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Have you ever wondered if you married the “right” person? I have, and more than once. Society has taught us that the idea of a successful relationship or marriage is a combination of the “right” people, and if a relationship breaks up or a marriage ends in divorce, it’s most likely because the two people were “wrong” for each other. But is this really true? Are relationships based solely on chemistry?
My married friend, Emily, recently gave Joe and I a book for Christmas called “His Needs, Her Needs: Building An Affair-Proof Marriage.” It was a book her and her husband benefited greatly from, especially in their first years of marriage, and so they decided to pass it along to us. Joe and I have been married seven months already, but we still often feel clueless, understandably, when it comes to loving each other the way God has called us to love one another.
Lately our spirits and minds have been like sponges; we have been reading every marriage book we can get our hands on. We aren’t far into the book yet, maybe a third of the way done, but already we’ve gained a lot of knowledge from it. In particular, I love the way the author describes the five needs of women in marriage and the five different needs of men in marriage.
3. Honesty & openness
4. Financial support
5. Family commitment
1. Sexual fulfillmet
2. Recreational companionship
3. An attractive spouse
4. Domestic support
For the sake of time, I’ll touch on just one of five needs of women – conversation. This is something most, if not all, women need in any relationship. It is a vital part of our friendships, our relationships with co-workers, even our relationships with our dogs (or cats!). For instance, I can talk with my friend Halley every few days for at least an hour about nothing really at all. Sure, we do have juicy things to share every so often, but usually it’s just catching up with each other and seeing what’s new. But that’s why we love it – we love to talk just for the sake of talking. It bonds us together.
The same goes for marriage. I feel the most connected and paralleled with Joe when we take the time to talk about what’s going on in our lives. Sometimes we talk about silly things, sometimes we talk about serious things, and sometimes we talk about boring, everyday things.
Conversation is a deeply rooted need for me; it’s as important as drinking enough water. A few days ago when Joe’s account in my love bank was low, I asked, “Joe, can we talk?” He was busy writing someone a text message from his phone and without looking up he said, “Sure. What would you like to talk about?” Without even knowing it he had just dumped the remaining balance of his account. I couldn’t articulate it at the time, but what I needed from him was a conversation, even though there was nothing in particular that needed talking about. John Eldredge puts it beautifully when he says that a woman is a “beauty to be rescued, not a problem to be solved.” What I need from Joe is his attention, his pursuit, and his heart. But, how does a woman ask for this?
I thought to myself – maybe he would understand me better if when he asks, “Honey, can we make love?” then I would respond, “Why, Joe? Are we ready to have kids?” 🙂 Just like I need a conversation initiated by Joe on a regular basis he needs me to meet his need of sexual fulfillment. And when I say need I mean need! I don’t want him to ever be tempted to fulfill this need anywhere else. And Joe mutually doesn’t want me to ever fulfill my need for conversation in someone else.
Conversation is sometimes hard because even though I want it, it doesn’t always come naturally. So often we ask each other questions like, “How are you?” or “How was your day?” and the response is almost always “good” or “fine.” Some of the better questions that Joe asks to draw me out are, “What was something that made you feel good today?” or “Tell me about one conversation that you had today.” These questions really generate the heart to heart that my soul craves.
Both of us have a long way to go to meet one another’s needs, but even just acknowledging these five longings in each of our hearts as literal needs is helping us tremendously. Thanks so much for the book, Emily and Jesse! And if anyone else out there has a good book or some marriage advice we would love for you to share it with us.