Listen, I know what you’re probably thinking. Great, another article my wife sends me to nag about – well, whatever she’s always nagging me about.
Hear me out, gentlemen. I want to help you. I know that sometimes we are hard to understand, we are admittedly complicated creatures. Sometimes we contradict ourselves, change our minds, and have mood swings that make your heads spin. But know this; we love you, and believe it or not, we need you.
Yes, we are independent. Yes, we are self-sufficient. We run our households like well-oiled machines when you’re gone, and we are masters at multi-tasking. (See here for the top 10 reasons why we rule, if you haven’t already.)
We manage, organize, clean, and keep things running because we have to. But sometimes it’s a lot. Okay, a lot of times it’s a lot. Like, overwhelmingly so, to the point where we feel like we are drowning. But we really don’t like to complain, because we are stubborn and don’t want to look weak (I know you can relate). So we need a soft place to fall, even if it looks like we have it all handled. Everyone needs a break sometimes, and I can promise you that your wife needs your help, too.
So I’m going to try to help out, because we wives are not the best at asking for what we want until it’s too late and our heads are about to explode – and you look at us like we have lost our minds, but really, it’s been building for months.
Has it been a while since you’ve gotten laid? Or felt connected? I’m going to help with that, too. Let me tell you a secret – the best chance you have at getting some action is to start that action way before you ever step foot in the bedroom. Read that again. It’s important.
By the time we get to bed we have already decided whether or not we’re going to sleep with you. Any halfhearted attempts at groping under the sheets will either be met with warmth or the cold shoulder. It’s what you do beforehand that determines the outcome.
Think of your wife like an airplane. What do you do before every flight? You do a walk-around, you check for any damage, you make sure your aircraft is safe to fly. You can’t just jump onboard and take off, right? You need to warm her up, get all the systems running, and get clearance. (We’re still talking about the airplane by the way.) You have to start the engines way before you reach the runway, yes? Well that’s exactly how your wife is, too. Keep reading and I’ll explain.
Your wife needs your help
I know it’s difficult to know what’s going on when you get home from a trip. You come home and things probably look like they’re all taken care of. But that’s rarely true. There’s always something we need help with, and your help especially.
Yes, really. And I know it’s hard to know that, especially when your wife probably doesn’t ask for it. It really isn’t all your fault, you need to understand that. Communication is a two-way street. But if you want to make things easier, I suggest the following.
Ask, “How can I help you?” or, “What do you need me to help with?”
Trust me, these questions are like the gateway to happiness. Knowing that you care about what we are doing – or that you’re even paying attention to the fact that we are doing something that may need your help is a game changer. We want to be noticed and acknowledged, and asking those questions fulfills both of those needs.
She might say no, she’s got it. But at least you offered, and that is what matters. And if she does need help, jump in and do it! There’s nothing sexier than a man who helps his wife.
By the way, if you ask her and she says no, you are in the clear. Playing games and pretending you’re fine when you aren’t isn’t helping anyone, ladies. Do yourself a favor and speak up if he asks you. Passive aggressive behavior is not allowed.
Do one thing without her asking
Every week, pick something she’s been nagging about. Broken toilet? If you’re handy, fix it. If not, make a phone call. You are in this together, remember?
Whether it’s setting the table while she’s cooking dinner, or wrangling the kids while she’s trying to shower, do one thing without saying a word. She will notice, I promise.
She needs to know that you have her back, and that she’s not alone in taking care of things around the house. You live there too! Even if it is part-time. There has to be a joint effort.
And if she sees you putting in that effort, whooo boy, look out! Those points are going to start adding up like nobody’s business.
Take her out
Plan something, all by yourself. Arrange for a sitter, and pick a place. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t even have to cost much. (Also, consider doing things for trade. Trade babysitting with another aviation couple, or offer a talent or work to a neighbor – you can figure it out.)
Remember when you used to date your wife? There’s no reason to stop. But there’s every reason to continue, including keeping your marriage in shape. And it’s fun! Seriously, when is the last time you saw a movie that wasn’t a cartoon? Or had a conversation that didn’t include interruptions from the kids? If it’s been longer than you can remember, you need to get on it.
There’s tons of things you can do for free, don’t let money be the issue. Pack a picnic, go for a walk, Google “free things to do in my city” and see what comes up. Be creative! You can even rent a movie and make a tent with a meal in your bedroom after the kids have gone to bed. Decorate the room in Christmas lights and don’t let her in there until it’s finished– build the suspense. Your options are limitless.
(If you do have a little money, I HIGHLY recommend doing one of those drinking/painting workshops – they are SO fun and you get to talk and make fun of each other/compete for whose painting is better. And you have to clean off somehow…)
The point is, you need some time for just yourselves. Your wife needs to know that you still value your relationship with her even after the years have passed and you’re in a different place now. Things change (having kids, gaining/losing weight, life goals) but she needs to know that your love for her hasn’t. Go show her.
Oftentimes we get in a rut as couples. Mix things up! Buy her a card, bring her something from your trip that made you think of her, plan that date I mentioned above. Keep her on her toes! We’re all guilty of letting things get too boring, we get stuck in the day-to-day mundane routine. Throw in a surprise and bam! Don’t be shocked if she surprises you right back.
Small things still matter. And giving her a little token here and there to remind her of you can’t get you anywhere but ahead. Try it and let me know how it goes.
Kiss her hello. Kiss her goodbye. Kiss her goodnight. Every time, no excuse. Show me a woman who doesn’t like being kissed, and I’ll show you a liar. (Unless she’s PMSing, or you’ve had a big fight. She might not like it then. Try anyway.)
Kissing is essential! Even if it’s on the cheek, kiss her. She needs it.
Talk to her
In this day and age it’s so easy to end up on different sides of the couch while you both catch up on Facebook (guilty!) or Pinterest or being online doing whatever. Technology is taking over our lives whether we like it or not. But that doesn’t mean we have to be slaves to it.
We still get to decide how we spend the time in our day. So put down the devices, and talk to each other. Ask her how her day went, or about the book she (never has time for) reading. Ask her if she could go anywhere, where would it be? What would she want to do if you both won the lottery? What does she fear? What does she want in 5-10 more years? These conversations are what made you close to begin with. Get to know your wife again.
Ask her questions, and listen. Really listen, and make her feel cherished for opening up to you. Open up right back, even if it’s hard, or seems boring. I’m telling you, it’s the little things that matter. And for the love of God, don’t talk about flying unless she brings it up.
Trust me on that one.
We all need to hear nice things from our partners. Sometimes it can make the difference in the tone for the entire day.
Tell your wife she looks beautiful, even without makeup. Tell her you appreciate her and the hard work she does while you’re away. Tell her you love her. She needs to hear it.
Those little nuggets are what get us through the day, and they get us through your trips. So tell her something. Bonus points for making it original. “You look nice” is ok, but, “Damn your ass looks amazing in those jeans” is better. (Don’t be crass if it’s not your thing. I happen to like crass, haha.)
Other examples of being specific:
“I love your laugh, it’s still the best.”
“Wow babe, thanks for taking care of this while I was gone. I know it’s not easy.”
“You are amazing at taking care of the kids, I don’t know how I would manage without you.”
“I think about you all the time during my trips, I missed you a lot.”
“You are so good at multi-tasking, I can’t believe you got all that done!”
Your wife needs to hear that she is appreciated. It’s a lot of work to take care of a household when you’re gone, and I know it’s easy to overlook since you are busy, too. But while you’re sleeping in a hotel (yeah, I know sometimes it’s a crappy one, or it’s loud, or you’re on reduced rest, I’ve done it, too) she was staying up all night with a toddler who was throwing up, getting laundry done, cooking meals, cleaning up (mostly, if she’s like me), and not getting a break. I was a flight attendant for 3 years, and that shit was hard. But it was nothing like being a mother. And it was cake compared to being a mother by myself for days on end.
We love our kids. And we love you! But we really, really need to hear that we are valued. That taking care of the kids, although necessary, is not something anyone enjoys 100% of the time. We need to hear that you appreciate the crap we deal with when you’re gone.
If you come home and the first thing you do is mention the few dishes in the sink, or that there’s still dust in the house, or how do these toys keep ending up out here – I’ve got news for you buddy; you’re doing it wrong. She is doing the goddamn best she can to hold it together and keep things running, and it’s not easy.
Don’t believe me? Send your wife on a trip for 3-4 days, anywhere. Hell, send her to a hotel in the same city. And you take over. Do all of it. Let me know how it goes. (Your wife may actually like this idea, so I apologize in advance if you didn’t heed my prior warning.)
So when you walk through that door, instead of noticing the dishes and commenting, notice your wife instead. Notice how she needs a pedicure and hasn’t had one in months. Notice how she’s been wearing the same clothes for a year without complaining. Notice how she desperately needs a haircut and color and hasn’t even had the time to wash her hair every day , or even every other day for that matter.
Notice your wife.
She’s the one running your kids around to various appointments, handling schoolwork, bills, groceries, laundry (endless, endless laundry), cooking, cleaning, and schedules. She keeps track of birthdays, anniversaries, doctor’s appointments. And sometimes she goes to work. And sometimes she goes to work watching the kids at home.
She doesn’t want much. But you need to notice her. Let her know you appreciate what she does.
And then start those dishes yourself.
How to preflight your wife, a.k.a. get her “in the mood”
From the AOPA website: “Organization and attention to detail are important. When preflighting, always follow the aircraft’s written checklist. One overlooked switch (such as a boost pump) can make the difference between safety and disaster.”
Boy, you got that right. Let’s put this into practical use, shall we?
Here’s the rundown. Before you are anywhere near “taking off” you need to preflight. Read: that means foreplay. And foreplay doesn’t start in the bedroom. It ends in the bedroom.
So first you need to do a walk-around. This is done when you get home. You kiss your wife (see above) and take note. You look for damage. How is her mood? Does she need help with something? Assess and continue.
Things that will ground your flight include:
Insults, impatience, lack of willingness to help, going straight to a device (computer, phone, iPad), ignoring things that need to be done, indifference, not offering help, scoffing, an air of un-appreciativeness, trying to “fly” without warming up engines first, trying to go anywhere near the throttle before clearance has been given. (Don’t even pretend you don’t know what the last one is.)
Ask her how she’s doing. What problems did she have while you were gone? Did she need to “write up” anything? (This is the crap we save for you to look at – bills, notes home, etc.)
Next up, help her out with whatever she needs help with. Get those engines revving. Now’s the time to throw in that surprise. Whether it’s the upcoming date you planned, something small you brought her from your trip, or telling her to go get that pedicure while you stay with the kiddos, do it now. Listen to those engines purr.
Time for the checklist:
(Don’t take this literally, it’s not a script. It’s a guideline.)
I missed you.
What did I miss while I was gone?
You look sexy.
Need any help?
Let me get that for you.
What should we do later? Want to watch a movie?
I want to spend some time together.
You are seriously hot.
Let me give the kids a bath.
Here, let me help.
I love you.
Damn you’re sexy.
Now talk to her. And listen. Listen some more. Take mental notes. Kiss her and tell her she’s beautiful. Stroke her face, and thank her for being awesome. Give her affection without expecting it to be sexual. It might, but don’t expect it. Keep warming her up.
It might not happen right away. It might take some time. But keep doing it anyway. Warm her up, and be patient. Wait for her signal. And then? Takeoff. Sometimes when you least expect it.
Wheels up, my friend. Happy flying.
The Flight Wife