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What does a husband need from his wife? The answer to this question is complicated. After all, humans are complex people, and each individual is even more uniquely complex. Emotionally, physically, and spiritually, men differ from one another in a myriad of ways. So what a husband needs from his wife will vary from one man to the next.
This means, of course, that what a husband needs from his wife is largely individual. There’s no script or pattern to follow to “get it right.” There’s no perfect wife or perfect marriage, either. But as a partner in a loving marriage, you doubtless WANT to figure out what it is your spouse most needs and wants from you. So understanding your husband’s needs is probably very important to you. It is to me.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of things that spouses need from one another in marriage. There will be things you’ll discover as you go; unique needs that your partner has. You’ll figure out how to help meet those needs or support your partner to help him meet those needs. As your marriage grows and changes, these needs might change and morph a bit too.
But rather than try to create an exhaustive list of emotional needs in marriage, let’s focus on the basics. There are some important emotional needs that we ALL have in common, and it’s not a stretch to say these are the major things that a man needs from his marriage.
I think we can boil it down to the foundational needs of a husband. Here are 5 essential things a husband needs from his wife. These represent a solid set of elements that can help provide a basis of love and security. If you give him these 5 things, you’re already well on your way to a loving, lasting partnership.
A quick note: This post is written from my perspective, that of a heterosexual married female. While I don’t think these particular needs are exclusive to men or to husbands (not at all, in fact) I’ve written from this perspective. You can certainly apply these precepts to your own relationship. These are things a wife needs as well!
What a Husband Needs from His Wife
It’s probably no surprise to you that respect is on this list. It’s a pretty common one, particularly on a list of things a husband needs. You’ve likely heard it before: one of the biggest needs a man has in his marriage is respect.
This one can be a bit contentious.
First, many of us modern women tend to bristle a bit at this concept. There’s something about the directive “respect your husband” that can make the feminist blanch. It can have a patriarchal sound. It brings to mind words like “obedience.” And since men in our society largely have respect and have never lacked for it, the idea of “respecting your man” can feel wholly unnecessary.
In short, respect for your husband can feel like an outdated, old-fashioned concept.
But hear me out: it’s really not.
Take away all the societal notions you may have attached to the idea of respect, and just think about what it really is. Respect is the “due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others” or it can also be defined as “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”
Clearly, those are things you want to do for someone you love! You want to have regard for their feelings, wishes, rights, and traditions. You respect your husband’s opinions (and his right to have an opinion) by listening and engaging. You respect his feelings by trying to act in ways that are kind and considerate. You make attempts to understand his feelings. (And respect is also 10000% something that must go both ways, by the way. This is vital in a healthy, happy marriage).
But I think it’s the second part of the definition that is key: deep admiration. Your husband doesn’t just want respect like some arbitrary leader. He wants the respect that shows that you value his opinions and actions. How could this not be important?! Your husband wants to feel capable and to know that you feel you can depend on him and the decisions he makes for himself and for your family. Respect provides your man with greater self-esteem, confidence, and a sense of personal power. At the core, respect is a way for you to make your husband feel loved for who he is.
*By the way, in terms of respect, some “relationship experts” have gotten it very wrong. One of my favorite marriage bloggers Sheila Wray Gregoire talks in this post about the harmful messages found in the book Love & Respect).
Support is another thing that a man needs in his marriage. Support is something we all desire in any of our close relationships, but it is especially important in marriage.
When you’re in a marriage or a long-term relationship, you’re becoming incredibly vulnerable with another person. You are letting them into your life and into your world and allowing them to see all of who you are, for better and for worse. This type of vulnerability is essential, but it can be tough. Support is what makes it so much easier.
Support says: I will love you even if you screw up. It’s okay if you fail.
Support says: I know you’re not perfect, but you have so much value. You are incredibly important.
Support says: I believe in your dreams and goals. I trust that you can make good decisions.
With support, not only can husbands (and wives) be their best selves right now, but they are able grow into the best versions of themselves. Support provides a safe base from which to explore, reach, try, and attempt. With the support of a spouse, we are more comfortable taking risks and taking chances. Because someone we love will be there, even if we fail. To me, this is one of the things about marriage that makes it so exciting and fulfilling.
Men need more than just our respect and support. Even if they don’t often say it, men want to be cherished.
How your man most feels cherished may depend on their love language. If it’s Words of Affirmation, for instance, your husband may feel cherished when you tell him how much he means to you. If his love language is Physical Touch, he may feel most adored when the two of you interact intimately. This doesn’t just have to be sexual either. Loving through physical touch can include cuddling, a good solid hug, sitting close together, rubbing your hands through his hair, or giving a massage.
Finding out your spouse’s love language can help you figure out how to show affection each and every day. This is truly one of the things we all need in our marriages and relationships.
Even if you don’t know their love language, however, it’s not too hard to find ways to cherish your spouse. A few ideas
- Tell him that you’re proud of him, plain and simple
- Compliment him
- Do something he hates to do (a chore, etc) just because
- Kiss him a little bit longer in the morning (a great way to flirt with him, too)
Read Next: 10 Tips on How to Be a Better Wife
Okay, we get it. Men like sex. This is something we hear in Relationships 101. These days, however, society in general is much more aware that a high sex drive is not something that is exclusive to men. (And in fact, to the contrary, some studies show that it’s we ladies who have the higher libidos).
No matter your individual drives, sex is an integral part of marriage. It is important in marriage to prioritize your sex life and to seek intimacy in ways you both find satisfying.
In terms of meeting your spouse’s needs, this might mean making time for sex in your busy day to day lives. It might mean making more of an effort to be present for a sexual encounter, setting aside mental distractions. It could also mean spending time together to improve and enhance your sex life, in whatever ways help the two of you to find more pleasure and closeness.
So how do you ensure that you’re meeting your husband’s intimacy needs? The physical closeness is a big part of it, and this is something that generates even more emotional closeness. But intimacy is not just about sex. Intimacy involves a deep closeness between partners that transcends the ordinary. It involves safety, trust, and an ability to see your partner as who they really are. Obviously, intimacy is awesome!
I think one of the keys to intimacy is listening. One of the most important things we can do to encourage greater intimacy in our marriage is to be present for our partner and to be a good listener. (It’s one of the keys of healthy communication in relationships). Showing up for our partner in this authentic way, ready to engage, does so much to generate intimacy and closeness. When we are truly listening, we are attuned to our partner’s words, inflection, and body language. We are there ready to receive their messages, spoken and unspoken. In this way, we are offering ourselves up to truly understand them. We’re providing a nonjudgemental, genuine safe space for them to be themselves and to share their genuine feelings, fears, and more.
When we seek to listen and understand, we don’t rush in to provide solutions or advice. “Fixing” the problem is not what matters here. It’s about being the person your partner can open up to in every way. When they know you are listening and are there just for them, they can be their most vulnerable and incredible closeness can blossom.
Our husbands need something else from us: patience!
In truth, we all need patience from our partners, because we’re human beings: messy, prone to faults and foibles, and makers of mistakes large and small. Patience is a necessity in every marriage.
But in terms of something your husband needs, patience is an important one. Let’s be honest: men and women are different. Perhaps you might have noticed? This means that, naturally, we often misunderstand one another and conflict can arise. Patience is the thing that can stop fights in their tracks and diffuse bad situations. It’s also what can keep a bit of humor in a relationship.
Patience involves giving your husband the benefit of the doubt in such situations. It means recognizing that he had the best of intentions, but somewhere along the way, your wires got crossed. Or maybe he just messed up, and that’s ok. Patience.
Patience also means being aware that you might have to repeat things for your husband a few extra times before he really “hears” it. You might have to take a deep sighing breath when he folds the laundry “the wrong way” yet again. These are tiny little things, yes, but when not taken on the chin, sometimes these minor annoyances can be destructive in a marriage.
I’m telling you, your husband needs you to cut him some slack on these little things, and have patience with all his “husbandly” ways. Patience can make all the difference—and a sense of humor, too!
You might also like:
- 18 Powerful Prayers for Your Husband and Your Marriage
- 15 of the Best Marriage Books for Couples to Keep Your Relationship Thriving
- 5+ Relationship Rituals for Couples That Will Help Love Last
- The Ultimate List of Real Relationship Goals for Couples
- Smashing the Soulmates Myth: Why My Husband and I Aren’t Soulmates
Amy Hartle is the author of Do You Love Me? How To Stop Seeking Reassurance in Relationships, a book on reassurance seeking and relationship anxiety. Both her book and this blog are born of personal experience; Amy shares expert relationship advice from the lessons learned during her own 10+ years with her husband, as well as couples travel tips and romantic getaway recommendations, all gleaned while traveling the world together.