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.
To be continued...