Recently I was feeling stretched. The kids were being hard to love and the dogs were having diarrhea around the clock. I was doing my best to take care of everyone. But it was leaving me feeling, well…spent. I wanted someone to take care of me for once.
Every marriage functions differently. But ours is pretty traditional. I do the cooking, cleaning, and laundry. I work part-time, running a small rental company. Adam works full-time as a nurse and he works night shift. It’s easy for me to feel like I’m taking care of him. I accommodate his sleep schedule, fold his laundry, cook for him and clean up after him. These are all tangible things I do. He brings home the majority of the bacon and he’s always ready to help with the kids. He performs tasks around the house too, lawn mowing, home maintenance, and generally carrying heavy things around. He is quick to help me with the dishes and often takes out the trash. But he doesn’t perform tasks directly for me. He won’t be found folding my underwear or packing my dinner for me.
Once in a while, I really long for someone to take care of me. When I confess this to Adam, he responds that he feels like maybe he should do better at that. But his next question always stumps me….”what can I do to take care of you?”. Huh. Well….
Each person is going to have different ways to be “taken care of”. The 5 love languages and all that. I took that test ages ago and apparently I respond to all 5. So I shouldn’t be too complicated to please. But I still couldn’t answer Adam’s question. I did what any modern American woman would do: I searched Pinterest for answers. Search “take care of wife” on Pinterest and what do you get? “How to take care of your man” or “self-care tips”. WTH?
So I know that men don’t typically spend hours on Pinterest like women do. But come on! I didn’t find a single pin referring to treating a wife? This is a problem and I’m here to rectify it. There are good husbands out there who want to take care of their wives. Someone needs to help them out. Below is my list. Several items could work for any spouse or partner, but I’m specifically thinking of the ladies here because someone has to!
1. buy her something pretty
Yes, it can be that simple. Jewelry works pretty well. Flowers are generally a winner. Stay away from candles because if you get her favorite scent wrong, you might dig yourself into a hole. But you can’t go wrong with classic jewelry styles like silver studs or hoops, diamonds if you’re fancy. Roses are loved by most. I think the goal here is to present her with something feminine to remind her that you know that under all the proverbial aprons and dirt, she’s still a lady. A free option could be to write her an old fashioned love letter or an encouragement letter. Add some flourishes to make it pretty or at least use your best handwriting. Signing it with “x’s and o’s” is always a nice touch.
2. give her a rub
This one is free. Rub her back, her feet, her legs whatever. Because I guarantee something hurts. Find a quiet room, and some nice lotion or massage oil and spend some time massaging away the tension. There are loads of tutorials on youtube if you’re trying to find some tips on doing it right.
3. give her a spa treatment
This is another potentially free one. Pamper her somehow. I don’t paint my toenails, but I think it would be a hoot if Adam painted mine for me. Create a mud mask or a hair treatment and lovingly apply it to her body yourself. Guys, look on Pinterest for recipes or purchase one. Set her up with an epsom salt foot soak. If you have the means, you could just surprise her with a gift card. But I think it’s more fun to create space in your home and give her some time to unwind under your tender touch.
4. cook, take-out or dinner out
If you can cook, then do it! But don’t you dare leave the kitchen a mess when you’re done! It’s only a treat if she doesn’t have to do anything. If you can afford it, buy her her favorite meal or better yet, take her to it. Spontaneous dinner dates are huge. If you know your wife is currently on a diet, then this one is probably not a great idea. Unless you understand the ins and outs of the diet and you can cook for her accordingly, then you’d earn extra points.
5. send her off for alone time
Don’t make her ask for a break. If she’s showing signs of stress, offer to watch the kids and send her out for a walk. Or give her time to read a book or call a friend. Make space for her to escape the trials of her life, if only temporarily and gentle encourage her to take advantage of that space. It’s ok to step away for a bit, and she might need to be reminded of that.
6. do some of her chores for her
This one can be tricky. You don’t want to accidentally send the message that you think she’s doing a lousy job or something. But carrying the baskets of laundry up the stairs for her is a pretty safe one. The key here is to do it before she can ask. And don’t be surprised if she points out that she does it better. Just roll with it and understand that she just wants to be appreciated for the times that she does it, and does it well.
7. phone a friend
If she’s really struggling with something, reach out to one of her friends and give them a head’s up on her behalf. Adam did this for me after our dog died. I needed to escape and I needed a friend. He sent out a text to my oldest friend and let her know that I was really struggling. Then he accommodated some time for me to escape with said friend. Another time I think he texted a buddy of mine and just asked her to check on me. Sometimes it’s ok to call for backup to make your wife feel surrounded by love.
8. listen to her
This one is a given. If she needs to talk, make sure you give her the space to truly listen. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted, don’t even think about having your phone nearby when you’re talking. Get comfortable and let her vent. Give her a chance to connect with you emotionally. Generally speaking, if your wife wants advice, she’ll ask for it. Otherwise, she’s hoping for your nodding head and murmurs of comprehension.
9. snuggles and sex
Sex is a great stress reliever. Once you’ve listened to her and connected with her emotionally, sex might be just the ticket. Sex also reminds a harried mother that she is still a woman…and a desirable one at that. If she’s not up for sex, don’t push it. If your goal is to take care of her, you need to read her cues. Sometimes a good old fashioned snuggling is what’s called for.
10. keep a log
This is my biggest advice for taking care of a wife. Take notes. Your wife will tell you what she wants, just not always in real time. Wives love it when you observe their needs before they have to ask whenever possible. It makes them feel like you’re thinking about them, which is huge for women. When you’re out shopping, she’ll mention how much she likes something. Write that stuff down! When she wears an outfit that looks great on her, note the size and color (yes,this means peaking in her closet when she’s unawares). That way if you’re out and you see something that would look fabulous on her, you can snag it. Listen when she says what her favorite songs are. You can make her a playlist with them later. Notice what earrings she wears most, so you know her preferred style. What dessert does she often pick? What part of her body is she often complaining about feeling pain in? Pay attention to her likes and dislikes and literally, write it down somewhere. That way you’ll have a list to refer to the next time she needs extra attention.
What do you do if you have a wife that won’t tell you when she needs you? On a day when she’s feeling pretty good, talk to her about letting you know the next time she needs you. Wives can be unfair. We often expect our husbands to “just know”. But after 15 years of marriage, I can tell you, husbands are not mind readers and they will never “just know” all the time. However, the good ones truly do want to take good care of their spouses, so be willing to give them a hand.
Sometimes it feels really crappy to a wife to have to spell it all out and justify her need for extra care. It might help if you guys can come up with a code word(s) for “I need you to take care of me”? It sounds clunky. But it can be humiliating to openly ask for help when you feel like your needs are obvious. The code words could be “I’m spent”. When the magic phrase is employed, you better respond ASAP because it took her a lot to say that out loud and admit she needs help. Even if all this great advice is escaping you in the moment you hear those words, you can at least look her in the eye and say “I hear you and I want to help. Please help me to take better care of you”.
If your wife is stubborn and just won’t tell you when she needs you with direct words. Here are some signs that you need to intervene:
- she’s bitchy
- she’s sighing a lot
- she won’t get out of bed
- she’s yelling at everybody
- she’s crying
- she’s throwing things
- she’s slamming doors
- she’s threatening divorce
- she has left the building
Happy wife, happy life.
Photos taken by Marie McLean Photography