What Makes Women Happy in Relationships
In our last blog we presented Drs. John & Julie Gottman’s research on what makes women happiest with the men in their lives. They discovered that most women are looking for men who are trustworthy, acknowledges feelings, is an understanding listener, and who attends physically to make her feel safe.
The reality is that many women in long term relationships actually feel lonely, insignificant, unappreciated, and unloved. They question whether the man in their life is really there for them and can be counted on to come through in the tough times. This loneliness leaves many women sad, vulnerable, feeling unsafe, bored, angry, and resigned to stay in an unhappy relationship far below the ideal one in her dreams. These intense feelings overflow into words and actions that create even more conflict, tension, and pain. It often feels hopeless that it can be different.
But, we know we can’t control others, and that any significant change has to start within us and with actions that are within our control. So, look at these few tips on how you can start making small changes now that could pay off in big ways and increase your relationship happiness. Let’s begin by telling the other side of the story.
What Makes Men Happy in Relationships
Going back to our last blog, we not only quoted research on what makes women happy, we also revealed a few things about research on what makes men happy in relationships with women. We found that most men truly long to make the woman in their life happy. Personally, many men want 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 Man’s Guide to Women” by Drs. John & Julie Gottman). So, a good starting place might be trying to meet these needs for the man in your life. I know. It just feels like one more thing that’s on you, but humor me and read on.
1. Make more emotional deposits than emotional withdrawals.
If you hear your husband or partner say things to you like “you’re never happy”, take a pause and consider if there may be some truth to the statement. Make note of how much you express appreciation for the positive things he does and praise him for his good qualities. These are “emotional deposits”. Think of complaints or criticisms as “emotional withdrawals”. Gottman research shows that making five times more emotional deposits than withdrawals is the minimum needed to help a person feel appreciated. An 8:1 ratio is present in those couples who are “Masters” in relationships. So, fairly consider if the man in your life’s emotional bank account is full or overdrawn and how you can use your words to build him up.
2. Be Gentle With Your Words and Ask for Help
Gottman research tells us the outcome of a conversation can be predicted with accuracy in the first three minutes of the engagement! A harsh startup to a conversation – one that is critical, demanding, and full of judgment - is pretty well doomed to end the same way.
Use “I” statements to invite your partner to help rather than demand action. HOW you make the invitation is especially important. Instead of “you” statements that imply that he has displeased you, learn to state a positive need, something you’d like to have rather than something you want to stop. “When we do the dishes together I get to hear more about your day” sounds more inviting and accepting than “Can you get off the couch and stop being so lazy”. Gentle, inviting words are pleasing to hear and helps him stand with you to make you happy and meet your need. The more specific the ask the better likely he is to clearly understand.
3. Increase the intimacy.
Remember, men long to feel desired, wanted, and adored by the woman in their life. Be the one to initiate physical intimacy more often and you may see your husband relax and be more attentive to your needs as well. When he knows he’s desired by you, he may feel more vulnerable to express emotions, be a better listener, and be curious about what makes you happy.
These are just a few tips on how to grow and maintain a strong friendship and emotional connection in your relationship. Working together as a team with a strong friendship as the foundation increases trust, dependability, understanding, and safety – all the things that most women need to feel happier and more satisfied with the men in their life. And it helps you to see your husband fairly, building small successes that lead to happier memories.
Challenging? Maybe trust has been broken by a betrayal or an affair, and your friendship has been shattered. Harsh, contemptuous words flow more freely from a wounded, broken heart. There is still hope. In our Marathon Couples Therapy, we devote the time needed to rebuild trust and commitment and address the trauma of betrayal, addiction, or infidelity. Contact us today at 850.450.7223. We know how to help.
Read our last blog 3 Things Men Can Do to Have a Happy Relationship
Schedule an appointment to work through other relationship challenges like communication and conflict in our client portal here.
Until next time!
Dianne Presley, LCSW, Board-Certified Telemental Health Provider
Believe, Hope, Wellness Services LLC
Anxiety, Depression, Grief & Loss, and Relationship Therapy
Gottman Level 1 and Level 2 Training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy
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