In the book His Needs, Her Needs, Willard Harley teaches couples how to keep the loving feeling alive by meeting each other’s greatest emotional needs.
In general, a woman’s basic emotional needs are:
- 1. Affection
3. Honesty and openness
4. Financial support
5. Family commitment
In general, a man’s basic emotional needs are:
- 1. Sexual fulfillment
2. Recreational companionship
3. Physical attractiveness
4. Domestic support
It’s important for each spouse to go through the list and identify their five most important needs. Go through both lists because some men may not feel the need for all of the things on the “men’s list” and same for the women.
Dr. Harley says that “when a woman is married to a man who has learned to meet her most important emotional needs, she’ll find him irresistible. Love units are deposited in her Love Bank in such great numbers that she finds herself helplessly in love.” And it works the same way for a man.
He gives a definition of care as: “The willingness to change your personal habits to meet the emotional needs of your spouse and to make sure those habits are effective.”
A good quote from Dr. Harley is:
“Growing apart simply means that a couple has not grown together.”
- Promises that embody what a husband and wife should expect of each other:
1. Promise of care: I promise to meet your most important emotional needs.
2. Promise of time: I promise to give you my undivided attention at least 15 hours each week.
3. Promise of protection: I promise to avoid being the cause of your unhappiness.
He emphasizes several times in the books, His Needs, Her Needs and Love Busters the importance of couples setting aside 15 hours each week of Undivided Attention. This seems pretty far-fetched to me at this time, but I’m talking to my husband about this.
Dr. Harley says that it takes time to deposit enough love units to create the feeling of love. He says that compatibility is created. He views marriage as a profession. He says “the skills I learn are designed to meet my spouse’s most important emotional needs, and if I’m successful, she’ll be in love with me.”
Here is a more thorough treatment of the 10 basic emotional needs that Dr. Harley has identified.
- Her Needs
Affection. Her husband tells her that he loves her with words, cards, flowers, gifts, and common courtesies. His hugs and kisses are symbols of his willingness to be there for her when she needs him and that he is deeply concerned about her welfare His acts of affection are repeated daily, creating an environment that clearly and repeatedly expresses his love for her.
Conversation.He sets aside time every day to talk to her. They may talk about events in their lives, their children, their feelings, or their plans. But whatever the topic, she enjoys the conversation because it is never judgmental and always informative and constructive. She talks to him as much as she would like, and he responds with interest.
Honesty and openness.He tells her everything about himself, leaving nothing out that might later surprise her. He describes his positive and negative feelings, events of his past, his daily schedule, and his plans for the future. He never leaves her with a false impression and is truthful about his thoughts, feelings, intentions, and behavior.
Financial support.He assumes the responsibility to house, feed, and clothe his family. If his income is insufficient to provide essential support, he resolves the problem by upgrading his skills to increase his salary. He does not work long hours, keeping himself from his wife and family, but he is able to provide necessary support by working a forty to forty-five-hour week. While he encourages his wife to pursue a career (if she chooses)*, he does not depend on her salary for family living expenses.
Family commitment.He commits sufficient time and energy to the moral and educational development of the children. He reads to them, engages in sports with them, and takes them on frequent outings. He reads books and attends lectures with his wife on the subject of child development so that they will do a good job training their children. He and his wife discuss training methods and objectives until they agree. He does not proceed with any plan of training or discipline without her approval. He recognizes that his care of the children is critically important to her.
Sexual fulfillment.His wife meets this need by becoming a terrific sexual partner. She studies her own sexual response to recognize and understand what brings out the best in her; then she shares this information with him, and together they learn to have a sexual relationship that both find enjoyable.
Recreational companionship.She develops an interest in the recreational activities he enjoys most and tries to become proficient at them. If she finds she cannot enjoy them, she encourages him to consider other activities that they can enjoy together. She becomes his favorite recreational companion, and he associates her with his most enjoyable moments of relaxation.
Physical attractiveness.She keeps herself physically fit with diet and exercise, and she wears her hair, makeup, and clothes in a way that he finds attractive and tasteful. He is attracted to her in private and proud of her in public.
Domestic support.She creates a home that offers him a refuge from the stresses of life. She manages household responsibilities in a way that encourages him to spend time at home enjoying his family.
Admiration.She understands and appreciates him more than anyone else. She reminds him of his value and achievements and helps him maintain self-confidence. She avoids criticizing him. She is proud of him, not out of duty, but from a profound respect for the man she chose to marry.
In Love Busters, Dr. Harley says something that I don’t agree with personally. He says that children are hard on marriages. I believe that children fulfill a marriage. He even says that the divorce rate increases with the number of children born to a marriage. I find that hard to believe. If we are putting God first in our lives and letting Him have His way, He will use our children to refine and strengthen us and purge us of our selfishness. And children cement our relationships and give us even more in common than we would otherwise have.
But his ideas about meeting each other’s needs resonate with me, and I’m trying to apply some of these principles so that I can take care of my most important relationship after my relationship with God. I never want my husband to feel neglected or mistreated by me. I want us to always have a passionate marriage full of loving care and commitment. I want my husband’s heart to always trust me. I want to always have his heart. I want our marriage to be a depiction of the relationship between Jesus and His Bride.