Seven Phrases To Make Any Woman Happy

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Women can be a real mystery to men. No matter how hard we try to please them, it seems that our wives (or partners) aren't satisfied. When we come home a little late, choosing to not go to the bar (a choice that would have made us a lot late), we hear that we should have called. When, after listening to our wives tell us about their day, we wander off to watch the ballgame, we're accused of not being interested in what they have to say. Sometimes it seems that we can't win.

Even though we're now supposed to understand that men are different from women, especially in our limited ability to know what to do to make our relationships work, the women in our lives can be awfully disappointed with our meager efforts to communicate with them. But it's not our fault. After all, look at our fathers.

Compared to them we're veritable wellsprings of communication. Our fathers not only didn't know how to make their relationships work, most of them would have laughed at us if we even asked them about it. Consequently, we need all the help we can get in learning what to say to make our relationships work. So, in the spirit of simplicity (we all know that when it comes to communicating we men want to keep it simple), I've gathered together seven phrases that I guarantee will get the women in your lives bragging to your friends and neighbors about what a sensitive, caring man you are.

Before we proceed, however, I want to offer one important guideline for using these phrases. Use only those phrases that ring true or appear to fit for you in your mind and heart. Honesty and authenticity are essential to these phrases working and also to the success of any relationship. You might discover though that when you try out the phrases, even though you've never before thought of saying them, they really do seem to fit.

I'm sorry

This is a phrase I never heard my father utter in the 29 years I knew him before he died. I can only guess why he just couldn't say he was sorry. Maybe saying "I'm sorry" was admitting that he had made a mistake, and, in his world, making mistakes was totally unacceptable. What an incredible burden to bear -- having to be right all the time and never make mistakes. Actually it's impossible, because you can't go through life without making mistakes.

We can, however, learn to accept the inevitability of making mistakes and take responsibility when we make them. Mistakes are an important part of any new learning process. So when you forget an anniversary, say the wrong thing or wake your partner up with your snoring, say you're sorry. Making a mistake means nothing more than that you made a mistake. It doesn't mean you're a bad guy or inadequate in any way. When you realize that you've screwed up, take responsibility and apologize.

But just saying you're sorry isn't enough. After apologizing for missing your anniversary (a big mistake that I suggest you never make) you need to make good on your apology by remembering the next one. Repeated mistakes take the power out of apologies. I remember a little girl whose father was late in picking her up for their weekend together. Her response to his tenth apology was "sorry isn't enough." Sorry counts only when you put effort into changing in a positive way.

I feel...

Because women crave emotional intimacy, the best way to create this is tellingl your partner how you feel. But using the phrase, "I feel" doesn't guarantee that what follows is an emotion. There's an easy test for determining whether you're really expressing your emotions. If you can substitute the word "think" for "feel" in your statement without changing the meaning, then you're really expressing your thoughts or opinion.

For example, "I feel that you should do that differently" can easily be changed to, "I think that you should do that differently." You're really just expressing your opinion on the matter. In contrast, saying, "I feel upset when you do that" is not the same as saying, "I think upset when you do that." Upset is therefore a true emotion.

To effectively use this tool in your relationships, you need to develop your emotional intelligence and vocabulary. Many of us think that the only feelings we have are good, bad and not bad. "How are you feeling?" "Good." "Bad." "Not bad." This is not quite an elegant expression of emotions. We have dozens of very different emotions. When we feel bad, we can be feeling frustrated, disappointed, angry, hurt, scared, lonely, sad, worried, guilty, alienated, inadequate, abandoned and many other things. We need to recognize that our emotions are complex and subtly different in different situations.

Developing your ability to identify and discern all the different emotions you feel, and learning to verbalize them to the woman in your life, will help her feel that she really knows you and give her the emotional intimacy that she craves.

We also need to realize that anger is not the only emotion we're allowed to feel. Women are tired of our anger. I know it's the only emotion that we were permitted to express as boys - we never got teased for being angry, only for being a "crybaby." And, for most of us, it was the only emotion we ever saw our fathers express. But the danger in expressing anger is that we push people away when we get angry.

You need to begin to recognize that anger is only one face of a two-sided emotion. The other side of anger is hurt. If you examine your anger closely, you'll notice that you feel angry when you also feel hurt. It's just that anger is the only side of this "anger/hurt" that most of us feel comfortable with. Being emotionally hurt and expressing it has been a sign of weakness for us. We must learn that being courageous enough as a man to reveal our emotional hurt, to be vulnerable in this way, is actually a sign of great strength. It takes strength of personality to make yourself emotionally vulnerable to others.

When we let the women in our lives know what we are experiencing emotionally, they get to experience who we are underneath our male bravado and competence. We become more accessible to the women we love and they feel emotionally safer with us, because they know that we can understand and relate to more of their emotional experience. Nothing is more erotic to most women than a strong man who can also be emotionally revealing.

I would like you to... or Would you be willing to...?

This is about making requests, asking for what you want from your partner, instead of complaining. Instead of complaining that your partner didn't have dinner ready in time for you to eat and still get to your kid's ballgame in time, you can make the request that next time she have it ready in time. Or you can request that at least she can let you know that dinner won't be ready, so you can make other arrangements for eating. Instead of complaining that she never puts your tools back when she's done using them, you could request that she put them back when she's finished.

Requests work because they are about us and not about them. Instead of complaining about how bad she is at putting things back, I'm saying that it's important to me that my tools are back in place so that I can find them when I need them. Women have been trained to take care of others and are not only very skillful but also usually quite gracious about it. Most women have discovered the joy of serving others.

Our job is to communicate with them in a way that lets them know how they can serve us, what's important to us. Making requests in a matter of fact way lets the women in our lives know how they can accommodate us. They don't have to guess or read our minds.

Giving up our complaints frees us from being in a critical, parental role with the women we love. Living with someone who is constantly criticizing you is no fun. It's damaging to your self-esteem. If you want to partner with a woman who feels strong and good about herself, then give up your complaining. You can still get a lot of what you need and want by making requests. And a woman who feels good about herself will consider and honor your requests.

The reason I give two options for how to make a request at the beginning of this section is because some women will better respond to one form of request than the other. Notice that the first form is a declaration of what you want, while the second is asking if your partner is willing to do something. For whatever reason, my wife will readily respond to my asking her to do something and hesitate when I state what I want, implying that I'm awfully demanding. Test out which one works with your partner, and if there is a significant difference in responsiveness, go with what works.

But sometimes no matter how you phrase a request, it will be heard as a complaint. The next phrase will alleviate that problem.

I appreciate... or Thanks for...

When others request that I do something, in spite of the fact that they are merely making a request, I sometimes hear these requests as complaints about what I have been doing instead. When my wife asks me to be on time for a meeting, I will sometimes hear her request as a complaint about the times that I have been late, so I feel criticized by her.

When I recognized this pattern in the couples that I worked with in my office, I began to wonder about the difference. When do we hear a request as a request and when do we hear it as a complaint? What is the environment that will allow me to hear a request as merely a request, someone asking me for something, instead of as a criticism of what I have been doing?

I discovered that I easily hear a request as only a request when I feel appreciated. When I feel that what I do and my contribution to others is appreciated, I am open to hearing what others might want from me and even desire to be of service. I noticed this same connection in others and realized that expressing appreciation for others is the oil that makes any relationship engine run smoothly.

The one thing you can do to improve all your relationships is to verbally express the appreciation that you have for what others do and acknowledge how important they are to you. Thank your partner for every little thing that she does. Don't do it because you have to, but because you want the woman you love to know that you appreciate her.

Tell the woman you love that your life is better for having her in your life. Isn't that why you are with her? Of course she isn't perfect, and certainly your relationship with her isn't perfect, but you need to express your appreciation for what she does and tell her how important she is to you.

I remember coaching a friend of mine who was a teacher at a school for emotionally disturbed boys about what to do with a particularly energetic and often disruptive student. I told him to stop making any negative comments about his behavior. Instead, whenever he began to rev up and act out, he was to say, "My Johnny, you sure do have a lot of energy." After a week of saying this every day, I coached him to follow his energy comment with a request for Johnny to do some specific helpful thing with all this energy.

He could ask him to take a note to another teacher or bang out the chalk erasers or even run outside to see if it was still raining. He would then tell Johnny how helpful he was. After a few days of this, Johnny came in every day and asked if there was any way he could help.

Those we love will live into our experience of them. When we acknowledge and appreciate them, they feel good about themselves and want to be helpful and have some fun with us. And what goes around comes around. When you express appreciation you don't have to worry about others expressing their appreciation to you. They will.

Let me tell you something that's important to me

As I stated before, women like emotional intimacy. In addition to sharing our feelings with them, we can tell them what's really important to us. Maybe you haven't thought about that yourself. If you haven't, when you do, you might discover that you want to make some changes in your life. If you are having a hard time at work, your partner wants to hear about it. Thinking that you are sparing them because "they couldn't do anything about it anyway" is faulty thinking.

Fixing our problems is not the reason we share our problems with our partners. We talk to our partners about the important things that are going on in our lives to create intimacy and emotional closeness. Not to mention, if you're having a hard time with something you can get some well-deserved compassion and understanding.

We need to share not only the bummers in our lives but also the good things. I don't know what it is about us men that makes us so reticent to share good news with those we love. I know that in my cultural tradition it was considered bad luck to talk about the good stuff, fearing that it would attract bad luck (similar to telling actors to "break a leg"). Or maybe we don't share our excitement about something good because we're afraid that others won't be as excited as we are.

We need to share the important stuff, both good and bad, with the women in our lives. When we inform the women in our lives, they get to know us better and will be a lot more patient and compassionate with us. I don't know about you, but sometimes I need all the patience and compassion I can get.

We can also share how we got to be the way that we are with the women in our lives. They will be a lot more understanding when they realize that, considering where we came from, we are doing incredibly well. Every time I visit my family, my wife comes away with a greater appreciation for how far I've come. By the way, if you are a member of my family, I want you to know that you are all doing incredibly well considering where you came from.

What do you think?

Most women have somewhere gotten the message that what they think about things isn't important or even wanted. What a ridiculous circumstance, considering that women often know a lot more than we do about a whole lot of things. It's our job to help the women we love learn that what they think is important and valuable to us.

Of course we need to listen to what they have to say. I remember going down to Florida to visit my mother after seeing one of those "Seinfeld" episodes where Jerry visits his parents in their Florida condo. I was sitting in my mother's condo when I realized that if the Native Americans could rename this land they would call it "the land where everyone talks and nobody listens."

Before we move down there in our older years, we need to really learn to listen to each other. We need to get out of our own heads and listen to what someone else has to say. Now some of you might fear that if we really listen our women might never shut up. But I expect that a big reason they talk so much is that we aren't really listening most of the time. If we listened, they wouldn't have to repeat themselves so much.

I love you

The last phrase is the icing on the cake. Women need to know that they are loved by hearing the words come out of our mouths. I assume that you are with someone you do love. But if you are unable to feel the love that you have for your partner, remember that there was a time that you did feel great love for her. Something must have happened since. If this is the case, it is your job to first identify what is in the way of your feeling of love for your partner and then do whatever you can to dissolve or transform the barrier to your feelings of love for her.

Maybe you don't like the way that she talks to you or that she pays too much attention to your kids and not enough to you. Whatever the case, you must do whatever you can to get back in touch with your love for your partner. Remember all the things that at one time you really liked about her. Even if she hasn't manifested these things in your relationship for some time, she has the latent ability to recover this ability. This will depend a lot on you. If you can honestly use the six phrases I've already discussed, you will be well on your way to helping your partner once again become a woman you can easily love.

If you do love your partner but rarely say so, you need to figure out what's stopping you. What do you associate with saying, "I love you" to the woman you love? You need to understand that verbalizing love is not a feminine trait but a human trait and we need to reclaim our capacity to say what we feel. And when we do, our partners will more easily recognize and appreciate that we already demonstrate our love for them in a myriad of ways.

If you learn to use these phrases the woman in your life will be bragging about you to her friends. When she asks you what happened, just tell her that you decided to say all the things you were already feeling. 

Alan Konell, M.S.W. is a Certified Trainer in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and has a private coaching and practicing living well consulting in Chapel Hill N.C. He has led seminars for the general public, Fortune 50 companies and staffs in major teaching hospitals. In addition to leading Certification Training in NLP, he has led seminars in strategic psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, stress management and personal evolution. For more articles or to learn more, visit:

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