That means that you do not interrupt her with your stories, your thoughts on what she just said, or by changing the subject. Listen to her heart as well as her words. As she talks ask yourself, “What is she feeling as she tells me this?” Even more importantly, ask yourself, “What is the message she really wants me to hear?” Once she knows that you are genuinely interested in her views, thoughts, and feelings, you can actually ask her those questions. However, do NOT ask them until you know that she knows that you are trying to understand her, not correct her.

This one thing can change you into a better husband in one month: Each day spend at least a half-hour just listening to your wife talk. Turn off the TV, cellphones, and radios. Find a place where there are no distractions, including interruptions from your children. Look directly into her eyes, and then ask a couple questions to get her started. Comment only if she asks, or if you want better to understand something she just said. Show her that you enjoy hearing her talk, no matter how trivial the subject, because it helps you understand her better and love her more.

TIP 5: Time Matters.

The old adage – which is not that old – that “quality time is more important than quantity of time” is ridiculous. Allowing work, hobbies, or other interests to keep you from spending time with your wife will, with time, deaden emotions.

You may have heard “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” From my experience with thousands of couples, I think the more accurate axiom is “absence makes the heart grow fonder for someone else.”

Make time just for the two of you. It will not happen if you do not make it happen. Plan it and do it.

TIP 6: Be Her Support, Not Her Father.

The next time your wife comes home complaining about how someone treated her, do NOT tell her what she should have done, tell her what she should do, or offer to go deal with the problem yourself. Instead, listen, understand what she feels, and then give her the “poor baby.”

The “poor baby” is just what it sounds like. Let her know she has a right to feel hurt and that you are sorry it happened to her.

Unless she asks your opinion, or asks you to deal with the problem, do NOT offer to do so. You are not her father; you are her husband. Treat her as your equal. If she complains about a situation, your job is to listen, let her know you are on HER side (even if you think she did not handle things correctly, or that it was her fault) and that you are always there to support her. More than likely, she wants to forget the incident, but she needs validation that she has a right to feel hurt or angry. Give it to her.

TIP 7: Keep Growing.

No husband or wife reaches perfection in his or her roles. There will be plenty of times throughout your marriage when you will make mistakes, say the wrong thing, or leave your dirty underwear lying on the bedroom floor. It happens to the best of husbands. But it is important to not let those moments of blunders define your marriage. Use every opportunity you can to continue to grow closer to your wife and learn more about her wants, needs, desires, and aspirations. Keep learning and growing. Just like a fine wine or aged cheese, marriage gets better over the years.

Joe Beam founded Beam Research Center, an organization that provides marriage help to hurting couples strengthen or save their marriage. Follow him on Facebook here.

Publication date: November 26, 2012