No matter how long you’ve been married or how well you know each other, there are at least a handful of specific things guys commonly keep super-close to the vest. It’s not that he’s stewing in his own closet of skeletons (let’s hope, at least), but your guy might need a little help expressing himself when it comes to insecurities, emotions or needs. We asked a couple therapists to give us a peek into his brain—what he’s thinking, what he’s saying and what he isn’t saying—but definitely should be, too.
He has body insecurities.
You might be able to slink into your sexiest dress after a week of SoulCycle classes and ask him how you look, but your husband is probably not going to sniff around for a compliment. Still, he needs to know you still think he’s attractive, too. “Men feel the pressure to put out an energy that they are confident and secure, but most of them really need to know that you still desire them,” says LA-based couples therapist Ellen Bradley-Windell, LCSW. “Verbalize to your husband, ‘I am really attracted to you!'” says Windell. “And tell him why you feel so lucky to be married to him. Although they may play it off as unimportant, they really are grasping on to every word you’re saying.”
He doesn't know how to fully open up.
“By nature, men are less emotional than women,” says Detroit-based clinical therapist Tomanika Witherspoon, LMSW. “I often have to probe the men more than the women to expand on their concerns.” And it’s not because they don’t have emotions or concerns, but because men have likely been taught to work through these things independently—or bury them—from early childhood.
So, don’t be surprised if he has have tough time telling you that he’s hurt after an argument, frustrated when you’ve worked late every night for two weeks or that he wishes you’d take his financial concerns more seriously. “This can ultimately become destructive as the husband, who may feel neglected and have feelings of resentment because his needs are not being met because he’s not identifying concerns,” says Witherspoon.
What to do? “A wife can only continue encouraging and be patient,” she adds. Communicate your emotions clearly, and wait for him to access his. Go the extra mile to see his side, and he’ll reciprocate.
He's ultra-dependent on you.
Most guys can easily wear the provider and protector hat, but very few will readily fess up to needing someone else’s constant support—even if it’s from their own wives. “Men have buddies at the gym or in the workplace, but it is very uncommon for them to have a true, loving friend who unconditionally understands their heart or emotions,” Windell says. “They really desire the idea of be able to lean on their wives for that support, but don’t want to appear weak.”
So, don’t forget to be his lover, wife and bestie. Ask him what’s going on at the office, or plan a date night just to talk about stuff. If he seems stressed, tell him you’re there to listen—even if he says nothing is wrong at first. And when he shares, absorb what he’s saying—and don’t be afraid to respond. He wants your opinion. “Tell him will promise to let him know if there is something you don’t understand,” she adds. “Your honest and positive feedback is the most important part of being his best friend.”
He's more into cuddling than he lets on.
Sometimes, he might not be in the mood for sex, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to get close and be intimate with you. “Just as much as wives crave the emotional intimacy associated with cuddling, men enjoy these little moments, too. Don’t let them fool you,” says Windell. Try taking that initiative more often—grab his hand, touch his shoulder or get closer in bed. (We’re partial to spooning.) Sometimes, of course, sex is on the brain, but other times a simple hand on his arm is the only reassuring touch he really needs.