I know that when my husband married me, he took on hefty responsibilities—not just for himself anymore—but for me and our future children, including promises to…

  • Please (always),
  • Provide (as much as possible),
  • Protect (when necessary),
  • Problem solve (as called upon), and
  • Procreate (as agreed upon)

But it wasn’t enough.

Because my appetite for attention was insatiable and his execution was never up to feminine standards, my subtle calls for transformation (“hints”) began to sound more like commands. Of course, when that approach didn’t work either, I resorted to ultimatums. It nearly broke us. What I didn’t understand at the time of course was how insecurity—common feminine anxiety—was the actual saboteur. Misdirected and misunderstood, my fear-inspired attempts to connect with my husband actually threatened to disconnect us—permanently.

Your husband has probably jousted like that with you and knows what it feels like to be knocked off his horse. Chances are your heart remains a moving target to him, and his efforts to play Cupid, misdirected or underplayed, most often fall short. As frustrating and demoralizing as that may feel to both of you, I’m here to ask you not to give up on him, or yourself. There is a way for him to aim those well-intentioned arrows with pinpoint accuracy.

In this archery lesson, we’ll identify seven relational values women prize most (beyond the above five “P’s”). If you can identify which of these seven feminine needs or desires (practically universal to women) that you need most at any given time, then you can teach him (using Wife for Life “Teaching a Knight to Knit” principles) what he can do to accommodate, support, or even romance your heart. Let him know this his efforts will work wonders in allaying your fears; minimizing behaviors that hurt you both.

(You might also emphasize that he doesn’t have to use the exact phrases suggested below! They are only to illustrate the point. There’s no doubt that you want to hear these things coming from his heart, in his style.)

Note the first letter in each value: their alphabetical order helps summon up the right one at the right moment. If you honey is to become a champion archer in the heat of a tournament, he’ll have to know his stuff by heart.

1. Romance: “You are my everything and I love being your intimate.” In other words: “I love being close to you, physically and emotionally, and when I am not near you, I am thinking about you.”

This message helps counter the common womanly-fear of feeling unwanted, or in competition with his other responsibilities and interests.

 2. Security: “I will never leave you, and I will never leave you wanting.” In other words: “I am committed, heart and soul, to your happiness and well-being.”

This message helps counter your fear of losing him.

3. Trueness: “I am always authentic with you.” In other words: “I may not be as emotionally expressive as you are all the time, but I promise that our relationship is grounded in honesty, and I will try to honor your need to know how I am feeling.

This message helps counters a feminine fear of feeling left out, shutout, or lied to.

4. Understanding: “I want to know what you are thinking and feeling.” In other words: “I can’t necessarily be your therapist, but I will be your confidant when you want to talk, and your partner when you ask me to help problem solve.”

This message helps counters the fears of exposure, loneliness, or being judged unfairly.

5. Validation: “I support you. I believe in you. I’ve got your back.” In other words: “You can count on me to be your ally, your biggest fan, and your first line of defense.”

This message helps counter your fear of being unimportant to him, or that your are too much alone in the world, or that you are overused and under-appreciated.

6. We-ness: “We are our own club, our own team, our own universe.” In other words: “I see our marriage as a full partnership and will keep our relationship pre-eminent and exclusive.”

This message helps counter the womanly concern about being dominated/controlled, or of being disrespected/dishonored.

7. sXYZ: “You are incredibly beautiful. I love to share my soul with you and love to feel your soul through our physical intimacy.” In other words: “Your body is the most beautiful body in the world to me, your intelligence is the most intriguing, and your personality is the most alluring above all women, and when we make love, my desire is to share my whole self with you and to help you feel safe in trusting your whole self to me.”

This message helps counter your fears of being physically unattractive or inadequate to him, or of being desired for your body only.

This article originally appeared on Hitched: the national website that entertains, educates, and inspires marriages.