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When I Feel Most Valued and Appreciated in My Marriage, According to 16 Men

Showing appreciation in a marriage is essential. But what makes men feel appreciated the most? Here's what 16 men told us.

In marriage, we all need to feel valued. It’s an innate instinct. We want to be seen and appreciated for what we’re doing. Even the most hard-headed of us want to be acknowledged from time to time. For a marriage to work, it’s essential for partners to express this. But how that’s done changes from person to person. Is it words? Gestures? A heaping portion of PDA? To find out what works for everyday men, we asked a 16 fathers and husbands what makes them feel the most valued in their marriage. Answers ranged from romantic notes to watching shitty kung-fu movies on the couch. All revealed the myriad ways men feel the most valued in their relationships. 

When I Comfort Her

“I’m a nurturing person, so I’m in my element when I’m consoling someone, or giving advice. My wife, on the other hand, is very analytical, and very logical. So, when something bad happens, or she has a rough day, her default is problem-solving mode. Of course, I don’t like to see her upset, but it makes me feel so good to be able to hold her, care for her, and feel like I’m protecting her. It makes me feel like the man my father taught me how to be — sensitive and compassionate — and makes me feel like I’m being the best husband I can be.” – Travis, 34, Maryland

When I Can Problem Solve

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“My wife and I are pretty opposite when it comes to dealing with crisis. She needs to process things emotionally, while I’m very ‘Let’s look for solutions.’ So, when a crisis comes up, I feel most valued because I bring something to the relationship that’s totally mine. I have the mind for thinking step-by-step through the problem, and she always backs me up and trusts my judgement. I think that’s a big part of it, too – the trust. She knows that I always have our family’s best interest in mind, and that makes me feel like a good husband and father.” – Matthew, 35, Florida

When I Give Her an Orgasm

“I wasn’t very sexually experienced before I met my wife. So, getting to know her in that sense has been something truly special to our relationship. There’s certainly a stereotypical male confidence/ego thing when your wife or girlfriend has an orgasm. But, on another level, I think it makes me feel valued because we’ve worked very hard to increase that sexual compatibility. It’s completely ours, and no one else’s, which is why it’s so special. And why it makes me feel like I’m doing a good job.” – Andrew, 36, Connecticut

When Our Friends Compliment Us

“Whenever we’re out with another couple, and they say something like, ‘You guys are so cute,’ or, ‘You’re so lucky!’ I feel like I’m doing my best job as a husband. Ultimately, I know it doesn’t matter what other people think of our relationship. But there’s still something very affirming about that type of recognition. It’s like people acknowledge that we’re doing something right as a couple and, as the husband, I’ve got an essential part in all of that. My wife’s opinion is obviously most important, but the pats on the back are great.” – Zachary, 33, New Jersey

When My Wife Shows Interest in my Interests

“My wife and I don’t actually have a lot in common when it comes to casual interests. She likes baking and wine. I like sports and video games. But, we make genuine effort to cross over and keep our minds open. So, when she suggests playing Mario Kart out of nowhere, or sits down to watch college football with me, I love it on two levels. First, it’s always more fun sharing those experiences with someone. Second, as a husband, I feel like I’m not just playing a role in the relationship. I’m a real person, who deserves real consideration, and real attention. It’s cliche, but it’s definitely those ‘little things’ that make me feel valued.” – Will, 35, Ohio

When We Compromise

“Even if the compromise ends up in her favor, the act of talking about a disagreement or point of contention is incredibly valuable to my worth as a husband. It shows that my opinions and suggestions matter. That’s like oxygen to a relationship, really. I see so many of my married friends — men and women — just roll over, or get bulldozed, when it comes to potential compromises, and my wife and I really aren’t like that. It’s a give and take, for sure. And we both pick our battles. But I think the discussion and the examination of each situation as unique is what makes me feel like a valued part of our relationship.” – Chris, 40, California

When She Goes Big For My Birthday

“This might sound silly, but I get treated like a king on my birthday, and it always makes me feel like such a great husband and father. My family never really went all out for birthdays, but my wife’s did. Maybe that’s it. In addition to the actual fuss, I think it’s the fact that I’m now a part of this thing that’s very special to my wife, which means I’m very special to my wife. It’s probably an obvious answer, but I bet a lot of guys feel that way. Birthdays rule.” – Aaron, 37, Illinois 

When She Shows PDA

“Nothing makes me feel more loved, valued, and turned on than my wife slipping me a kiss in public, or surprise squeezing my ass. It makes me feel irresistible as a man, and as a husband. How can you not feel valued when someone literally cannot keep their hands off of you? We have three kids, too, so neither of us are in the same shape as when we first started dating. So the fact that she’s still drawn to me and attracted to me enough to goose me at the grocery store just makes me feel wanted, in more ways than one.” – Mark, 36, Florida

When I Surprise Her

“My wife is super hard to surprise. She’s very intuitive and, honestly, really nosy. So, when I’m able to pull one over on her, and surprise her with a gift, or an outing, or any other ‘no reason’ whatever, I feel like I’m doing my job to keep things interesting. I like the challenge, and that makes me feel valued, too. And it reminds me how much I love her. I’m always thinking about ways to surprise her, which means I’m always thinking about her. And when the surprises pay off, I feel like I’m doing a good job as her husband.” – Jake, 38, Ohio

When She Leaves Me Notes

“My wife packs my lunch every day, and she writes me a note every day. It’s always something simple, nothing more than a Post-It. But it always, always, always makes my day. I look forward to it from the moment I step out the door. It’s like my daily reminder that she’s thinking about me, and that she values me even when we’re not together. Even if we’re fighting, or not on great terms, she still writes those notes. They’ll usually say, ‘I love you. We’ll figure this out.’ Or something like that. And those especially make me feel like she values me, and values us.” – John, 39, South Carolina

When My Wife Greets Me When I Get Home

“My wife always gets home before I do, and she never fails to drop whatever she’s doing to give me a kiss when I walk in the door. She doesn’t come running like a golden retriever, but that first interaction when I get home – like if she’s in another room and I walk in – is always very deliberate, and very intentional. And that means a lot to me. Instead of just going through the motions, we look at each other – into each other’s eyes – hug, and kiss. It’s a great reminder that we’re both still in love, which makes me feel very valued.” – Tony, 38, New York

When She Apologizes First

“This isn’t a macho pride thing. Well, maybe a little. But, when we have an argument, and she apologizes first, it’s more the fact that the apology signals her willingness to try and solve the problem actively, instead of some passive aggressive bullshit that could last for days. I’ve been in relationships before where that’s been the case, and it makes you feel like you don’t matter. Like ‘winning’ is more important than who you are as a person, and as a part of the relationship. If she’s the one who happens to be ready to talk things over first, then she will always, always, always make that known. And that makes me feel valued and respected as an equal part of our relationship.” – Steve, 41, Atlanta

When She Prays For Me

“I always say that my wife ‘churches’ harder than I do. She was very drawn to God long before we ever met. And, as we got to know each other, I tried to keep an open mind to her devotion. Even though it wasn’t a huge part of my life before meeting her, I see how much peace it brings her, and I’ve come to embrace it. When she prays for me, I feel like it’s almost superhuman. Like, she’s just so, so good at saying exactly what needs to be said, with such enthusiasm and sincerity. It’s a whole different level of care and love, really, that reinforces how much my well-being means to her.” – Peter, 29, Ohio

When Watch a Stupid Movie

“So, I’m a junkie for 90s action movies. Van Damme. Arnold. Stallone. I could watch marathon after marathon, probably for years. My wife thinks their stupid, terrible, ridiculous…all of that. And, she’s totally right. It’s what I love about them. And it melts my heart when I’m able to sneak one on before she gets home and, instead of giving me shit about it, she’ll just curl up next to me. Even if she falls asleep in five minutes, the simple act of sharing such a silly passion of mine means the world to me. I tell her that, too, to make sure she knows exactly how much it means to me, and how good it makes me feel.” – Marty, 36, Washington, D.C. 

When She Holds My Hand

“Not when we hold hands. But when she reaches out and initiates the hand holding. Sometimes I’ll be driving, and she’ll reach over and grab one of my hands right off the wheel to hold and put in her lap. It’s just so voluntary and willful, that there’s no way to interpret it any way other than, ‘This woman loves me, and wants me near her.’ Sometimes she’ll pull my hand out of my coat pocket, too. Like forcefully. It’s that combination of physical touch and her initiating the gesture that, for me, is just priceless.” – Charles, 30, Rhode Island

When He Sticks Up For Me

“My husband and I have dealt with a lot of shit. So, for me – for both of us, really – when we stick up for each other in the face of bigotry, or ignorance, or criticism, it’s a constant testament to our love, and how much we mean to each other. And I’m not talking about, like, squaring up and fist fighting. Most times, it’s being able to roll our eyes at each other and laugh things off. Or even just walk away from unfortunate situations. It’s this solidarity that exists between us. It’s companionship. We mean something to each other, and that’s the priority.” – Eric, 40, Michigan