Do you know the 10 Top Emotional Needs in Marriage?
Part 2 of the Love Bank Series.
Knowing the top emotional needs in marriage is so important if we expect to have connected marriages.
This is even more important, if your marriage has been affected by infidelity, friends.
Learning the needs of your spouse, and yourself, is a great way to begin reconnecting with your spouse after an affair.
If you haven’t read my last post on what the Love Bank Account Concept is, you can read that here.
It’s basically about making deposits, and not withdrawals, into our “love bank” account our spouse has for us.
I also added some more information about affairs to the Love Bank Principle like listing the seasons couples are most vulnerable to an affair.
So, read that post for more background.
In this post, I’ll going to:
Give brief descriptions on what each most important emotional needs are for the average man, and woman.
Explain The Policy of UNDIVIDED attention with 3 main guidelines to follow and how much undivided attention is enough,
especially for a marriage in crisis.
I have a link for you to download a free “Emotional Needs Questionnaire” to implement these ideas.
It comes right from Dr. Harley’s site “marriage builders.”
So, take some time with your spouse and go through these questions and see which ones are most important to each of you.
If you’re a couple that’s trying to recover from infidelity,
this is especially important for you both to make deposits into your marriage.
Knowing each other’s most important top emotional needs is a great place to start.
This isn’t the time to make withdrawals. as your “Love Bank Account” is likely running in the red.
As with the previous Love Bank Principles post, I give credit to Dr. William Harley for these ideas and concepts.
I’m just summarizing them here, to help give you, my readers, the direction and tools to begin healing from the affair that’s intruded into your relationship.
Many of his principles, my husband and I used when we were in the recovery stage of healing after my infidelity.
But I’d suggest you buy his books for more information, particularly the “Fall in Love, Stay in Love” and “Surviving an Affair.” which I have linked here.
1. These are the most important emotional needs of both men and women:
I’ll give a brief description of each need too.
As you review these descriptions, note the ones you most identify with or the order you do.
Also try to determine which your spouse may say is their top emotional needs, (but then answer the questionnaire too).
Then show them, and see what they think.
Although Dr. Harley describes these as being the most important for the average man, or woman,
I’d say don’t be too thrown off if one of yours is of the opposite gender.
Men’s Most Important Emotional Needs=
If you tend to feel contented when you make love, but feel frustrated when you don’t make love often enough, or how you want, you have a need for sexual fulfillment.
If recreational companionship is one of your most important emotional needs, doing things together deposits more love units than anything. Recreational Companionship also combines 2 needs into lone. The need to be engaged in the recreational activity, and also the need for companionship. If someone else of the opposite sex, joins you or your spouse in this, there’s a huge risk of getting involved in an affair.
If the attractiveness of your spouse makes you feel extra happy and the loss of their attractiveness would make you frustrated, this should be on your list of most important emotional needs.
If you’re easily affected by your spouse’s words of admiration and respect, and just as much their criticism, this is one of your important emotional needs.
Are you very appreciative of your spouse’s cleaning, cooking, and child care and frustrated when any of these are not done, add it to your top list.
Women’s Top Emotional Needs=
If you feel wonderful when your spouses expresses care and love for you, and just as terrible when they don’t enough-this is an important emotional need.
Do you enjoy conversation and frustrated when you can’t have that conversation with your spouse very much? It’s one of your most important emotional needs.
Honesty and Openness-
If you’re fulfilled and especially happy when your spouse reveal their most intimate thoughts, but also frustrated when they hide them from you, add this to the top of your list.
If someone’s income or wealth, makes them more attractive to you, and the lack of money makes them less attractive; financial support is a strong need of yours.
If your spouse’s contribution with you in the educational and moral growth of your children makes you fulfilled and their neglect of your children makes you frustrated, you have a strong need for family commitment.
Dr. Harley says to remember that an emotional need is a craving that when it’s satisfied makes you feel happy and fulfilled.
Likewise, when it’s unfulfilled, you feel unhappy and frustrated.
Also, write down any needs you know you have, that Dr. Harley might not have listed.
Think of every craving (emotional, not food) you have in your life.
Think of your most important emotional needs like this: if this need was met and all others would not happen again,
which one would cause you to be more in love with your spouse? Rank that need as #1.
Also, if you choose another need from the list, remembering that all the other needs would go unfulfilled and unmet,
which would be your second most important emotional need?
Try not to overwhelm yourself or your spouse with listing all of them in order.
Become experts in meeting each others 2 most important needs first.
1. The Policy of UNDIVIDED time and attention with each other.
This one’s very dear to my heart, as it’s one of the key things we did when we were healing.
Before you were married, you both likely spent a lot of your free time together.
Spending that time together is often our highest priority when we’re dating our spouse.
Yet, somehow undivided time gets the lowest priority once we get married, develop a routine and everything else is demanding our attention.
Although this seems like a small, unimportant, thing, if you’re trying to restore your marriage after an affair,
I’d say it’s in the top 3 most vital things you can do.
Without undivided time together, you cannot re-create the love you once had for each other.
It’s so important, and so minimized, that you should schedule the time for it.
So, one day a week, whichever day is good for you both, sit down with your spouse and schedule it in.
You might say: “okay, how much time is enough?”
This is what Dr. Harley says :
“The policy of undivided attention: Give your spouse your undivided attention a minimum of 15 hours each week,
using the time to meet his or her need for affection, sexual fulfillment, conversation, and recreational companionship.”
I can almost hear the groanings and protest from some of you.
Yes, I realize it sounds like a lot, we thought so too. But where are our priorities?
Somehow we manage to find time for those things that we prioritize as most important and let the lesser important things go
(TV time, facebook, playing games on our phones, surfing the internet, chatting with friends….)
Are those things more important than our marriages?
Especially if you’re in affair recovery,
and you’re both serious about healing your marriage,
this is a non-negotiable.
A few guidelines here, as you seek to spend 15+ hours in undivided time together, that I’ll mention quickly:
This time should not include children (who are awake), family, friends etc… Privacy also helps ensure undivided attention.
Learn to be together without your children. They’re going to leave home one day, and then it’s just the 2 of you.
It’s not in the same room, staring at the television or movie, or watching sporting events.
During the time you’re together, incorporate activities that also meet the other emotional needs you both have like affection,
sexual fulfillment, recreational companionship, and conversation. These needs are often best met when they’re met together.
C. Amount of Time-
I already said the suggested minimum time for satisfied, happy couples is 15 hours/week.
But if you’re suffering through a marital crisis, like infidelity or another disconnection, plan more time until both of you have marital connection and satisfaction.
At first we didn’t see how we’d be able spend 15 hours together/week.
But we eventually surpassed that until it was around 25-30 hours. Yes, we did friends. It’s possible.
And it was key in our healing. If there’s time for affairs, shopping, golf outings, etc.. then 25 hours a week IS DOABLE.
How bad do you really want your marriage to survive and love to return like it should?
Finally, how about you?
Which part of these emotional needs list did you relate to the most? Is there any of them you don’t agree with?
What are your thoughts about the undivided time together? Did you feel yourself pull back and think that sounded insane or reasonable?
I’d love to hear your comments, so let us know what you think below.
Don’t forget to fill out the Emotional Needs Questionnaire that you can download here, to help you clarify which ones you are most leaning towards.