Was your guy raised as a traditional, stoic, man's man? If so, let WebMD walk you through 18 relationship secrets, gathered from psychologists who study gender roles. Secret No. 1: It may be easier for your man to talk about feelings indirectly. Ask what he'd do during a romantic weekend. Or what he thought the first time he met you. His answers will reveal how he feels and bring you closer.
Some men prefer to show their feelings through actions rather than words. Your guy may say "I love you" by fixing things around the house, tidying up the yard, or even taking out the trash -- anything that makes your world a better place.
Men have a reputation for being afraid to commit. But the evidence suggests men take marriage seriously. They may take longer to commit because they want to make sure they are onboard for good. In a survey of currently married men, 90% say they would marry the same woman again.
When you're listening to someone talk, you probably chime in with a "yes" or "I see" every now and then. It's your way of saying, "I'm listening." But some guys don't do this. Just because a man isn't saying anything doesn't mean he's not listening. He may prefer to listen quietly and think about what you're saying.
Men strengthen their relationships with their partners through doing things together, more than by sharing thoughts or feelings. For many men, activities like sports and sex make them feel closer to their partner.
While shared activities are important, men also need time for themselves. Whether your guy enjoys golf, gardening, or working out at the gym, encourage him to pursue his hobbies, while you make time for your own. When both partners have space to nurture their individuality, they have more to give to each other.
If you want to know how a man will act in a relationship, get to know his dad. How they are with each other and how the father relates to his own partner can predict how a man will relate to his wife.
Women tend to remember negative experiences longer and may have lingering feelings of stress, anxiety, or sadness. In contrast, men are less likely to dwell on unpleasant events and tend to move on more quickly. So while you may still want to talk about last night's argument, your guy may have already forgotten about it.
Men are more likely to miss subtle signals like tone of voice or facial expressions. And they are especially likely to miss sadness on a woman's face. If you want to make sure your guy gets the message, be direct.
Showing appreciation for your guy can make a big difference in the way he acts. Take parenting: Studies show that fathers are more involved in care-giving when their wives value their involvement and see them as competent.
OK, so maybe this one is no secret. Most men under age 60 think about sex at least once a day, compared with only a quarter of women. And that's not all. Men fantasize about sex nearly twice as often as women do, and their fantasies are much more varied. They also think more about casual sex than women do. But thinking is not the same as doing.
It's a myth that most men think sex is just sex. For many, sex is a very important act between two committed people. And just like most women, men find sexual intimacy to be most satisfying within a committed relationship. One reason is that long-term partners know how to please one another better than strangers do.
Most guys feel as though they're the ones who always initiate sex. But they also like to be pursued and wish their partner would take the lead more often. Don't be shy about letting your guy know you're in the mood. Initiating sex some of the time may lead to a higher level of satisfaction for both of you.
Men, much to many women's surprise, aren't always in the mood for sex. Just like women, men are often stressed by the demands of work, family, and paying the bills. And stress is a big libido crusher. When a guy says, "not tonight," it doesn't mean he's lost interest in you. He just means he doesn't want to have sex right then.
Your pleasure is important to your man. But he won't know what you want unless you tell him. Too many women feel uncomfortable talking about what they like and don't like. If you can tell him clearly in a way that doesn't bruise his ego, he'll listen. Because he knows he'll feel good if you feel good.
Most men get performance anxiety on occasion, especially as they age. Your guy may worry about his body, technique, and stamina. If you can help him learn to relax and stay focused on the pleasures of the moment, sex will become less stressful.
If a man doesn't feel loved and appreciated in his relationship, he may turn elsewhere for satisfaction. For one man, that may mean burying himself in work. Another may develop a fixation on sports or video games. And some men cheat. To avoid this, partners need to work together to meet each other's needs.
Most men realize there's a lot to lose if a long-term relationship goes sour -- not just each other's company, but the entire life you've built together. If you're willing to work to strengthen your marriage, chances are your man will be, too.
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- American Psychological Association: "APA's 2007 Annual Convention: What Men Want," "Keeping Them Hooked In," "Fatherhood Balancing Act Takes a Toll on Men's Health."
- Chapman, G. The 5 Love Languages, Moody, 2010.
- Edward O. Laumann, PhD, professor of sociology, University of Chicago; lead author, The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States.
- Maltz, D. and Borker, R. "A Cultural Approach to Male-Female Miscommunication," in A Cultural Approach to Interpersonal Communication, Blackwell Publishing, 2007.
- NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. Journal of Family Psychology, 2000; vol 14: pp 200-219.
- Steven Nock, professor of sociology, University of Virginia; author Marriage in Men's Lives.
- Oregon Counseling: "Understanding the Difference Between Men and Women."
- UUWorld.org: "How Husbands Say I Love You."