This article contains List of top 10 emotional needs of a woman and a man in a relationship that I’ve learned from the book “His Needs, Her Needs” by Willard F. Harley and that will help you improve your relationship greatly.
Around 40% of married couples are divorcing every year in the USA.
And the percentage of single adults today is around 45%.
Fewer and fewer people are willing to commit themselves to one partner for life.
One of the main reasons for failed marriages is the unmet needs of one or both spouses.
In fact, men and women have different needs, and when they’re unaware of their differences, men will try to meet the needs that they value and women will do the same. (*)
They end up making each other unhappy and oftentimes end up seeking fulfillment outside of their marriages and having affairs.
- Everyone Has a Love Bank
- What Happens When Emotional Needs Aren’t Met?
- Top 10 Emotional Needs In a Relationship
- Emotional Needs of a Woman
- Emotional Needs of a Man
- Emotional Intimacy Prompts
- What Makes A Couple’s Relationship Healthy?
- 8 Ways to Enrich Your Relationship
Note that while every couple is different, the emotional needs presented below are for average men and women. It’s up to you to decide which needs are more important to you and to your spouse.
Everyone Has a Love Bank
Figuratively speaking, everyone has a love bank that contains different accounts for each person they know.
Pleasurable interactions with that person cause deposits into their accounts and negative interactions cause withdrawals.
Some acquaintances build large balances, while others have small balances.
For couples, they share both pleasant and unpleasant experiences. Their respective bank accounts have both deposits and withdrawals.
So their happiness and unhappiness depend on which are more important, deposits or withdrawals.
Related: How to Stay in Love? 50 Secrets of Happy Relationships
What Happens When Emotional Needs Aren’t Met?
Unmet emotional needs can result in feeling unwanted, alone, unfulfilled, along with other painful emotions.
If you feel unfulfilled in your relationship, chances are your emotional needs are not being met.
But unmet emotional needs don’t just affect you. They also affect the relationship and increase conflict.
To avoid that, you need to first determine what your and your partner’s emotional needs are and actively work on meeting them.
Top 10 Emotional Needs In a Relationship
Emotional Needs of a Woman
Affection usually symbolizes security, comfort, and approval. To most women, these values are vital.
Through affection, a husband shows his wife how important she is to him and how much he cares about her and her well-being.
A hug can be a simple but effective way to display affection to a woman. A greeting card, a love note, flowers, opening the door for her, holding hands, phone calls… they all can effectively communicate affection and add units to the Love Bank.
Affection is so essential for a woman that without it, she usually feels alienated from her spouse.
While the man views affection as part of sexual foreplay, the woman finds affection important in its own right and would ask for it even when she doesn’t want to make love.
The best way to start giving your wife the affection she needs is to ask her to help him learn to express his affection in ways she will appreciate. The wife can identify two lists of affectionate habits “Affectionate Habits to Create” and “Affectionate Habits to Avoid”.
A woman who is allergic to flowers wouldn’t want her husband to give her flowers so this should go into the list of affectionate habits to avoid.
Related: How to Get More Affection from Your Relationships?
#2. Intimate Conversation
While men use conversation as a means to an end, women, on the other hand, enjoy conversation for its own sake.
At the beginning of the relationship, the man is eager to know his woman, so he engages with her in long conversations.
After marriage, however, most men stop having a conversation with their wives. They don’t see any purpose in continuing to have the long conversations they had while dating.
What they fail to understand is that intimate conversations are what triggered their wives’ love for them.
By removing these intimate conversations, they risk losing their wives’ love for them.
Intimate conversation is perceived by women as an expression of love and care.
At least 15 hours a week should be spent together. During that time partners need to give each other undivided attention and spend most of that time engaging in intimate conversations.
Related: How to Have an Intimate Conversation with Your Spouse
#3. Honesty and Openness
Honesty and open communication trigger in women a sense of security.
The more a woman can trust her husband to be open to share his feelings and thoughts with her, the more secure she feels. On the other hand, without honesty and openness, negotiation can’t take place and the couple can resolve or decide very little.
The more you know about each other, the more you’ll understand each other and come up with solutions to your problems.
Related: How to Be More Effective in Relationships (Effective Communication)
#4. Financial Support
Women do marry a man for his money, she wants him to earn at least enough to be able to support himself.
In fact, even though today women outnumber men in many careers, their need for financial support didn’t change with the cultural shift. Most wives want a choice between following a career and being a homemaker, or even a combination of both.
But they don’t want to be forced to work in order to support their families.
The reality today might dictate that women must work in order to help make ends meet.
An alternative way to do that, while giving the choice for the woman to work or to stay at home or to work part-time, is to lower an unrealistic standard of living.
By downsizing the house and the car and using a budget, many couples were able to live off one income and even save money for investment.
#5. Family Commitment
The vast majority of women have a powerful instinct to create a family.
They also have a need for their husband to take a leadership role in their family and commit himself to the educational development of their own children.
A woman who doesn’t find the family commitment in her man can become too frustrated trying to change and encourage him to take more role in raising their children.
In fact, children need to have quality time with their parents in order to grow up well nurtured and balanced emotionally.
For that, you need to increase your family time by having your meals together, playing games together, going out for walks… Parenting also takes a lot of training.
No one is born knowing how to raise a child.
Read as many books as you can on parenting, take classes, and even participate in workshops in order to learn more about parenting.
It’s worth investing your time and money.
Emotional Needs of a Man
#6. Sexual fulfillment
Marriage is a conditional union.
When the husband doesn’t try to meet his wife’s need for affection, she doesn’t try to meet his need for sexual fulfillment.
Just like men find it hard to understand women’s need for affection, women also find it hard to understand men’s need for sexual fulfillment.
In fact, when it comes to sex, there are three important differences between men and women:
1. Sexual drive.
Because of their high level of testosterone, men have an intense sex drive compared to average women.
2. Sexual Awareness.
This conveys the understanding of one’s own sexual experience and how to respond sexually.
While almost all men masturbate at a very young age (as young as ten years old), women, on the other hand, start much later and depending on the study, usually more than 50% of women never masturbated at all.
3. Sexual motivation.
While men might use sex to relieve cravings, the average woman usually uses sex to help her feel closer to her husband. For her, it’s all about intimacy and emotional bonding.
This is why, a woman who doesn’t get enough affection, would refuse to make love to her husband.
Becoming aware of the differences mentioned above is the first step to solving sexual problems. It’s important for both partners to understand the importance of meeting each other needs.
When the husband gives his wife the affection she’s craving, she becomes more willing to give him the sexual fulfillment he needs.
#7. Recreational Companionship
It’s not uncommon for women to join men in pursuing their interests when they’re dating.
They might attend sports events with them, go fishing with them, show interest in cars… after marriage, however, wives might try to interest their husbands in their own interest.
If they fail, they may encourage their husbands to continue their recreational activities without them, or with their friends. What most women fail to understand is that recreational activities are a crucial criterion for men in selecting their partner.
They assume that their wife will be their lifelong recreational companion.
So when a wife announces that she’s no longer interested in joining him in his favorite activity, it usually comes as a shock.
In fact, spending recreational time with his wife is ranked second only to sex for the typical man.
To satisfy his need for having you as a recreational companion, try to find mutual recreational interests.
Come up with a list of activities and rate them depending on how much you enjoy them.
Eventually, you’ll be able to settle on a few activities that you both enjoy most. The husband might have to let go of a certain activity he enjoyed.
But he’ll have to ask himself which is more important, the quality of your marriage or Monday night Football?
FREE Printable Relationship Worksheets (PDF)
#8. Physical Attractiveness
While not all men have a basic need for a good-looking wife, for some it’s crucial that the woman they marry meets this need so effectively.
So if a man marries a woman who is fit and takes care of the way she dresses and does her hair and makeup, he might feel less love for her when she gains lots of weight after marriage or stops putting on makeup every now and then.
Changes like having kids or getting old are not an excuse for gaining so much weight and dressing poorly.
When physical attractiveness is a basic emotional need for the man, he feels fulfilled when it’s met and his wife is taking care of herself. But when it’s not met, he feels frustrated.
#9. Domestic Support
Most men have a basic need for a home life that is free of stress and worry, where they can relax after a long day at work.
Even with the cultural shift of today and men taking more responsibility for the household chores, they still have a need for their wives to manage the home.
With the wife today being full-time employed, it became essential to share household chores.
In fact, her man’s need for a managed home has become her need too, she also wants to relax after a stressful day at work. However, while the woman would come back from work to prepare dinner, clean the house, do the laundry… she simply won’t relax until she had it all completed. The man, on the other hand, wouldn’t feel the need to do any household chores, at least not instinctively.
He might ignore the dishes, the laundry, the dirty floor, and simply watch TV and unwind.
This is why women need to consider the following when dividing household responsibilities:
– Identify the list of chores that needs to be completed. Let the man choose from the list, the chores that he wouldn’t mind doing. It’s important to let him choose, so he won’t feel forced into doing something he doesn’t want to do and do it with resentment.
– Even though the chores chosen by the man become his responsibility, show him appreciation when he completes them or help you with some of your responsibilities.
Honest admiration is a great motivator for most men.
When a woman expresses her honest admiration in her husband’s qualities, it inspires him to achieve more. It boosts his self-confidence but also grows his love for his wife.
However, instead of being his enthusiastic fan, a woman can become her husband’s worst critic.
This is not to say that a woman should never point out her husband’s mistakes.
Quite the opposite, only in pointing out his mistake that something can be done and the problem can be solved.
However, there’s a difference between complaining about something your husband had done or forgot to do and criticizing your husband and making disrespectful judgments.
A complaint is an expression of a problem that you would like to solve. For example, “I felt upset that you didn’t listen to me. It makes me feel you don’t care about me when you don’t listen.
Can you please listen and pay attention to me?” A criticism, on the other hand, attacks your spouse at an identity level like saying, “You never listen to me, you are so egoistic!”
While a complaint set the stage for discussion and negotiation, a criticism eliminates any chance of problem-solving, and would almost always to a fight.
Related: Resolving Marital Conflict: How to Repair Your Marriage
Love needs constant nurture and care.
By discovering your most important emotional needs and meeting those needs, you’re more likely to build a marriage that sustains the feeling of love.
Emotional Intimacy Prompts
What Makes A Couple’s Relationship Healthy?
A healthy couple’s relationship is the building block of a healthy family.
Intimacy can be both exciting and terrifying all at the same time. We may say we don’t need relationships, but we go ahead and seek them anyway.
The following are essential elements in every healthy couple’s relationship:
Commitment is the intention to remain constant in belief and action to a single person, regardless of difficulties you may face.
While love can deepen the relationship, it isn’t enough to maintain the relationship, especially during tough times.
Commitment is more than a marriage certificate or a verbal promise. Commitment is about having every intention of persevering the relationship while taking it “one day at a time.”
Your partner must make this vow as well.
Commitment creates a safe environment for you and your partner to be real, open, and honest with each other.
Dependence means “I can’t function without you.” Independence means “I don’t need you at all.”
Interdependence is some of both dependence and independence.
Interdependence creates an environment where each partner feels safe and supported. You are there for each other, but do not assume the problems, opinions, or feelings of the other.
3. Emotional Intimacy
In a committed relationship and being self-aware, you are able to safely take an emotional risk and trust your partner with vulnerabilities that others will never know.
Becoming emotionally intimate with someone is a process that takes time and attention. It also involves both partners doing the following:
- Setting aside regular time to spend together.
- Sharing secrets and history, be it painful or humorous.
- Having spontaneous nonsexual contact), including eye contact, hugging, and flirting.
- Supporting each other’s interests and dreams.
Effective communication can solve most conflicts in a relationship.
Daily opportunities for sharing feelings about each other, responsibilities, and dreams are needed for emotional intimacy and to prevent the buildup of resentments and pain from misunderstandings.
8 Ways to Enrich Your Relationship
#1. Cultivate a Good Will Mindset
What Is Good Will in Relationships?
Good will is an overall feeling of generosity and alliance toward your partner.
It means you value your relationship far more than the problem you’re facing. It means that you’re willing to acknowledge the validity of your partner’s perspective even when you don’t agree with it.
It is not about becoming a doormat. It is a deliberate decision to make a kind gesture that comes from a self that is so strong it can easily tolerate not getting its way.
Why Cultivate a Good Will Mindset?
Good will supports you, too.
When you’re generous and kind with your partner, you are in control of the situation, you eliminate conflict, and are free to experience the pleasure of giving to someone you love.
And good will can actually solve problems.
How to Cultivate Good Will In Your Relationship?
1. Let go of the need to be “right”
2. Be grateful for what you have
3. Emphasize the positive traits in your partner
4. Accept your partner just as they are
5. Tolerate the aspects of your partner that you don’t like and wish you could change
6. Practice thoughtfulness and generosity
Related: How to Stay in Love? 50 Secrets of Happy Relationships
#2. Act as If
You don’t have to behave the way you feel.
You always have a choice. You can feel frustrated inside and still choose to behave in a loving way and see if the new feelings you hope for follow.
Not as a passive-aggressive strategy. But as a conscious, spiritual exercise.
This is about acknowledging that the relationship is more important than this incident or than changing your partner.
Acting As If Raises Your Awareness
Acting as if will help you grow spiritually. When you pay attention to how you feel and consciously choose to act in a loving way, you increase your emotional intelligence – your ability to identify your emotions and manage them.
How to Act As If In Your Relationship?
1. Start small
The next time you feel upset or frustrated, choose to act in a loving way for just five minutes, in the beginning and build on that.
2. Act as if not in response to a situation but as a proactive way of taking initiative
Create the feeling you wish you had in your relationship.
If you wish your partner was more romantic, ask yourself “What can I do to be more romantic myself.”
It’s important to remind yourself to be patient, especially at the beginning. If your feelings don’t change right away, don’t take that as a failure.
It’s just a sign that you need more practice before you can gain more control over your feelings.
4. Challenge your voices of resistance
You may find yourself thinking, “My partner doesn’t deserve this,” or, “This too fake.”
It’s okay to have these thoughts. Loving acts are experimental. All you have to do is try and notice the way you feel.
Related: 7 Ways To Rediscover Friendship In Your Marriage And Save It
#3. Give Up Trying to “Fix” Things
Most couples believe that if they can solve their problems, then they can be happy together.
This assumes that problems are the cause of unhappiness in a marriage. The truth is, they are only symptoms of an unhappy marriage.
In other words, when you focus on being happy together, then your problems will diminish.
Most Problems Can’t Be Solved
All the greatest and most important problems of this life are fundamentally insoluble. They can never be solved, but only outgrown. This “outgrowing” [requires] a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest appears on the horizon, . . . and the insoluble problem loses its urgency. It is not solved logically in its own terms but fades when confronted with a new and stronger image.—Carl Jung
The reason why working on problems doesn’t solve them is mainly because most problems can’t be solved.
Most problems are based on fundamental differences in personality or values of each person for which there is no solution.
How Do You Stop Trying to “Fix” Things?
1. Consider that problems are really facts of life
Labeling something as a problem implies that it’s something to be fixed.
However, when it comes to accepting “the things you cannot change,” as the Serenity Prayer says, you need to consider these as facts of life.
By doing that, you expand your awareness and open yourself to new perceptions. You start seeing the conflict or the problem as an opportunity for spiritual growth. You ask yourself, “What can I learn about myself and about us from this conflict?”
2. Use loving acts instead of communication
Again this applies to fundamental differences in personality or values – things you need to simply accept because this is who your partner is.
Shift your focus away from the problem as you learn to accept your differences and try saying “I love you” in different ways, like writing a loving note, cooking a special meal for your partner, taking your partner on a date, giving your partner a sincere compliment, etc.
If you are short on ideas, get a copy of Greg Godek’s book 1001 Ways to Be Romantic and lookup thoughtful loving acts.
Related: Top 10 Emotional Needs In Intimate Relationships and How to Meet Them
#4. Practice Self-Control
Self-control helps you keep your composure and find inner peace.
A spiritual relationship helps you find opportunities to practice self-control: avoiding negative and critical comments, avoiding defensive responses, and avoiding fights.
Although this might seem direct and easy, people are usually surprised at how often they make such comments and how hard it is to resist them.
In the beginning, you may only realize that you’ve said something negative after you have said it. Becoming aware that you’ve said something negative, itself, is progress.
Later, you may realize you’re saying something negative as you are saying it. Until eventually, you become able to recognize that you’re about to say something negative and stop yourself and this is self-control.
1. Avoid negative comments
Commit to refrain from making any critical, demanding, or negative comments to your partner.
Start with one evening and build on that as you gain more self-control.
Also, notice what kind of negative comments you tend to make. Are they critical, controlling, sarcastic? Do you sound like one of your parents? What can you learn here?
You can also use a mantra as you practice self-control, like “My relationship is more important than this [whatever frustrates you].”
2. Avoid defensive responses
One way to overcome the habit of becoming defensive is to repeat to yourself, “I feel defensive.” It is a non-judgmental comment that acknowledges the way you feel and creates a space for you to calm down.
Acknowledging your defensiveness and becoming aware of the way you feel will help you catch yourself and practice self-control.
3. Avoid Unproductive Fights
When the fight is destructive and unproductive, it’s best to walk away from it.
This can be hard when you’re in a rage and want to show your partner how wrong they are.
But you still have a choice. You don’t have to behave the way you feel.
Take a deep breath. Bring consciousness to the situation and deliberately choose to walk away. You can say, “I’m very angry right now. I want to talk about this, but I need to cool down first.”
Related: 4 Habits of Emotionally Intimate Couples and 4 Habits They Avoid
#5. Take Control Over Giving and Taking
The traditional relationship is a 50-50 proposition. Both partners need to give and take equally. This works well as long as both partners agree on the division of duties.
However, when one partner feels that he’s contributing more, he would either hold back on what he’s giving or negotiate with his partner to give more.
Both options may not work.
Holding back on what you give will likely make you and your partner feel resentful, and trying to make your partner give more is an attempt to change them, which doesn’t honor them.
A New Approach to Understand Balance
Spiritual relationship offers a new understanding of balance – one in which you are fully in control over maintaining the balance and fairness you want.
Rather than viewing balance as your contributions on one side and your partner’s on the other, you view balance as “what you give to the relationship” on one side and what “how much are you taking care of your needs in the relationship” on the other.
If you are good at taking care of yourself and quite self-sufficient, then your task will be to practice generosity more toward your partner.
If you are someone who’s good at taking care of others but not of yourself, then your work will be to be more assertive, take initiative and act on your own more.
Related: Struggling to Receive? 7 Steps to Open Up and Start Accepting Loved and Support
#6. Act on Your Own
If you have a need that’s not being met, rather than feeling resentful, try to act on your own and meeting that need.
For example, if your husband hasn’t gotten around to fixing the leaky faucet, hire someone to do it. If your partner spends so much time on the internet, spend the time with your friends or on a hobby of your own.
Whatever you need to do to act on your own and meet your needs, the most important thing is for you to realize that you have the option of acting on your own.
Shifting from waiting for your partner to take care of your needs to being in control of getting your needs met is empowering and can solve many problems in your relationship. It can also increase your feelings of self-love and self-efficacy.
When your needs are met, you will be able to give generously to your partner without feeling resentful.
How to Act on Your Own?
1. Be careful when your act will have an impact on your partner
It is best not to act on your own when your act will have an impact on your partner or when it is over the objection of your partner.
Use this action for situations that are “nonnegotiable” to you and are truly important to you.
2. Be empathetic but also decisive
Be empathetic enough to take care of your partner, but also decisive enough to take care of yourself.
If what you’re going to do will make your partner upset, show your understanding of their perspective (empathy), but also be clear that this important to you (decisive).
#7. Move Toward Acceptance
When you don’t like something about your partner, you are faced with two choices: either (1) feel upset and try to change your partner, or (2) accept it and change the way you view it.
Spiritual relationship favors the second option.
This is especially effective when the things upsetting you cannot be changed, like fundamental differences in personality or values.
Change Begins With Acceptance
When you accept something, it doesn’t mean you like it or approve of it. It simply means that you stop wasting your time and energy fighting something you can’t change.
In fact, it acceptance and behaving in a loving way that’s more likely to bring about positive change.
* When you accept your partner the way they are, you recognize that you fell in love with this person as a whole rather than choosing little parts and rejecting the others.
* Acceptance helps you work on your spiritual growth. It helps you view the “problem” as an opportunity to practice love and tolerance. You create peace within yourself.
* Acceptance offers your partner the most important gift: the message, “You are loved and accepted the way you are.”
* Acceptance creates harmony in your relationship.
How to Practice Acceptance?
1. Decide if the trait or behavior is a “dealbreaker”
While most of the changes you wish you could create in your partner are not dealbreakers, you may decide that a certain trait or behavior is something you can’t live with, such as verbal abuse, or alcohol addiction, or unfaithfulness, etc.
If so, decide whether you want to leave the relationship or if you are ready to accept this trait.
2. Understand your partner’s natural tendencies
People’s fundamental personality characteristics will never completely change. The best you can do here is to understand those characteristics.
Understanding general gender differences can also help you accept your partner more. Such differences include; women want to connect under stress, men tend to withdraw. Women use conversation to express feelings and establish connection, men use conversation to solve problems.
3. Pretend the trait you want to change is a scar
A scar is something you wouldn’t like, but you also wouldn’t reject your partner for having it or demand that they change it.
Your partner’s deep personality characteristics are somewhat like scars.
If you find it hard to accept, try acting as you are accepting, even if you don’t feel like it, and notice if your feelings changes overtime.
4. Repeat to yourself, “It is what it is.”
When you view something as a fact of life rather than a problem to fix, you’re more likely to feel accepting.
5. Practice self-acceptance
The more you accept the parts of yourself that you don’t like, the more you will be able to accept other people.
Accepting yourself is not about making yourself perfect or changing the things you don’t like about yourself.
Accepting yourself is about accepting who you are right now.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on improving yourself. Having goals is part of what you accept about yourself.
In other words, the discontent about the things you don’t accept is the problem and not the things themselves.
Related: Overcome Suffering In Your Own Way: 4 Keys To Relieve Suffering
#8. Learn Compassion
Compassion is the ability to understand what someone else is going through and to be moved to help.
It means that, rather than becoming defensive when your partner is upset and yelling, you take a deep breath and consider his own perspective, regardless of whether it was right or wrong. You remind yourself that he has his own reasons for behaving this way and that he has a right to his opinions.
This may seem like a tall order, but it’s what compassion is about – seeing the pain and the history behind your partner’s feelings and behaviors.
How to Practice Compassion?
1. Cultivate compassion toward others
When you hear a sad story, notice your reaction to the other person’s pain and allow yourself to feel empathy toward them by putting yourself in their shoes.
When you hear victims of natural disaster, for example, allow yourself to feel the sadness along with the desire to help and take their pain away.
2. Cultivate compassion for yourself
The more you feel compassion toward yourself, the more able you are to feel it for others, and the opposite is also true.
If you experience self-loathing and low self-esteem, seek to understand what you are going through and work on accepting yourself more.
Related: How to Cultivate Compassion and Become an Altruistic Person?
25 Easy and Simple Romantic Ideas to Try With Your Lover
- Look your partner in the eyes and say, “I love you.”
- Call each other once a day from work just to say “I love you,” or, “I miss you.”
- Kiss each other first thing every morning and last thing every night.
- Brush each other’s hair.
- Make love in broad daylight.
- Get in the hot tub.
- Give each other massage using massage oil or baby oil.
- Feed each other breakfast.
- Hold hands wherever you go.
- Make up new loving nicknames for each other.
- Frame both your baby pictures together.
- Take some time to talk about things you haven’t discussed in awhile.
- Take turns revealing secrets and things about yourselves
- Interview each other with ten questions about your pasts, preferences, and experiences.
- Make resolutions together to improve your life and your relationships.
- Tell your partner a bedtime story.
- Choose a book that you read together and discuss later.
- Do a jigsaw, crossword, or sudoku puzzle together.
- Make a list of the ten things you love most about each other.
- Leave a sweet note in his suitcase.
- Leave a rose on the car seat.
- Redecorate your house together.
- Cook something together.
- Learn how to make your lover’s favorite dish and surprise her.
- Look—no, gaze—into each other’s eyes more often.
Portions of this article were adapted from the book: His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage by Willard F. Jr. Harley