How to Meet Emotional needs
You married your spouse because he or she did a great job meeting some of your emotional needs. That's also why you fell in love. Are those needs still being met by your spouse? And are you still doing a good job meeting your spouse's emotional needs? If the answer to those questions is "no," your love for each other is at risk and your marriage is also at risk.
In the Most Important Emotional Needs section of my Basic Concepts, I describe 10 important emotional needs that should not be ignored in marriage. The following Q&A columns address five of those ten needs.
Affection is extremely important in marriage, yet after a few years and a few children, couples usually drift into a relationship void of affection. This is unfortunate because without it, couples miss much of what marriage has to offer. In the column, How to Meet the Need for Affection, I address not only the importance of affection in marriage, but the fact that it's a skill that can be learned by anyone. And if you want to have a great sexual relationship, the environment of affection turns out to be an essential ingredient.
Sexual fulfillment is also an important emotional need. In fact, after questions on infidelity, the next most commonly asked questions I receive are about sexual problems. Since most of these questions are from women who don't enjoy sex as much as their husbands do, the columns I've posted encourage husbands to make sex more attractive to their wives. But the solutions I offer can often be applied to men as well, where wives must learn to make sex more attractive to their husbands.
How to Meet the Need for Sexual Fulfillment is a column about how to improve sexual interest. Since the problem is so complex, it just scratches the surface, but sometimes a scratch is all that's needed. I emphasize the importance of conversation and affection in providing a necessary environment for sex. A related column is Changing a Willingness to Make Love into a Desire to Make Love. Through a series of e-mail Q&A letters with a frustrated woman, I guide her through a procedure that changes her willingness to make love into a desire to make love. Many have found this column particularly helpful after children arrive.
A good sexual rule of thumb is "don't have sex if it's painful." But when it is painful, what should you do? How to Overcome Pain During Intercourse addresses a common complaint among women. In this column I describe both primary and secondary causes of sexual pain, and how they can be eliminated.
When someone regularly associates pain and discomfort with sex, a sexual aversion is likely to form. And when it does, it can bring sex in marriage to an end. How to Overcome Sexual Aversion is in response to letters from women who have come to a point where sex has become repulsive and frightening. Is there any hope for women with a sexual aversion? There is, if they follow my suggestions.
What to Do When Your Spouse Has an Addiction to Pornography is especially relevant in this age of the internet. Pornography has become an unwanted intruder in many marriages. I offer ways to kick the intruder out.
If you and your spouse don't talk to each other enough, how can you expect to have a good marriage?
For many couples, conversation has become downright painful. If you and your spouse have trouble talking to each other, you would benefit from What to do When Your Conversation Becomes Boring and Unpleasant. In this column, you will learn how the enemies of good conversation will keep you from talking to each other. But you will also learn how the friends of good conversation can get you back to those deep and intimate conversations that helped create your love for each other.
One of the biggest risks of marriage is growing apart. Left to your own devices, you and your spouse will develop separate lifestyles, and ultimately slip into incompatibility, and possibly divorce. To avoid that unhappy outcome, I encourage you to spend most of your leisure time together. I can't emphasize this point enough. Unless you and your spouse are each other's best friends and favorite recreational companions, you will not have the love for each other that you want and need. Why Should a Couple Be Together When They Are the Happiest? addresses that issue.
Recreational companionship is a key factor in drawing spouses together. It was what got you together when you were dating, and it helped you fall in love with each other. But what was fun when you were dating may now be boring to at least one of you. I have posted two columns that are designed to encourage you to become each other's best friends. They are What to Do When Your Recreational Companionship Becomes Boring and Unpleasant (Part 1) and What to Do When Your Recreational Companionship Becomes Boring and Unpleasant (Part 2).
On a related theme, another column wrestles with the complaint, We Don't Spend Enough Time with Each Other. Neglect not only withdraws love units, but it turns out to be the single most important reason that women divorce men, and they divorce men twice as often as men divorce women. College educated women divorce 10 times more often as men. Men, if you want to keep your wife around, listen up.
One of the most controversial aspects of my program is to include physical attractiveness as one of the important emotional needs in marriage. Remember, I am not telling anyone what their emotional needs should be -- I simply list those that have been the most commonly identified by others. But I get lots of complaints, mostly from women, that I should not even mention it as an alternative. Sadly, these women are ignoring a way to deposit love units. In my column, Meeting the Emotional Need for Physical Attractiveness, I have a chance to defend my position on this important subject.