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If you are like me, when you got married, you thought you and your spouse would live happily ever after! Only to realize, somewhere around the first week after the honeymoon, that this only happens in the movies.
Why is this the way it usually goes for so many couples? Well, for one, many of us get so busy with the stressors of life that we fail to take a good, hard look at what our real needs and desires are for the marriage. I was counseling a middle-aged couple in crisis when I asked the woman, What can your husband do to make you happier? And, the woman, with a straight face and honest answer said, You know, I do not know. I have not let myself think about that for many years. Well, it was going to be nearly impossible for her husband to please her if she did not know nor communicate what her needs and expectations were for the marriage.
So, if your spouse is going to meet your needs (and isn’t that part of what a successful marriage is all about), they will need to know what your needs are. And, not just in some generic sense, like “love me more”. No, they (especially guys!!) need to know specific things ~ like watch the kids for two hours per night, spend 30 minutes a night with me and talk to me, cook dinner once a week. These three examples are what I call S.P.A.M. They are marital needs that are very (S)pecific, (P)ractical, (A)chievable, and (M)easureable. Your spouse needs to know your needs to a sufficient point where they know with certainty if they have met those needs or not.
Do you have trouble knowing what your needs are? Dr. Harley, in his best-selling book, His Needs/Her Needs, listed the five common needs for wives and the five common needs for husbands that he encountered in his years of counseling. The needs that a woman desired her husband to meet were listed as loving affection, daily communication, financial responsibility, being a good father, and real honesty. The needs that a husband desired his wife to meet were listed as recreational companionship, physical intimacy, respect, remaining relatively attractive, and keeping the house a haven. Of course, your needs may be similar or different than those listed by Dr. Harley.
How about you? Do you know what your real desires and hopes are for your marriage? If not, why not take a moment to make a list of five things (and make them S.P.A.M.) that would re-energize your relationship with your spouse. Then, have your spouse do the same. Once you and your spouse have made the list, go out to dinner (without the kids !!). During dinner, each of you take turns talking about 1 item on the list (after sharing 2 things you really like about your spouse), and see if your spouse would commit to trying to meet that need (especially if you are willing to meet their needs!).
If you have questions, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can send you some more specific instructions on how to conduct the talk over dinner when you share your five items with your spouse. I have helped hundreds of couples complete this exercise, and I can help you achieve success as well.
Finally, if you are curious as to which one of those five items are truly the most important for both the husband and wife, tune in to my next blog !