In spring, many a young man's fancy has turned to thoughts of love. But once the vows have been exchanged, what does a man need to feel happy in a marriage?
As wedding season unofficially kicks off this June, two new books about men and marriage offer some surprising insights.
Neil Chethik, the author of "VoiceMale: What Husbands Really Think About Their Marriages, Their Wives, Sex, Housework and Commitment," compiled research from a nationwide survey of nearly 300 husbands and in-depth interviews with 70 other married men.
He says that women don't realize that for men, the mere fact that they got married in the first place is a major act of love — and they want this to be validated.
"Just being in a relationship and being committed to it, just showing up every day is an expression of [his] love," Chethik said.
So what makes a man happy in a marriage?
"Acceptance and appreciation. We want to be needed," he said.
Psychiatrist Scott Haltzman, who drew on his experience as a marriage counselor for his book "The Secrets of Happily Married Men: Eight Ways to Win Your Wife's Heart Forever," offers a similar revelation: Men have a tremendously strong sense of commitment.
"They take it very seriously. They really want to be a hero. And it's really important for a man to know that he is having an impact on you in a positive way," he said.
Wives, are you listening?
It also helps if you tell your husband that's he's having an impact, too. Why? Because then he'll feel he's accomplished something in his role as a husband and can relax a little more about some of the things you need.
Both authors readily acknowledge that while it sounds like a tired old cliché, a good marriage still requires commitment and work.
"Your wedding band doesn't come with a rule book. Women shouldn't assume that men know what the rules are for marriage," Chethik said.
In other words, wives, drop your assumptions and be open to what your husband has to say.
The authors' observations about appreciation resonated with Allison Cheston, a mother of two who works in marketing.
Cheston said that over the course of her 16-year marriage, her husband's need to be appreciated has turned out to be more important than she would have thought.
"[It's very important] to take time to celebrate everything you can, and to spend time alone so that you remember why you love each other and why you got together in the first place," she said.
She confesses that she's not always mindful as she would like to be about offering praise and appreciation in the course of a busy life.
"What I find is that when I do make it a priority, it pays dividends. Men are much more straightforward than women; there is much more obvious cause and effect involved in dealing with them. There are very few hidden agendas, unlike with women," she said.
"When you come to understand that, it simplifies your communication, but I must say that for a long time I didn't necessarily believe it," she added.
But Richard Pallotta, a software consultant and married father of two, is more skeptical of the authors' advice.
"On a fundamental level I agree [with their ideas], but most men I know are capable of functioning above the level of early Neanderthal and understand it takes much more than this," he said. "We can be simple in some aspects of our relationships, but that doesn't necessarily make us primitive."
Haltzman's best advice for both sexes? Make marriage "the job you love."
"We look at work sometimes as something we have to do. [When it comes to marriage], why not do it and love doing it?" he said.