His Needs Her Needs

He Says, She Says: He Needs An Attractive Spouse

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He Says

I think the title of this chapter was poorly-chosen, because “He needs an attractive wife” leaves too much room for misinterpretation. Does that mean he needs other people to find his wife attractive? Does that mean he needs his wife to look good at all times? Isn’t that shallow? Upon reading, you realize that none of that is the case. Still, to avoid the confusion, I would have named it, “He needs to be physically attracted to his wife.” There’s no mistaking what this means, and I think most people would agree with it.

Of course a man needs to be attracted to his wife. Attraction, on all levels, is what brought them together in the first place. What’s most important is that he finds her attractive and she finds him attractive; nothing and no one else matters. It’s a cliché, but “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder,” is really true. There are people getting married where you might think, “what does she see in him?” Well, to put it bluntly, who cares what you think? She’s attracted to him, end of story.

The suggestions he offers for “prettying oneself up” should have been more two-way, in my opinion. Seems like too much emphasis was placed on the woman. Glad he mentioned the smelly farmer story, but the other areas could have had man examples too – a lot of men need to lose weight as well.

After 11 years of marriage, I’m still surprised when Bethany has doubts about her physical attractiveness to me. She might not like the way she looks, there might be other people who don’t like the way she looks, but I LIKE THE WAY SHE LOOKS. Isn’t that enough? For me it is, but not always her. I get that. She has to be happy with how she looks. I just try to reaffirm that she is attractive to me.

I would say this need is not in my top five, but maybe that’s only because I really don’t think about it: Bethany meets it for me. She looks stunning when she dresses up for a nice occasion, she looks pretty most every day in “normal clothes,” she looks adorable bundled up on a cold winter day… I could go on. To sum up, I have no complaints.

She Says

I find this chapter interesting. I agree that this is a totally legitimate need, even though my first instinct upon reading it was that it felt shallow. But I guess to some men, when they fall in love with a beautiful woman they want her to stay beautiful. I appreciate that Harley notes that aging is a natural part of life and unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean the same thing as giving up any pride in your appearance. I have seen many gorgeous older women who I think “wow, I hope I’ll look that great when I’m that age.”

Yes, I’m sure there are men out there who use their wives natural changing of appearance as a result of age and bearing children as an excuse for why they stop loving them an ultimately cheat or leave them. That being said, these are not the men this chapter is addressing. This chapter is talking about men who adore their wives and fell in love with them because they found them physically attractive. But after marriage their wives became different people. They didn’t want the work and upkeep of looking nice so they let themselves go and now their husbands feel cheated.

Like many of the previous needs we’ve discussed here I think this really comes back to the importance of open communication and honestly about expectations. There was a time when I thought my husband would like me to dress more stylishly and wear more makeup. (Admittedly I was never much for this even when we were dating.) But it turns out, he really doesn’t care. He likes me to relaxed and happy. His only concern is that if I stay in my pajamas all day (as I sometimes did during the post partum days after our children were born) that it make me feel depressed. But it didn’t make me less attractive to him. Sure he likes when I dress up, but it’s not something he expects on a daily basis. But that’s also not a standard I set early on.

I also want to highlight another important distinction. There is a difference between the need for a spouse that is attractive to you and the need for a spouse that others find attractive. To me this is the difference between wanting a beautiful wife and a trophy wife. It is absolutely natural for a man to want to be attracted to his wife. However, in my opinion, it borders on inappropriate for a man to want his wife to be the envy of others.

Bottom line ladies, if you got all dolled up every time you went out the whole time you dating your hubby, he probably fell in love with you at least partly for your looks. This isn’t a bad or shallow thing. It’s just one of his needs. (There are men who are exceptions to this, though truthfully what defines attractive varies so much from person to person that I’m not even sure if we can properly judge). So if we love our husbands we need to be willing to make some kind effort. It may be something simple like wearing makeup or even just wearing attractive pajamas (not even necessarily lingerie but I’m sure it helps). Let him know that you recognize this need and want to fulfill it. Ask him what he would like. I think some women assume their husband’s ideas of attractive are so beyond their reach that they shouldn’t even bother. Maybe he doesn’t care if you wear makeup, but loves it when you wear your hair down. Perhaps he would like to see you in skirts or loves a particular blouse that you already have and would like to see you wear it more often. But remember, he did fall in love with YOU. So it’s YOU he wants. You have everything you need, it may just require some intentionality on your part.

 

He Says, She Says about His Needs, Her Needs

He Says, She Says: Why Your Love Bank Never Closes

He Says, She Says: She Needs Affection

He Says, She Says: He Needs Sexual Fulfillment

He Says, She Says: She Needs Conversation

He Says, She Says: He Needs A Recreational Companion

He Says, She Says: She Needs Openness and Honesty

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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.

Categories: His Needs Her Needs, Marriage | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

He Says, She Says: She Needs Openness and Honesty

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He Says

I’ll be honest (see what I did there?), the need for honesty is just plainly logical to me that I can’t really consciously think of acting in a dishonest way. For one thing, a lie will almost always find you out, so there’s really no point in trying. It’ll be worse if you’re found out, so just fess up. That’s really for when you’ve done something stupid, though. The more important aspect about this topic is that I know I value being given honest (correct) information, so why wouldn’t my wife? Call it courtesy, fairness, whatever, it’s just the right thing to do.

Having said that, I know that I’ve been dishonest in my time here on earth, and I know the reasons why I do it – to protect myself or to protect someone else. I’ve never lied to deliberately hurt someone. (Does that make it better? Of course not.)  But this chapter has made me look at myself a little closer to see where I might be dishonest in the first place.

First of all, my dishonesty would probably fall under the umbrella of “failure to give all information.” Ask me, I’ll be honest; don’t ask me, you probably won’t get any information. Again, the reason would likely fall under protecting someone or myself. Here’s an example. In the early years of our marriage I would withhold details of the finances from Bethany so that she wouldn’t stress about it. I told myself that she would only worry, and why burden her with that? I learned later (and was reminded again in this chapter) that I was doing a disservice to her. If I told her we could afford one thing but not another, and left it at that, then I hadn’t given her all the information, so she was left confused and would misinterpret the meaning behind my comment. I was kind of treating her as someone beneath me when I did that, because I had already judged that she couldn’t handle it. That was not fair to her. The chapter was a good reminder to me to treat my wife as my equal and not to withhold info from her even if I think I’m protecting her. She needs all the info to make educated decisions (and because she’s smart, she often comes up with awesome ideas to solve problems).

I’ll close with something this chapter reminded me of. A friend once told me in a men’s group about the time a woman hit on him at work. Rather than “protect his wife from worrying,” he told his wife that day. Why? Because why keep it a secret and give the enemy a foothold? After telling her, he felt free from any bondage or ties. It was out in the open, and with his wife knowing all about it, he didn’t have to worry about heading down a wrong way of thinking. If a secret like that is out of the darkness and in the light, it’s far less likely to do long term damage.

 

She Says

My first reaction to this chapter was “Well, yeah.” I guess because honesty is so important to me, I’ve always thought of it as a given. I can’t imagine a relationship without telling each other the truth. There is a difference between openness and verbalizing every thought. Tact is still important. Sometimes we have thoughts that shouldn’t be verbalized. That doesn’t mean we are being less than honest with each other though. A filter is a good thing. Spend some time with someone who doesn’t have one and you’ll realize how unpleasant it is.

The chapter specifically addresses men who tend to lie or withhold truth from their wives because they believe their wives can’t handle it. This can go both ways in a relationship. I prefer to say most things out loud and keeping my feelings inside has always been difficult for me. I don’t like to end an argument or discussion until an issue is resolved, no matter how long it takes. However, there was a time in my marriage when it wasn’t always easy to be open and honest. During the year after our daughter was born my husband suffered through a serious period of depression. During that time I put a lot of pressure on myself to handle things on my own, because I didn’t want to burden him. I tried not to ask for his help or share my fears and worries. I thought I was protecting him. To a certain extent I was. He was struggling enough, he didn’t need to hear my daily gripes. But at the same time, I needed to continue to be honest with him. Make it clear that yes, I was managing but that I still very much needed him. At times I find it tempting to fall back into those patterns. When he’s had a hard week at work, I wonder if I should tell him about how hard my day was. If he seems like he’s under a lot of pressure I hesitate to bring up the fact that there is water in the basement or that the porch roof might be leaking. But that isn’t fair. He needs to know what’s going on, even if I know he doesn’t want to hear it.

Like anything else, it comes down to discernment. He knows that I need him to be open and honest. But he also knows to pick his timing. Telling me he’s considering a career change during the pre-dinner hour while I’m rushing around the kitchen and the children are underfoot is a recipe for a mommy meltdown. The same goes for me when I totally unload my emotional frustrations on him right before bed. He wants to know what I’m thinking and feeling, but not at 11 p.m.

As far as secrets go the best policy is a simple one. Don’t do anything that you’d be too ashamed to tell your spouse and then you won’t have to keep secrets. If something does happen, deal with it sooner rather than later. Even painful truth is easier to overcome when it is expressed in the present. If you’ve made a mistake, own up to it as soon as possible (while still employing that tact and timing that I mentioned earlier). Your spouse should feel like he or she can ask you anything and you should always be prepared to answer honestly.

 

He Says, She Says about His Needs, Her Needs

He Says, She Says: Why Your Love Bank Never Closes

He Says, She Says: She Needs Affection

He Says, She Says: He Needs Sexual Fulfillment

He Says, She Says: She Needs Conversation

He Says, She Says: He Needs A Recreational Companion

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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.

Categories: His Needs Her Needs, Marriage | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

He Says, She Says: He Needs A Recreational Companion

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He Says

In this chapter I found myself disagreeing with Harley much more than I expected. Once again I found myself not relating to what he considers to be a common need for men, shared recreation. But this time it was because of personality, not maleness vs. femaleness. Namely, I’m an introvert. And he doesn’t seem to acknowledge 50% of the population at all. I found that quite surprising.

See, he’s all about husbands and wives sharing their recreational time with each other – to the point where they should only spend time doing recreational activities that the both people enjoy. I have a big problem with that: introverts generally don’t have recreation that they share with others. (It’s kind of the point, you know?) I need time by myself to “recharge my batteries.” Activities like reading, single-player video games, computer programming, writing, various art like drawing and painting … the list goes on… these are, for the most part, solo activities. I can certainly involve Bethany in some way, but, as hard as it is to admit, I get the most enjoyment from them by myself.

Now of course I have things I like that the two of us can do together. I’ve recently gotten into board games again – those should be played with others, naturally, and I’ve found some we both like. And we have a lot of overlap in TV shows and movies we find interesting, so we can share that as well. There are other things, but it probably behooves us to take the interest inventory just to find out if there are some things out there we both like that we haven’t thought of before. (I miss going to plays, Bethany! When are we going to see another play?!)

Yes, I get his point: “Since everyone has an account in your Love Bank, it stands to reason that the person with whom you share your most enjoyable moments will build the largest account. If you want a fulfilling marriage, that person must be your spouse.” I completely agree. It’s why I don’t have other female friends with shared interests; this is deliberate, to avoid the potential of affairs as he describes in the chapter. But spend all my free recreational time with Bethany? I mean this in all honesty: that would be a disservice to her, if I wasn’t fully recharged and ready to give her the attention she deserves. To recharge, I need me-time.

Why oh why Harley did you not address introverts?

She Says

I think for the most part this chapter focuses on a great premise. As husband and wife you must have some things in common or you probably wouldn’t have gotten married. Of all of the recreational activities in the world, there must be some that you would both enjoy. Make sure that you prioritize those activities.

“Engage in only those recreational activities that both you and your spouse can enjoy together.”

However, I have a slight bone to pick with this theory. What if you are introverts? My husband and I are both introverts, he even more so than I. I spend all day dealing with small children and their constant needs and chatter. He works in an office where at least a portion of his job requires him to interact with others. We each need time alone to recharge and this often takes the form of recreational activities.

Yes, we do things that we enjoy together. We play complicated board games. (We’re not talking about Clue and Scrabble here. My husband’s recent additions to the docket include Puerto Rico and Settler’s of Catan). Since we are both writers we belong to and host a writing small group in our home. This has been a wonderful addition to our recreational life in the past three years. While it isn’t time just the two of us, it does give us the opportunity to share our creativity and support each other.

But we definitely require time alone. My husband enjoys video and computer games; most of which are quite complicated (are you sensing a theme here?) and solitary. Sometimes he has introduced me to his games, and occasionally we will play cooperatively; but usually it’s just his time to be alone an recharge. I feel that these kind of activities are exceptions and here is why.

“The couple with separate recreational interests misses a golden opportunity. They often spend some of their most enjoyable moments in the company of someone else.”

Because these activities are solitary, no one else is taking the place of the spouse in meeting this recreational need. This is simply time that each of us require alone to keep us functioning and allow us to be better husband and wife, father and mother.

I also think that there will always be some things that we do that the other person doesn’t. Harley admitted in the last chapter that he and his wife have made an effort to support each other’s interests; his practice of counseling and his wife’s singing and speaking career. I lead the dance ministry at my church. My husband supports me in this by providing care for the children so that I can attend meetings and rehearsals. But in the past he has also helped edit music, and video tape performances. During a period of two years when I was teaching and taking classes at a local dance studio, he even participated in our yearly production of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by serving as narrator.

He participates when appropriate; but he would never suggest that I give up dancing because he isn’t interested in participating. But to his credit; as my Christmas gift this year he is taking six week of English Country Dance lessons with me at the local community college. So I guess he figured out a way to make my interest in dance a mutual activity after all.

He Says, She Says about His Needs, Her Needs

He Says, She Says: Why Your Love Bank Never Closes

He Says, She Says: She Needs Affection

He Says, She Says: He Needs Sexual Fulfillment

He Says, She Says: She Needs Conversation

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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.

Categories: Her Needs, His Needs, His Needs Her Needs, Marriage | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

He Says, She Says: She Needs Conversation

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He Says

Anyone who has ever met my wife probably had the same instant reaction: “Wow, does she talk fast!” It’s true, she does. Luckily, although she married a quiet guy, I can follow her almost 100% of the time because of the way my brain works. We fit in that regard. But like most men and women, conversation could have been a big struggle for us, mainly because of me. I just don’t talk a lot—certainly not in comparison to her! So what we have done is, from the outset, recognize that this need of Bethany’s to communicate is important, and time must be made for it to happen. Not always successful, certainly harder since the children have arrived, but we still try to make time.

Some of the things we’ve learned over the years:

  • I am extremely thoughtful in my speech. I try to choose my words carefully, so I don’t always respond right away to something. In an argument, this can be even worse, because I really don’t want to say something I might regret. Even what is only a few seconds can seem like an eternity to Bethany. She has learned to wait for me, even if it’s killing her inside.
  • Bethany processes her thoughts verbally. She sometimes has to spend a while hour flipping out about something before she realizes the situation is not that bad. I’ve learned to wait it out, and try not to get “logical” with her. I know I have the same feelings and thoughts sometimes, they’re just in my head; she says them out loud. We’re the same, just different.
  • While Bethany certainly loves to share her own thoughts, she feels closer to me when I share things I am passionate about. That means that she has to hear about things she may not be all that interested in (the fantasy world of video games and novels I sometimes live in), but because she is interested in me, she listens. And I do the same for her.
  • Having things in common is important for conversation, as Harley suggests. We share a love of Science Fiction TV shows and movies, witty high-brow comedy, and of course our faith, so there is much to talk about. Also, although we individually write in very different genres, we love to talk about our works with each other, and help each other in the process.

In all, Bethany’s strong need for conversation is known, and for the most part, met. But it is an ongoing process of making sure it happens.

She Says

Every marriage needs conversation. It’s how we maintain the ties between us. Most couples will remember being able to talk about anything together when they were dating. But after marriage and especially after children this gets much harder.

Quality conversation is definitely one of my love languages, it’s considered kind of a dialect of Quality Time. I also process verbally so often when Rob and I are talking it’s actually helping me to figure out how and think and feel about a particular issue.

In the next chapter the author will begin talking about the importance of shared recreational activities and he begins to talk about it here under the guise of shared interests. He believes that for a couple to continue to have things to talk about and avoid growing apart they must have shared interests. I both agree and disagree with this. I do think it is important that couples take an interest in things they are each passionate about, but I don’t think good conversation necessarily requires mutual interest so much as mutual willingness.

My husband is a computer programmer. I am not very gifted in this area, and it takes a lot of concentration for me to understand what he’s talking about. But when he has a project he is passionate about I listen and participate in the conversation; sometimes asking questions, but mostly showing my interest. Not my interest in computers but my interest in him. He is my priority. Now, if it were important to him that I learn more about computers so that we could share that interest, I would. In fact in some ways I have. He has introduced me to some amazing computer games that I have grown to enjoy. But something I will talk more about next week, is the difference between introverts and extroverts and how they prefer to spend their leisure time. For now I’ll simply say that my husband and I talk about things that each other is passionate about, but we don’t necessarily participate in all of each other’s activities, and I think that this is OK.

As a woman, the main purpose of conversation is a way to share our lives, even when we can’t be together as much as we’d like. I tell Rob funny stories about things the kids have done during the day or ideas I have thought of. It is a time for us to reconnect and make sure everything is OK between us. If we find that we don’t have much to talk about, then we know we need to spend more time together. There was a period after our daughter was born when we hardly slept and spent almost no time alone. Our relationship was suffering on many levels. My husband was in school and working full time, but was unhappy at both and therefore didn’t want to talk about either one. Then he starting writing his first novel. As a writer myself, we now had something to talk about. Even though we write in totally different genres and have different styles to our writing; we had something to bond over. This helped us get through a difficult time in our lives.

Just like any of the other needs we’ve discussed so far, it comes down to priorities. If, as a man, you know that conversation is important to your wife then you will make it a priority. If you don’t know what to talk about, ask your wife. Ask questions about each other’s days that require more than yes or no answers. Give her details about the people, events and problems that you encounter. Let her feel like she matters to you by taking the time to tell her what is going on in your mind and heart and be willing to listen to her in return. It is a significant investment in time and effort, but it helps to create an emotional closeness that will help carry you through times when you can’t talk as often as you’d like.

He Says, She Says About His Needs, Her Needs

He Says, She Says: What Your Love Bank Never Closes

He Says, She Says: She Needs Affection

He Says, She Says: He Needs Sexual Fulfillment

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Categories: His Needs Her Needs, Marriage | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

He Says, She Says: He Needs Sexual Fulfillment

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He Says

I’m a very private person; I don’t “kiss and tell.” Thus, this topic is somewhat awkward for me to write about with any personal detail. What I can say is that there was nothing too surprising about this chapter. Very clinical, it could be useful to a premarital couple that thinks they know all about sex but probably don’t. I would hope people who have been married a while are not surprised by the biology discussion. (As an aside, a good Christian “sex manual” is The Act of Marriage, if you can get past some of the male-centered tone of the book.)

I think the most important part about the chapter is to recognize that there is a bit of a dance that goes on in marriage in regards to her need for affection and his need for sex. If you are lacking in your need, it makes you less likely to feel like meeting the other’s need – which in turn makes them less likely to meet your need, and so on. A nasty downward spiral to be sure. But the good news is that the opposite will happen if you are willing to make the first move in meeting your spouse’s need. As Harley states, “Meet your spouse’s needs as you would want your spouse to meet yours.” This is a life-long dance I have admittedly not mastered.

As I’ve stated before, and probably will continue to state, I’m not the typical guy in most areas. But I am a guy, and sex is a major need, there’s no denying it. It’s biologic, yes; but more importantly it is one of the ways I emotionally connect with my wife, because of how powerfully intimate and secret it is.

Yes, secret; it’s the best word I can use here. It’s just between me and her. We saved ourselves for marriage, which is pretty much unheard of today. I have no regrets about that decision; I love that we waited. No one else knows me like she does; no one else knows her like I do. And as long as the two of us continue to strive towards loving each other, it will always be that way.

Bethany will probably be saying more, but that’s all I’ll share about our secret.

She Says

This is a weird topic for us to write about. Maybe it’s because we are not the typical couple or maybe we are more typical than we realize. During the first year of our marriage I was a full time student, more than full time really. My husband worked a bank customer service job where he served an average of 3 customers a week. We used to fight about sex. But I was the one angry about lack of intimacy. We were in non-typical roles for that season. Anti-depressants can have a difficult effect on male libido, especially frustrating to newlyweds. We adjusted our expectations and tried to keep communicating. Five years later he weaned off his meds, and we had to adjust again. Then came parenthood.

I had a horrific postpartum recovery, with extreme pain during sex for almost a year. I say this without embarrassment because at the time I thought I was alone and no one had ever told me about such a thing. Breastfeeding may be good for the baby but it isn’t kind to your intimate life. Don’t suffer in silence. Talk to your doctor or midwife, and let them know the emotional and physical toll this is taking on you.

At the same time, my husband was descending into a deep clinical depression. It was a rough year. But we got through it. When baby number two came along, I was anticipating the same kind of difficult adjustment period, but I was prepared to get medical help ASAP. But as it turned out it wasn’t needed. But what I was lacking was energy and time. With two kids, we barely had a moment alone. One or the other was always awake and needed something. We felt like we’d never have sex again. Seriously, want to do a good friend a favor? Take their kids on a Saturday afternoon so they can have sex alone in their own home.

So where are we now? We’re striving to find our equilibrium again. We work at it, because sometimes it seems easier in the short term just to do it less, but in the long term our relationship suffers for it.

Plan sex. Yep, that’s it. I know it sounds so unromantic, but it actually can be incredibly romantic. Anticipation can be fun. I’m not saying never give into spontaneous arousal, but don’t count on it and certainly don’t wait for it. A satisfying sexual relationship, especially after children, is like a thriving garden. It requires planning, and work but will produce the wonderful fruit of a happy marriage.

Now for your ladies who don’t get why this is so important, you don’t have to understand why it matters. You just need to decide if you love him enough to try. As we plow through these chapters you will find lots of things that are important to one spouse and not the other. This is where we have to choose as wives to invest ourselves in things that may or may not matter that much to us. Yes, having a satisfying sex life is important to me. It provides an important link to my husband and let’s face it, when done well, it’s fun. But my idea of satisfying may look different than his. Men; talk to your wives. Don’t think she’ll guess what you want and how often you want it. Ladies: talk to your husbands. If you are too tired, tell him and give him ways to help. Would you be more in the mood if he helped with the dishes, put the kids to bed, or let you take a shower alone (or perhaps not alone)? Tell him. He can’t do what you don’t ask.

He Says, She Says About His Needs, Her Needs

He Says, She Says: What Your Love Bank Never Closes

He Says, She Says: She Needs Affection

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Categories: His Needs Her Needs, Marriage | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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