Everyone has emotional needs, and according to Willard Harley, one sure way to take excellent care of your significant other is to learn their emotional needs and become an expert at them. You also need to discover your emotional needs and communicate them to your love so they can become an expert at meeting your needs as well. The result, at least in my marriage, has been fantastic: a truly fulfilling relationship.
Harley does a wonderful job explaining the basics of the top 10 most common emotional needs in his book, "I Promise You" and I will do my best to summarize them adequately. (To be honest, I wish I could quote directly for you, but I'll do my best not to violate copyright laws here.) Harley suggests this parameter for finding your emotional needs--if you "crave" something, then it should be included on your list. Also, if something "frustrates" you when you don't get it, that is a good indicator it is important to you.
Affection: "The need for affection is a craving for the expression of care in words, hugs, kisses, cards, gifts, and courtesies."
Affection conveys value: "security, protection, comfort, and approval." It uses actions and words to express the idea that the individual is cared for, both to their needs and wants, as well as showing that their problems are important. It displays commitment. Though a hug, a card or flowers, etc., any of those key aspects of a loving relationship can be communicated. From what I've observed, affection can be communicated before marriage in many God-honoring ways, and I think the list makes it pretty obvious of specifics. If this is one of your top emotional needs, it can also be helpful to make a list of specific things you personally find affectionate. For example: greet me with a hug, hold my hand when we are walking to places, get the door for me, help me clean up after a meal, etc.
Sexual Fulfillment: "The need for sexual fulfillment is a craving for sexual experiences."
Some can limit this as fairly obvious to describe, however, Harley made an excellent distinction: "Sex and affection are often confused, especially by men. This distinction should help you: affection is an act of love that is nonsexual and can be given to and received from friends, relatives, children, and even pets with absolutely no sexual connotation. However, if the act of love is done with a sexual motive, or has sexual overtones, it's sex, not affection." Harley goes on to explain some specific examples that could clue you into this needs, and how it actually can "dilute your Love Bank deposits" if you get fulfillment from other areas. God has marked this need as very important, and the act of sex (and acts with sexual overtones) as very powerful and intimate. Because of how valuable, powerful and intimate it is, before marriage, this need must be handled very carefully. It is very valid and important, as important as any other emotional need. It has also been made clear in scripture that sexual acts are reserved for those protected and bound by the covenant of marriage. In your relationship, it is highly likely at least one of you will have this has your #1 or #2 emotional need. I urge you to seek God and those in spiritual authority over you for ways to value this need without violating God's principles. (If you have gone too far [and nearly everyone does in some way], seek His forgiveness and find accountability so you can stay strong from now on!)
Those two needs are commonly in the top five for women and men respectively. It is certainly true that affection is super important for me--when I read that description I gasped and got very excited. I also felt very relieved, because under the five love languages, I would have needed basically all 5, but they all fit under the one need of affection. I would say it was in that moment I was won over to this way of thinking! (Definitely a sign this is basically my numba one need, huh? =)) And judging by our culture alone, it seems that sexual fulfillment is quite high for most men.
Next time I hope I can get into a few more than two of the needs!
Facebook Readers: Interested in more of my blog? Visit mybreathingheart.blogspot.com!