and their answers were truly surprising; for one thing, what guys want to hear isn’t all sex-related (although some of it totally is). Start incorporating some of these ideas in your banter between you and your husband, and you might find that your conversations (and your relationship) improve dramatically.
1. “I’m proud of you.”
Hands down, most of the men crowdsourced for this story all wanted to feel that their partners were proud of them. “When I accomplish something, at work or as a dad, it feels extra special when my wife tells me that she’s proud of me for it,” says Carl P. “And it makes me strive harder to do better.”
2. “You look so handsome right now.”
It feels pretty awesome when your honey tells you how beautiful you look. Repay the compliment and tell him how attractive he is as well. “I try to make an effort to look good for our date nights,” says Luis R. “And I love it when my wifey squeezes my butt and tells me I look good, too.”
3. “I appreciate that you took out the trash.”
Sometimes, it’s the simple things in life that are the most meaningful. “It’s my ‘job’ to take out the trash every night, and I really don’t like doing it,” laments Craig A. “She doesn’t always say it, but when she thanks me for hauling the trash cans to the curb, it makes doing it less repulsive.”
4. “It’s going to be okay.”
“We’ve had some financial hardships lately, and I’ve tried being the leader of my family and not showing how stressed I am,” admits James P. “I cried when my wife told me that we were going to be okay. I needed to hear it.”
5. “I only want to be with you.”
If you thought that you were the only one who needed reassurance in the relationship, think again. Says Evan B: “I think most guys are more insecure than women realize. Hey, there are a lot of good-looking guys out there. Knowing that your woman only wants you makes me feel more confident.”
6. “You make me happy.”
“Marriage can be tough on a marriage, if you know what I mean,” quips Alan C. “There are days when you’re just in survival mode. But on the days when we can find time to hold hands or laugh about something, I can see in my wife’s eyes that she’s happy to be with me. And I feel happy in return.”
7. “I love when you hold me.”
Yes, those big strong arms sure are sexy, but guys want to be held, too. Taylor D. claims, “Not gonna lie, it’s usually after sex, but when your wife holds you, it takes the sex —and the relationship— to a new level.”
8. “I respect you.”
No, we’re not talking about outdated marriage ideals. “Having a partner who respects you as a person makes the relationship worth it,” says Cameron H. “But in order for it to work, you have to respect your partner right back.”
9. “I need a hug.”
Men get a bad rap for always wanting to get it on — and for the most part, they bring it on themselves. But when your guy comes in for a cuddle, don’t assume that he’s looking to get laid. “Hugging my wife brings me peace,” reports Ian C. Aw.
10. “Babe, you look incredibly sexy.”
Want to put a little pep in your partner’s step? Alex H. advises telling your guy that you have the hots for him. “It’s not a prelude to sex… well, it can be,” he says. “But it makes me feel good to know that my beloved lusts for me, too.”
11. “What do you think?”
“Sometimes, I feel like my wife only wants me to listen to her and just agree with everything she says,” admits Erik E. “When she asks for my opinion, it makes me feel good about myself, like she really values what I think.”
12. “I love you the way you are.”
Men are imperfect just like the rest of us. “I’m far from perfect, although I’d never openly admit that, least of all to my wife,” jokes Mikell S. “But since she’s married to me, she knows that. What I love is that she doesn’t point out my flaws, and accepts me for who I am.”
13. “I apologize.”
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t apologize easily. But when I do, I see that my sweetie is happier for it. While I prefer to always be right (because, well, who wouldn’t?), I know that saying I’m sorry can go a long way for making a relationship stronger. Michell R., you’re welcome.
14. “Have fun tonight.”
“The first time my then-girlfriend, now wife, said this to me, I knew I was going to marry her,” Emil K. said. “In my experience, my past girlfriends were always possessive, so when Loretta actually told me to go have fun with my buddies, I fell in love with her more.”
15. “I believe in you.”
“About a year ago, I had what I’d classify as an early mid-life crisis,” says David V. “I decided to do a career 180 and plunge myself into a new field. My wife, saint that she is, told me that she believed I could do it, and it made all the difference in the world.”
It’s easy to get into a routine when it comes to your relationship, particularly when you’re balancing work life and family life. Make it a point to say something genuine, loving, and kind to your partner, if not daily then fairly frequently. It just might rescue your relationship.