Having 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 receive 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 their 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.
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