The one thing that makes every woman happy

An open letter to men:

We love you, we really do. We know you're different than we are, and we like it that way.

It's true we often ask you to act more like us, but if we're honest, we know - and you know - that's it's all part of Mother Nature's dance, and that the differences are what make it interesting and exciting.

Many people assume that we're more complicated than you are. Our whirling, swirling thoughts and emotions probably seem like an ever-changing exotic cocktail of both nuance and volatility.

But there's one thing almost all of us want from you, and it's the exact same thing you want from us.

We want you to be happy.

When you're not happy, we feel unappreciated and unloved.

It's true, just as our mood affects you, your moods affect us.

But the things that make us feel loved are different than the things that make you feel loved.

If you don't care what makes women happy and you're sick of trying to figure out female emotions, you can quit reading now. But if you're like most men, you've probably spent the better part of your life frustrated by females, and if you knew there was one simple thing that would a woman happy you would do it.

Well there is.

I've been listening to women talk and reading their letters for more than a decade, and when you cut through all the clutter, a single theme has emerged.

Women want men to care. We don't want you to be merely willing to engage in the activities that are important to us, we want you to want to. Especially when it comes to the kids.

We don't just want you to watch the kids, we want you to want to watch the kids. We don't want you to begrudgingly take the family to the fair; we want you to be delighted. We don't want you to complain about going shopping for a washing machine, we want you to take it in stride as part of running of family.

It may seem like telling us how inconvenienced you are or how much effort you had to put in would make us appreciate you even more for participating. But it doesn't.

We don't expect you to be enthusiastic about playing Scrabble with our mother, but when you grumble about how hard it is to get home from work in time to tuck your children in, we interpret it to mean that you don't really want to do it in the first place, and that hurts.

It may seem like we're angry when we nag you to spend more time with your family, but we're actually sad.

After talking with literally thousands of women, especially mothers, I can tell you - every time a woman has to badger a man to become more engaged, a little piece of her heart breaks. When a man complains or seems to begrudge his own participation, the woman feels unloved. To us, reluctance to engage equals "I don't care."

I know I'm just presenting one side of this, but that's kind of the point. I'll leave to a man to explain the other side.

Here's the bottom line, women want men to be happy, and we want participating in your family to be the thing that puts a big ole' smile on your face.

Snellville resident Lisa Earle McLeod is a nationally recognized speaker and the author of "Forget Perfect." Contact her at www.forgetperfect.com.