My wife affects me to the core when she tells me what she knows I can do well. In particular as men, we are interested in whether or not our work counts. Does what we do really matter? Does it do anything to you? Do you admire our work?
For example, if I write a blog entry, my wife can say, "You're a good man, with a good heart, who is very loving." This is a good response and I don't want her to stop, but it doesn't do as much as when she says, "These words you wrote, the way you crafted them, the way that they made me feel, and what I learned from them were powerful."*
As another example, if I build something out of wood, stain, paint, metal, or tinker toys for that matter, my wife can say, "This is so beautiful. You always make such beautiful things." This is a good response, but it doesn't do as much as if she says, "Wow. How did you make this dresser?" After listening what I did and how I did it, if she says, "Wow. You are really good at working with your hands. This is an excellent piece of work," then I'm much more deeply affected.
As men, we want to know if you think we can do things. Of course, don't stop using the words, "I love you" or "You are a good man with a good heart." Please, don't stop saying these things. We need it all, just as you do. However, if you want to affect us to the core, to really speak intimately to our hearts, then tell us what you think about our work and what we can do.
It does something to us.