When my husband of 10 years served me with divorce papers earlier this year, I felt completely shocked. I spent weeks wondering where I went wrong, searching my brain for answers that never came. I thought I was doing everything right — but clearly, I was wrong.
As we spent the majority of the spring and summer buried in mediation talks and started separating our lives, I realized something so fundamentally simple that I couldn’t believe I never thought about it before: I rarely asked my husband if he felt happy in our marriage.
Since we finalized our divorce back in early July, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to learn more about what exactly it is that makes men happy.
And although I thought that I was the only one trying to figure this mystery out, it turns out that women everywhere are wondering the very same things.
The good news about that is that I’m not alone — but the bad news is that means the internet is full of cheap advice that won’t really get you far.
If you’re willing to really read through evidence-based recommendations and put them into practice, though, you can prevent your relationship from ending the same way mine did.
In fact, you can learn exactly how to keep your man happy and find the keys to a successful long-term relationship.
What really makes men happy?
Sometimes it feels impossible to make a man happy. But is that really the case? Maybe not!
If you ask any number of relationship experts or couples counselors, though, they’ll tell you it’s rather simple: What really makes a man happy is food, sex, and an understanding partner.
Sounds too good to be true, right? Wrong! In fact, many relationship experts agree that what makes a man happy are directly related to those three key components.
When you know that, men don't seem too complicated after all, right? But let's get into some further details...
What makes him feel special?
Although mainstream media constantly encourages men to make women feel special, we rarely see the same recommendations for turning the tables. Isn't a relationship a two-way street, though?
The fact of the matter is that men deserve special attention just as much as we do — even if they often say otherwise.
Luckily, James Michael Sama of The Good Men Project covers this very topic in great detail on the Good Men Project blog. According to Sama, there are 10 key ways women can make their male romantic partners feel special — but here are just a few:
1. Give Compliments
When you consider the man in your life, it's probably not surprising to hear that he feels special when he receives compliments. Men love hearing good things about themselves, we all know that.
However, most people don't realize that men want so much more than meaningless ego strokes. Instead, they live for genuine compliments from their loved ones.
So don't just give him the, "Great job!" line when he washes the dishes — find ways to compliment your man that lets him know you appreciate his positive attributes.
2. Ask His Advice
Most women (myself included) want to feel heard when we open up to our loved ones. In fact, we're rarely looking for solutions to our problems — we just want someone to listen and validate our feelings.
However, men feel their best when they see themselves as providers and protectors for their loved ones. Because of this, most men want their partners to see them as a problem solver who always has the solution to their problems.
So how can you make your man feel special? By asking him for advice! Even if you already have a solution in mind, pick is brain every once in a while… you'll see his heart soar every time you do.
3. Give Him Your Full Attention
Have you ever felt annoyed when your partner has his nose in a screen when you're trying to tell him something you feel is important? Well, believe it or not, he feels the exact same way!
Almost all humans want to feel like they matter to someone, so give your partner your undivided attention when he takes the time to open up to you. It will do wonders for your communication and bond.
4. Be His Safe Space
Society tells me that they must be strong and bottle up their emotions, but we all know that's unhealthy. Although we can't change society overnight, we can make sure that our partners feel safe expressing their emotions with us.
When you give a man a safe space to air out his frustrations and let his guard down, he will not only feel more connected to you, but he'll feel like you really care for him and see him as someone worthy of love and care.
Why men love to be appreciated
Making your man feel special will definitely help keep him happy, but is it the total solution? Well, if you read Bethenny Frankel's recent book 10 Rules for Not Screwing Up Your Happily Ever After, you'll soon discover that men also need to feel appreciated.
Men need to feel good about themselves in order to remain happy in a relationship. And how can we help our male counterpart feel better about himself? By making him feel appreciated, duh!
When we constantly focus on the negative aspects of our partner and nag them, they feel discouraged. When this happens, they shut down and ultimately give up on themselves and, of course, the relationship.
Men often see women as mysteries and have trouble knowing where they stand with us unless we spell it out for them. When we compliment them and show them appreciation, though, men see that we care and the relationship is stable.
Of course, dating expert and life coach Gregg Michaelsen says that men love to be appreciated for a very simple reason: It strokes their ego.
Under the tough exterior layer that most men put forward, there's a sensitive guy who needs a self-esteem boost just as much as his female partner. When you appreciate a man, it helps make him feel better about himself, which in turn makes him feel more loving and affectionate towards you.
Making him satisfied in the bedroom
We all know that men are very primal creatures at times. They’re driven by visual cues, sexual attraction, and intimacy. For this reason, most men see “love” and “sex” as one in the same — meaning that a key to your man’s heart is actually your sex life.
Life coach Jordan Gray states that keeping your man blissfully happy in bed isn’t as hard as you may think, though. In fact, all you need to do is try out a few of these seven things:
- Initiate sex sometimes, because it makes your partner feel desired — and that’s sexy.
- Make sex multi-sensory by touching, kissing, and licking his entire body — it’s more sensual.
- Keep the spontaneity alive with unplanned or surprise sex from time to time.
- Be direct — tell him when to cum and ask for it.
- Keep up masturbation so you know what you want from him when you’re together.
- Put effort into your appearance and wear things that arouse him.
- Schedule sex so that it remains a priority in your relationship.
Furthermore, Redbook Magazine mentions that men love when women get vocal and talk dirty, so be sure that you’re making some noise in the bedroom. Men see moans and other vocalizations as compliments because those sounds mean that you’re enjoying what they’re doing.
So let him know how much you appreciate him — you’ll both feel even more sexually satisfied when you do.
Keys for happiness with him
Not all relationships are meant to last, but far too many fail because partners don’t know how to unlock the right doors to keep the relationship going. According to Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, though, the keys to true relationship happiness are a lot easier to utilize than you may think.
In fact, most of the keys to long-term happiness for partners revolve around practical interpersonal communication skills.
You need to learn your man’s communication style and use that knowledge to your full advantage. You also need to be open and honest with him no matter what because a breakdown in trust often breaks apart the relationship for good.
Learn to read his body language and really tune in on his emotions — even when they don’t match what he’s saying. If things feel tense or “different,” don’t be afraid to point it out and check-in with your partner on how they feel about the relationship's status.
Like all interpersonal connections, even the most effective communicating couples have conflicts from time to time. You can work through these disagreements, though; you just need to keep your eye on the prize and be willing to listen, share, and compromise.
And, most importantly, remember that relationships evolve and change over time. You’ll need to accept this and ride the waves together if you want any chance of making the relationship last.
Men may seem like complicated creatures, but with the right information, you can make sure that your man is forever satisfied with you both inside and outside of the bed.
You just need to make sure that your man feels wanted. That he feels special. And that he feels your love day in and day out. Because at the end of the day, that’s all a man really wants: a woman who loves him for who he is.
Although my marriage failed, that doesn’t mean that your long-term relationship has to slip through the cracks. You can learn from my mistakes and use what I’ve learned in the aftermath to your full advantage — and I really hope you will.
Keeping your man happy isn’t hard. You just need to remember to actually do it. Don’t go through the motions or neglect your partner. He deserves your full attention and, more importantly, your entire heart.