Guys have emotional needs, too.
By Mitzi Bockmann — Last updated on Nov 20, 2023
Photo: pink panda / Shutterstock
There are so many articles written about what wives need to stay happy, but rarely do we talk about what husbands need to hear on a regular basis.
It’s not that your husband doesn’t think his own affirmation and contentment aren’t important. It’s just that the old adage, “A happy wife means a happy life” is often very important to men — and lots of women have used this phrase in order to close the gap between those old fashioned notions and the new, equal relationship we hope to achieve.
One of the things men are pressured to do is ignore their own needs. And doing that over a long period of time can lead to their own unhappiness and resentment and can cause a marriage to really struggle.
Here are 5 phrases husbands need to hear their wives say on a regular basis so they feel loved and supported.
It doesn’t have to happen every day or every week (though that might be nice!). But you should try to do it as regularly as possible, at the very least once per month.
1. ‘Thank you.’
Once, during a fall fair that my friend and I had organized, I ran into her husband and their three kids. The kids were young and hard to manage and he looked exhausted. I asked him if anyone ever said “thank you” to him. He shook his head. I think about that moment a lot.
I know that saying “thank you” to your husband for helping out seems like something that you shouldn’t have to do. After all, no one ever thanks you. And your husband often doesn’t do things the way you want him to. That can be extremely frustrating, so sometimes it’s hard to appreciate them.
But recognizing the things that your husband does to support you is very important. Why? Because everyone wants to be recognized for the efforts they make, even if those efforts might not be exactly what you want them to be.
So, next time your husband covers for you when you need to be out of the house, thank him. If he does something that you’ve asked him to do, thank him. If he listens to you vent and gives you a shoulder to cry on, thank him. If he buys you a birthday present, thank him, even if it’s not something you like.
Think about how much you like it when someone says thank you. Do the same for your husband and you will be taking a big step toward keeping him happy.
2. ‘I love you.’
So many husbands and wives stop saying “I love you.” And it’s not always because they’ve stopped loving each other, but because they have started taking each other for granted. “I don’t have to tell her/him that I love him. He/she knows,” you may say. But failing to say the words is a recipe for disaster.
I remember when my ex and I were struggling. We still said, “I love you” when we hung up the phone or said goodbye in the morning. One day, I asked him not to. I said I wanted to save those words for special times between us and not use them by rote. And he agreed. But he wasn’t happy.
Our marriage was struggling but my ex-husband needed to hear that I still loved him. He needed to hear that, no matter how hard things got, that I still felt love for him. Not hearing it was devastating to him and made him feel like I didn’t love or appreciate him as much as I did.
Of course, he didn’t tell me that and, a few years later, he left. And one of the reasons he did, he told me, was because we “didn’t love each other anymore.”
Don’t end up in a failing marriage. Instead, make an effort to tell your husband that you love him, and make sure he knows it. While actions are important, so are words. So, it’s very important that he knows.
3. ‘You’re hot.’
This isn’t a surprise, but sex is very important for men. And, unfortunately, as married lives get crazy, sex often falls by the wayside. It can be very hard on a couple, especially on men.
And, as a result, to help them deal with this absence, “You’re hot” is one of those things that husbands need to hear on a regular basis. Why? Because they’ll know that, even if you’re not having very much sex, you desire him. And being desired, for men, can be as important as actually having sex.
Many men and women worry about being desirable as they age. Social media has played some pretty serious mind games with us as far as physical beauty, and that makes people very insecure. Also, sex has been redefined by the adult industry, something that makes men and women, alike, feel inadequate.
Just saying a simple “You’re hot” to him — whether it’s when he’s cooking dinner, taking out the garbage, or getting out of the shower — will remind him of just how attracted you are to him, no matter how many years later. Let him know that you still desire him, despite whatever mundane thing he’s doing.
4. ‘Go have fun.’
Be honest. How many times have you told your husband that it’s OK for him to go out and do something outside of the household, but secretly been resentful that they were doing so?
When my kids, who were born 20 months apart, were very young, my husband decided to set a goal of running the New York Marathon. An admirable goal and one that required a lot of effort. And a lot of training.
As a result, not only did he work long hours, but he also spent a lot of time running. Specifically, not at home with me and the kids but running. And I was not happy.
While I did tell him how I felt, I didn’t tell him the extent of it. I didn’t want to be unsupportive so I quietly simmered with resentment. As a result, our marriage suffered in a big way.
I wish that I had been able to embrace the things that he wanted to do instead of feeling resentment for them. I wish that I had been able to honestly say, “Go have fun,” and be happy that he was doing whatever he was doing.
So, if you find that you don’t support your husband’s activities outside of the family, dig deep and find a way to let him do things without resentment. Remind yourself that everyone needs to do things for themselves sometimes, and that it has nothing to do with you.
5. ‘I’m proud of you.’
The final phrase husbands need to hear on a regular basis is that you’re proud of them.
Much like “I love you,” men and women get somewhat complacent when it comes to recognizing their partner’s achievements. Again, they think they don’t have to say anything because they believe that their partners know how they feel.
Unfortunately, the opposite is true — almost everyone needs to hear that their person is proud of them.
For many men, their self-esteem is achievement-based. While women thrive on emotional connection, for many men, accomplishment is the thing that makes them feel good about themselves. And to be recognized by their person for their accomplishments feels really good!
One of the worst things you can tell your husband is that he’s done a really bad job at something, particularly if he did a pretty good job but didn’t do it the way you wanted it done. Criticism like that can often destroy relationships, and that’s not what you want.
Of course, it’s important to give your partner feedback if you would like things done differently, but don’t do it with derision. Do it in a positive supportive way, so that he will hear you and do things the way you want them done the next time.
And when he does things differently, make sure that you tell him how proud of him you are and that you appreciate the thoughtful effort.
Knowing the phrases that husbands need to hear on a regular basis is the key to keeping a marriage healthy and happy.
Men are pretty easy to keep happy, and saying these phrases on a regular basis will go a long way toward doing so. All of these phrases are things that you would like to hear as well. So, try them out on your husband and see if you start hearing them back.
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Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate who works exclusively with women to help them be all they want to be. Mitzi’s bylines have appeared in The Good Men Project, MSN, PopSugar, Prevention, Huffington Post, and Psych Central, among many others.