My wife once said to me, "So, who is this Brad Pitt guy, anyway?"

I immediately handed her the credit card.

Because here's the thing ... It's not as if we husbands are so shallow that we require compliments to operate correctly. We can make it through the day just fine without hearing, "Oh sweetie, it makes me want to kiss you all over when you explain the difference between your jig and miter saws." No, no. Real men are too sensible to need affirmation and encouragement. We want to bring home the bacon (and eat most of it when you're not looking).

But ... if we were the kind of guys who needed a kind word or two every once in a while (wink-wink-nudge-nudge, say no more), here are a few things you might whisper during a quiet moment.

1. "I didn't know you could do that!"

(The exclamation point is optional.) When hubby hears this, he thinks, "You liked that? Wait until you see what's up next!"

2. "I'm proud of you"

Nothing makes his heart beat faster.

3. "I'm glad you are home "

Don't follow this up with "because the downstairs toilet blew up" or "because the baby did some business on the new carpet." For hubby, it feels wonderful when someone other than the dog is glad to see him.

4. "I trust you. I appreciate you. I support you."

In other words, you're on the same team. You have his back and you know he's got yours.

5. "I depend on you to do the right thing"

He is your protector, and you know he will do what is best for your family.

6. "You make me feel safe"

This makes hubby want to wrap you up in his arms: you, the kids, the dog (and possibly even your mother).

7. "I believe you"

You have placed your trust well.

8. "I was wrong"

Of course you should only say this when you are actually wrong or it will quickly lose meaning. Much like saying "I'm sorry," these words need to be heartfelt.

9. "I'm sorry"

A powerful little phrase. See above.

10. "I'm glad I married you"

It sure helps if your husband knows you're still OK with your choice. (Note: If you say this on the same day your husband discovers a credit card charge for a handgun and ammo, it might lose its effect.)

11. "What do you think?"

I'm sorry, what? You want to know my opinion? Who are you?

12. "You are a good dad"

This one will take his breath away - possibly because he's chasing two kids.

13. "I value you"

Well, don't say it quite like this because it sounds a little clinical - like you're selling booklets of coupons for a fundraiser. But odds are you do value your guy, so find a personalized way to tell him.

14. "I forgive you"

And thank heaven you do. Your husband won't get everything right the first time.

15. "I love you"

Most wives say this one a lot, and that's because they should.

Hearing these little things will make your husband want to be a better man and treat you better. He will work harder to be everything you want him to be.

He's a lot more valuable than you may realize - much more than that ol' credit card.

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