His Needs and Her Needs
Dr. Willard Harley has distilled the following needs for both men and women, for a satisfying marriage. It does not come as a surprise that the needs of men are quite different from those of women. Isn’t that what makes the world such an interesting place? The intent of this article is never, ever to critique your spouse for not fulfilling your needs, but rather to take the initiative and do your part in fulfilling your spouse’s needs.
1) Sexual fulfillment
The typical wife doesn’t understand her husband’s deep need for sex anymore than the typical husband understands his wife’s deep need for affection. But these two ingredients can work very closely together in a happy, fulfilled marriage. Sex can come naturally and often, if there is enough affection.
2) Recreational companionship
He needs her to be his playmate. It is not uncommon for women, when they are single, to join men in pursuing their interests. They find themselves hunting, fishing, playing football, and watching sports and movies they would never have chosen on their own.
After marriage wives often try to interest their husbands in activities more to their own liking. If their attempts fail, they may encourage their husbands to continue their recreational activities without them. But this option is very dangerous to a marriage, because men place surprising importance on having their wives as recreational companions. Among the five basic male needs, spending recreational time with his wife is second only to sex for the typical husband.
3) An attractive spouse
A man needs a wife who looks good to him. Dr. Harley states that in sexual relationships most men find it nearly impossible to appreciate a woman for her inner qualities alone–there must be more. A man’s need for physical attractiveness in a mate is profound.
4) Domestic support
He needs peace and quiet. So deep is a husband’s need for domestic support from his wife that he often fantasizes about how she will greet him lovingly and pleasantly at the door, about well-behaved children who likewise act glad to see him and welcome him to the comfort of a well-maintained home.
The fantasy continues as his wife urges him to sit down and relax before taking part in a tasty dinner. Later the family goes out for an evening stroll, and he returns to put the children to bed with no hassle or fuss. Then he and his wife relax, talk together, and perhaps watch a little television until they retire at a reasonable hour to love each other. Wives may chuckle at this scenario, but this vision is quite common in the fantasy lives of many men. The male need for his wife to “take care of things”–especially him–is widespread, persistent, and deep.
He needs her to be proud of him. Wives need to learn how to express the admiration they already feel for their husbands instead of pressuring them to greater achievements. Honest admiration is a great motivator for men. When a woman tells a man she thinks he’s wonderful, that inspires him to achieve more. He sees himself capable of handling new responsibilities and perfecting skills far above those of his present level.
If any of a spouse’s five basic needs go unmet, that person becomes vulnerable to the temptation of an affair. Therefore, the best way to prevent adultery is to meet the needs of your spouse and make your marriage strong.
To most women affection symbolizes security, protection, comfort, and approval. When a husband shows his wife affection, he sends the following messages: (1) I’ll take care of you and protect you; (2) I’m concerned about the problems you face, and I am with you; (3) I think you’ve done a good job, and I’m so proud of you.
Men need to understand how strongly women need these affirmations. For the typical wife, there can hardly be enough of them. A hug can communicate all of the affirmations of the previous paragraph. But, affection can be shown in many ways such as: kisses, cards, flowers, dinners out, opening the car door, holding hands, walks after dinner, back rubs, phone calls–there are a thousand ways to say “I love you.” From a woman’s point of view, affection is the essential cement of her relationship with a man.
Wives need their husbands to talk to them and to listen to them; they need lots of two-way conversation. In their dating life prior to marriage, most couples spent timetime showing each other affection and talking. This shouldn’t be dropped after the wedding. When two people get married, each partner has a right to expect the same loving care and attention that prevailed during courtship to continue after the wedding. The man who takes time to talk to a woman will have an inside track to her heart.
3) Honesty and Openness
A wife needs to trust her husband totally. A sense of security is the common thread woven through all of a woman’s five basic needs. If a husband does not keep up honest and open communication with his wife, he undermines her trust and eventually destroys her security. To feel secure, a wife must trust her husband to give her accurate information about his past, the present, and the future. If she can’t trust the signals he sends, she has no foundation on which to build a solid relationship. Instead of adjusting to him, she always feels off balance; instead of growing toward him, she grows away from him.
4) Financial Commitment
Financial commitment is a fourth need a wife experiences. She needs enough money to live comfortably: she needs financial support. No matter how successful a career a woman might have, she usually wants her husband to earn enough money to allow her to feel supported and to feel cared for.
5) Family Commitment
A wife needs her husband to be a good father and have a family commitment. The vast majority of women who get married have a powerful instinct to create a home and have children. Above all, wives want their husbands to take a leadership role in the family and to commit themselves to the moral and educational development of their children.
- His Needs, Her Needs, Williard Harley
I’ve found that the most common Love Busters in marriage fall into five categories:
- Selfish Demands
- Disrespectful Judgments
- Angry Outbursts
- Annoying Habits
- Independent Behavior
The first three of these Love Busters are instinctive, yet thoughtless, ways to try to get what you want from each other. When a request doesn’t work, a spouse will often revert to a demand (“I don’t care how you feel — do it or else!”). If that doesn’t get the job done, a spouse will try disrespectful judgments (“If you had any sense, and were not so lazy and selfish, you would do it”). And then, when all of that fails, an angry outburst often represents the last ditch effort (“I’ll see to it that you regret not having done it”).
Of course, demands, disrespect and anger don’t really get the job done. You generally don’t do things for your spouse because of these Love Busters, you do them out of care and consideration. If your spouse is demanding, disrespectful and angry, you tend to be less caring and considerate, leading you to do less for your spouse. Instead of giving your spouse what he or she needs, demands, disrespect and anger cause you to resist. I want you to have what you need in your marriage, but demands, disrespect and anger will not get it for you. They will prevent you from having what you want if you revert to these destructive instincts.
But when you indulge in these three Love Busters, you do more than fail to get what you need — you also destroy the love your spouse has for you. All of these instincts, and the habits they help create, cause your spouse to be unhappy, and that causes Love Bank withdrawals.
The fourth Love Buster, Annoying Habits, is behavior that is repeated without much thought that bothers your spouse. Marriage is a partnership of incredibly close quarters, where just about anything you or your spouse does is almost sure to affect the other. If you want to stay in love with each other, your habits, even the innocent ones, should make Love Bank deposits, not withdrawals.
The fifth Love Buster is Independent Behavior, the conduct of one spouse that ignores the feelings and interests of the other spouse. If your decisions are made as if your spouse doesn’t even exist, you will find yourself running roughshod over your spouse’s feelings and your Love Bank account. Since it’s usually scheduled and requires some thought to execute, the simplest way to overcome it is to take it off your schedule. And if you follow the Policy of Joint Agreement, Independent Behavior will never find itself on your schedule in the first place.
Finally, the sixth Love Buster, Dishonesty, causes massive Love Bank withdrawals whenever it’s discovered. And spouses usually discover each other’s dishonesty because of their emotional closeness to each other. If you or your spouse have a tendency to lie or distort the truth, chase that bad habit out of your marriage before it ruins everything.
- (c) Dr. Willard Harley in his book His Needs, Her Needs and Love Busters