At one time a horseshoe was given as a wedding gift as a symbol of good luck, and in many cases to ‘ward off evil spirits.’
While it’s lost much of it’s spiritual symbolism, it is still used in some cultures (Irish) as an icon of a great marriage.
It certainly takes more than luck to have a healthy marriage.
It demands understanding, patience and commitment (the kind based on love, not tolerance).
The main reason luck is not enough is we all have needs.
Every. Single. One. Of. Us.
Those needs can’t be minimized or neglected over the long term or you (as a person) break down, or the relationship you are looking to (your marriage) to meet those needs deteriorates.
As John Gottman puts it, “Our core needs are non-negotiable.” They must be met or else.
How those needs are met can be discussed, negotiated and shared.
The gist of this article is about the role we have in meeting our spouse’s needs.
People Without Elbows
Years ago I heard the story of a man who died and was allowed to visit both heaven and hell.
His first stop was hell.
There he saw people gathered around a huge banquet table filled with the most delicious food imaginable. It was obvious the people there were hungry. Yet no one was satisfied by the food.
Every person there had arms without elbows. So they could not bend their arms to feed themselves.
Starving. Food available. Yet unsatisfied because there was no way to get the food to their mouth.
The people were angry, arguing and fighting. It was an awful sight.
Next, the man was taken to heaven.
The scene was similar. People were there around a huge banquet table filled with food, drink and the most delicious deserts imaginable.
The people were very similar to those in hell in that they had no arms without elbow. Yet they were laughing, happy and filled with joy.
The only difference in the two groups was that those in hell were angry, fighting and filled with bitterness. All because they could not feed themselves the delicious food.
Those in heaven were happy because, while they could not feed themselves, they discovered if they fed each other, they could all share the delicious food.
Can you imagine ken and Barbie trying to feed themselves?
Not. Going. To. Happen.
The moral of the story, of course, is that when we meet the needs of others, our needs will be met.
There is an underlying principle that goes like this:
If your goal in marriage is to be happy, you will act selfishly to get your need(s) met.
If your goal in marriage to serve your spouse, you will act selflessly to meet your spouse’s needs.
Direction Not Perfection
It’s important to remember that no one gets this right 100% of the time. We all make mistakes and have moments of selfish behavior.
My wife and I have a statement we make to remind us this: It is our Direction, Not Perfection that matters.
We don’t always get it right, but we are always moving in the right direction. At the end of the day, that causes us to win. We can always adapt and change course if we need to, because we are moving in the same direction together.If your goal in marriage is to be happy, you will act selfishly to get your need(s) met. If your goal in marriage to serve your spouse, you will act selflessly to meet your spouse’s needs. Click To Tweet
It comes down to desire. I want to meet my wife’s needs. I care about her, and I want to make sure she is fulfilled.
I also want to be the one to meet those needs. I don’t want any other person to take that role. That’s what makes marriage, marriage. There are things we share that no one else should share. Some things are reserved for the marriage union.
Why We Marry
Traditionally speaking, we marry because we want to spend our life with the person we have chosen.
We want to ‘do life with them’ on every level.
Think about it.
Marriage is choice.
There is no law that says we MUST marry. It is a decision we make because we want to spend our life with someone.
NOTE: If you married for another reason (arranged marriage, business partnership, etc), you have a special set of issues that you must deal with. It is not in the scope of this article to address those unique issues. This article is about discovering, connecting and meeting the needs of the person you have chosen to spend your life with.
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Here are 4 secrets to know about meeting your spouse’s needs; Vital things every wife should know.
1) Find Out What Your Spouse Needs.
Image Soruce Pixabay CCO License
No brainer, right?
Yet, this is the most difficult part of the process.
We tend to project what WE want, feel, think and need onto others. When we do this with our spouse, we run into problems. Men and women are different.
Yes, we have things in common. But biologically, psychologically and emotionally, we are different. Which means we have different needs.
It is our responsibility to find out what our spouse needs, and provide it without judgement.
I know that is a mouthful and can be abused by selfish spouses. But the principle remains intact. We need to discover our spouses needs and commit to the best of our ability to meet those needs.
The Difference in Men and Women
Jimmy Evans from Marriage Today says men and women have four basic needs. These needs are different for men and women.
He explains these differences in this video.
The one need we all share and have in common is to be loved.
Love is our greatest need. Rejection is our greatest fear.
When we fail to understand the needs of our spouse, we reject them. In essence we are saying, ‘Your needs are not that important because they are not like mine.’ This is the greatest pain we can experience.
The Four Needs of a Man (Source)
3. Friendship (Fun)
4. Support (Trust and Approval)
The Four Needs of a Woman (Source)
2. Non-Sexual Affection
3. Open Communication
4. Husband to Lead
It’s easy to see how conflict often occurs.
Agree or disagree, the point is we need to understand our differences and seek to discover how to meet the needs of our spouse.
The starting point is to validate our spouse’s needs. Let them know we hear, understand and accept them and their needs.We need to understand our differences and seek to discover how to meet the needs of our spouse. Click To Tweet
2) Pay Attention To You
This one sounds counter-intuitive. After all, we are talking about meeting our spouse’s needs, not our own.
If we are not careful, we can manipulate and coerce to get our way.
John and Sheri
John and Sheri have been married for almost 40 years. They’ve struggled through most of the years, because Sheri has several major physical challenges. But the real challenge is how she uses those issues to manipulate John.
John, on the other hand, always seems to be on a quest to fix Sheri.
He’s booked counseling appointments for them, secretly asked their pastor to drop and ‘talk’ to Sheri, and a host of other tricks to try and get Sheri to ‘get better.’
Both of them are using the situation to manipulate.
Sheri, to get her way and have John feel sorry for her.
John, to get Sheri to try harder to get better.
Neither of them is thinking of the other. They are both solely focused on what they want.
This is why we need to pay attention to our self. We need to make sure our motive is right. Anything short of wanting what’s best for our spouse becomes manipulation and control eventually.
The danger is that we THINK we are doing what we are doing because we care about our spouse. In sense I’m sure that’s true.
But in the big scheme of things, we are failing to understand what our spouse truly wants and needs.Anything short of wanting what’s best for our spouse becomes manipulation and control eventually. Click To Tweet
The Nature of Our Problems
Usually when problems occur, both partners have lost something in the relationship and are looking for a way to get it back.
Unfortunately, the most familiar tool in our toolbox is manipulation.
As you work toward meeting your spouse’s need(s), make sure you are acting, thinking and feeling what is best for them.
Remember the story above. When we have no elbows we have to serve one another.
Jennifer Kunst (psychotherapist and writer for Psychology Today) has this to say (which I think is appropriate even though we are not merely talking about couples therapy).
Couples therapy can only work if there is one condition present from early on: both members of the couple must be primarily motivated by love and a desire to do better. If one or both members of the couple is mostly interested in using the other as a trash can into which they can dump all of their troubles, then there isn’t a basis of a good relationship to build on.
This is why I use the phrase, ‘Pay attention to you.’
In this short video I elaborate on this idea.
1. Do I really understand my spouses needs? Or am I projecting something on them that I think they need, or something I want them to do?
2. What is my real motive in what I just said?
3. Is there a way I can discover what my spouse is really struggling with?
These questions will help us get to the heart of the issue rather than assuming our course of action is correct.
3) Focus on Them
IMAGE: FOCUS ON THEM
You may be thinking, you just said to pay attention to me. Which is it?
We can’t really focus on our spouse until we know ourselves – our motives, deep desires, and true needs. Once we do that, we are free to shift gears and focus on them.
Focusing on our spouse means we realize they have legitimate needs, and we have an assignment to help them.
There is always a delicate balance to be met when we talk about meeting needs. It’s easy for some to slip into a co-dependent mindset that can be a trap.Focusing on our spouse means we realize they have legitimate needs, and we have an assignment to help them. Click To Tweet
Here’s a short list of how to keep this in balance.
Connecting is the answer. So much happens when we truly connect with our spouse. Perhaps this is why it is the greatest challenge.
Not being present is greatest insult to connecting.
Seek to understand first.
Instead of thinking about what you want to say next, concentrate on what your spouse is saying. Practice empathy. LINK
Enter into their world with them.
Don’t become defensive.
This is perhaps the biggest challenge. We all want to defend ourselves when we feel accused. It’s important to take a deep breath and refuse to respond when you feel attached.
Own your own stuff.
Realize you have your own stuff to deal with. It’s easy to blame, but this doesn’t solve the problem. It tends to exasperate the issue, not resolve it. The goal to make progress, not win.
Moving on the #4…
4) Focus on the End Goal
I love the line from Gabrielle Solis on the television show ‘Desperate Housewives‘…
“I have everything I wanted. But I wanted all the wrong things.”
Ouch.Pay attention to what you are seeking. You may get what you want, but you may not want what you get. Click To Tweet
We can all relate on one level or another. How many times have we fought for something and won, only to realize we lost?
I remember my mentor saying to me (when I was very young):
Pay attention to what you are seeking. You may get what you want, but you may not want what you get.
Those words ring in my ear every now and then when I’m battling for something. It helps me make sure what I’m fighting for is really what I want.
Communication, connection and serving our spouse is the end goal.
I think we underestimate the power of simply making our spouse a priority. There is something that happens when this is the goal of the relationship.Communication, connection and serving our spouse is the end goal. Click To Tweet
Wrapping It Up
I’ve often heard preachers taut the mantra, ‘You can’t out give God.’ I actually believe that.
But there is an equal mantra that should ring true in our lives:
You can’t out serve your spouse.
It always comes back to you. When you make it your goal to serve your spouse and meet their needs, it is amazing how many of your needs are met.
Years ago motivational speaker Zig Ziglar made this his verbal business card:
If you help enough people get what they want in life, they will eventually help you get what you want in life.
This is especially true in marriage.
Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment below and weigh in on this topic. I’d love read your thoughts.
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