By Bev and Phil Haas
I realize this may sound somewhat selfish, but my needs are not being met in my marriage. I’m starting to wonder if my needs are even important to my spouse. I’ve been trying to meet her needs, but I’m not sure what to do next.
Our son, Brian, is on the teaching team at Mountain Lake Church just north of Atlanta. Recently Mountain Lake’s teaching team developed and taught a series of messages they called Bedroom Confessions. Their first message, I’m Not Getting IT, addresses your question about needs. So we’ve obtained permission to provide a summary of that message below, along with a link where you can watch the entire message and the other three sermons in this series (vimeo.com/108877595).
We hope the information gleaned from these teaching ministers will help you and your wife get back on track to having a marriage that meets one another’s needs.
IT Is Biblical
The Bible says “the husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:3). IT sounds a lot like sex, but IT also refers to needs in general.
Rest assured, you’re not alone in thinking, I’m not getting my needs met. This is a common thought among married couples that is seldom expressed out loud. The unfortunate truth is that by the time couples talk about needs being neglected, they have already started to drift apart. Biblical love is about meeting needs. Loving our spouse requires us to understand his/her needs and be willing to selflessly meet those needs. The Bible affirms those who look not only to their own needs, but also to the needs of others (Philippians 2:4).
IT Is Not Too Late
Whatever you do, don’t give up. It’s not too late to build a marriage that is mutually satisfying. We encourage you to keep your focus on your spouse and her needs. Also look for a good time to begin a conversation about your needs and her needs. You might be surprised to find out that your spouse is unaware that your needs aren’t being met. And you might also discover that the needs you are meeting are not the most important to your wife.
Don’t give in to Satan’s temptation to quit. Satan will try to convince you to stop meeting your spouse’s needs until she starts meeting yours. That will send your marriage into a spiral of selfishness. The goal is for both of you to meet the other’s needs. If you stop, then you are back to square one.
IT Takes Action
Meeting our spouse’s needs must happen whether we feel like it or not. Our motivation in meeting our spouse’s needs should not be so that our needs will be met, even though that is the eventual result. Continuing to meet the needs of your spouse when you aren’t feeling that it is reciprocal is easier said than done.
You mentioned that you weren’t sure what to do next, so we’ve pulled out a couple of practical action steps that will move your marriage in a positive direction:
1. Take the Love Languages test online (5lovelanguages.com). This will only take about 10 minutes or less and it’s free. You’ll learn which of the five love languages is your primary language and which is your spouse’s primary language.
2. Obtain a copy of Dr. Williard Harley’s book His Needs/Her Needs and begin reading together. This is one of the top books Bev and I have read on the subject of meeting needs in a marriage. You’ll learn about the most important needs of men and the top needs of women.
No matter how long you’ve been married, you cannot read each other’s minds. Both of these action steps should be accompanied by ongoing and revealing conversations, so you’ll need to create space and time for these. Make it a date night or a morning coffee between just the two of you. Your goal is to gain understanding that will help you act in a way that speaks your spouse’s language and meets his/her most important needs.
Successful relationships require work, and work involves give and take. Feeling like your marriage is a one-way street will certainly drain you. That’s why it is also vital to have a growing relationship with God. Only then are we filled with his love, and out of the overflow of that love we are able to give love to those around us.
Send your questions about family life to Bev and Phil Haas in care of The Lookout (firstname.lastname@example.org). We regret that personal replies are not always possible. Bev and Phil Haas are involved in education and family ministry in Cincinnati, Ohio. They have two children and two grandsons.