Dear Married (about to be married) Guy,

There is one simple nugget of wisdom that will dramatically improve your marriage quickly.  I want to pass it on.  It will transform you and your wife into people who love better and more freely and are easier to love in return.

It’s simple: Serve her.

Wake up and think to yourself – What can I do or say to make her life easier or better than it is? It’s that simple. 

But not really.

You’re human, man.  And so you, like me, wake and think first, probably, What do I want for breakfast? Or, I’ve gotta go to the bathroom, take a shower, make some coffee, I have a meeting at 9, lunch downtown and then… And you’re off, thinking about you.  These aren’t bad thoughts.  They’re even necessary thoughts.  But they don’t have to be first or top thoughts. 

I think that a lot of what we think is a habit. I ‘m not even trying to think it.  I just do.  Change the habit.  Wake up and make yourself think about her, and if you have them, your kids.  Not how much you want and love her – you do that already – but how you can express that in a way that makes a difference in her day.  Do this first.  And all day.

There aren’t any girls reading this letter.  It’s just you and me, so let’s talk about foreplay.  Foreplay is one thing to a man and another to a woman.  Be honest.  What a man calls foreplay is whatever happens in the few minutes before the few minutes we call sex actually happens.  It’s the little bit of physical activity and words that show us we’re wanted, appreciated, approved of, that turns us on enough to carry on with sex.  It doesn’t have to last long.  We’re easily convinced.  A short investment of time and we’re thinking She loves me, she wants me, good enough, let’s move on.

Not so with women. 

Foreplay for a woman lasts all day.  The stuff that makes her feel wanted and appreciated, begins when her day does.  Making breakfast and changing the baby’s diaper, emptying the litter box, sharing a meal with her, laughing together, holding her, simply asking what you can do to help, emptying the dishwasher when you’d rather watch TV, keeping every tiny promise (I’ll be home at six, for instance), listening, listening, listening – these things are foreplay.

Let me put this in a way you’ll be sure to remember and understand.  Imagine you come home and greeting you in the kitchen is your wife wearing (or not wearing) whatever she wears in your most erotic fantasy.  And she says something like, “Tonight’s you’re lucky night, big boy.  The kids are sleeping at a friends house.  It’s just you and me.  I want you…now.” She attacks you, in a good way, and tells you what a great man you are and…well, whatever else you want to imagine here.

Ok, back to reality.

If that actually happened to you, what would you guess she feelt about you?  And how would her feeling that way about you make you feel about you?  And how would that change how you responded to her?

Thinking about your wife first all day can have the same kind of effect on a woman.  It communicates the same thing to a woman that physical and verbal foreplay communicates to a man – you’re loved enough for me to give myself to you.  Abandonment of self to her, of your plan for hers, of your time for her, of your attention for her, proves to her how you feel about her.  (And when you don’t do this it also proves to her how you really feel about her.) And how you feel about her affects to some degree how she feels about herself and you.  When she tells herself she’s lovable it’s easier to believe if you’re proving it by loving her all day.  And when you say I love you it’s easier to believe when you’ve backed that up all day.

What’s more, foreplay of either kind makes men and women want to give themselves away, want to respond.  When we feel valuable, precious, wanted, we naturally unreluctantly give ourselves away intellectually, emotionally, physically etc.  We want to be one in every way with the person who has convinced us were loved unconditionally.

I’m not saying serve your wife so she’ll put out.  No, no, no!  That’s not service.  That’s not a marriage.  That’s prostitution.  What I’m saying is take the way you feel for your wife and express it in a form she needs, wants and understands well.  Selflessness can’t be faked for long.  She knows that.  If you love your wife though you can put her first every day.  You just have to train yourself to express love differently. She’ll believe you when it keeps happening.  And a person who believes she’s loved is an easier person to love and a more loving person.

One last thing.  Confession time.  I spent a few years thinking mostly about how not to mess up.  Avoiding mistakes, saying something stupid or getting in the way distracted me from better thoughts about how to put her first.  Guy, your job today isn’t to stay out of her way and not do something wrong.  Your job is to actively love her, to get in the messes and help, to reassure her when she needs it, to listen when she speaks, to be a friend and make her life better than it would be without you in it.  If I come home from the road and my wife’s life is harder – I’m not doing my job.  If she looks forward to my return because the weight will be lighter, then I am doing my job.

Best of luck.  Women are too complex for us to figure out on our own.  Any hassle-sparing advice you want to pass on to me, I’d love to hear.  This is just the one thing I’ve got somewhat figured out about some women – my wife in particular.  Hope it helps you and yours.