Immediately his wife started crying. "Everything's gone wrong
today," she explained sobbing. "The baby's grouchy, the dishwasher
won't work, and now you come home drunk!"
As illustrated by the wife's reaction, sometimes we can do things
for our mate to demonstrate our love, but it's not want she needs. Many
of us understand what we need to feel loved. However, what we may need
isn't necessarily what our mate requires. For example, my wife Erin,
likes me to compliment her appearance. On the other hand, if Erin never
mentioned my appearance I wouldn't give it a second thought. Therefore,
since I don't need Erin to compliment my appearance to feel loved, I
then have a tendency not to notice her appearance.
This is a common problem couples face: We have a tendency to demonstrate
our love in the same manner that we like to receive it. The problem
is that our mate may need something totally different than what we may
provide. One important factor in marital satisfaction is discovering
the specific things that your mate needs to feel loved. In other words,
discovering his or her built-in marriage manual.
One simple way to uncover your mate's marriage manual is by making
a list of what he or she needs to feel loved. I encourage you to set
aside several hours of uninterrupted time and write down these specific
things. As you construct your list, remember not to judge, disagree,
or invalidate the things that your mate says. Remember, this is what
he or she needs to feel loved. Also, write down things which are observable.
In other words, instead of writing down "I want intimacy," write, "I
need you to say you love me at least once a day," "We will make love
twice a week," and "I need you to ask me about my day." These behaviorally
specific statements can help your mate to translate vague statements
into specific behaviors.
After you understand what your mate needs to feel loved, then
you need to be held accountable to follow through. Your spouse
has given you a tremendous gift by listing what he or she needs
to feel loved. You literally now possess your mate's marriage
manual. I strongly encourage you not to let this precious information
go to waste. One of the best ways to be accountable is by asking
a very simple question. On a regular basis, ask "On a scale
from zero to ten, with ten being the best, how have I done this
week in making you feel loved according to your needs?" As you
consistently ask this question, you will be able to love your
mate according to her needs and not your own.
© Copyright 2005 Smalley
Relationship Center. Used by permission.
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.