Men and women want a lot of the same things from a significant other, but there are also some key differences between what each gender needs from their partners to have a satisfying relationship. Gentlemen, you’ll want to pay close attention here because the more successful you are at making your wife feel loved and appreciated, the better your chances of getting your own wants fulfilled as well.

To Know She’s Loved

Everyone wants to know they’re loved and wives rarely tire of hearing those three little words—”I love you”—from their husbands. But showing your spouse how you feel can be equally important as telling her—it may be a cliché, but actions really can speak louder than words. In fact, the best ways to express how you feel are usually in simple, seemingly unimportant acts like giving her an unexpected hug or holding hands when you walk together.

Understanding and Forgiveness

There will be days when your wife will make mistakes or when she’ll be difficult to be around. No one (and that includes you too) is perfect. She both wants and deserves your willingness to understand and forgive her. Remember that no relationship, and especially marriage, can be sustained without forgiveness.

Women especially want you to understand that the hormonal fluctuations that impact her mood are very real. So don’t make fun of her or say she’s “crazy” when she’s got her period or is pregnant or going through menopause. Be empathic and understanding instead. 

Real Conversation

Don’t let your conversations with your wife dwindle to nothing but talk about your kids, your jobs, and the weather. If that happens, it could be a sign that your marriage is in real trouble. There’s lots more to talk about beyond the practical and the superficial. In fact, it’s critical for couples to discuss their feelings and emotions on a regular basis. These deep and real conversations are the “glue” that will hold you together and create the intimacy married people desire. 

Quality Time With Her (And Your Children)

Having quality time with your wife and kids isn’t something that just happens. You have to make these moments of connection happen by both arranging for them and then following through. Spending time with those you love has to be a high priority for you.

It’s also important to remember that the woman you married is your wife, not just the mother of your children. Never stop making an effort to romance and date her. After all, that’s how the two of you grew close in the first place. Common activities lead to shared feelings and help strengthen your bond.

To Hear “Yes” More Than “No”

Whether it’s having her decorating ideas dismissed or hearing the dreaded “not tonight,” no wife likes being turned down. Occasional rejections are one thing though; habitual negative responses to her and your kids are another story—and not one that often ends well. Constantly hearing “no” can wear them down and cause resentment that pushes them away from you.

That’s not to say you should become a pushover and just say yes. But try thinking twice before automatically saying “no” and you might be pleasantly surprised at how it can improve your relationships. Research shows that the more you respond to requests in a positive way, the happier and more satisfying your relationship will be.2

Better Listening Skills

It’s really disheartening for a wife to share her thoughts and feelings with her mate and then realize he didn’t actually listen to her. Your wife wants you to not only listen with your ears but to listen with your heart. Besides hearing the words she speaks, it’s important to be open to what your partner has to say, even if you don’t agree with it. In general, men who respect their wives’ opinions have much happier marriages. And, guess what: Often times their wives will be right! 

Affection and Kindness

How often do you say “please” or “thank you” or give your spouse an unexpected kiss? Unfortunately, some married couples forget that being kind to and affectionate with one another are keys to a successful marriage—they help feed the relationship and keep it strong. 

Think about when you were boyfriend and girlfriend: These were behaviors you probably did regularly and spontaneously. There’s no reason they should stop when you’re married. In fact, they may be even more important once you tie the knot since experts acknowledge that the frequency with which you and your partner express and receive affection is directly related to your commitment and satisfaction. 3

Shared Household and Child-Rearing Responsibilities

One of the main reasons couples fight is conflict over who’s doing what around the house. Chores and child care are not the sole responsibility of your wife. She shouldn’t have to ask you to do your share around the house. You will be a hero in her eyes if you readily help when asked or—even better—take care of some chores before she asks. Bonus: You may benefit in the bedroom, too, since studies show women feel more sexually attracted to partners who pitch in.

A Day off Now and Then

Don’t fuss about your wife taking a day off a couple of times a month. This means she’ll be free from worrying about what’s happening with the kids, the house, the pets, and you. She deserves this break in her schedule and she needs to provide it for herself in order to be emotionally and physically healthy. 

A Healthier Attitude About Their Health

It’s not a stereotype that men are terrible at taking care of themselves when it comes to their health: Research shows it’s true.4 And all that “persuasion” your wife has to use to get you to go to the doctor or dentist isn’t fair to her—she’s your lover, not your mother. Part of the reason men don’t prioritize healthcare is due to an ingrained idea about masculinity and strength: They feel pressure to appear strong and equate illness or pain with weakness. A better philosophy is that caring for yourself is the path to caring for your family.