What I Wish My Husband Knew I Needed

Twelve wives on the one thing that will make or break their relationships.

In marriage, it’s not easy to know what a partner wants us to do. Though we may try to do the things that make them happy often and avoid the things that don’t, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what they really want from us. Maybe it’s that we try to solve problems for them too frequently or maybe it’s that we don’t show our affection often enough. Such things are hard to pick up on and also hard to express. That’s why we spoke to a dozen wives about the things they need but don’t get from their husbands. The answers were very illuminating. Take a look and start a dialogue with your spouse about the unspoken things that might help your marriage. Or not. We’re not the boss of you.

I Wish My Husband Recognized When I Needed Time to Myself

“And I don’t mean, like, time in a room that he and the kids aren’t in. I need to know that he’s got everything under control, and that I can truly relax, breathe, and take a break. Just for a little while. He’s a great father — he really is —  but sometimes I feel like the lead in the relationship. And it gets overwhelming. I’m not talking about a weeklong vacation by myself. Just an afternoon or evening when I could hand the reins over to him and completely forget my kids exist. (Laughs). I know that sounds bad, but you know what I mean.” – Hallie, 35, Kansas

I Wish My Husband Would Let Me Solve More Problems

“Sometimes I need him to let me solve problems. My husband is so smart. So annoyingly smart. He’s not obnoxious or arrogant about it at all, but he always seems to come up with a ‘better way’ to do something. Even if my way isn’t the best one, let me try it. Let me fail. Let me learn. And let me try it again.” – Jessie, 39, Iowa

I Wish My Husband Wouldn’t Make Everything a Joke

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“My husband is a joker. I wish he knew I needed him to be more sensitive sometimes. We rag on each other pretty frequently. We did it from the moment we started dating, just busting each other’s balls all the time. Now that we have kids, and our friends have kids, the way I feel about myself — my body, my emotions, and all that — has changed. It’s probably hard for him to understand, but I definitely need a break — at least until I’m back to feeling like my old self. If that ever happens…” – Monica, 40, Kentucky

I Wish My Husband Would Understand That Saying ‘Sorry’ Doesn’t Cut It

“I wish my husband knew I needed more than an ‘I’m sorry’ for the same thing over and over. I need to see the change. I need to believe there’s effort being made. Little things can become really, really annoying when he does them, then expects to erase them with ‘I’m sorry’. That’s just really immature. I’m all for second chances. Even third chances. But, c’mon, man. ‘I’m sorry’ just doesn’t cut it when the problem never changes.” – Kimberly, 37, New Jersey

I Wish My Husband Would Stop Deferring to Me and Say ‘No’ to the Kids More

“I need my husband to say ‘no’ to the kids sometimes. It’s such a cliche, but he’s the king of ‘Go ask your mother.’ Whenever the kids want something that he knows they shouldn’t have, he defers to me. I’m always the bad cop. I need him to fill that role sometimes. We need to be a team when it comes to raising our kids and, even though he definitely puts in the work and the effort every day, sometimes it feels like I’m the only real decision maker. You can’t imagine how draining that is. Plus, I always feel like the bad guy!” – Erin, 29, Ohio

I Wish My Husband Knew I Needed Him to Help Me Address the Clutter

“I have ataxophobia. It’s the fear of clutter or disorder, kind of like reverse hoarding. It’s not a medical condition, but it’s a real thing; you can look it up. So, I need my husband to be as neat as he can, or it gives me terrible anxiety. I’ve come a long way since we first met. I used to clean everything, even at his house. I’ve definitely lightened up a bit — two kids have forced me to. But seeing a cluttered coffee table when I come home from work really does make me sweat. I know he would never say it, but sometimes I feel like he wants me to just ‘get over it’. Believe me, I’m trying. But, until then, I need all the help I can get.” – Lyn, 36, Illinois

I Wish My Husband Knew I Needed More Eye Contact

“Not a 24/7 staring contest, but something other than him looking at the TV, his phone, or whatever other screen is in the room. I love talking to him, but I feel like there’s a disconnect when he’s visually focused on something else. Eye contact, even just for a few minutes, would make me feel like I’m the most important thing in the room.” – Kristi, 33, Ohio

I Wish My Husband Knew I Needed Him to Cut Me Some Slack

“We’re both first-time parents. But, sometimes I feel like my husband just assumes I know everything because I’m the mother. I have no idea what I’m doing. I wish he knew I needed some grace here and there, and some compassion — even camaraderie — when it comes to screw ups. We’re trying as hard as we can, but it seems like he looks to me as the expert. I’m not. I need him to let me dumb down, too.” – Samantha, 38, Connecticut

I Wish My Husband Knew I Needed Him to Touch Me More Often

“Not sexually — well, not just sexually — but in our everyday interactions. When we do get moments alone, he hugs me, kisses me … all that. And it’s great. But, it’s the times when we’re chasing kids around, or passing each other during a hectic morning that I’d love for him to just reach out and brush my arm, or squeeze my shoulder. Even a pat on the back would be great! That effort — reaching out, just to touch me for a second during a busy situation — would definitely boost me up, and make me feel closer to him.” – Anne, 36, Pennsylvania

I Wish My Husband Knew The Balance Between Love Making and Sex

“I wish my husband knew I needed love-making and sex. I probably don’t need to explain the details but, basically, to me, one is more emotional, and one is more physical. Both are great, and both are necessary. And it’s not a checklist thing, like ‘sex, Tuesday night, love-making, Friday night.’ The thing is, he’s really good at both! I think he just needs to respect the balance.” – Maegan, 42, New York

I Wish My Husband Knew I Need Him to Fight With Me More

“We need to fight more. Don’t get me wrong, I hate fighting. But, I know it’s necessary to solve problems and grow. I see a lot of friends in relationships who don’t argue, and they just bottle things up. It can’t be healthy. I don’t think a lot of people these days know how to navigate a conflict — especially with kids. I don’t advocate fighting in front of our kids, of course, but I’d like to raise them in an environment where conflict is a reality, and so is coming up with compromises and solutions. My husband is very passive, and non-confrontational, so he tends to ‘retreat’. Sometimes, I wish he knew I needed him to stand up and fight back, so we could work things out together.” – Christine, 50, Ohio

I Wish My Husband Knew I Need to Go on Real Dates

“We go out to dinner, to the movies, stuff like that. But, most of the time, it just feels like hanging out. Now that we have kids, so much of our energy is devoted to them that it zaps us for time with each other. We have fun, but the spark is barely noticeable. I’ll admit, I need to try harder as well, but I need him to give effort toward rekindling the little things that made us so fun in the beginning. I don’t want to lose that.” – Kayla, 31, Massachusetts