Updated: Mar 22
How to have less conflict and more sex
What Makes Men Happy in Relationships
Relationship researchers Drs. John and Julie Gottman have documented what many people already know about what makes men happy in relationships. In their book “The Man’s Guide to Women” they tell us:
“We’ve already defined from our research what it is men want: less fighting and more sex. But in a more general way, a man wants to be desired and to feel like the woman in his life wants him, adores him, and approves of him just the way he is.” -The Gottmans “The Man’s Guide to Women”
Many men in long term relationships feel lonely, unwanted, undesired, and distant from their partner. This disconnection leaves so many men vulnerable to outside relationships to find the admiration and attention they long to have. Or it leaves them resigned to loneliness and apathy about their relationship. If that’s you, here’s some tips on how to connect more intimately with your partner and create the relationship you long for and need.
What Makes Women Happy in Relationships
Along with what makes men happy in relationships, the Gottman research also found that women want men they can trust and depend on. Trustworthiness boils down to feeling that a man is honest, is there for her in times of distress, and is emotionally and intimately connected in the relationship. Women are lonely, too. Women want men to know them and to desire to know them in a deeper way. They want men to listen and talk to them from their heart. When women know a man’s words are dependable and that he can be depended on to be there when she needs him, it feels safer. When they feel safer they feel free to be vulnerable. And when they feel safe and free to be vulnerable, they offer kindness, compliments, and connection both emotionally and physically.
How Do You Meet these Needs?
Sometimes giving is the key to receiving. What I see happen a lot in counseling sessions is that when a man pays attention to what makes a woman feel safer and more emotionally connected, the result is a woman who has less to complain about, feels more emotionally and physically attracted to her partner, and expresses appreciation for the authentic love and intimacy she feels. Here’s a few tips from the research and what I see often in relationship counseling sessions:
1. Be Trustworthy - Women want a man they can trust. Keeping promises, being where you say you’ll be, telling the truth even if it makes you look bad, and taking responsibility when you mess up are all ways trust is built. Actions that betray trust are breaking promises, being deceitful, lying, being fake, dismissing her feelings, not taking responsibility when you know you’ve done wrong. How do you build trust? -
If you’re caught in a lie, break a promise, or miss a bid for connection just take responsibility for it. Especially if she points it out!
Repair the broken trust by fixing it if you can
Make it up to her by doing something you know she wants you to
Don’t do it again
When you take ownership of your part in the conflict and validate the broken trust you have created, your partner feels safer and willing to be vulnerable with you both emotionally and physically. There is less conflict. And you get the good feeling of knowing you are a man that can be trusted. When women feel safe they can be more vulnerable to share their words of love and admiration for their partner so it’s a win for you too!
2. Acknowledge her feelings and listen to understand – A woman’s feelings can be big, loud, intense, and really scary to a man. A lot of men take responsibility for these feelings and set out to squelch the negativity and intensity by solving the problem or telling her how she should feel. WRONG! Instead of becoming impatient, irritable, or withdrawing until she gets over it, just try this Gottman method of ATTUNE:
Attend to her feelings which means giving her your undivided attention. Make eye contact, turn away from your phone, the TV, or whatever else has your attention and focus on her.
Turn Toward her emotion instead of away to show you care. Face her.
Understand – Instead of just saying “I understand” ask questions to find out more about how she feels
Nondefensively Listen – Quiet the desire to defend, explain yourself, or interrupt. Listen to her reality and her feelings in the moment. The Gottman’s say “Listening is sexier than talking”.
Empathize – The emotional brain calms down when it feels connected so express empathy “I can see why you feel that way”, “It must be hard to feel that way”. Remember you want her to feel safe and that you care enough to listen when she is upset.
“Listening is sexier than talking.” – John and Julie Gottman, “The Man’s Guide to Women”
3. Increase safety by attending physically - Research tells us that women feel more emotionally and physically vulnerable in the world than men do. Times where a man has left a woman defenseless or unprotected increase the distrust in a relationship. When men know this fact, they can offer their presence as a comfort when a woman needs it. Putting yourself between her and a dangerous situation, being attentive to her in a crowd, not putting her in dangerous situations, and using your voice to soothe not intimidate are all ways you can increase a woman’s safety, show her you can be depended on, and increase her trust in you. When this physical trust in you is broken, it may take several times when you come through for her to overcome the fear it produces. Be patient. Help her feel safe.
These are just a few ways you can invest in the things that are important to the woman in your life. The return on your sincere, authentic investment in these areas will be increased happiness and relationship satisfaction, less conflict, and more intimacy.
There’s a lot of other ways to think about relationships. Want to know more about healthy, happy relationships? Find out more on my other blogs on relationships and check out my resources page for books about the topic. Need help repairing damage done or implementing these new tools? Just give me a call at 850.450.7223 or schedule an appointment here.
Dianne Presley, LCSW, BC-TMH
Believe, Hope, Inspire Wellness Services LLC
Anxiety, Depression, Loss and Relationship Therapy
Gottman Level 1 and Level 2 Training in Couples Method Therapist
Gottman Training in Traumas and Affairs and in Couples in Addiction
Gottman Educator in 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work and Bringing Baby Home
Certified Brain Based Success Coach