"So what does the husband want out of this marriage?" my supervisor asked. I had a whole list describing what the wife I was treating in therapy wanted, but I had almost nothing written down about the husband's goals. Every time I asked him he just shrugged, and when his wife spoke, he usually glanced longingly at the door.

I had a page of notes from my first session with the couple detailing their backgrounds. I quickly turned to that page and began telling my supervisor how the husband must want security because he was insecure as a child, he must want control because his mother was so controlling, he must want approval because his father never gave it to him. My supervisor interrupted me with a kind smile and said, “Basically, you have no idea what the husband wants."

I looked up from my notes. "You’re right, I have no idea. He never answers me when I ask. And the few times that he starts to answer, his wife interrupts him."

"Here's what you need to do." My supervisor began to teach me questions and strategies to reach the husband and stop his wife from interrupting him. And then she helped me outline a general list of what husbands want in marriage. Here are my top ten gifts most husbands want. In addition to the new book or wallet you bought him this Hanukkah, consider giving a few things from this list:

  1. Respect. A husband wants to feel like his wife respects him and what he does. He wants her to honor him through her actions and words. Speak highly of him to others. Allow him to speak without interruption. Show interest in his work and ideas.

  2. Intimacy. In contrast to women who rely more on words as a means of connection, husbands depend more on physical affection in order to both express and receive love. When they are rejected physically, they automatically feel rejected emotionally. They need intimacy not only as a foundation to sustain the relationship, but they also rely on this affection as a barometer for the strength of their spouses' attraction to them.

  3. Space. Men do not want to be nagged or criticized. They want to be treated like a partner, not like a child who needs constant reminders to get things done. This often requires wives to give the men in their lives space, both physically and emotionally. Let him complete tasks at his own pace and with his own system. Learn to step back and let him figure things out.

  4. Focus. Husbands want to feel like they are an important priority in their spouses' lives. They feel left out and hurt when they sense that their needs come after the kids, their friends, her work etc. This doesn't mean that husbands necessarily need a lot of our time; they just need to feel like we are focused on them when we are with them. Listen. Make eye contact. Turn off the volume on the phone. Make him feel like he is important in your life.

  5. Nurturing. Try to care for your husband with nurturing actions. Make a favorite dinner. Pick out an item you know he needs. Send him a sweet message just because you are thinking of him. Make him a warm cup of coffee. Send a plate of homemade cookies for a class he attends. Make him feel cared for and treasured.

  6. Direct communication. Men have a hard time figuring out what their wives are feeling or thinking. They don't like to play guessing games or to be blamed for not knowing what their wives really want. Tell him what you are feeling directly. Let him know what you want as specifically as you can describe it. Ask for help when you need it. Communicate directly and clearly.

  7. Fun. Play a sport together. Discover different places and activities as a couple. Be willing to join him in a new hobby. Enjoy being together without the pressure of financial or child centered conversation.

  8. Encouragement. Give him positive feedback when he accomplishes something important at work. Encourage him when he takes a step toward learning or growing in a new way. Be his cheerleader, but not his coach or investigator. Be a source of ongoing support in his life.

  9. Optimism. Do the best you can to see the life that you share together with a positive perspective. See hope when things are rough. See the opportunity to get up when you both experience failure. Look for the first light of dawn when, together you are surrounded by darkness. See the cup not only as half full but full of something good. Make sure, on a daily basis, that your expressions of gratitude outnumber your complaints.

  10. Satisfaction. Husbands want their wives to be happy. They want them to be content with them, with their homes, with themselves. They yearn for their wives' genuine smiles, for the peaceful feeling at the end of the day that their hard work has been "good enough.” Work on that sense of peace, both internally and externally. Make your husband feel like he is exactly what you need.

A recent study demonstrated once again that men and women have some significant neurological differences by mapping thought pathways via brain imaging. (University of Pennsylvania Brain Connectivity Study Reveals Striking Differences Between Men and Women, December 2, 2013, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Ragini Verma, PhD) The researchers found different amount of neural connections between the genders in areas of the brain that control intuition and verbal reasoning. And they found a higher blood flow to regions crucial for emotional intelligence in female brains. The study's coauthor, Raquel Gur M.D., PhD, director of the neuropsychiatry section at the University of Pennsylvania of Medicine, said that people still object to these kinds of conclusions even though they are purely neurologically based. There are still many people who like to think of men and women as basically the same. But clearly, we see life very differently.

Understanding this can help us give our husbands what they really need and want. Sometimes all we need to do is take that step back and ask the question: what does my husband want? Better yet, try asking him. You may be surprised by his answer because sometimes what he wants is far simpler and easier to give to him than anything you could have guessed. Since Hanukkah has become a time of gift giving, this is an opportunity to give our spouses these crucial presents that come from our hearts.

Click here to read Top 10 Gifts Every Wife Wants.