When Bethany asked if I wanted to tag-team this blog series with her, I didn’t hesitate. His Needs, Her Needs was a book I started to read a couple of years ago, but never finished. I wanted to finish, but this is a book that requires work, and my natural inclination is to avoid work. This is now a project I need to finish, for her, for us, for me. The better I understand her and myself – even after 10 years, because we do change – the healthier our marriage can be. I’d be a fool to not want that.
I can describe chapter one with a single word: terrifying. Harley writes most of it in the second person point of view (“You do this, then you do that”). And in this chapter, YOU are the one that starts an extramarital affair. It’s a powerful tool to drive home his point that any one of us can go against our wedding day vows of “forsaking all others.” When I read this chapter my stomach turns. Not because “I” ultimately have an affair, but because the process begins so innocently as friendship, and then in a slow, insidious way it’s happened even though it was never the intention.
Early in our marriage Bethany and I disagreed a bit on opposite sex friendships. She was still finishing college, so she still had some male friends she saw on campus. It bothered me, not because I didn’t trust her, or even that I didn’t trust them (I really didn’t), but to me it begged a simple question: why put yourself in a position like that? It has always been my opinion that, once married, I should have one and only one close female friend – my wife. Having any other woman in my life beyond acquaintances or working relationships is simply asking for trouble. Ten years later, I feel no remorse from this decision. Quite the opposite, in fact, I feel relieved. I have almost zero avenues to temptation of an affair. I think that’s worth more than gold.
I read this book for the first time last year. I promptly passed the recommendation on to every couple I knew. My husband has been meaning to read it so as part of our 2014 goal to invest in our marriage, we are reading it together. We each read the chapter, discuss it and then blog about it together. So for the next 14 or so weeks, you’ll find our words here each week talking about the book and how it has helped our marriage.
Chapter 1: How Affair Proof is Your Marriage?
What a way to begin a book. I don’t think anyone gets married thinking that someday one of them will be unfaithful. Even as Rob and I read this, we looked at each other and couldn’t comprehend the other person ever cheating. But the point of this chapter is that it can happen to anyone.
The author makes a specific effort to use the personal pronoun you. Meaning this could be you, under the right circumstances. He claims that creating a stable marriage can be done by following one simple rule: Become aware of each other’s emotional needs and learn to meet them.
This sounds simple, but the application is not as simple as it sounds. My husband and I have been married for 10 years and I still have to remind myself that our emotional needs are not the same. We learned this early on in our dating relationship when we read The Five Love Languages together. (another great book that I recommend to every couple). But I consider His Needs, Her Needs to be a complete and expanded way of looking at the love languages concept.
I think one of the author’s most crucial points is that most affairs are not intentional or out of some kind of malice. They usually develop gradually when an emotional need is not being met by a spouse and begins being met by someone else. Part of being married is giving our spouse the exclusive right to meet our most basic, intimate emotional needs. That makes us vulnerable, to depend on someone else this way. I as a wife need to be very sensitive to this fact, and realize that it is hard for my husband to be exposed in this way. I have the power to both love him better and hurt him more deeply than anyone else. This is part of why I wanted to read this book together. As we head into the second decade of our marriage, I want to continue to love him more and better than I did in the past. This will mean making sure I understand his emotional needs and being willing to meet them, even if they aren’t things that are important to me.
Next week we’ll be talking about our love banks and why they never close.
Just a quick note. We have in no way been paid for our opinions here. We just like this book and have a passion to see people stay happily married and continue to grow in their marriages. But this post does contain affiliate links which help me afford to keep blogging. Thank you for your support.