This column is dedicated to all those men who keep complaining that they have no idea what women want. To those men who despair of ever making their wives/girlfriends happy. To whom the mind of a woman is a closed box with ‘No Access’ written in large red letters on the side. And most of all, to those who get it wrong despite trying their very best to please.
Take it from me, it doesn’t take much to make a woman happy. And contrary to all that guff you read in women’s magazines, it’s not all about oversized bouquets and boxes of expensive chocolate (though sometimes these may be very welcome). A woman’s happiness is tied up in a set of intangibles that vary through every stage in her life. And to know what these are, you need to pay pretty close attention to her. But if that seems like a huge task, here are a few pointers to nudge you in the right direction.
What is the best compliment you can pay your woman when you are out with her? Telling her that she looks like a million bucks? Assuring her that her bum looks terrific in those pair of jeans? Well, yeah okay, that may be one way to go. But you know what they say: talk is cheap. If you really want your woman to feel like a million bucks, stop shooting sidelong glances at the other women who pass by through your peripheral vision. Stop checking out the derriere of the lady riding the escalator ahead of you. Don’t open doors with a flourish for the babe in a tight mini-skirt. In fact, don’t even clock her existence. Have eyes only for your woman; and see her blossom and shine as she glows with the confidence of someone who knows that she is loved and desired.
When the woman in your life is telling you about the problems in her life – at the office, with her parents, with the maid – all she wants you to do is listen and act like you care. She doesn’t want to be told that she is "making a mountain out of a molehill." She has no desire to be asked to "just calm down and relax." And she certainly doesn’t want you to go into problem-solving mode and tell her what exactly she is doing wrong and how she can resolve the situation. All she wants is that you pay close attention – i.e. switch off the television, get off Twitter, put down the newspaper and turn down the volume on the iPod – acknowledge that she has a genuine problem on her hands, and sympathise with the difficult situation she finds herself in. That’s ALL you need to do. So long as she feels that she is being listened to – rather than just heard – she will feel validated.
Okay, so you are not the greatest of shoppers, and choosing a birthday/anniversary present for your woman is probably your idea of hell. But no matter how stressful gift-shopping may be, on no account must you delegate this task to your secretary/personal assistant (mostly because the woman in your life will always find out – and then all hell will break loose). This is one job you have to do yourself. If you are not confident about your taste, take the birthday girl along to choose something. But on no account must you buy her anything that you could end up enjoying yourself (so no flat-screen TVs, no jacuzzi for the bathroom, or even expensive lingerie).
The gift must be personal, something so luxurious that she would feel guilty about buying it for herself, and frivolous enough to suggest that you still see her as a fun person rather than a staid mother of two. Most importantly, you must also arrange that she can return the gift if she doesn’t like it and choose something else in its stead. And if she does – don’t look sulky. Just smile and say that this is what you had meant to buy her in the first place – before the salesgirl steered you in the wrong direction.
When it comes down to it, remember that it is the little things that matter. Greet her with a kiss rather than a demand for a large drink when you arrive home at the end of a long day. The great toilet seat battle has already been waged and lost, but don’t rub salt in her wounds by leaving wet towels/clothes on her pristine new bed linen.
Send her a text message in the middle of the day to tell her that you are thinking of her. Take the kids off her hands for a couple of hours on Saturday so that she can enjoy a manicure without them wreaking havoc around her. Be nice to her parents. Rub her feet as she lies in bed, exhausted after looking after a fractious one-year-old. Surprise her occasionally – whether it is with breakfast in bed, a single red rose, a CD that reminds you of the time you went dancing in Goa, or a weekend away without the kids. But most of all, just show her that her happiness matters to you. At the end of the day, that’s all you need to do to keep her happy.
See, I did tell you, it really doesn’t take much.
Follow Seema on Twitter at twitter.com/seemagoswami