How to Compliment your Wife (and not get in trouble)

Complimenting your wife is one of those essential ingredients to healthy marital communication, i.e. keeping her happy. Even if you think it’s obvious that she looks stunning in that dress; and saying so might push you beyond your 2,000 words a day limit, tell her anyway. Even if your wife already knows she’s an excellent cook because you told her so three years ago…trust us, she wants to hear it again!

Smiley FaceThe same way that you want us to understand and accommodate your physiological need for daily sex, we need to hear that we’re pretty, that you cherish us, that we’re fun, sexy, smart and all around awesome. No matter how silly and redundant they may seem, we need compliments.

Though most wives will readily admit that they’re thrilled when their husbands praise them, lots of men simply don’t bother doling out the verbal approbation that we crave. Why? Fear of offending, which is pretty much the exact opposite of what a compliment is supposed to do. But it happens. We all know some poor schlep whose wife didn’t speak to him for three months because he pointed out that her stretch marks appeared to be fading. Or the guy whose over-the-top, dramatic pseudo-flattery caused his wife to roll her eyes and sigh “what-EVER!”

In the game of complimenting, your word choices and manner of delivery are everything. If we were to say “make your compliments as positive as possible,” you’d go “well, duh! Whoever heard of a negative compliment?” But they exist. Women across America, probably some you know, are giving their men the silent treatment at this very minute because of a compliment gone wrong.

Here are a few quick tips to always remember before opening your mouth to praise your better half.

  • Point out the positive…not the lack of negative. Saying “You have such a beautiful smile,” will probably score you a seductive kiss, while “Honey, those Crest White Strips must be working,” will result in a fat lip. She doesn’t want to know that you ever thought her teeth looked yellow, even if they more closely resembled corn kernels than pearly whites.
  • Don’t try to be funny. This almost always backfires. Instead of saying “Honey, your cooking is getting better. I can almost tell what this is.” Just go for the straightforward “This is delicious.”
  • Don’t get too dramatic. Your compliment will come across as fake, like you didn’t really mean it in the first place. When she asks “how do I look?” Without flinching or averting your eyes, reply “you look awesome.” Resist the urge to ham it up, grabbing your heart, feigning shortness of breath and gasping “you look hhhhhhhhhottttttt.” She’ll wonder why she had to ask for your opinion in the first place if you were so moved by her appearance.
  • Get in the habit of complimenting her before she has to ask for it. The effort it takes to solicit praise will take away from its value.
  • Don’t  compare her to your mother or any ex-spouse or girlfriend, even in a good way. The mom part is just weird; and mentions of any exes should be limited to never.

If you’re not in the habit of complimenting, practice in front of a mirror or to pets and inanimate objects. It may take a while to feel comfortable putting yourself out there on that level. But, it will make your wife really happy (depending, of course, on menstrual and lunar cycles.) And when she’s happy, the world is a safer place.

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About the Author: Angela is an award winning humor columnist, freelance writer and public speaker living in Middle Georgia, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She uses her keen insight and clever wit to help husbands understand the complex mechanisms that are their wives. “I like to think of goodhusbanding.com as an owner’s manual for the average wife. Of course results may vary, but we’re all fairly similar whether we admit it or not.” Angela uses her background in psychology, the myriad of learning experiences offered through her ten year marriage, and input from her “in the trenches” audience members across the country as input for her articles.

  • kris

    Uh oh. “Menstrual and lunar cycles??” Buzzer sounds to indicate “Wrong!” Only other women can comment on our periods. Men are not allowed to mention PMS, periods, or lunar cycles (?). I am offended that you did. (For real!) This will be taken as hurtful, sexist and lunkhead-ed. My hubby picks up Midol and, yes, even tampons when I am in the throes of menstrual suffering. But he never says anything other than, “Here is your water honey.”, and “I hate it when you don’t feel well, babe!” (Yes, he’s a keeper.) Men, be warned! It’s like the button I saw once, “Have PMS and carry a gun.” You see, a woman can wear that and it’s hilarious. A guy wearing a button about women and PMS is plainly an idiot, if not an outright misogynist. Need I say more? It’s a double standard; but one to ignore at your peril! 

    • Calpeach27

      Kris, I, the author of this article, am a woman. I can write all I want about menstrual and lunar cycles. It’s my right as a female who has to suffer through them. Thanks for the comment, though.

  • kris

    P.S. “And when she’s happy, the world is a safer place.” See, that is all I was saying! Don’t mention her period (or any other woman’s period, like at work!) and you will be fine.

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