How well do you really know your wife? I don’t mean the color of her hair and her eyes, or where she was born and went to school. That’s her biography, her exterior. But what about her inner life, her thoughts and feelings, hopes and fears? Knowing the answers to these seven questions will help you understand and love her well. They will help you tune into your wife.
1. What is her love language?
What means most to her: touch, time, talking, gifts, or completing the honey-dos? If you have not yet read Gary Chapman’s classic book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, you simply must. It’s such a great resource and will help you identify the ways in which she best receives messages of love which also influences how she may be expressing it to you.
2. What is her biggest fear?
I’m not talking about being scared of heights or disliking going to the dentist—though you would do well to hold her hand tightly when you are on top of a tall building and to encourage her to floss. I mean the deeper, heart things that perhaps speak of her past: fear of abandonment or betrayal, or of not being a good enough mom. Many women struggle with comparing themselves to others. How can your words and actions help address her concerns?
3. What spells romance for her?
Sometimes when I see a guy at the grocery checkout with a bunch of flowers and a box of chocolates, I can’t help but wonder how much thought has really gone into the gesture. Maybe they are her favorites, but it seems a bit cookie-cutter. How would your wife respond? Maybe she’d prefer you to hold a duster rather than a bouquet: I’ve heard of research that found women felt more amorous when their men did the housework. It’s a reminder that our wives’ emotional engines are finely tuned and need the right fuel. For some fresh ideas, listen to my podcast 7 Love Actions For Your Spouse or try one of these 10 ways to romance your wife.
Aretha Franklin sang about her need for “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and she is not alone. Your wife needs to know that she is important; not just for what she does, but for who she is. You might start by making a point of thanking her for her actions—and generous words spoken in front of others can be especially meaningful. But also be sure to invite her opinions, acknowledging you value her wisdom. And what small actions communicate to her that she is cherished? A simple touch on the arm each time you pass can speak volumes.
Your wife needs to know that she is important; not just for what she does, but for who she is.
5. What does she enjoy doing?
We all have things that delight us, that recharge and energize our lives. Maybe if there are children in the house, it’s just an uninterrupted morning alone in bed and a hot bath. Perhaps she loves thrift shopping with friends. It could simply be alone time with you, talking heart to heart, or even doing yard work together. Whatever it is, are you helping create the time and space to make it possible? What do you need to sacrifice so she can enjoy?
6. What makes her laugh?
Research has proved the old adage: Laughter is the best medicine. Exercising our funny bone is good for our health. But I have noticed that, for many couples, the longer they are together, the less they laugh. Somehow the busyness and seriousness of life seems to take over. Whether it’s your spontaneous silliness or a romantic comedy, find the thing that will lighten her spirits on a regular basis. You could start by discovering her favorite comic strip and reading that together each day, or just finding her tickle spot.
7. What does she struggle with most in your marriage?
This one may take the most courage to respond to, but chances are you know the answer, deep down. It’s that area that maybe makes you anxious or defensive when she goes there. Financial struggles, parenting challenges, or feeling a lack of intimacy. Her insecurity may bring up in your feelings of inadequacy, but don’t turn away. Are you willing to step into her doubts and fears, to do what you can and must to help, to be strong with and for her?
How many of these questions can you answer without having to ask her? And for those that you can’t, are you willing to take the risk of finding out? What “must know” fact would you add to this list and why?