Every man - like every woman - is different, but this may explain what's going on next time you find him analyzing his fantasy team like his life depends on it. Not included: why he's taking so long in the bathroom. After all, some things should remain mysteries. By Holly Corbett, REDBOOK.
Husbands need to feel needed
"For husbands, not being able to impress your wife from time to time is like Kryptonite for Superman," says Lois Barth, a relationship and career coach based in New York City. "Just think of the movies most men love to watch: lone hero in the town against the bad guys saving the day. That hero chip is hardwired into most men - as long as we let them be." Don't rush to do the jobs you dread just to tick another item off on your to-do list - asking for help can bring you closer.
Husbands show their love through actions rather than words
Men aren't as direct in expressing their love as women, and they aren't mind readers. They want to know what women like and then give it to them. The more directly you tell him what you crave ("It makes me happy when you surprise me with dinner") the more likely you are to get it. And when he does show you a bit of what you're looking for, such as bringing you flowers, making a big deal out of it will help pave the way for repeat behavior in the future. Sure, woman appreciate romantic gestures, but being there when you need him - whether that's when your car breaks down or your aunt passes away - sometimes says more than blatant declarations of love. After all, a sweet-talking romantic is great, but a husband who doesn't bail in an emergency is even better.
Related: TheTop 100 Must-Buy Shoes For Fall
Husbands care about fashion -- a little
Most guys aren't as concerned with their appearance as women are, yet would secretly appreciate some guidance in the fashion department. But if you try to change his entire wardrobe, he'll get the message that you don't like his look, and may become resentful. To work with him on his style, frame new stuff as additions to his wardrobe rather than replacements. Take the lead, but include him by asking what types of styles and stores he likes best. Even offer to arrange a day of shopping that's all about him, and set a goal - finding two shirts and two pairs of pants, for example - so he's not worried that he'll never escape the sales floor.
Husbands do best with clear, concise messages
"Many men may act like they are not listening (yes, sometimes they really aren't), but if you make a simple request or share a feeling, just let it sit rather than going into too much detail," says Barth. "Chances are that your husband will process what you're saying better if you don't bombard him with information. Believe it or not, a man's cave time isn't just about loafing in front of the TV, but processing your message so it can really sink in."
Related: 9 Little Gestures He Wishes You'd Do
Husbands can learn to fulfill your desires
Nobody's perfect (wives included!), but you can teach your husband to give you more of what you crave. Think about the thing you'd most like to tweak, such as getting him to show more affection. Wait until he gives you a glimmer of the behavior you desire. It may be by accident, such as grabbing your arm to keep you from walking into the street. Take that inch a mile by letting him know you like it. Say: "One of the things I love about you is how affectionate you are." You're not only making him aware of how you want him to behave, but pointing out that he already has this ability. The beauty of this tactic is that you're not nagging him to change, but training yourself to notice the good. Keep reinforcing his good behavior, but stop doing it every single time. Otherwise, you risk sounding repetitive and the praise will lose its effectiveness.
Husbands get insecure too
Whether it's a potbelly, bald spot, or back hair, husbands also have body hang-ups. And husbands of today may be spending more time grooming than previous generations. Case in point: "I've seen a surge in men coming in for waxing by at least 25 percent in just the last year," says Lidia Tivichi, a clinical esthetician specializing in men's grooming and founder of Maris Dusan Spa in New York City. "Popular areas for guys include feet and toes, butt, back, and chest." While doing a little manscaping may be good for your husband's confidence -- and your libido -- remember to let him know you think he's sexy just the way he is.
Husbands need some alone time
Unlike girl-time, guy-time doesn't involve a lot of gabbing. Instead, it's about doing activities together. If his hoop-shooting or guitar-playing marathon sessions really bug you, try the "best friend test": If your friend was behaving the same way, would you get mad? You'd probably accept his or her habit as part of her personality and even admire the fact that she gets excited about something. Look at your husband's pastime as an opportunity to do something you enjoy (catching up on your stack of magazines and laughing about your husbands' quirks with friends over cocktails) rather than taking it personally.
Husbands do more housework than you think
Studies show wives underestimate the amount of time their hubbies spend on housework and overestimate their own contribution. Still, women shoulder 61 percent of the load, according to the Journal of Marriage and Family. To get closer to 50-50, sit down with your honey and create a master plan. Decide which chores must get done, and divide them according to who likes doing what and how much time and effort each requires. If you despise taking out the trash and he's indifferent, put that on his list.
Related: 50 Hairstyle DON'T and DOs
Husbands like competition
You may not understand why your husband has to be in four different fantasy football leagues, bowls every Tuesday night, and is constantly plugged in to his favorite team on ESPN. "Little did I know before we got married that baseball happens nine months out of the year," says Sara Preville, 32, married for almost four years. "It used to bother me that sports would take precedence over planning everything from the baby's birthday party to what time we would eat Thanksgiving dinner. But then I realized that sports are a competitive outlet for my husband, and that not nagging him about his hobby makes him more relaxed in other important areas -- like our relationship."
Husbands have selective hearing
Studies show men and women tend to have very different interests when it comes to conversations. Women love to talk about people and relationships, while men are more apt to talk about things. So if you're chatting with your honey after a party, try not to get upset if he's oblivious that the hostess was bickering with her husband. It's simply not where his focus was. Save the gossip for those who will appreciate it (a.k.a. your girlfriends).
More from REDBOOK:
- What He's Really Thinking After 1, 5, and 10 Years of Marriage
- 15 Secrets of Happy Couples
The Most Iconic Mini Skirts of ALL TIME
- 28 Amazing (& Annoying) Things About Sex