When you add it all up—parent-teacher conferences, the leaky new Labrador puppy, stacks of bills—and then toss in the daily rigors of work, it’s not surprising that your wife is ready for words by the time you both get home. In fact, a study conducted by researchers at Harvard University and the University of California at Berkeley found that after a stressed out day, female spouses were more likely to instigate fights and alienate themselves from their partners. Instead of following suit, use these three simple steps to defuse those stressed out feelings and prevent long-term havoc to your marriage. And when it comes to tackling your own work-related stress, learn the one move to beat office stress once and for all.
Call—or, at the very least, text—her just to check in at least three times a day. “Talking releases a rush of dopamine and oxytocin—the ‘reward’ and ‘bonding’ neurochemicals—in a woman’s brain,” explains Louann Brizendine, M.D., author of The Female Brain and a neuropsychiatrist at the University of California at San Francisco. “It’s the biggest neurological reward a woman can get besides an orgasm.” First of all, this chemical reaction explains a great deal about women. Second, it gives you a powerful tool: A simple “I can’t wait to see you tonight” is enough to distract her from the insanity of the day and reinforce the love circuits in her brain. And if you’re looking for sweet nothings to fill the conversation, read up on the 13 sexiest things you can say to your wife.
Once a week, ask her how she’s doing and if anything is bothering her, and then listen. “Women report that the more their husbands talk to them, the more satisfied they are in their marriages,” says Dr. Brizendine. The reason? “Women use communication to navigate and ease the ups and downs of life,” she says. Scheduling time to allow her to vent her frustrations is the key to preventing and resolving smaller problems before they escalate into larger issues. And if you want to offer advice, you could present her the minute-by-minute, 24-hour plan for diffusing stress.
If you know your wife is having a bad day at the office, warn the babysitter you’ll be home late and take your wife out to dinner after work. “Taking household responsibilities off her mind is a good way to make her less stressed out,” says Cathy O’Neill, coauthor of Babyproofing Your Marriage. “And it allows you to spend quality alone-time together,” two things experts say contribute to long-lasting intimacy. Just make sure, if you’re going somewhere nice, to brush up on the new rules of fine dining.
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