How to Be The
Almost Perfect Husband
by J.S. Salt
(and Wives Who Know)

If you could tell someone how to be the almost perfect husband, what would you tell him?

That’s the question I posed to more than one thousand wives, ex-wives and widows, nearly all of whom freely offered advice. In the end, I had enough material for a book: How To Be The Almost Perfect Husband: By Wives Who Know.

After gathering all my data – a collection of one and two sentence bits of advice from wives to husbands - I set about the task of picking and choosing. What should I put in the book, and what should I leave out? In other words, it was my job to sift through all the advice I’d assembled and choose what was truly important to women. I made my decisions, shared the "final cut" with my wife and immediately got fired. (That's right, I got fired by my wife.)

"That’s all you learned!?," she asked. Realizing she’d inadvertently stepped on my toes, she immediately followed up with the far more diplomatic, "Mind if I take a look for myself?"

The moral of the story? Even with 1,000 wives explicitly telling me what they needed from their husbands, I still didn’t get it. I was just too much of a "man" to truly understand. That’s when my own wife lovingly stepped in and helped me to see what wives truly crave. That said, here are "Three Top Tips for Pleasing Your Wife."

1. Listen

More than anything, women want their husbands to listen. Not try to solve their problems or offer advice, but simply to listen. As Becky, 33, advises: "When I'm having a bad day and complaining a lot, please just listen. Forget the advice on how to make things better. Just tell me you love me and give me a hug." Brenda, 36, adds: "Always listen to what your wife has to say no matter how uninteresting or boring it is to you. It's important to her or she wouldn't be sharing it with you."

2. Show her you love her

It’s the little things you do for her that let your wife know she’s truly loved. "Surprise her with something small," says Rowena, married 23 years, "like bring home take-out without being asked." As Jennifer, 22 - married just nine months! - explains: "Instead of telling me, show me you love me. A kiss when I least expect it. Flowers for no reason. Hold my hand when we’re in public, and in private. Little surprises like these can sometimes mean much more than words."

What if you’re a man who’s married to a modern, "self-sufficient" woman, someone who’s fully capable of taking care of herself? Erika, 45, is just such a woman. Yet her request is much the same: "Even though I’m strong and modern and self-sufficient, do surprising, sweet, I’m-here-to-pamper-and-care-for-you things." As for specifics, consider these:

"Write me little notes and give me funny cards a little more often, like you did when we were courting." – Jennifer, 32, married 6 years

"Once in a while, send me a little surprise at work – so the people around me are jealous that I have the perfect mate." – Marilee, 46, married 22 years

"Light a candle every once in a while – even when the power doesn’t go out." – Linda, 48, married 28 years

"Do what my husband does: When I wake up at 3 A.M. filled with worry, he rubs my back, holds my hand and says things will look better in the light of day. Then he doesn’t fall asleep until I do." -- Cynthia, married 14 years

And in the morning, try this: "Bring her coffee in bed and give her a kiss. These little deeds tell me he loves me and that he cares." -- Maureen, married 11 years

Remember: Little things-you-do say a LOT to your wife.

3. Tell her you love her

While actions may speak louder than words, words still hold their own special power – both positive and negative. Jeannie, 55, separated for seven years, writes: "Think before you speak. Words can damage and cut to the bone." Be careful not only to guard your tongue, but use your words to cherish and embrace. Maureen, 62, writes: "Learn to say: ‘I love you.’ Acting as if you do is great, but it’s nice to hear it once in a while." Sally, 47, advises: "Tell her you love her three times a day. ‘I love you’ is like mayonnaise. It has a very short shelf life."

And while you’re at it, follow the advice of Deborah, 42: "Tell her she looks pretty. At least once a day!"

Questions for Reflection or Discussion:

* When your wife is telling you about a problem she’s having, are you truly listening or trying to come up with a solution to offer?
* What did you do today that showed your life you truly love her? (What about yesterday and the day before?)
* When was the last time you said to your wife, "I love you"?
* In an average week, how many times do you say those words?
* How often do you tell your wife how attractive she is?

About the Author:

A popular writer and speaker, J.S. Salt spent three years speaking with 1,000 husbands and 1,000 wives, resulting in the books: How To Be The Almost Perfect Husband: By Wives Who Know and How To Be The Almost Perfect Wife: By Husbands Who Know. (To view more selections from these books, visit Shake It! Books.

J.S. also created the National Best Seller, Always Kiss Me Good Night: Instructions on Raising the Perfect Parent by 147 Kids Who – presented in the children’s own words and handwriting. His latest project? Retro Postcards on the subjects of romance and family that you can send via e-mail for free. To view the selections, visit Shake It! Books.

Married for thirteen years, J.S. Salt lives with his wife and son in San Diego, California.

J.S. Salt is a pen name for Joel Saltzman, author of "Shake That Brain!" (Wiley, 2006).
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