There is a statement I have heard, over and over again from men, in my counseling office that drives me up a wall. Every time I hear it I want to rise from my chair, cross the office floor, and slap them upside the head! Of course I don't. It remains one of those inside thoughts and I remain professional by keeping my reaction private. They make this statement in reference to a current relationship or a past one. They say it in defense of their actions - usually the ones that landed them in counseling - and, while it may make sense to other men, women find it really offensive. This statement I hear in reference to their current romantic partner or spouse is some variation of, Hey! What does she want? It's not like I beat her, cheat on her, or come home drunk every night.
Really? If that was the only requirement for a good marriage or romantic relationship I would be out of a job. Let's be really serious here; women need so much more in order to stay in love with their man. So, how about we take a few minutes and really look at what a woman really wants from her man.
To feel loved
Simply put, women need to feel loved. A women feels loved when she is number one in her partner's life. She needs to know he values her over the job, friends, coworkers, hunting, golf, his mom, and the kids. If a woman perceives she takes second place in any area of her man's priorities, she will start to build a wall that protects her emotionally. She will pull away and not see her man as a safe person she can trust with all of her vulnerabilities. If she does not feel safe and loved by her man she will then begin to deny her need to feel loved, or worse, get the need met someone else. Either way the relationship suffers when this dynamic occurs and will often lead to the relationship ending. Again I will say, in order for a woman to feel loved she needs to feel first in her man's world.
Communication takes priority over sex
Women love sex, but differently than men do. Women love sex that comes as a result of feeling loved, while for a man desire is far more sight-stimulated. A man might even want his partner sexually even in a bad marriage. Women are more driven to sex when communication levels are high and she feels her words and feelings (and thus herself) are valued. For women, emotional and sexual intimacy is developed outside the bedroom. If the relationship feels neglected in the other areas of the house she will not want to have fun with you inside the bedroom. Women need to talk and be listened to about all the areas of their life no matter how mundane you perceive them. When we do our training Marriage Skills for Police Marriages we tell men, if you want good sex, give good communication. If the communication is not there, women's libidos go down and they often report they do not enjoy or desire sexual encounters with their man.
Touch is very important to women, but if they feel every touch leads to sex she will begin to not touch her man or be unwilling to receive his touch. Most women want to hold hands, give and receive massages, or simple slaps on the tush. They want to experience freely the touch that is only reserved for romantic relationships, but if her man believes the only purpose for that type of touch is foreplay, she often stops touching because she feels devalued.
Able to assert her needs
Being involved with or married to a cop involves a different dynamic than the average marriage. In talking with police wives one dynamic I find that runs rampart is the denial of self over the good of the job. Police wives often feel they fail in comparison to the work their husband is doing, and that their needs do not matter as much. They will often put themselves on the back burner as their husband goes out and saves the day. Police spouses value and understand what their LEO does and will be their biggest cheerleader, but they need to know their needs are important to you as well. They need to know that they can ask you to help around the house, for some time with you alone, or some me time. If the wife feels she is competing in importance with your job she will become resentful from feeling alone. The job you will someday retire from, and hopefully your spouse will still be there to enjoy it with you.
Women want to be married to a man, not another kid. They want someone who shares in the day-to-day responsibility of life, the home, chores, the kids, finances, and everything else having a life entwined entails. Woman want to know they can count on their man to pick up the slack where needed, have a partner who will help make decisions, and want to be with someone they do not have to nag. They did not get married to care for a grown adult, but to have a partner who will share in and be a part of their lives.
Studies have shown the best relationships are those that value and practice equality. Equality goes hand-in-hand with partnership, but requires even more effort. Equality means viewing each other as equal partners, not one dominant over the other, and seeing that the contributions of each are equally valued in the relationship.
This can be difficult in a police marriage, where one of the partners may have a domineering and highly assertive personality which makes for an excellent cop, but sometimes a difficult spouse! That needs to take a backseat when the workday is done. When a marriage devalues equality a competitive spirit takes hold where one spouse it trying to trump the other. This dynamic, if not broken, leads to frustration and anger. Let go of the competition and value each other's strengths. It takes work, but the reward is worth it for your woman.
Women have soft skin that men love to touch. Just like our skin, our hearts are soft too. Women can be crushed very easily by a harsh word or look, cruel teasing, or a sharp voice tone. We hear too often how we do not measure up. All we have to do is open a magazine, turn on the TV, or go to the make-up counter in a retail store.
Often what I witness in cop marriages is a stream of critical words directed at each other, telling each other where they fall short or fail. If a woman is hearing negative words her heart becomes hard instead of soft. Women do not need to hear from their man negative comments about who she is, what she does, or how she looks. When a woman hears this repetitively, her self-doubt and low self-esteem will keep herself from giving to her man freely. Women need their men to tell them on a regular basis what they do well. As stated before in our article Cops In Marriage Counseling: If you do not have anything nice to say, then do not say anything at all.
This is not to say you can never give criticism. Criticism, given with love and delivered kindly, is a gift. Critiquing one another in order to force them into the mold you want is theft; it steals their self-esteem.
So here are a few tips of what women want from their man. If you want to know more, we encourage you to ask the woman in your life. It is a conversation that needs to be had often so the relationship stays intact.