After dispelling some of the myths about dysfunctional marriages, you may have been left with more questions than answers. The problem is we all have needs and sometimes it’s hard to know what they are.
What are the inner needs which motivate much of our behavior? Let me mention three.
1. The first is the need to love and be loved. I feel good about myself when I am helping others. Conversely, I feel significant when I believe that someone genuinely loves me and is looking out for my interest.
2. A second inner need is the need for freedom – the desire to order my own life and not be controlled by another. Free to have thoughts, desires, and feelings as a person.
3. A third need is the need for significance – to feel that my life counts for something.
It should be clear that if we don’t understand the inner motivation of our spouse’s behavior, we will likely misjudge their behavior and hurt them deeply. It is worth the effort to try to discover the inner motive behind your spouse’s behavior.
One of the inner needs which motivates our behavior is the need for peace with God. That is why religion is a universal phenomenon. If your wife is attending a weekly Bible study and you are complaining that she is getting too religious, you are going to stimulate her defensive mechanisms, because you are striking at one of her inner needs. Far better to encourage her pursuit and ask yourself, “Which of my needs is going unmet that motivates me to get on her case about her Bible study?” Chances are, you’ll find your answer.
When you share your need with her and she is open about her own needs, you can find a way to meet both of your needs. It should be apparent that in order for this to happen, you must both be in touch with your own inner needs and respect the needs of the other. You are there for each other. This is God’s design.
How can you share your needs with your spouse? What support system do you and your spouse have besides each other? How does it help you both maintain your relationship with each other?