The other day we received this letter from a newly engaged couple.
"I hear a lot of talk about how men and women have different needs, and I am the first to admit it's true. However, I have a tough time trying to pinpoint these needs so that I can better understand my fiancée. I think she feels the same way about me. Can you help?"
As singles prepare for a loving, Christ-centered relationship, it's important that they think through the different roles each will play, as well as the differences God has built into each gender.
Every cell of our bodies as men and women differ. The skeletal structure, for example, of women is shorter and broader. Women's blood contains fewer red cells, making them tire more easily. Women have a larger stomach, kidneys, liver, and appendix, but smaller lungs. Scores of other physical differences may influence the way each person in a relationship feels and behaves. But in addition to the more obvious physical differences between the genders, societal expectations and modeling contribute to a plethora of differences between the sexes—all culminating in several gender-specific unique needs.
Many relational problems evolve because men try to meet needs they would value, and women do the same. The problem is that since the needs of men and women are often so different, we waste effort trying to meet the wrong needs. If we are truly committed to valuing our life partner, we must not only understand and appreciate our partner's differences, but we must commit ourselves to meeting his or her unique needs.
Willard F. Harley, in his popular book His Needs, Her Needs, has given us a great tool to do just that. He identifies the ten most important martial needs of men and women. You may or may not agree with all of them, but they can serve as a good discussion starter:
She needs affection—It symbolizes security, protection, comfort, and approval. A hug expresses affection. For the typical wife, there can hardly be enough of them.
He needs sexual fulfillment—Just as women crave affection, so too do men want sex. And they don't just want their wives to make their bodies available. They need to feel their wife is as invested in sex as they are.
She needs conversation—Not just talk about her husband's problems orachievements, but about her problems and her hopes. She needs quality conversation on a daily basis.
He needs recreational companionship—After sex, the need for recreation rates highest for men. He needs time spent in a mutually satisfying activity—whether it is sports, shopping, cooking, painting, etc.
She needs honesty and openness—Mistrust destroys a woman's marital security. If a husband does not keep up honest communication with his wife, he eventually undermines her trust and destroys any hope of security.
He needs an attractive spouse—A man does not need a supermodel for a wife, but he wants her to make an effort to be attractive to him. He wants her to dress in clothes he likes and do her hair in a style that is appealing to him.
She needs financial support—A husband's failure to provide sufficient income sends shudders through the underpinnings of a marriage. A woman needs to know that her husband is taking care of their family's needs and their
He needs domestic support—Old-fashioned or not, most men fantasize about a loving, pleasant home where few hassles occur and life runs smoothly.
She needs family commitment—Wives want their husbands to take a strong role in the marriage and express how important it is to them. They need to see evidence of a strong commitment to family life that is not overshadowed by work or anything else.
He needs admiration—Honest admiration is a great motivator for most men. When a woman tells her husband (who has been sweating it out at work) that she thinks he's wonderful, it inspires him and keeps him going.
Like we said, you may not agree with all of these "needs," but the number of people who have bought and read Harley's book is enough reason to take them seriously and discuss how each of your particular sets of needs differ.
Remember, if you commit yourself to meeting the unique needs of your partner, you will become irresistible to each other and insure faithfulness in your marriage. You will build a relationship that sustains romance, increases intimacy, and deepens awareness year after year.