Last time we looked at the comparison between our emotional lives and an empty gas tank. We all know when our gas tank is near empty, we need to fill up, or else we can look forward to a long walk or a long wait, even if we do have AAA. We have common sense enough to know it’s foolish to let our gas tank get to empty.
How can we apply that same common sense to the “emotional tank” of our spouse? Here’s where personal growth comes in. We first need to be skilled at recognizing his or her condition. This usually doesn’t take an expert, just an observant spouse. Marriage is like a classroom and we are all in school every day. Lesson plan number one: Learn your spouse’s idiosyncrasies. Become a student of what makes him or her tick.
There are two books that speak directly to the needs of husbands and wives, some of which they share. In His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage by Willard F. Harley, Jr. the needs are broken down into five common needs for men and five for women. In The 5 Love Needs of Men and Women, Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg address the five love needs of husbands and wives. Some of these needs include:
- Unconditional Love
- Emotional Intimacy
- Financial Support
- Sexual Intimacy
Recognize that you are the person uniquely positioned to meet those needs. When you meet those needs, your spouse’s emotional tank is more than likely at or near full and they can better respond to you and your needs. Water your spouse so they can be strengthened to water you.
Here are a few practical ideas that you can work with to better understand your spouse’s needs:
- Ask. Yes, ask your spouse what makes them feel loved in various circumstances. This is a great topic for a date night. What are the FIVE keys ways that I can best show my love for you? Be specific. “I really feel loved and appreciated when you _____________.”
- Discover, by asking and observing, the kinds of comments and actions that de-energize your spouse. Change how you respond to avoid emptying your spouse’s tank.
- Read up on it. Become a student of your spouse’s needs and then work on getting an “A” for the year. Better yet, get a Master’s Degree. One of the books we’ve read says that if you don’t work at meeting their needs, someone else might.
Do it. Just do it. Not just when you feel like it. Not when the time is right. Don’t wait for a full moon. Just do it. Today. Tomorrow. And the next Day. Selfless lovers understand giving and receiving. Be a giver and your well-loved spouse will see that you are a receiver.