I love my wife. She is the joy of my existence, and so for the next little bit, I’ll explain some ways I have shown love and affection to my wife. You women can stop reading this if you want, or if you like the suggestions, drop subtle hints to your husband like, “Read this!” or “Read this now!” The latter is for women who have realized that their husbands, like men in general, appreciate a more direct explanation of what to do because we are men.

There are many small things you can do for your wife like opening doors for her. A large trucker once observed my brother opening the car door for his wife. The trucker leaned out his window and shouted to my sister-in-law, “Give it five years, and he’ll stop doing that for you!” I’m not sure when he stopped opening the car door, but I know we have passed our decade mark together, and I still open doors for my honey. I remind her that this can stop when she starts to open her own door, rather than waiting for me to do it for her.

With the rise of feminism, quite a few people have become confused about the motivation behind acts of chivalry. I know my wife is fully capable of opening the door herself; in fact, I’m sure that with only a moment’s concentration, she can figure out how that latch works. I do it as a way of showing my respect and love for her on a daily basis, because one of the ways to show your love for others is by doing things for them. Sure, they could do it for themselves, but when you do something for them, you make your love visible. I cook pretty well and could cook food for myself if I needed to, but when my wife does this for me, I know that she loves me.

Another small physical act I perform for my wife is occasionally brushing her hair. Since she grows her hair long because she knows I like it, it’s only fitting that I help her comb the part in back that’s hardest to reach. I also love to walk arm in arm with my honey. Of course, she can walk unescorted, but I like being with her. It’s a chance to cuddle close in a public place. And I even know the proper side of the sidewalk one should choose when escorting a lady down the street.

Much of our courtship and subsequent activities have been word-based. We constantly use instant messaging to send notes back and forth. This works particularly well when I’m busy on the phone at work, because I can still chat with her via my fingers. We’ve even been known to spend hours sending silly messages back and forth on our computers while sitting in the same room, but that’s because we’re geeks. In the Rose is Rose comic by Pat Brady, Jimbo is always leaving little love notes in Rose’s teacups and other places scattered around the house. It’s a small and simple way of letting someone know you love them and are thinking of them. Our method is more high-tech. We use whiteboard markers on the bathroom mirrors. (Make sure that they are whiteboard markers rather than permanent ones, or you’ll be in trouble.) Depending on how well you wipe the mirror afterward, a long and hot shower together can reveal past conversations on the mirror. (It also works great for making shopping lists, but that’s not so romantic. Shopping gives me hives.)

Sometimes doing things for others can be a big deal. I posted nothing last week because I was busy coding a database-driven blog for my wife. (Ooooo! –TPK) She didn’t nag or mope about it for a long time, dropping hints about how much she would like it. Instead, it was an offhand comment she made that spurred me to action. So in between missions of Homeworld, I set up the database schema and started coding her pages. (Ladies: just because I can sometimes pick up subtle hints, do not assume your husbands can do it. More on that below.)

If I were to describe the best type of loving acts for your wife, they would have to be simple and thoughtful. A week in Hawaii, while spectacular, isn’t something you will do every month–even if you have the money to do it. Regular, simple acts of kindness will do far more to bolster your relationship than grand, showy productions. It’s far better to build the relationship through consistent, simple acts of kindness and love, such as a love-note tucked under a pillow, than it is to buy your way back into her heart with a showy piece of jewelry after ignoring her in favor of others. Which do you think Kobe Bryant’s wife would rather have: a $4,000,000 diamond ring, or a husband who is absolutely faithful to her? I’m sure she would much rather have those missed hours than a lump of hard carbon on her finger.

Acts also need to be thoughtful. Despite what you’ve heard, it’s not just the thought that counts. Once you have spent time with your wife, you should begin to recognize what she does and does not like. I know my wife will be far happier with a can of asparagus spears than a multi-thousand-dollar clothes shopping spree, because I’ve spent enough time with her to know that she hates shopping for clothes, and the can of asparagus will be gone in about four seconds. Giving a woman expensive perfume when she hates it will not give you nearly as much credit in her eyes as making her a simple peanut butter sandwich when you know that’s what she really wants. Just because you’re thinking of her when you give her something does not mean it was the right thing to do. Men: any birthday, anniversary or Christmas gift that has a plug attached, unless your wife specifically requested it, is not a good choice. If you want to bring home a practical gift, it would be wise to accompany it with something romantic such as chocolates, roses, or a can of asparagus spears. However, if you know your wife well enough to know that she will squeal over a set of power tools, go for it. The key is to know your wife’s likes and dislikes. The only way you will get to know these things is to spend time with her.

Women: do not hint. We men rarely catch subtle hints. If necessary, give PowerPoint slide presentations and make sure there are printed copies for him to take and study afterward. We’re talking charts and graphs, ladies. Saying, “Gee, I’m a little chilly” is most likely to inspire him to go turn up the thermostat. He will not be able to divine that you are asking for a fur coat, much less know whether you prefer sable, mink, ermine, or faux. “I don’t want to cook tonight” does not necessarily mean, to your man, “Let’s go out to eat.” You are just as likely to get pizza.

Talk show host Michael Medved was trained by his wife many years ago to bring home flowers every day, because his wife loves flowers. More than a lot of other things, she adores having fresh flowers in the home. He’s even arranged to have flowers shipped to her on days when he’s away. As his rabbi explained, “It’s much cheaper to bring home flowers than it is to settle a divorce.” Knowing my honey’s love of gold-foiled chocolate coins, I bought several packages of them and taped little love notes to each one. Then I hid them throughout the house. It didn’t take her too long to start finding them, but it wasn’t until we moved that she found the last coin. By then the chocolate was iffy, but the note was still fresh. It’s been several years, but she still has the notes.

Yesterday morning, my wife found gold coins in her shoe as part of the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition. She was very happy to see them.

Oh yeah. I’m that good.

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