Do You Know Your Spouse's Love Needs?


Human nature is strange. Something in us assumes that if we treat our spouse the way we would like him or her to treat us, we are meeting our partner’s needs. But when it comes to needs, the Golden Rule does not always apply. Why? Because in many cases a husband’s needs are different from a wife’s needs. That is most evident in areas like sexual needs, but it is true in other areas as well.

If I asked you if you are meeting your spouse’s love needs, you would probably answer yes. In reality, what many of us are really doing is just assuming our spouse wants what we want, and so we act on that. Often we really don’t know what our spouse’s needs are. And if we don’t know what the needs are, we can’t possibly meet them effectively.

To help us understand the unique love needs of husbands and wives, Barb and I surveyed more than seven hundred couples. We presented them with a list of twenty needs and asked them to rank, in order of importance, what they needed from their spouse and what they thought their spouse needed from them.

Here are the top five responses:

Husbands’ Top Five Love Needs

1.   Unconditional Love and Acceptance

2.   Sexual Intimacy

3.   Companionship

4.   Encouragement and Affirmation

5.   Spiritual Intimacy

Wives’ Top Five Love Needs

1.   Unconditional Love and Acceptance

2.   Emotional Intimacy and Communication

3.   Spiritual Intimacy

4.   Encouragement and Affirmation

5.   Companionship

How do these love needs align with your own? Do any of these needs surprise you?

Barb and I have a good marriage. In fact we have a really good marriage. There are times when we are convinced that we have the best marriage on the planet. We’ll look each other in the eye and say, “What we have could not get any better.” Then there are other times when we know we haven’t arrived yet. But armed with our love for each other and the necessary information tools, we keep working to make our marriage the best that it can be. We want a great marriage, and that is our desire for you too.

I love watching and interviewing couples who have been married fifty years or longer. When we had a daily radio program, we would try to have a golden-anniversary couple on once a month, and when we did, we just drank up the wisdom. One of the things I asked them was: “What do you have to say to those of us who are not as far along on the journey? What works? How have you done it?” Their answers almost always included the needs our surveyed couples ranked the highest.

“Gary and Barb, we take time every day to listen to each other and learn what the other experienced that day.”

“We love to spend time with each other. We just enjoy being each other’s best friends.”

“It is a little embarrassing to say on radio, but Barney taught me a long time ago that when I meet his sexual needs, he feels valued. When I listen to him and encourage him, he feels respected. When he prays with me, I feel so safe. When I spend time with him, he feels like a million bucks!”

“Mildred taught me a long time ago that my voice of belief in her is the only real voice, next to God’s, that she really needs to hear. So I learned to speak. Yep, we have been married fifty-four years, and I think the marriage is going to take, don’t you, Barb and Gary?” the twinkle in this man’s eyes almost knocked us off our chairs!

Unconditional love. Encouragement. Companionship. Sexual and spiritual intimacy. Sound familiar? Look again at the top five love needs of men and women. They are all there. Not all couples married fifty years or more are living out great marriages, but many of our parents and grandparents really get it and want to pass it on.


So where do you start? Well, first of all…

1.   How committed are you to meeting your spouse’s love needs?

2.   Take some time in the next two days to discuss with your spouse what his or her love needs are. One of the ways you can begin that discussion is to make a list of what you think are your spouse’s top five love needs.

3.   At the same time, make a list of your top five love needs.

4.   Then sit down with your spouse and say, “I want to learn what your love needs are so that I can meet them more fully. I’ve made a list of what I think your top five love needs are, and I want to discuss those with you. But what is more important to me is what you think are the most important love needs that you need me to meet.” Then begin to discuss his or her needs. If your spouse asks what your love needs are, you have your list ready.

This post is an excerpt from our book The 5 Love Needs of Men and Women.

Image by Guian Bolisay

Make Room for Sex


It’s no secret that sexual intimacy can sometimes take a backseat once you and your mate become parents. Let’s face it: You usually have less time to yourself, less time alone, and if you’re both working you may have even less time together.  But it’s so important to make room for sex in your relationship! So today, we want to share with you some ways to begin making changes in order to make sexual intimacy a higher priority in your marriage.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Evaluate yourself. Some people hide behind activities. Marriage calls us to give everything—to commit completely. It isn’t about the payoff. It isn’t about what we get out of the marriage or what our spouses can do for us. Marriage is a choice to live a God-honoring life. It’s about growing and maturing spiritually. The only way that can happen is when we understand the sacrifice involved in our marriage commitments. If you discover that you are using busyness to avoid intimacy or to hide unresolved conflict, you may need to dig deeper. Don’t be hesitant to get professional help to move back to a place of wholeness in your marriage.
  • Replenish yourself. What activities replenish you? Is it a bubble bath alone at the end of the day? Is it watching a baseball game uninterrupted? Replenishing needs to be a daily routine. We know a woman who uses her commute time to listen to her favorite audiobooks. “I can’t explain it,” she told us, “but losing myself in a good audiobook makes the commute go faster, makes me a nicer person, both on the road and to my family. It helps me unwind so that when I arrive home, I’m ready to focus on my family.”
  • Reprioritize. A couple needs to recognize that they have a mutual problem that requires a mutual solution, and that solution may require mutual sacrifice for mutual benefit. Sit down and tackle the problem together. We hear this statement often: “Sex isn’t high on my priority list.” If you don’t nurture your sex life now, later may be too late. The further apart a couple grows, the longer and more difficult the path back to intimacy becomes. But it isn’t just about sex; it’s about creating the environment of sex and sexual intimacy in marriage. If you want your marriage to be God-honoring, if you want a solid and trustworthy marriage, you need to agree that no matter what, you will carve out time each week just to relax and have fun with each other.
  • Schedule regular times for sex. Scheduling sex is particularly important if you feel overextended. Realize that sex is not going to be as spontaneous as it may have been in your honeymoon years. But your busy schedules mean you need to be intentional and proactive. Put it on your calendars. Get into a pattern; otherwise you aren’t going to do it.
  • Put Sabbath back into your week. God built into His schedule—and ours—a time to rejuvenate. He knew that we would become so caught up with our “important” stuff that we would neglect times of refreshment and joy. We all need to understand that God has provided rest, refreshment, and fun when spouses nurture their sex lives.
  • Plan a getaway. Don’t use a financial crunch as an excuse. Save up for a getaway! Once every month or so, go somewhere. Go to the motel down the street. Go to a campground and rent a cabin. Getting away takes creativity and intentionality.

So, start carving out time for intimacy in your marriage today. In fact, start scheduling regular times for sex tonight! Put it on your both of your calendars. Mark off every Thursday night or Saturday morning—whatever works for you—for a month. The point is to get into a pattern; otherwise you aren’t going to do it. Think of it as a date night. You need to get yourselves back to remembering, “Oh yeah! This is really fun!”

Portions of this post were adapted from The 5 Sex Needs of Men and Women, by Gary and Barb Rosberg.


Date Night Challenge

When was the last time you enjoyed a date with your spouse? We know most couples would probably answer it was a long time ago, or even say they can’t remember! It can be difficult to find the time for dates with everything else on your plate, but we believe it’s crucial to your marriage to spend this important time together—just the two of you without distractions.

We want to give you the perfect opportunity this month to get back into the swing of dating by extending a Date Night Challenge—and we want to help make it a little easier to pull off by giving you some ideas. Our challenge consists simply of planning to go on one date a month. We hope this will serve to refresh you as a couple as you carve out some time to be together and connect. 

In our book 40 Unforgettable Dates with Your Mate, we give 40 date ideas for husbands and wives to plan for each other, designed to help meet the top five love needs for men and women. The dates in this challenge are taken from the book so you can get a taste of what we offer there.

Month 1: This date is for a husband to plan for his wife and helps to meet her love need for friendship.

Dating Days
Relive your early dating days, back when you were “just friends,” remember? What did you do together then? Play tennis? Go on long walks? Browse bookstores?

Now plan a date doing one of those activities—something you enjoyed doing together as friends. If you used to enjoy spending time in bookstores on some of your early dates, then plan to do just that. She’ll be thrilled to know you’re remembering those dating days so fondly and that you want to rekindle that friendship.

Prep Steps

  • Get the date on both of your schedules—and the family master schedule.
  • Schedule a babysitter, if needed.
  • Depending on the type of date, consider what kind of planning you need to do. Check on the opening or closing times for restaurants or museums, make reservations, etc.
  • Tell your wife what you’ll be doing and why. She’ll love it! And because of the wide variations that this date could encompass, she will want to know how to dress and what to expect. She’ll spend the day anticipating this date with her own memories of those early dates with you.

Answer these questions together on your date:

  • What are a few things I do that refresh you the most?
  • Do you feel that I spend enough of my free time with you? What things do you feel cut into our time together?
  • What item in our schedule would you most like to change?
  • Let’s talk about some of the way we’ve tried to stimulate growth in our relationship because we got lazy or too busy. Which one of these could we start again with a renewed vision for what it was meant to accomplish?

Check out our book!
Saying "I do" doesn't mean you're done! Find 40 inspiring ideas for dates with your spouse, geared specifically toward their top love needs as a man or woman. Gary and Barb share insights for husbands and wives on the different love needs and why it’s important to know them, as well as ideas, planning tips, and questions you can ask your spouse while out on your dates. Bring the zing back into your marriage with some unforgettable dates together! This book is currently our featured resource, and we are offering it at a discounted price of $10.


Dating with a Purpose


Do you remember when you first met the person who would become your husband or wife? Those were exciting times! Many of us look back with fondness on those carefree dating days. Except they weren’t carefree at the time! We worried about everything from where the date would be and how to dress, to how to impress the other person. We needed to be intelligent, spiritual, witty, interesting, communicative, accommodating and an all-around well-balanced and likable person. It was a pretty insecure time!

As you began dating one person exclusively, you wondered if this person was “the one” for you. You wondered how and when you would know. If we’re honest, many of us would not want to go back and do that all over again. Yet many things about our dating experiences were good. And we want to help you recapture the good aspects of the dating experience – the romance, the surprise, the fun, the undivided attention, the discovery – in your marriage.

But things will be a little different this time around! This time, the person you’re going to date

  • doesn’t care how much you spend or how well you dress. He or she is used to you and loves you. Just being alone with you is treat enough!
  • has already seen you at your very worse – and loves you anyway.
  • doesn’t need to be impressed – because he or she loves you already.
  • already knows that you’re intelligent, spiritual, witty, interesting, communicative, accommodating, well-balanced and likable—just maybe not all at the same time!

Who wouldn’t want to date this person? Of course, that person is your spouse. Your mate for life. That person spoke marriage vows with you and wants to keep them. That person has lived with you through ups and downs, through joy and sorrow, and for many of you, through kids and diapers. That person knows you inside out. That person loves you. And that person would like to have some special time alone—with you!

Dating your husband or wife will be very different from dating a potential husband or wife. But it’s just as important! When you were single, dating was a time to get away alone, to talk, laugh and have fun together. You took time to learn more about each other, about your past and your dreams for the future. You gradually felt at ease with each other.

But here’s the thing—even though you’re married, the two of you still need the same thing! You need to get away alone and continue to talk, laugh and have fun together. You need to learn more about each other, your past and your dreams for the future. You need to feel at ease with each other as you face new challenges together. That’s why dating shouldn’t stop with marriage.

If you and your spouse aren’t currently dating, we want to encourage you to get into that habit. The two of you really do need time to reconnect and continue to stoke the fires of the romance that brought you together in the first place. Your marriage needs to be strong to withstand the onslaughts of daily life. When you know that you both are on the same team working toward the same goals and cheering each other on, then even the toughest competition won’t be too much to handle.

If you’re thinking you’ll just go to dinner and a movie, that’s a good start. But if you’re going to spend the money on the date and a baby-sitter anyway, then make the date count! It’s what we call having a “date with a purpose.” Intentionally give your time together a purpose beyond just sharing an event. Focus on your mate’s love needs. Put him or her in the spotlight and nurture your marriage relationship.

Here are a couple of date ideas to plan for your mate to help you begin dating with a purpose.

A Wife Plans a Date with her Husband:

Getting Cozy with Coffee

Go to a coffeehouse or a cozy café. Choose a place where you’re not likely to run into anyone you know. Interruptions aren’t allowed! You can go for dinner, a couple of big cups of specialty coffee, or a dessert. Splurge a little! Don’t think about calories or how much that big cup of cappuccino is costing—just do it! Sit so you can look at each other as you talk and hold hands. This kind of setting is made for conversation.

A Husband Plans a Date with his Wife:

A Long Drive Together

Take a long walk or drive. If you walk, go somewhere you won’t run into people you know. If you drive, preferably head out to a rural road where you won’t deal with traffic. This is a time of communicating together, but it is not so threatening because you’re not sitting and facing each other. Open up some snack and drinks, and get talking. If you come across something fun or interesting, like a roadside stand or an antique shop, and your wife says, “Oooh,” then stop and check it out! If your car allows, have your wife sit right next to you. If not, find a way to hold hands as much as possible. If you’re walking, hold hands and walk as close to one another as possible. The physical connection will draw you closer and make it easier to talk.

So, sit down with your spouse today and tell your mate you want to take him or her on a date. Set aside a day and time, put it on the calendar and don’t change it! Use one of the ideas we shared with you, or be creative and come up with your own idea. Just get that date on the calendar and get started dating with a purpose!


When Friendship Goes Too Far


It begins innocently—you talk about the events of the day, your interests, and share funny stories. Pretty soon you’re discussing the passions of your heart and confiding in each other about the problems in your marriages. What began as an innocent friendship with someone of the opposite sex has quickly become an emotional affair. And if you’re not careful, it could mushroom into a full-blown physical affair. Of course, most of us have friends of the opposite sex and never stumble into an affair. But it can be easier than you think to cross the line in those kinds of friendships. That’s why you need appropriate boundaries with opposite-sex friends and you need to guard your heart—and the heart of your marriage!

We live in a culture that is largely hostile to biblical truth, moral purity and marital fidelity. Our hearts are continuously bombarded by temptations from our human nature, our culture, and the devil himself. Here are three things you can count on:

  1. You have a marriage relationship that is worth guarding with your life.
  2. Living in a world that is largely hostile to healthy marriages, your hearts will come under attack.
  3. You cannot survive these attacks on your own. You and your spouse must stand together against your common foe. You must guard your heart and guard each other’s heart. And you need others to stand with you over the long haul—Christians who share your desire for a divorce-proof marriage.

Men: It can be especially easy for you to begin capturing another woman’s heart without even realizing it. You may think you’re just having an enjoyable conversation with a coworker, but it may be the only attention that woman has had all week. Before you know it, your conversations move from friendly chatter to intimate subjects. We’re not suggesting men can’t have friendships with other women, but we are warning it can be easier than you think to cross the line. Think of it this way: If this woman invited you into her house and the two of you were alone, would the topics and conversation stay the same as they do in public or with other people? And here’s a word of advice for you guys: Trust your wife’s instincts in this area. If your wife suggests another woman is behaving inappropriately, she is probably right. Most women have a radar, an innate alertness to nonverbal communication and an ability to translate body language into emotional facts. Your wife probably is able to see these things clearly. Regard it as a gift from God that will keep you out of danger.

Women: You need to know that for you, as well as men, adultery begins in the heart. Be careful you are not lured away from your marriage by a man’s tenderness, openness, warmth, personality, and attentiveness. When you sense that someone else is captivating your heart, when this attraction results in increased disappointment or frustration toward your husband, or when you begin to dwell on or act out your fascination, it’s time to confront the threat.

Here are several practical tips that will help you guard your heart in your friendships.

  1. Dismiss and replace tempting thoughts. Don’t allow any unwholesome thoughts to make a home in your mind. If those thoughts enter your mind, it’s time to look away or leave the room. If you can’t leave, shift your focus away from that person by thinking of your spouse. Start praying for your spouse and your kids. Wrong thoughts don’t easily coexist with sincere prayer.
  2. Don’t gaze too long into the windows of the soul. Eye contact in a conversation is good. But if you catch a look that is too intense, too engaging, or makes you uncomfortable, avert your eyes and resist that gaze. A deep gaze can stir something in one or both of you, something you don’t want stirred up. Save that eye contact for one person: your spouse.
  3. Don’t go out of your way to see or meet someone. Don’t take a different hallway back to your office just to encounter that attractive new employee. Don’t select a seat in church because it is near that person who loves to talk to you after the service. Don’t linger after a meeting hoping to be noticed by that certain person. And don’t meet with a tempting person privately, even if the purpose is legitimate. Invite your spouse to come along, meet with a larger group, or meet in a public place where you are never alone.
  4. Be careful with physical touch. You may like to shake your friends’ hands or even sometimes give them a hug, and you may be very affectionate with your family. But no matter how affectionate you are at home, you need a different standard with members of the opposite sex. Here’s a helpful question to ask yourself: If your spouse, your children, your mother and Jesus were in the room watching you give that hug or pat, would they heartily approve? If not, don’t do it.
  5. Keep conversation general. Many affairs are started or fueled when a man and woman who are not married to each other talk about their personal lives. Talk about the weather, work, the new pastor, the news, and the like. But if the other person starts sharing something of a personal nature, even if disguising it as a “prayer request,” redirect or terminate the conversation.
  6. When all else fails, run for your moral life. If for some reason you find yourself in a compromising situation with someone of the opposite sex, immediately and physically remove yourself from that situation. You don’t have to explain or apologize. And don’t let the other person convince you it’s no big deal. Do what Joseph in the Old Testament did when Potipher’s wife attempted to seduce him—drop everything and run. You can say no to the threats to your own marriage by guarding your heart, and standing strong for a godly marriage.