One of the common questions on the Marriage and Divorce section of Yahoo Answers comes from husbands who don’t understand why their wife is reacting negatively to their romantic gestures. One husband recently asked Why does my wife not appreciate me?
Yesterday was my wifes birthday and I sent her flowers to her office. She threw a fit because they were not the flowers she was expecting. Really? First of all, i just sent her a big flower arrangement 2 weeks ago for our wedding anniversary. I didnt want to spend allot of money on these flowers because i am throwing her a suprise party this weekend. Plus I booked her a 3.5 hour massage and bought her a diamond necklace. She doesn’t know that because its a suprise.
The point I am trying to make is, isnt it the thought that counts? Just knowing I love her she be good enough? I think. But apparently it is not.
The answer to his question comes from understanding what women want. Men are taught repeatedly that what women want are gestures of investment, commitment, and love. Give her flowers, buy her an expensive dinner, write her a love letter, etc.
In fact these are things women want, but they don’t want them from just any man. They want them from a man they are attracted to. If you think about women’s fantasies as represented in romance novels, etc. you will see that women don’t fantasize about having a bevy of ordinary men falling over themselves to give her the most thoughtful gift. Women fantasize about winning the heart of the dashing hero, and ultimately having him acknowledge this with tokens of his investment, commitment, and love. These tokens give her comfort that she isn’t hopelessly pursuing an unavailable man. She wants him to feel too good to be true, but she also wants some reassurance that she isn’t just being conned.
What men are being taught is to skip the hero part and go straight to the expression of love. They are taught to offer comfort as a way to build attraction, instead of building attraction first and then offering comfort. It is no wonder that this not only doesn’t work, but often fails spectacularly.
If you try offering comfort without first generating attraction with a woman you aren’t already romantically involved with, the typical responses will be:
Aww, that’s really sweet. You are going to make some lucky girl (but not me) a great boyfriend/husband some day!
Or (same meaning):
Let’s just be friends.
Or, worst case scenario:
What a creep!
If you do this with your wife, the common responses are an inexplicable and irrational anger and frustration, and perhaps even contempt. Do this long enough, and you will eventually hear:
I love you but I’m not in love with you.
This last line is the worst of all coming from a wife, because it is a strong signal that a divorce is around the corner.
Fortunately there are things you can do to hopefully recover the situation. As with anything else, much of this will depend on how big a hole you are already in. This article assumes you aren’t in a really deep hole here, but that like nearly all husbands you and your wife are both frustrated that your attempts to make her feel loved are at times at least having a very different result.
As you may have guessed, what you need to do is generate more attraction. It could be that she only needs to feel a bit more attraction than she already does, but for most men it would be difficult to err on the side of too much attraction. Either way, as her husband you should be able to sense her changed response to you as you regain balance between comfort and attraction. While generating attraction is as much an art as it is a science, it isn’t as difficult or mysterious as it probably seems right now. This article isn’t intended to make you a black belt in seduction, but instead to explain the basic problem and get you started on the path to a much happier marriage.
Earlier I mentioned romance novels, and you may be thinking:
I can’t become a romance novel hero. Those men are caricatures of real men. Besides, I’m not secretly a wealthy prince, I’m not six foot seven with six pack abs, and I almost never ride a dashing steed while wielding a broadsword.
The good news is you don’t have to become a romance novel hero, you just have to become her hero. This is very similar to wives becoming discouraged when noticing that their husbands are attracted to super-models or Playboy Playmates. A woman doesn’t have to be perfect to arouse her husband, she just has to be his Playmate.
Hopefully you can look back on a time in your relationship with your wife when you could tell she was attracted to you. This might have been during your courtship, or perhaps more recently. During this time a romantic gesture like flowers from you would have given her that unmistakable gleam in her eye, and sincere delight. You don’t have to be the flawless hero of a romance novel, you just have to help her see you as her hero the way she did in the past.
Change the dynamic of your relationship.
Women are attracted to men who are leaders, especially men who are leading them. You probably know of cases which fit the cliché of wives falling in love with their bosses, and this is the mechanism which causes that pattern. You may or may not be a leader of men, but you absolutely need to become the leader of your household. This doesn’t mean becoming domineering, but more of a Captain and First Officer model. Women wanting a man to lead them is counterintuitive given that we live in a fully feminist age. But there is a difference between what women say and think they want in a man, and what their subconscious wants. Ignore the fundamentals of human psychology at your peril.
For your own comfort while you learn more you probably want to start off slowly here. Start making more decisions without seeking your wife’s approval. Learn not to be timid or afraid of her moods and reactions. Always remember that she wants you to be her rock, and you can’t be her rock if you are matching the whims of her emotions. Instead of timidly hugging her, playfully grab her around the waist and pull her into you so she can enjoy your strength. Stand tall. In your mind remember that you are a strong and worthy man, and keep that frame as you do these things.
More difficult but also essential is to respond when she challenges you. Be prepared for her to subconsciously test you to see if you really are cut out to lead the family. Is he the real deal, or a faker? Going back to the example of the romance novel, very often the fantasy involves the man taming the woman. This is also a common theme in literature, with Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew being just one example. While the taming is often dramatic and overt in literature, what you will want to do is much more subtle. You aren’t looking to break her spirit, but to show your own strength of spirit and conviction and in doing so show her that you are the man she can depend on, the rock she wants to cling to.
Recall the reaction of the wife to her husband sending her flowers at work in the beginning of the post. Many of the answerers on Yahoo pointed out that she was being a bitch. While I’ve explained the psychology behind her response, this is still the case; she responded like a spoiled child. Her husband needs to see this for what it is, a test of his will and leadership. Will he succumb to a childish rant and abandon principle out of fear of her emotions? He needs to see this as an opportunity to demonstrate that he really is her rock. He needs to calmly call her out on this, and by all means avoid the advice to apologize to her or follow up with even more gifts. When he does this she very likely will throw an even bigger fit, but if he holds firm with the right frame once she calms down she will begin to see him in a new light.* He finally stood up to her.
As I wrote above, this isn’t intended to make you an expert at generating attraction from your wife. Part of the challenge you have is that what you have been taught doesn’t work, but everyone knows that is just how it is. Because of this, there will be a learning curve and some time required to adjust to the new (accurate) mental model. I’ve included a variety of resources below with the understanding that not all will appeal to all readers, but that hopefully one or several of them will fit your needs.
If you are a Christian I suggest you start with the biblical framing of marriage. While it is nearly universally ignored or feebly explained away, the Bible makes it clear that the husband is to be the head of the household and the wife is to submit to him. If you and your wife are faithful enough to follow it, you won’t need any further instruction than the Bible. However, if you want some more detail as to how you might apply this I’ve written a separate primer on this here.
For those who aren’t Christian, or who are but aren’t prepared to follow the Bible regarding marriage, there are other resources available. One excellent primer is the Dave from Hawaii post at Château Heartiste. You may also find some value in reading about my wife’s experience when I began changing the dynamic of our marriage. I also suggest Hawaiian Libertarian’s post on using these skills outside of a romantic context as well as his excellent post Defining Hypergamy.
Once you’ve read the primers I would suggest checking out Vox Day’s Alpha Game blog and Athol Kay’s book and blog Married Man Sex Life, starting with his posts on Alpha and Beta Male Traits and The MAP.
*Since we are talking about human beings it is impossible to fully predict how she will respond, especially without more information. If she already views him with full contempt or if she is mentally unstable this could lead to her becoming more irrational and perhaps even to divorce. However if she would divorce him for failing to apologize for giving her flowers, remaining married to such a woman would be a nightmare, and giving in to her when she is being irrational will generally only make her more enraged. The risks are the husband’s to bear so only he can decide the right course of action in the end.
Note to “regular” readers: Please consider the intended audience of this post when commenting on it. However, please do feel free to share any words of encouragement and advice to husbands who are new to the concept of game and are just learning about it for the first time. Comments which aren’t appropriate to the specific audience of this post will be removed.