Thriving Marriages? It’s All About Meeting Needs

his need her need 2Having coached premarital and married couples who sit on my couch every week, I am routinely asked, “What do we need to do to ensure we have a happy marriage?”  The answer is relatively simple:  “It’s all about meeting needs.”

Harley (2011) states that couples have 10 emotional needs that operate within their marriage that have to be satisfied in order for them to feel emotionally connected. The importance of each need varies by individual; therefore, husband and wife should seek to understand which ones are most valued by their spouse and try to satisfy those needs. This concept is similar to the five love languages, where Chapman (2015) proposes that people need some level of love through all five languages but prefer to recieve love through only 1 or 2 in order to fill their love tank.

What are the emotional needs that operate within all marriages?  Harley (2011) cites these needs as (1) affection, (2) sexual fulfillment, (3) intimate conversation, (4) recreational companionship, (5) honesty and openness, (6) physical attractiveness, (7) financial support, (8) domestic support, (9) family commitment, and (10) admiration. By focusing attention on their spouse’s top 5 emotional needs, partners can help to affair-proof the marriage from emotional and physical infidelity. Husbands and wives would benefit from force-ranking the importance of each need and sharing this list with their spouse.  Spouses would then be empowered with the knowledge in how to increase the deposits in their partner’s emotional love bank.

Some of the 10 needs have a gender bias which can make it more difficult for some spouses to understand why certain needs are so important to their partner.  Men typically have a strong need for sexual fulfillment and recreational companionship; whereas, women typically favor affection and intimate conversation.  By rating and sharing the importance of each need and how well their spouse is meeting it, couples can determine the significance of the gap. Knowledge is power, and a needs assessment highlights where to focus attention in building the balance in the love bank.

References

Chapman, G. (2015). The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing.

Harley, W.F. (2011). His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional leadership coach with an extensive background in premarital and marriage coaching, education, and mentoring. She coaches individuals, and couples, as well as facilitates relationship workshops.  She has a passion to help people experience outstanding marriages and relationships.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website www.shinecrossings.com

Relationships: Have You Discussed Your Non-Negotiables?

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What’s on your non-negotiable list?

Have you fallen “in love” and much further into the relationship found a few flaws in your partner’s character or behaviors that you judged to be show-stoppers?  Did the person you thought you would likely spend the rest of your life become the person with whom you could not imagine spending another night?  An answer of “yes” is not uncommon, and for some feels like a regular response as they jump from relationship to relationship hoping to find the right one for them.

Why the common pattern?  In most cases, I would wager that the relationship demise is not attributable to any one person changing, but instead the inevitable collide of non-negotiables.  For those not familiar with the terminology, non-negotiables are those attitudes, personal characteristics, and behaviors that are incompatible with a person’s expectations in how their partner should conduct themselves within and outside the relationship.

Many people do not take the time to define their relationship non-negotiables; therefore, they cannot evaluate their dating partner against them early in the dating process.  Without an understanding of objective non-negotiables, the “love” chemicals will dominate a person’s thinking and rationalization.  As the chemicals fade, the issue of non-negotiables will come to the forefront. I encourage everyone, regardless of age, to have a list of non-negotiables even if it changes over time, which most likely it will based on accumulated learnings and experiences.

You may be sold on the concept but unsure of what qualifies as non-negotiables.  First, there are no right or wrong, better or worse answers.  Second, the list should be rooted in core values and deep-seated preferences.  My husband had only two for the woman he would marry: (1) high self-confidence, and (2) a shared faith and love for the God he served.  He felt he could work with anything else.  On the other hand, my list was much longer and included: (1) never lay a hand on me, (2) be a financial provider for the family, and (3) maintain a family life where no one walks on eggs.  Although the list is short, the conversations are long with regards to unpacking what each of these looks and feels like in daily life.

As you may suspect, many of our non-negotiables were derived from prior experiences that left a prominent mark in how we expected to live our lives in the future. The list encompassed what we determined was intolerable or a “must-have.” If you have not yet written your list, I encourage you to carve out the time to create one on paper. Although there is no minimum number, if you find yourself with a grocery list of non-negotiables, you may be describing wants and not just non-negotiables.


About the Author:

Sandra Dillon is a professional leadership coach with an extensive background in premarital and marriage coaching, education, and mentoring. She coaches individuals, and couples, as well as facilitates relationship workshops.  She has a passion to help people experience outstanding marriages and relationships.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website www.shinecrossings.com