Meeting Your Spouses Needs 1 & 2
Scores of surveys have been carried out on men and women over the past six decades or so to find out what our deeply felt needs are.
Without boring you with pages of statistical information, and before we look at the most popularly expressed needs of men and women, here is a summary of the most relevant conclusions to these surveys:
1. That both men and women enter the marriage relationship with several distinct needs:
Physical, Emotional, Financial, Sexual, Spiritual, etc. etc.
2. That the perceived needs of men and women are distinctly different; or are usually prioritised differently even when they are similar.
3. That when couples discover and carefully endeavour to meet each other’s needs, their relationships are stronger and they are happier together.
4. That when these needs are not intentionally identified and met, the marriage is more volatile, and couples are proportionally more unstable and unhappy.
Men’s Needs Versus Women’s Needs
In the book ‘His Needs, Her Needs’, Author and Marriage Counsellor, Willard F. Harley,
shares what his research has shown to be the top five needs of men and the top five needs of women - mainly across North America.
Harley lists these needs in order of importance. Men’s top five most basic needs are:
1. Sexual Fulfilment
2. A Recreational Companion
3. An Attractive Spouse
4. Domestic Support
Women’s top five basic needs are:
3. Honesty & Openness
4. Financial Support
5. Family Commitment
Harley admits that the lists above is not absolute for all men or women, but feels that they are fairly accurate for most couples in his surveys. My point is not to debate the accuracy
of the lists above, but to show you that men and women do enter into marriage with distinct needs and that those needs are usually totally different.
That being the case, the couple that wants to build a rock solid marriage, must endeavour to find out what their partners list of needs are. In my opinion, the best way to find out is to ask.
If you are not sure of what your spouse might consider to be the basic needs he/she would like you to meet, there is no shame in asking. Your spouse is more likely to appreciate the fact that you cared to ask. But if you ask, be prepared to follow through. If you can’t fulfil some needs for a time, be open enough to let your spouse know why.
Learning from Ade and Bev
Ade and Bev had only been married for six months when they were invited to a Marriage Workshop – where the topic of this chapter was to be discussed. They both agreed after the event that they hadn’t been meeting each other’s basic needs and were determined to put things right.
The first thing they did when they got home from the day-long workshop was to spend the evening talking about what they both expected from the marriage. They then came up with a list of their top six basic needs and talked about what they would do to meet those needs for each other.
One of Ade’s top needs was to make passionate love to his wife every morning before he went to work. Although Bev was willing to agree to this if it would make her husband happy, she explained how it would make her tired and often late for the first part of her Masters programme. She also explained that she didn’t want to have sex on certain days in the month because she didn’t want to get pregnant until she was nearing the end of her course. Finally, she reassured her husband that she was committed to meeting his needs, but asked for his understanding on the issues she had raised.
Ade felt he understood his wife better for the first time since they got married. They agreed on a compromise and their sexual life became more meaningful and less stressful.
Also, one of Bev’s top basic needs was for more affirmation and affection. Bev wanted Ade to be more romantic and to affirm her more - instead of his usual critical and biting remarks to her. Ade explained that he was following in his father’s footsteps and didn’t really know any
better. He also apologised for treating his wife the way his father treated his mother.
Finally, Ade asked Bev to help him change by blowing him a kiss (as a signal) any time he starts to slip back into his former behaviour. Many years later, Ade and Bev insist that the decisions they took on that faithful day saved their marriage.
WHY YOU MUST ENDEAVOUR TO MEET YOUR SPOUSE’S NEEDS
There are several reasons why you must commit yourself to meeting your spouse’s basic needs:
1. It is the conjugal duty you owe to your spouse
When you spoke your marriage vows, you where promising to take on certain responsibilities in the marriage. One of those responsibilities includes fulfilling some of your spouse’s needs that nobody else is meant to meet. Yes, it would require sacrifice, but if you take delight in meeting those needs, you cannot fail to build a rock solid marriage.
2. It is the evidence that you really love your spouse
Love is a verb. It is an action word. You can’t really say you love somebody and not think of making them happy. Well, your spouse can’t be totally happy and fulfilled if their basic needs stay unmet for long periods of time. So, every deliberate effort to meet your spouse’s basic needs is proof that you really love him/her.
3. It is the pattern your children will see and emulate
Psychologists and sociologist are right to remind us that up to 80% of our children’s attitude and behaviour come directly from what they observe and learn in the home. They also tell us that the chances of turning out just like our parents are alarmingly high. That said, there is no better example that you can set for your children than to genuinely express tonnes of kindness and consideration to your spouse in front of them.
4. It is the confirmation that you are a person of integrity
Integrity is never easy to maintain. Life and circumstances often conspire to make you drop your standards. Yes, you made a promise, but you don’t think your partner is living up to their part of the bargain - you figure. But integrity has nothing to do with what somebody else does or doesn’t do. Integrity has to do with you. So when you promise to meet your spouse’s need for respect, or honesty, or openness, or financial support, or sex – you do it because your reputation is on the line. You draw on God grace and fulfil your pledge. That’s what a man or woman of integrity does, even if they have to do it on ‘credit’.
5. It is the proof that you are grateful to God for His Priceless Gift to you
Lastly, your determination to meet your spouse’s basic needs is proof that you value the ‘priceless gift of a spouse’ that God has given to you. No, your spouse is not perfect. Your partner may not even be all you had hope for. But at least you have a partner. That makes you more blessed than millions of people in our world who go to their graves lonely and alone every year.
Also, the object of marriage is not to start with a perfect partner, but to end with one, as you sharpen and build each other. In short, your marriage is often the tool God uses to mature and perfect you and your spouse. So, be grateful for the ‘gift’ you have, because that’s what will motivate you to keep pressing on when times are tough.
As I conclude my thoughts on this chapter, I want to add that our needs generally change over time. Even when they don’t completely change, our order of priority often does. For instance, your basic needs may change when a child is born, or when the child starts school, or even when all your children have left home. As my wife and I have gotten older, we’ve noticed a shift in the intensity and order of our basic needs.
When that happens in your relationship, I encourage you to talk about it again and (if necessary) reorganise your life to meet the new needs. At each point sacrifice, flexibility, commitment and understanding will be required from the two of you, but the result can be magical.
In addition, you would have learnt to serve your spouse in a way that uplifts him/her and in a way that pleases the Lord. God is not unjust to overlook such a sacrifice and He promises to reward you for honouring His instructions.
“For God is not unjust to forget your work and labour of love which you have shown toward His name, as you minister to others…”(Hebrew 6:10.)
If you would get enthusiastic about intentionally meeting your spouse’s needs, your spouse would have no choice but to reciprocate if he/she has a conscience. But more importantly, you would have the satisfaction of knowing that you honoured God and did what was right in His sight. That kind of satisfaction is ‘worth its weight in gold’.
Extracts from 'How to Build a Rock Solid Marriage'
By Tony Peters