Bookstore | Courses, Seminar and Accountability | Videos | Coaching Center | Questionnaires | Marriage Builders® Radio | Radio Archive
   Home | Tax-deductible Donation | Site Tour | Meet Dr. Harley | Basic Concepts | Q&A Columns | Articles | Guidance Forum
Q&A Columns
How to Meet Emotional Needs
Meeting the Need for Affection #1
Meeting the Need for Affection #2
Meeting the Need for Sex (Part 1) #1
Meeting the Need For Sex (Part 1) #2
Meeting the Need for Sex (Part 2) #1
Meeting the Need for Sex (Part 2) #2
Willingness to Desire #1
Willingness to Desire #2
Willingness to Desire #3
Willingness to Desire #4
Willingness to Desire #5
Willingness to Desire #6
Willingness to Desire #7 & #8
Pain During Intercourse #1
Pain During Intercourse #2
How to Overcome Sexual Aversion
Addiction to Pornography #1
Addiction to Pornography #2
Conversation is Boring
Together When You Are Happiest
Recreational Companionship is Boring (Part 1)
Recreational Companionship is Boring (Part 2) #1
Recreational Companionship is Boring (Part 2) #2
Not Enough Time Together #1
Not Enough Time Together #2
Physical Attractiveness #1
Physical Attractiveness #2
How to Overcome Love Busters
How to Resolve Conflicts (Part 1)
How to Resolve Conflicts (Part 2)
Preparing for Marriage
How to Survive Infidelity
Free Newsletter
The Marriage Builders®

Your Email
Privacy Policy

Marriage Builders®

Marriage Builders®

Live Program
12:00-12:45pm CT

Every 45 Minutes
until the
Next Broadcast

All times Central Time.


More radio information...

Click here for

Click here for

Click here for

Click here for

Click Here!

printer version | email this article | send feedback

Meeting The Emotional Need For
Physical Attractiveness

Letter #1

Dear Dr. Harley,

My husband and I have read His Needs, Her Needs and agree with most of it, but I was totally disgusted with your viewpoint on women's appearance. At the time, I was so offended that I couldn't stomach any more of your views and had to put the book down.

When you talk about women keeping up their appearances for men, you treat them like objects. Personally, I like to judge a person on their worth, not on their appearance. And, how come you never mention that a man should stay in shape for his wife? You sure don't say anything about beer bellies or flabby couch potatoes.

I wear make-up maybe twice a year, if that, and my husband then asks me why I'm wearing it. And, as I grow older and more wrinkles appear, a normal part of the aging process, I hope my husband is mature enough not to want me to have plastic surgery!


M. K.

Dear M. K.

I appreciate hearing your reaction and will definitely be rewriting the chapter to clarify my position, which has been frequently misunderstood. Maybe the following will help until I can get it into the book.

First, and foremost, chapter 8 (physical appearance) is addressed to spouses, male and female, not just women, who are married to someone with an emotional need for an attractive spouse. I'll grant you, throughout the book I divide emotional needs into sexist categories, "his" and "hers." I do that because most men I've counseled identify with half of them, "his needs," and women tend to identify with the other half, "her needs." But I try to explain that each couple should choose their own needs from the list. Many women pick "his needs" and many men pick "her needs."

Incidentally, a number of women have told me that physical appearance is one of their most important needs. One of them mentioned, with her husband present, that if she did not find him physically attractive, he could forget about having sex with her. That should be enough incentive to work out!

The priority of emotional needs is a personal thing and is determined by each spouse. I focus on ten: Admiration, Affection, Conversation, Domestic Support, Family Commitment, Financial Support, Honesty and Openness, Physical Attractiveness, Recreational Companionship and Sexual Fulfillment. When one spouse identifies Physical Attractiveness as one of their most important emotional needs, it means that physical appearance effects them in a dramatic way. When they find their spouse physically attractive, it makes them very happy, and when they find their spouse unattractive it makes them very unhappy. The Emotional Needs Questionnaire helps couples identify and prioritize their emotional needs.

If you are married to a man who does not identify physical attractiveness as one of his most important emotional needs, then why worry about your weight, makeup, hair style, choice of clothing or even physical hygiene? You may want to look attractive to others, but for him, all your efforts would be useless. You should focus your attention on his most important emotional needs and forget about the rest--they simply don't mean that much to him. In your case, if your husband feels that your appearance means very little to him, my chapter on physical attractiveness should be irrelevant to you.

On the other hand, the woman that I describe in Chapter 8 of His Needs, Her Needs, married a man who had such a need. When Harold married Nancy, she was a knockout, and had just lost 80 pounds through diet and exercise to look as good as she did. Since Harold had not known Nancy when she was heavy, it was quite a shock to him when she gained it all back again!

If you feel that people, men or women, should not have an emotional need for physical attractiveness, then I'm afraid we simply disagree. I don't think that emotional needs can be legislated or wished away. They are determined by very complex physical and environmental factors that are easier to meet than to change. My job as a marriage counselor is to help couples identify what it is that they can do to make each other happiest, and being physically attractive is sometimes at the top of their lists.

To summarize, all the needs I discuss in His Needs, Her Needs apply to both men and women. They are relevant only to those who have such needs, or are married to someone with those needs. I believe that every husband and wife should discover and learn to meet each other's most important emotional needs, even when one of them is physical attractiveness. And I will be rewriting chapter 8 to clarify my meaning!

Next Letter

Most Popular Links
The Marriage Builders� Discussion Forum
How to Survive Infidelity
The Most Important Emotional Needs
Dr. Harley's Basic Concepts
Coping with Infidelity:
Part 1 - How Do Affairs Begin?
A Summary of Dr. Harley's Basic Concepts
Love Busters
The Emotional Needs Questionnaire
Q&A Columns
The Policy of Joint Agreement


Worth Looking Into

The Marriage Builders® Home Study Course | Fall In Love, Stay In Love

CUSTOMIZED PLAN with Marriage Coach, Steven W. Harley, M.S.

   Home | Tax-deductible Donation | Site Tour | Meet Dr. Harley | Basic Concepts | Q&A Columns | Articles | Guidance Forum
Bookstore | Courses, Seminar and Accountability | Videos | Coaching Center | Questionnaires | Marriage Builders® Radio | Radio Archive
|  Feedback  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |
© 1995-2012 Marriage Builders, Inc. All rights reserved.