A Men Only Monday Post
Your wife’s desire for a deeper emotional connection is actually a desire for more of you.
In this current series, I’m looking at the results of my current poll on husbands’ and wives’ number one need in marriage. In last week’s Wives Only Wednesday post, I told about the need the husbands chose by almost half of husbands: having a satisfying sex life.
Today I’m writing to husbands about the need wives picked more than any other: having a close emotional connection.
Emotional intimacy was chosen as the number one need by 40% of the wives who took my survey. If I include a number of “write-in” answers that were very closely associated with emotional intimacy, that number rises to 46%. Almost half – very nearly mirroring the percentage of husbands who chose sex as their number one need.
These results may seem a bit stereotypical, but the numbers don’t lie.
(By comparison, the next closest need in the results for wives was “Feeling cared for,” indicated as most important by 13% of wives.)
So how are husbands doing at meeting this need? More than one in three wives who chose emotional intimacy as their most important need rated their husbands as failing to meet that need (37% of these wives gave their husbands a 1, 2, or 3 on a ten-point scale.) One in five husbands were doing well, given a 7-10 out of 10. The rest, 41% were somewhere in the middle.
Get Engaged (Again)
I asked in my survey for each person to describe what it would look like to have their number one marital need met. The wives’ who chose emotional intimacy as their top need had answers that were remarkably similar.
Those who did not have good emotional intimacy in their marriages expressed wanting their husbands to be more engaged.
What kind of engagement? For most it came down to better communication:
- listen more, listen better, really hear her
- talk more, talk deeper, share on an emotional level
- have real conversations about topics important to her
- pay attention, eye contact, be attentive
I get it that for you as a man these may not come naturally. It doesn’t matter if it’s natural for you or not, you need to learn to do it and do it well, because it matters to your wife.
If your wife told you that she didn’t naturally think about sex and wasn’t naturally inclined to be sexual, would you let her of the hook when it comes to sexual intimacy? No way! It’s not any different the other way around. (By the way, wives who use that excuse also have to learn to be more sexually engaged, because it matters a lot to most husbands, but that was last week’s post.)
It’s often said that women are talkers and men are doers, or that women want emotional intimacy and men want sexual intimacy. These stereotypes are formed on the basis of some truth. While I know plenty of marriages where the husband is more into talking than the wife, the results of my poll indicate that a lot of wives don’t feel like their husbands understand or care about their need for emotional connection.
The bottom line here is that if your wife’s most important need is going mostly or totally unmet, that is not a formula for a strong, sustainable marriage. Doing nothing about it is not an option.
She Wants More Of You
The fact is that whether you feel it or not, you and your wife are one. You became one when you got married. But here’s the thing. Intimacy is about being fully known and unconditionally loved. If you have only surface level intimacy because you are withholding yourself from your wife emotionally, the intimacy in other dimensions of your marriage will suffer. Yes, that includes sex.
The best marriages enjoy deep intimacy in every dimension: emotional, physical, spiritual, financial, intellectual, etc. When one or more dimensions are missing from the intimacy equation, you will feel a tear in the fabric of your oneness.The best marriages enjoy deep intimacy in every dimension: emotional, physical, spiritual, financial, intellectual… When one or more dimensions are missing from the intimacy equation, you will feel a tear in the fabric of your… Click To Tweet
Here’s an important truth that many men miss: emotional intimacy is not just something for your wife. It’s important for you too. It’s a critical part of how you and your wife stay connected and keep your marriage strong for the long haul. It’s true in the same way that sexual intimacy is for both of you, even if it is a stronger felt need for you.
When you give more of yourself emotionally, you can expect that your wife will respond by giving more of herself sexually. But be careful that you aren’t giving just to get something back. Give yourself emotionally out of the love you have for your wife and because she needs it in order to feel loved by you.
Your wife wants more engagement and deeper emotional intimacy because she wants more of you.
One Thing You Can Do
I can hear your excuses. “I am not a talker.” “I’m no good at this sharing thing.” “I have a hard time expressing emotions.” “I often don’t even know what I’m feeling.”
I understand that for some of you communicating isn’t your best skill, but here is one thing you can do.
Sit down with your wife, just the two of you where you won’t be interrupted. Take her hand. Look her in the eyes. Tell her you know that emotional connection is important to her and that you haven’t done a great job in that area (assuming that is true). Tell her you may not be great at it, but thatyou want to improve. Tell her it’s important to you because she is important to you.
One thing that is very important for me and Jenni as we try to maintain emotional intimacy in our marriage is to have at least a few minutes every day to connect with each other. Sometimes, on crazy-busy days, it doesn’t happen until we drop into bed. Even when we are dead tired, which seems to be often, we still try to talk and hold each other a little before we drift off to sleep. If your wife enjoys physical touch as one of her love languages, this connection time is a good opportunity to touch her in a nonsexual way (hold her, snuggle together, stroke her hair or arm or thigh gently, etc.)
Guys – have a talk with your wife about the level of emotional connection in your marriage. Be brave and ask her how you are doing. Don’t be defensive. Ask her what would make her feel emotionally connected to you. Really listen without defending. Tell her you want to work on it together, and set it in your heart to spend at least ten minutes every day connecting in ways that are meaningful to her.