--The Way to Confidence & Fulfillment
--By Dan Benson

         I know more than one husband who has vowed to write a book entitled, "Everything I Understand About My Wife"--its pages would be entirely blank. There is a mystique about the female which men have been trying for centuries to ascertain, a sort of predictable unpredictability that can make marriage either fascinating or frustrating. Fascinating, if we as husbands recognise the fact that there
are differences in the emotional makeup of man & woman, & give her the freedom to be herself. Frustrating, if we refuse to allow for such differences, letting her expression of emotional needs touch off marital fireworks.
         Women have been given a priceless sensitivity for experiencing the deep feelings of life that we men often miss. I might say, "I think we ought to do such & such," confident that I've made the most prudent choice. But Kathy might see it from a different, more significant point of view. "But if we did that," she'll suggest, "don't you think it might hurt So-&-so's feelings?" Fact is, I never even thought of So-&-so's feelings. So we discuss the matter further, & come up with a far better solution. Her warm spirit has softened my cold rationality.
         One of the best projects we've ever done was to sit down over a cup of coffee & talk about the emotional needs we each have. We made lists, asked questions. As we talked, it occurred to me that I was virtually ignorant of the things that are really important to a woman. I had not taken the time to understand Kathy's uniqueness because I had been expecting her to think & feel the same way I did. As a result, I was cheating her out of her unique contribution to our marriage, squelching her.
         On hearing that I was considering putting my findings into a book for husbands, one wife pleaded, "Oh, please do. I know so many women who are frustrated because their husbands just don't make an effort to understand them. And we are different--they need to know that." For those husbands, & for you & me, here's what we discovered a woman needs:

The Need for Security.
         Security is important to her, & she finds that security in you, in her home, in her family, in finances. The husband needs to exercise diligent tenderness whenever he thinks of making abrupt or major changes.

The Need for Love.
         Said an old Vermont farmer, married over 40 years, "I love Sarah Jane so much it's all I can do to keep from telling her."
Do tell her! No matter how kind you are to her, or how lavish a gift you get her, your wife's day isn't complete unless she hears "I love you" from an honest heart.

The Need to Express Emotion.
         Tears play a healthy role in the life of a woman by soothing tensions & washing away potential bitterness. For this very reason, women are for the most part healthier than men. Men have been conditioned to suppress their feelings. Women have been encouraged to express them. It's something most women do rather well. Learn to regard her emotions as a friend to the marriage, not a foe.

The Need for Companionship.
         A woman experiences a special exhilaration when she knows her husband would rather be with her than with anyone else. Smart husbands go out of their way to make their women feel special.

The Need for Closeness.
         One woman told me, "There are times when I just need for him to be there, unhurried. Even if we don't have anything to say. It just assures me that everything's all right."

The Need to Express Herself Creatively.
         You can encourage her by helping make sure that the load of routine housework does not stifle her creative abilities. Most women crave the time to sew, read, write, paint, cultivate plants, develop musical talents, experiment with new recipes, or make crafts.

The Need to Express Herself Mentally.
         Sometimes men have gotten the idea that the woman's role is to sit in silent admiration as their brilliant husbands solve the crises of the World. In discussions,
ask her what she thinks on a subject. Then listen as she speaks, instead of waiting for a spot where you can jump back into the conversation.

The Need for Intimacy.
         When the close moments look like they'll become intimate ones, let them. She's signaling that she needs you now. Cancel the committee meeting, postpone your evening work, take the phone off the hook, & share hearts.

The Need for Spiritual Fulfillment.
         While the male might try to "tough it out" before turning a problem over to Christ, the woman will often be driven to Him sooner by her feelings. "Let's think it through & then pray about it," I tell Kathy. She'll say, "Why don't we
pray about it & then think it through?" Her sensitivity has increased her capacity to trust God.

The Need for Romance.
         For men, love is a process. We've courted her & won her hand--now, on with business. But for her, love is an adventure. Do things for each other, dream up surprises. Little things. Fun things. Insane things. Keep letting her know that she's still worth chasing.

The Need for Communication.
         Among the wives interviewed, an alarming number rated their husbands very low in the art of communication. Some cited competition with the television set (left on during dinner & throughout the evening); others attributed poor communication to fatigue, worry, & the demands of the job. One wife probably cornered the problem when she observed, "I just don't think he wants to talk about things on a deep level. We talk about the weather & about the neighbours, but when the conversation shifts to anything more significant, he clams up. Sometimes I have to almost drag a decision or opinion out of him."
         Good communication is one of marriage's most unselfish forms of
giving. It is intimacy verbalised.

The Need to Feel Attractive.
         Why else does a woman spend so much time shopping for clothes, makeup, & accessories; or primping & experimenting with hairstyles; or gazing into the mirror & the bathroom scale? Contrary to popular thought, she is
not doing it to frustrate an impatient husband. She is doing it to please him, to find that perfect combination which will evoke a genuine, "Wow!"
         Regardless of what the mirror & scales tell her,
you are the indicator she depends on most. If she looks great, tell her so. Then back up your statement with continued flirtations. Your positive words & actions are the best encouragement you can give her to stay fit & beautiful.
         "But," some of you are saying, "What if my wife has let herself go? I find it hard to say, `You turn me on' to a woman who's big enough to play professional football."
         One smart husband told me that his wife struggled for months to lose weight, to no avail. Suddenly it dawned on the husband that he had been inadvertently discouraging her, either by his wisecracks or his silence. He determined to try being an encouragement.
         One day she tried particularly hard to follow her diet. That evening, as they were undressing, he looked at his wife's thighs. "Honey," he said, "am I just seeing things? I think you're losing weight!"
         His wife just beamed. "Really?" she said.
         "That's great, Honey," he continued. "Keep up the good work!"
         She did, & with noticeable results, simply because her husband knew the value of positive reinforcement.

The Need to be Encouraged.
         When I worked as feature editor for a magazine, I observed time & again how different writers performed under varying conditions. If I simply made an assignment & then waited quietly for the manuscript, the writer often would experience difficulty in motivation, discipline, & in the actual writing. But when I made a point of
complimenting a writer on his previous article, & checking regularly with him to see if I could lend some encouragement, the manuscripts would hit my desk on or before the deadline. And usually, they were of much higher quality.
         People feel & perform better when they know that others have confidence in their abilities. You've undoubtedly discovered this about yourself, in your own job. A lack of confidence or encouragement can soon stifle you into self-doubt &/or complacency.
         At home, your wife is experiencing the exact same need. What is she trying to accomplish? To be the best possible wife, she needs your feedback & encouragement.

The Need to be Appreciated.
         Several wives underscored for me their intense need to not be taken for granted. "Sometimes he doesn't seem to notice that the house is clean, the laundry is washed, & the children are still in one piece," one wife confided. "All I hear is, `Has the paper come yet?' & `When's supper?'"
         Saying "thank you" is still a common courtesy in society, but you'd be surprised at how readily it drops out of a marriage. Appreciation is just like love to her. She needs to hear it, then
see it in action.
         I can put that appreciation in action in a variety of ways: By a special gift or dinner out, by picking up after myself around the house, by actually pitching in & giving her a hand in that endless list of chores.
         Edgar Watson Howe wrote, "The greatest humiliation in life is to work hard on something from which you expect great appreciation, & then fail to get it." The homemaker is one of the hardest-working persons in the World. Stay alert for ways to show your appreciation.

The Need to be Needed.
         There are the moments when the husband has reached a point of discouragement or failure, & his own sense of security is beginning to quake beneath him. From time to time things go wrong at work, or we get run down & feel like a failure. This is where you need your partner, & she
yearns for your need. When you need her in those moments, don't hold back. She is your partner during the bad times as well as the good. And you'll be doing yourself & your marriage a healthy favour.

         This is when she needs you most of all, though she may not want you around. If that sounds confusing, it's because circumstances, emotions, bodily changes (like periods), & even the weather are all combining to confuse her. She's not quite sure of herself, or of you, at the moment.
         Wives who listed this need were at a loss to explain it adequately, though most underscored it as crucial. As one informed me, "Sometimes I feel jittery & depressed at the same time. I'm afraid, yet I don't care about much of anything. I guess this feeling makes me the most insecure because I can never really put my finger on it."
         Kathy also brought up this uncertainty when we were discussing her personal needs. When I asked her how she wanted me to respond when she goes through the rough moments, she replied, "More than anything, be patient with me...& realise that I don't want to be that way. It's a temporary thing, & if I snap your head off or act unloving, it's my insecurity--not the real me--showing through.
         "Then," Kathy continued, "I need for you to be available, but not hovering. I want to know that you're there & that everything's all right."
         "Do you want me to hold you?" I asked.
         "Maybe, but not always," Kathy replied. "I think the woman needs to decide that, instead of the man smothering her. She may want to be left alone for a while, until she gets her head straightened out."
         Kathy's insights were good for me to hear. Early in our marriage, when the
moody moments would hit her, I took them personally. If Kathy was down, I assumed she was angry with me over who-knows-what-this-time? I responded with anger, which only compounded her frustration.
         When your woman is in the "I-don't-know-what-I-need" mood, resist the temptation to get angry. She needs your patience now more than ever. You might want to assure her, "I'm here whenever you want to talk about it." Above all, give her the time she needs to sort things out.

         In marriage, there is an enemy of love far greater than hate. That enemy is self. It stands as a roadblock to all these expressions of love when we allow the "what's-in-it-for-me?" attitude, or just plain laziness, to dominate our personal lives.
         One of the most important keys to mutual fulfillment in marriage is giving, considering her basic needs more important than your selfish desires.

         A marriage counsellor friend once told me of a couple that came to him for counselling. "We've never had an argument in our lives," the husband announced proudly.
         "How," asked my friend, "have you accomplished that?"
         "We just don't talk," the wife replied.
         In trying to avoid friction, their marital silent treatment had brought them to the brink of divorce. I've personally observed marriages just like theirs, in which the husband subscribed to the philosophy that "the less we talk, the less friction there will be. So I'd better not bring this up..." For a while, there would be no visible friction, but inside both spouses the tension would build. Then, suddenly, POW! One minor incident would detonate a wild shouting match--all because things weren't discussed as they occurred. Their silence only turned them into human time bombs.
         And I've seen other husbands who somehow manage to contain everything. Their tension never explodes, but just ticks away
inside them throughout life as they continue to avoid disagreement. It doesn't take long for their health, nerves, & sexual performance to fail because of all that stored-up friction & resentment. A primary principle of good communication is to never fear disagreement.

What is Good Communication?
         The opposite of silence--merely talking--is not necessarily good communication. There are probably as many perpetual talkers in divorce courts today as there are silent couples. Good communication takes place when three important criteria are met:
         1. "Weak minds talk about people; mediocre minds talk about events; but great minds talk about ideas."
         2. "The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as of being heard."
         3. "Speaking the truth in love." This Bible verse distills all the elements of good communication into five powerful words:
         "Speaking"... & not remaining silent. Don't harbour ill feelings to the point of consuming resentment or anger.
         "the truth" observation, not accusation. Get beyond the small talk to the things that really matter in your relationship.
         "in love"... with a gentle tone of voice, at the right time & place. Be honest, yet sensitive to her feelings. Seek to bring out the best in her.

Getting Started
         The key to initiating good communication at your house is simple: Ask questions.
         Ask questions which require more than a yes-or-no answer. These will ask a person how he feels about a topic, event, philosophy etc., or perhaps stimulate him to brainstorm with you on topics for which he hasn't yet formed an opinion.

In Orbit
         As I was reading the paper this morning my eye caught a headline which read, "Annie Glenn Still in Orbit over John." The article tells how the marriage of U.S. Senator John Glenn, America's first astronaut to orbit the globe, is stronger than ever after 31 years. "We've always had this rule at our house," Annie Glenn tells the reporter. "No matter how hectic the schedule, we always had dinner together by candlelight. Maybe we ate hotdogs--but the atmosphere was there! We talked & listened to each other. I mean really listened. The communication has been paying off ever since."

How to Agree to Disagree
         We never planned a fight in our entire marriage--they all seem to develop naturally, like turbulent weather when warm & cold fronts meet.
         So one of the best things Kathy & I did at the outset was to sit down & agree ahead of time on a set of fighting rules. We didn't look forward to conflict, but we knew it was a sure thing. We wanted to be prepared. If it had to happen, we wanted to make sure it served to build our love rather than tear it down.
         And someday, we realised, our own children would be watching us, learning how to settle their own differences from the way we settled ours.
         If you & your wife have never agreed in advance on some guidelines for successful fighting, we heartily recommend them to help assure that you'll "speak the truth in love" when fighting time comes.

Our Rules of War
         1. We will recommit ourselves to making our marriage work. Divorce isn't even an option. We're going to see this incident through & build a better marriage because of it.
         2. We will attack the problem, not the person. We will agree to disagree agreeably. Do the facts of this incident warrant the heated emotions we're showing? How about assuring each other, "Honey, I'm not sure I agree with you in this area, but I want you to know that I love you. Let's work this out as a team."
         3. We will always put people before things. No broken dish, dented fender, damaged clothing, or scratched record album is just cause for lashing out at the other person.
         4. We will seek to give the benefit of the doubt to the other person. Unless the other person admits otherwise, he meant well. He was trying as hard as he could to do the right thing.
         5. We will try to see the situation from the other's point of view. Why is she so upset that I'm late & the roast is burned? How would I feel if I were in her shoes? Often the only difference between marital & martial (war) is a misplaced "I."
         6. We will try to establish a degree of rationality ahead of time. "We've got a problem here. Let's sit down & talk about it."
         7. Never in public. Since we aren't auditioning for the soap operas, this disagreement is nobody's business but ours.
         8. We will try to use "I" statements instead of "you" statements. We will make & discuss observations, not accusations:

We will avoid:
"You're insensitive!"
"Will you shut up & listen?"
"You never pay attention to me!"
"...& then you started yelling..."
"You broke my favourite vase!"

We will use:
"I feel misunderstood."
"I don't think we're communicating."
"I feel left out."
"It bothers me when we yell at each other."
"I'm upset that the vase is broken."

         9. We will watch our tone of voice. Loudness & bitterness only indicate that we're losing control of ourselves.
         10. When an assertion is made about me, I'll try to repeat it word for word before responding to it. Besides helping to calm us both, this will verify that a) I've heard you correctly, & b) you said what you meant (& meant what you said).
         11. We will try not to be overly defensive, but open-minded to the possibility that we're wrong. "Well, I may be wrong in this area. Let me tell you why I acted the way I did."
         12. We will avoid these statements: "You ALWAYS..." & "You NEVER..." If these accusations are really true, they should have been brought up when they first occurred.
         13. We will not dredge up past sins of the other. They should have been discussed & forgiven long ago. God "forgets" when He forgives; we should too.
         14. No stomping out of the room. This only prolongs the fight & puts the problem back into the slow cooker. Instead, let's stop for a breather by saying: "Honey, I need a few moments alone to calm down. I'm afraid I'll say something I don't really mean."
         15. We will talk it out to its conclusion. Let's not leave it hanging, only to build up inside us. Together, we'll explore: "What have we learned from all this? How was I wrong? What can we do to prevent this from happening again?"
         16. We will be sure to seek forgiveness & to forgive. This is the most important part of the fight, for it determines whether we are merely lowering the heat under the cooker, or turning the fire off completely.
         It takes two to tangle, & if I was a participant in the shouting match, I was
part of the problem. Maybe she was misunderstanding me. Perhaps she did start it. Regardless, I joined right in by hollering back at her. And even if I was just 1% wrong & she 99% (which is not usually the case), I still need to ask forgiveness for my 1%.

Magnetic Power of Forgiveness
         Asking forgiveness is one of the most humbling, yet most gratifying acts you can perform for your marriage. Believe me, we know this from personal experience.
         In one of our earliest fights, Kathy & I were both too indignant to bother asking or granting forgiveness for each other. After our boil-over, we sat down & firmly made our points at the peace table, content that we had talked it all out. But I was still mad. So was she. We both fumed, silently, for several days afterward.
         Then I read something that I really didn't want to see. Not at all. To back up my righteous indignation I was reading the Bible. And I came across these words, "Forbearing one another, & forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: Even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." (Col.3:13)
         Gulp. Again, it came right down to the initiative a leader must take. If the Lord took that initiative to forgive me when I didn't even deserve it, then He intends for me to take the initiative to restore things with my wife. Regardless of whose fault it all was.
         I had been blowing it by letting my pride say, "She's got to come to me first."
         I wandered into the kitchen, where Kathy was fixing dinner. "Honey," I ventured, cautious of becoming vulnerable, "I've felt convicted about our fight the other day...I don't think we finished it."
         "What do you mean?" she said.
         "Well, I was wrong for the way I shouted at you. I'm sorry--will you forgive me?"
         Kathy smiled, put down some dishes, & melted into my arms. "I was just getting ready to ask you the same thing," she said. "Yes, I forgive you. Will you forgive me?"
         "You bet," I said. From that moment on, we were committed to forgetting the hurts we'd been nursing for days. And it worked. The healing process took effect immediately & we were again happy together, talking & carrying on like nothing ever happened. We both remember the lesson of that fight, but the forgiveness was so complete that we can't even remember
why we argued in the first place.
         In spite of all the suggestions for successful fighting, forgiveness is the one sure way to a happy outcome. With it comes an outflow of all the guilt, tension, & resentment that could have poisoned the relationship--because true forgiveness forgets.

         I'm becoming convinced that the average American male could probably have sex & reach climax right in the middle of a bitter argument, an air raid, or "Jaws". When that urge strikes us, the mood & surrounding circumstances may make little difference.
         We men can often isolate sex from other emotions by placing it in one of life's many "compartments": There is a time for work, a time for relaxation, a time for eating, a time for worship, a time for pleasure. We act when our schedules, or our human drives, call for a certain activity.
         But for a woman, sex follows a different pattern of order. Successful sex, to her, is more than just the experience of orgasm--it is the total setting of intimacy surrounding her marriage.
         Your wife's most important sex organ is not genital. Her most vital sex organ is her mind. If your relationship together is one of intimacy, communication & love, her mind tells her, "All systems are GO!"--sexual abandonment with you will make her joy even more complete. But if something is wrong elsewhere in the marriage, you can bet it will put a damper on her sexual outlook.
         And for the same reason, the setting & mood from which you initiate sexual union is crucial to her. The husband who continually demonstrates his love, & then takes the time to properly set the mood, will provide far greater sexual fulfillment for the woman he married--& for himself.
         Before we explore some of the things that turn a woman on, we'd better consider some definite sexual turn-offs. These items might seem slight to us men, & perhaps that's why many of us violate them.

What Turns a Woman Off?
B.O. & bad breath. If she's been swooning in your presence, it might not be your suaveness. Perhaps she's trying to give you a hint. Body odor affects her sex drive like an ice-cold shower affects yours, so don't expect smooth seduction with dried volleyball sweat or breath that could knock out a champion boxer.
Scratchy chin. (In sex, also known as prickly heat.) To get an idea of how sexy beard stubble can be, just scrape a piece of no.12 sandpaper back & forth across your face. Unless she has given you the OK to grow a full, soft beard, keep the chin smooth for her. How would you like it if she took a steel wool pad to your face?
Wandering eyes. Husband & wife are out together, on the beach, in a restaurant, or wherever other women are to be found, & he can't help looking them over with obvious appreciation. Sometimes he even expresses some of his sentiments aloud. Later, he can't figure out why his wife isn't eager to ease his red-hot desires.
The Greaser. Greasy hair does not encourage your woman to run her fingers through it, as this is not very pleasant.
The Mauler. He attempts to show love, but definitely at the wrong time. I've been guilty of this one on several occasions, when Kathy & I are about to go out & she has spent an entire hour fixing her hair, outfit, & makeup.
         "You look beautiful!" I exclaim. So far so good. My compliment pleases her. Then I wrap my arms around her & plant a full passionate kiss on those sweet lips.
         Her smile falters. In one fell swoop I've managed to crush her hair, wrinkle her clothes & smear her lip gloss. The only thing "cool" about the situation is the icy look in her eyes as she returns to the mirror for repairs.
Cold. The almost unanimous consensus among women is that in sex, they can't stand cold. So if you have some jolly ideas for later on & she's mentioned that she feels chilly, put another log on the fire, quick.
The Brat. Every wife has, at some time or another, found herself married to one. That Brat starts making grabs as soon as he feels the urge, but if she is incapable of excitement at that particular moment, he'll whine, demand, pout, sulk, throw tantrums, & hold his breath until he turns blue. The Brat's favourite line is, "After I put in a hard day at the office to feed & clothe you, the least you can do is give a little." Occasionally his ploy succeeds, but only for a morose moment of one-way sex.
Rough hands. Like beard stubble, rough & calloused hands can make foreplay unpleasant. Your hands are important tools in sexual stimulation, & it is not at all unmasculine to keep them soft for her with regular use of a good hand lotion. While you're at it, check those fingernails. Keeping them trimmed & clean is essential for the intimate moments.

What Turns a Woman On?
The man who meets her womanly needs. Have you ever tried making love while the tea kettle is whistling? Distracting, right? Especially for her. Before she can lose herself in your masculine embrace, she's got to get up & take care of that thing in the kitchen.
         It's just the same when things aren't quite right in your relationship. If there's a disagreement that hasn't been talked out & forgiven, or if you've been miserly with the encouragement & understanding, sex is the last thing on her mind. Those weak spots in the relationship are too distracting to her. Before having sex with you she wants to know that all of life's in good order. Fulfilling her emotionally is the first step toward fulfilling her sexually.
Cleanliness. "The best sex aids ever invented," one wife told me, "Are soap, toothpaste, deodorant & shampoo." Every wife interviewed agreed with her. "What turns me on?" another began. "Well, among other things, an aura of cleanliness. I may sound like a commercial, but I want him to look & smell fresh. If he doesn't, forget it. Send him to the showers."
         We are dealing, men, with a delicate sense of smell that is often far more sensitive than our own. Have you ever noticed your wife flitting through the house, sniffing at the air & saying, "What's that smell?" And you replied, "What smell?" In my own household, Kathy can smell the salami in the refrigerator (from another room) every time I open the refrigerator door. I can't smell it if it's sitting on my upper lip.
         She can also pick up the freshness that comes with the daily shower, the brushing of teeth after meals (topped off by a mouthwash rinse), the protection of a good deodorant (ask her if yours is doing the job), & the clean, grease-free hair that results from regular shampooing. We husbands will spend a full half-hour preparing ourselves to leave her in the morning, why not invest a few minutes at the end of the work day to prepare for coming home to her? We can make that welcome-home hug a much more enjoyable experience for her by keeping a small cache of cologne, deodorant, & breath freshener at the office for late afternoon touch-ups (our fellow employees probably won't mind either).
         Women aren't merely pacified by cleanliness: They are attracted to it. It's worth all the time it takes.
Romance. When you sense that the mood is right, plan a private candlelight dinner "at our place." Give her a vacation by bringing something home. The cuisine isn't nearly as important as the mood.
         After some relaxed dining, conversation, & background music, dessert is the time for that intimate little gift. Your thoughtfulness needn't be expensive. Even a special card, love note or single flower will get the message through to her: She's special. She's your favourite person. And her closeness is desirable now--even more than ever before.
         Then, make love to her with your words (this can start in the afternoon with a phone call from the office). Tell her how much you've missed her during the day. That you love her. That she's beautiful. How great it is to be alone with her. What she means to you. And if she's in a particularly graphic mood, tell her exactly what you'd like to do with her later on.
         Marya Mannes wrote that, "All really great lovers are articulate, & verbal seduction is the surest road to actual seduction."
The natural aphrodisiacs. A liberal splash of men's cologne on your neck; incense (just be sure to burn it in a safe place or the evening may get hotter than you'd planned); soft lighting (there's something mystical about candlelight); background music (soft instrumental); fresh flowers.
The spirit of sexual adventure. Never underestimate your woman. She may be more adventuresome than you think. Like men, most women are excited by a sense of the risqu, as long as the adventure is tasteful. What have you both always wanted to do together but been hesitant to bring up? The best way to find out is to discuss it together some evening when the lights are low. Consider a few settings & ideas which couples have been enjoying down through the ages.
Different times, different places. If you find yourselves locked into a sex-by-the-schedule routine (only at bedtime, only in our bed), do yourselves a favour & break free once in awhile. See if you can clear the house (& lock the doors) for some good old daytime sex on the couch or living room carpet. Or let the carpet (complimented with some fluffy pillows) serve as your bed after that seductive candlelight dinner together. As much as possible, let spontaneity rule when it comes to the time & place for sex.
Clothing on, clothing off. The story image of the man ripping the woman's blouse from her back is a bit unrealistic. For one thing, your wife can't afford for you to rip her blouse to shreds with every seduction. But most important, she craves the d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s-l-y s-l-o-w stimulation that begins first with thoughts & romance.
         The nude human body, properly cared for, is one of the most beautiful creations imaginable. But sometimes just the right article of clothing (or absence of it) can make the spouse's imagination run wild.
         In bed, clothing needn't always be completely discarded. Occasionally, you'll both enjoy leaving on the unbuttoned shirt or blouse.
Multiple roles. Variety in sex goes beyond the mechanics of "positions". One evening, she may wish to be "conquered"; on another occasion she may feel like the dominant tigress; in a third encounter, she may desire an in-between identity.
         Sex can be very revealing, & by that I mean of more than just the flesh. The way you go about sexual intercourse with your woman has an uncanny way of unveiling the true quality of the everyday love you hold for her. Selfishness or ignorance on the part of the husband can eventually drive the woman to avoid sexual contact. Know what pleases your wife in sexual stimulation--& do it. She'll have her own little secrets as to what-&-when best prepares her for orgasm, & for this reason it's important to know the
person, not just the method.
         There will be occasions when one partner does not feel up to sexual intercourse. But if that partner sees that his spouse is in need of sexual release, he should have no reservations about volunteering to stimulate his spouse to singular orgasm. Neither should the spouse feel unduly selfish in receiving such stimulation, for this is what marriage is all about--meeting the other's needs.--Loving, satisfying.

         A thrifty young woman who became concerned over the lavish amount of money her boyfriend was spending on her, after an expensive dinner date, asked her mother, "What can I do to stop Tom from spending so much money on me?" Her mother replied simply, "Marry him."
         Why, after one year of marriage, do we often let the princely courtesies, romantic gifts, & seductive twinkles of the eye become buried by routine?
         God has made your wife with a deep craving to be loved & to be constantly assured of that love. The wedding should not signal the end of the courtship, but the beginning. Much as women are enraptured by the words, "I love you," they prefer to see expressions of that love. The small thoughtful gift that says, "I was thinking about you today." The candlelight dinner--with just the two of you--that tells her, "You're my favourite person in the whole World." Or just plain pitching in at home. When you volunteer to help her do any of the endless jobs that keep a house in order, she'll know that you consider her some special woman.
         Kathy, like all women, is bewitched by the "little things." And since I don't need such reassurance as often as she does, I've always tended to reserve the romantic flairs just for special occasions like anniversaries, birthdays, & Valentine's Day. Besides, wouldn't I go broke if I got romantic too often?
         Fortunately, I wasn't long in my ignorance. One day during coffee break I was in a drugstore with a good friend, who had been married 11 years longer than I. Lowell was looking into the perfume case, his excitement mounting by the second. "Pammy loves this stuff," he said. "It's sure fun surprising her with it." As I watched Lowell select & purchase that bottle of perfume for his wife, I could see he was enjoying every minute of anticipation.
         That set my mind to scheming. "Let's go next door to the florist," I said. It wasn't even Kathy's & my anniversary. And we hadn't had a fight in over 3 months. I just wanted to let her know that I loved her, cared for her, & thought she was the greatest.
         As I came through the door that evening & presented the single long-stemmed rose, Kathy's squeals of delight let me know that the surprise was worth a thousand times its cost. The grateful hug & the extra-happy smile during dinner convinced me that I would forever be a romantic.
         I know of several smart husbands who have never stopped courting their wives. Their marriages are filled with joyful results. When I asked them to give me some examples of little things they like to do to make their wives feel loved, I wasn't quite prepared for the deluge of ideas they gave. Along with several of my own, here are "Ways To Make Your Wife Feel Like That Special Woman."
         1. Start leaving occasional love notes when you go to work. The first could be on the kitchen table or counter top. Then find some places she won't see until later in the day, like the bottom of the laundry hamper, inside the freezer compartment, etc.
         2. Have her make a list of repairs or improvements that are needed around the house. Then begin doing them, one by one. You'll be amazed at how much she appreciates that new pantry shelf or a stopped leak.
         3. If she's in the other room sewing, reading, or working, rush in, hug her, & give her a big kiss. "I made a special trip just to kiss you" brings a smile every time.
         4. Empty the trash without her having to ask.
         5. Let her know that her phone calls are always welcome while you're at the office. I once had a boss who never turned down a call from his wife, even during a meeting. On more than one occasion, my colleagues & I sat & listened as he closed out a conversation with an uninhibited "I love you, Honey." I respected him for it. And I'm sure his wife was proud to know that he considered her "top priority."
         6. Listen to her when she talks to you. Look into her eyes, not at your food or the TV set. Respond positively whenever you can. Show her you're interested in what she has to say.
         7. Phone her from work just to tell her how much you love her. Absolutely no business talk allowed. Give her a special, unexpected moment of your time, & leave the babysitter, the mail & the electric bill for another call.
         8. Keep on making "dates" with her throughout the marriage. Ask for a date for Friday night, & tell her you'll be by at 8 p.m. Arrange for a babysitter. On the big night, after you've dressed, slip out of the house & come to the door for her. Then, as you walk her to the door afterwards, corner her & drop the coy old standard, "May I come in?" What follows is up to you.
         9. Give her a frequent break from the dishes. No matter how tired I am after a day's work, I know that Kathy is just as pooped. She relishes the times when I tell her, "Honey, I'll do the dishes--why don't you go relax? You deserve it."
         10. Write her some poetry. You don't have to be Wordsworth, the key is to simply express your feelings about something very intimate between the two of you. A recent walk in the woods. An argument that, when settled, helped draw you closer together. The beauty, skill, love you see in her. When a woman receives an original poem from her lover, the last thing she thinks about is literary criticism. It is from you--you have invested & revealed yourself for her. Nothing thrills a woman more.
         11. Surprise her with breakfast in bed. And not just on her birthday or Mother's Day. If she asks, "What's the occasion?" as you fluff her pillows behind her, just smile & say, "No particular reason...I just love you."
         12. Be careful about our male habit of joking about the intelligence of women, women drivers, women talkers, women shoppers. She's a woman, & these baseless slurs are also a slur on her. If you have this habit, break it.
         13. Give her a frequent break from the house & children. One of my cousins is an insurance representative who has turned into a very smart husband. Every Wednesday afternoon he comes home to take care of the kids while his wife escapes for a long bike ride, an hour of shopping, a leisurely trip to the library. Getting away is a breath of fresh air to her. For him, it is time well spent with the children & he wouldn't trade that afternoon at home for the commission from a hundred insurance policies. If you can't break away during the day, consider one evening a week, or perhaps Saturday mornings.
         14. Keep your own private calendar of the "special days" of your relationship & plan special surprise celebrations. Anniversaries, birthdays, Mother's Day, & Christmas are rather expected, but imagine her delight when you take the initiative to commemorate the anniversary of your first date, your engagement, etc.
         15. After she's spent a hard day at the stove, serve her during the meal. Many wives--& most mothers--are forced to eat their food cold because they are constantly hopping up from the table to serve everyone's needs. Let your woman sit & enjoy the food for once while you get another napkin for Junior or more iced tea for yourself. And if you don't already, you might begin enforcing this family rule: Everyone (Dad included) clears his own dishes from the table.
         16. To continue: Wash your own snack dishes.
         17. Some Saturday morning--or a weekday if you can swing it--write, "Let's go to the amusement park today" or "let's go to the beach, just the two of us" on a slip of paper, stick it in a small box & gift-wrap it. Present it to her with a kiss at breakfast.
         18. When the two of you are at a party or gathering, catch her eye with a wink & a smile. Flirting with her in public assures her that, of all the women in that room, she's the most important to you.
         19. At the same gathering, take her hand & whisper in her ear, "I can't wait to get you home..." She may feign embarrassment, but deep inside she'll be beaming.
         20. Never compare her to old girl friends, your sister, Mom or anyone else.
         21. Here's a worthwhile project: When you say, "I love you," give her some specific reasons why. Watch her face light up as you describe the things about her that delight you.
         22. Stay aware of special things she enjoys doing: Going to plays, concerts, movies, picnics etc., & take the initiative to do these things together. A smart friend of mine keeps a notebook in which he lists:
         "Diane's favourite colour is blue; loves ballet, roses & football; has always wanted to go backpacking."
         Through the years, he'll pull out one of his notations & act on it. Diane's response is an invariable, "How did you know I've always wanted to do this?"
         23. Make the bed in the morning while she's in the bathroom or fixing breakfast. One small task crossed off her list by a considerate husband will launch her day in higher spirits. But note: Remember what day it is. A friend of mine recently scurried around the room to make the bed while his wife was in the kitchen. As he sat down at the breakfast table, eager to see her surprise afterward, his wife said to their small son, "Jimmy, would you run & pull the sheets off all the beds? If I can hurry & get the laundry done..."
         24. Pray together. Nothing will give your woman greater security than knowing that you are totally dedicated to Jesus. Go to Him together in thanks, in praise, in problem solving.
         25. As you pray together, take her hand & thank God for giving her to you as a wife. If you sneak a peek (I don't think the Lord would mind), you'll probably catch her smiling.
         26. Be alert to some of the small things you can do at home to help make her job easier. If you drink up the powdered milk, mix a new pitcher full. If you finish the orange juice, make a new batch. Replace the empty toilet roll. Sweep down a cobweb.
         27. Change the diapers on the baby.
         28. If Junior has discovered the trick of crying for Mommy late at night, let Mom rest. With Junior around all day, she's earned it. Tend to him yourself. Dad's firmness often has a way of convincing Junior that he really doesn't need to holler after all.
         29. If company is coming & she's in a rush, offer to help in any way you can.
         30. Take the initiative to wash the windows or wax the floors. Isn't it amazing how waxing the kitchen floor is tagged in our minds as strictly female work? I guess most men don't realise how hard the job really is. Some day, give it a try. Never mind what your friends may think.
         31. Hang up towels & clothes when you're through with them.
         32. Tell your children often how much you love their mother. Then let them see it in action every day. If you treat her like a queen, they'll want to, too.
         33. Scheme with the kids on creative ways to surprise Mom--breakfast in bed, cleaning the house when she's gone, a special gift, dinner out. Let them make the presentation. It's good family fun, & she'll be proud of the fatherly talents you're displaying.
         34. Never let holding her hand become past tense. It's one of those little things which a woman never grows tired of. In sitting or walking together, seek out her hand & give it a little squeeze.
         35. If you like her outfit, tell her, "You make it look good."
         36. If you don't like her outfit, or hairstyle, she really wants to know it. She wants to please you. But even here the total man is more tactful than, "What happened to your hair--did you grab an electrified fence?"
         When commenting on an "undesirable" outfit or hairstyle, make a clear distinction between your feelings for the outfit & your feelings for her. Compliment her in the process. Example: "Honey, you've got such a sexy body (or face) that this baggy pantsuit (or stringy hairdo) just doesn't do you justice."
         37. Keep surprising her with the little things that can mean so much: A flower; a plant; a scented candle; perfume; a craft which you, she & the kids can work on together; a ring or necklace; something you've made yourself like woodwork, a card with original poetry or a drawing.
         38. Accompany a surprise gift with, "Because I love you", not with "Because I want to get it on with you in bed tonight" or even "Because you did such-&-such for me."
         39. While we're on gifts: While I'd be delighted to get an electric drill, Kathy would have trouble rejoicing over an electric frying pan. Why? Because it's practical. What I'm saying is that the special occasions are meant to give her a break from the routine, not a reminder of it.
         40. Phone her when you're delayed in coming home from work.
         41. Phone her well in advance of inviting a friend home to dinner. And ask her, don't tell her.
         42. Appreciate her--inwardly & verbally.
         43. If a fixture in your house is in need of repair, don't make her struggle with it for days. Fix it right away.
         44. When you come home, wash up & search her out & give her a big, prolonged hug before sitting down with the paper. Make your wife feel that coming home to her has been the best part of your day.
         45. Set aside a few minutes, a half-hour, or more each day just to visit with her. Make it a time when the kids are busy or in bed, when the dishes are done, & she's had awhile to relax. Talk together about the things on each other's minds...about goals.. about dreams.
         46. Find a pet name that she likes--one that expresses love & a high regard for her.
         47. Pay some attention to your appearance just as you did while you were dating her.
         48. Try to be consistent in expressing appreciation for her work in the house. When you come home, notice the rooms that are straightened & vacuumed, your ironed shirts, the aroma of what's cooking. Compliment & thank her as you give her a warm hug.
         Three statements that she'll never grow tired of hearing:
         49. "You're beautiful today."
         50. "I'm glad you're my wife."
         51. "You're my favourite person."
         52. Over the phone, in a letter, or in person, tell her folks how much you love their daughter. You can bet that the word will get around to her.
         53. Always put time with her & the children before time with the TV set.
         54. Put the paper or book down when she tries to talk to you.
         55. Do your part of the job of disciplining the kids. Though it is the father who should take the lead here, far too many men have relegated discipline to the mother. Enforce the rules of the house in love but in firmness. Support her in the discipline she must do. If she has made a disciplinary decision while you're away, don't contradict her when you come home. The same should apply to her. Incidentally, the children should be taught that Mom & Dad always support each other's decisions & disciplinary measures. Never let children play one of you against the other in trying to win a favourable verdict.
         56. Open her car door for her (even if she'll be doing the driving.)
         57. Help seat her at the dinner table.
         58. After you've seated her, give her a kiss on the cheek & whisper, "I love you." (When the kids see these things happen, their respect for Mom will zoom. Your ratings won't hurt any, either.)
         59. Open doors for her, letting her enter first.
         60. When walking with her, walk on the most hazardous side.
         61. A few years ago I read about this gift idea, & decided to put it to work on Valentine's Day.
         I bought some mini-envelopes. Back in my office, I slipped a sheet of paper into the typewriter. Within half an hour I had typed out 52 one-liners such as: "One movie of your choice with hubby; two nights freedom from dishwashing; one pizza on the evening of your choice; one good, long walk together; one long, leisurely breakfast out together; one trip to the beach together," etc.
         Some involve spending money, others merely time--but each involves togetherness. I took a pair of scissors to the sheet, then put them each in an envelope & put them all in a small box. When Kathy opened the little package, the note read, "You deserve this & more." The gift meant many fun times together. Half the fun was watching Kathy continually fight off the urge to open them all at once!