You get what you give.
When my wife and I got married, the priest gave us some advice. He said each of us should put the other above all else—including our children. If we did this—he assured us—we would be happy and no one in the family would ever need to “take care of their own needs.”
On a sunny spring morning with a big party and a long vacation just ahead of us, this challenge seemed like a no-brainer to us both. However, as days turn into weeks and weeks into years, it's very easy to slip into an, “I deserve to take care of myself” attitude.
With “man malaise” in mind, I give you a list of simple things you can do to remind your lady why she chose you. You’ve likely done some of these things, but we men are reactive creatures—the goal here is to be proactive … just because.
I can’t make any promises, but I bet if you do some—or all—of these things, your own needs will be taken care of and then some. Do make an effort to spread them out over time—too much of a good thing at once can quickly turn you from a hero into someone who looks guilty of something.
1. Shower her with flowers.
All grocery stores and most convenience stores sell flowers. Two dozen roses on Valentines Day is one thing—if not horribly cliche—but the man who comes through the door on a random weekday with a humble bunch of blooms in his hand is the man who blows his wife away.
Notice I said get flowers, not buy flowers. If you live in a city or it's winter, buying is your only option, however, there are free flowers out there. Keep a cheap pair of scissors in your glove box and look for wildflowers by the side of the road. Any ass-hat can slap down a credit card for cellophane wrapped plant life—’tis the real man who ventures from his vehicle to cut them for free from the side of the road on his drive home from a day’s work.
2. Make your own “honey-do” list.
We men keep lists in our heads. There are hundreds of things that need to be done around the house and we are aware of them. They’re on a list in our noggins—precisely where nobody can see them.
When asked about some neglected need—no matter how we answer—it's assumed we're bluffing.
Get out ahead of the bluff and make a short list. Grab a beer, a legal pad and a pencil, walk around the house and jot down some of the things that need doing. Don’t gloat, just do it. If she sees it great, if not—she’ll know all about it after you execute on number three.
3. Complete something on that list.
Once you have the list, start crossing shit off. Let’s be honest—much of the stuff on that list won’t take long at all, so look it over and attack. When you’re asked, “what are you doing?” simply reply, “I’m crossing stuff off the list.”
If you’re not handy, you can call a professional about items on the list. The whole point here is to show that you're invested in the desire to get things done and you're willing to step up.
Be vigilant about attending to the list regularly. When you’ve finished the first, make another list. As long as you’re making—and devouring—lists, you're much less likely to be given one.
4. Eliminate her worries.
If there was a pizza slice that showed how worry is shared across the minds of men and women—my slice would be so thin I’d starve. The worry of most women is like the iceberg that sank the Titanic—there’s the bit you can see, but the part that will rip a hole in your steel hull is hidden below the surface.
Let her know you’re aware she is worried about an issue. Perhaps it’s money related. You don’t need to make a million dollars or win the lottery—all you have to do is make an appointment with a financial planner—for the both of you—or pick up a book on the subject. If she knows you’re on board, the worry drops by several orders of magnitude.
Don’t ask, “What worries you?” Open your eyes and ears, you’ll figure it out.
5. Remove a task from her list.
This isn’t about the things that are on your list. That list is for things that are not part of your regular routine. This one is about taking on a task she expects to have to do herself. It could be you coming home an hour early and making dinner or cleaning some or part of the house ahead of visitors arriving.
To your woman, having a task she anticipates doing completed by surprise is akin to the same feeling she had as a kid—waking up to the snowy news that school was cancelled. Pure joy! Who doesn’t want to give that away?
6. Write her a note, card, or letter.
This is so easy. Grab a card from the store or make your own. Write a few sweet things you’ve been thinking about her and pop it in the mail to her at work or home.
Personal, physical mail is so rare these days that she’ll be completely caught off guard—in a good way. You can kick it up a notch by including a small gift card for coffee or a fun lunch place near her work.
7. Write her mom a note, card, or letter.
This one is the same as number six but with a different address. Tell your mother-in-law things about your wife that you love and admire. If telling your wife she’s acting “like her mother” is the nuclear weapon of marital arguments, then this is the Nobel Peace Prize and a winning lottery ticket rolled up into one.
8. Create an oasis for her to relax.
If we’re honest, our wives bear a disproportionate responsibility for the care of children. Nature designed it that way, but we have the power to disrupt nature—just look at global warming. How you do this depends on your situation, but here’s the idea.
Wait until you know she’s having a stressful day. Pick up some cheese, a baguette, some olives, and a bottle of wine. When she gets home, tell her you’re taking the kids out to McDonald's for dinner and she is to spend the next hour and a half relaxing in the bubble bath you’ve prepared.
When you get home, get the kids ready for bed, have them kiss mommy, and once they’re down, enjoy the grown-up dinner and what’s left of the wine together.
9. Try something she loves—that you don’t understand.
My wife likes lots of things I don’t get, like country music and playing solitaire on her phone. I know it sounds too simple, but making an effort to get to know an interest of your lady that you’ve dismissed for years is an incredibly powerful gesture.
No additional instruction here—you know what to do.
10. Go way above and beyond what’s expected.
I don’t know what this means to you because it’s all relative, but consider this the “big surprise party” of the list. This should be something that takes time to plan and finesse to execute. It might be sending her off for a spa day while you paint a room. Maybe it’s giving up something you enjoy so you can afford to hire a cleaning person once or twice a month.
Whatever it is, I suggest doing some of items one through nine before acting on number ten.
After all, you want her to be happy. Of course, if that’s not your desire, then this list probably isn’t for you.
This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.