Men and women want different things. No surprises here. Those who take the time to find out what their spouse wants or needs, and do something to see those needs are met, have the stuff of a happy marriage. This is a little tricky, because it’s easy to assume that the wants and needs you feel are the same as those of your spouse. It is the assumption that our needs are the same that drives us to treat our spouses the way we want to be loved. However, when someone is trying to love you in a way you don’t really want to be loved, or they try to meet needs that are not felt by you, it will mean little to you, and may even seem annoying. Scratching feels good only if you scratch where it itches.

Find the itchy places—the places where there are wants and felt needs—and decide to “scratch” (meet) those wants and needs. No one pushes to go to divorce court because their spouse is meeting too many of their needs. Met needs always produce the feeling of being loved, valued, and appreciated. Contrariwise, unmet needs make relationships unbearable and precipitate all kinds of inappropriate activities.

What Men Want

Before we discuss what it is men want, let’s point out a few things they do not want. For instance, men don’t want to become women. If you ask women to describe their ideal man, many will describe a man who loves to converse and open up. They want someone who enjoys the little details of life, someone who remembers all the things that are important to them, and someone who would rather share with them about the day than stare at the TV all night.  In short, women describe their favorite girlfriend.

Sorry, ladies, but we men make terrible girlfriends. We don’t like to talk and open up. We generally forget the little things. And sadly, staring at the flashing boob tube is often more appealing than sharing minor details of the day with you. But don’t take it personally—we don’t really want to share with anyone. Men do not share, we conquer, we protect, we compete, we work, we insult, we make disgusting noises, we leave the toilet seat up, but we generally do not share. You can train us to share (more on that later), but sharing doesn’t come naturally. And at the end of the day, we will never be women.

Work-Free Zone

Here’s another thing men don’t want; Men don’t want to “work” on their marriages. Why?

Because most often, men like their marriages the way they are. A survey taken by the Chicago Sun-Times showed that of 2,301 men, 1,788 said they would remarry their wives. In another survey by Women’s Day magazine, women were asked how they felt about their husbands. Only half of the women who wrote in to the magazine said they would marry their current husbands if given the chance to do it over again. David Roadhouse, a Chicago psychotherapist, suggested the reason for the disparity might be that “on the whole, men experience fulfillment more easily than women do. Women are filled with all these romantic yearnings and romance is finite, limited, difficult to sustain.”

For years, I believed men were primarily responsible for the rise in the divorce rate and for marital problems. When it comes to relationships, men in our culture are generally referred to as clueless, insensitive, heartless, cruel, et cetera.  Every man is the hapless nitwit portrayed by Ray Romano in Everybody Loves Raymond.

Not long ago I attended a play called The Male Intellect—An Oxymoron, in which men were mocked for their relational incompetence. (It was a one-man play performed by—yep—a guy.)  In my early presentations I confidently asserted, “The biggest problem in marriage is that there is a man involved.”