Q. There are times I feel so misunderstood by my spouse, sensing he really doesn't have a clue of what I really need in our marriage. How do I share my needs and learn to meet his?
A. First of all you likely have a case of what we call "the normal." This question has been asked countless times on our radio broadcast, at conferences and in our life and marriage coaching practice. Women often will share, if he really knew me he would sense what I needed. Men often will respond with I often don't know what I need, let alone how to discern or divine my wife's needs.
Women, you know that capacity that you have to "read your husbands' mind?" Well, let us comfort you with an insight: he isn't wired that way! Yet when he doesn't "hit the mark" you are often left with unmet expectations that over time can undermine a marriage relationship. And he may feel the same way. We wrote the book The 5 Love Needs of Men and Women after surveying hundreds of couples to learn just what husbands and wives need in order to move toward a great marriage. Here are some ideas to "coach you up" in serving humbly in your marriage.
1. Do a "heart check." Not at the cardiologist but in your own time with God. Lord, how am I doing at keeping my heart clean before you? Am I open to serving my spouse? Are there open loops of conflict that need to be closed so I am not serving out of resentment but love?
2. Share with your spouse the insights that you gained in your "vertical relationship" with God. Take a step toward him to resolve any open loops of conflict and as you move through forgiveness and rebuilding trust your hearts will soften toward one another.
3. Then share with him your desire to serve humbly in your marriage and ask him what are some of your love needs that I am serving well in and where do I need to sharpen my serve? As you start with desiring to serve rather than be served if he is a "good willed man" he will be open to the next step: you sharing your own needs.
4. As you share your love needs, be specific and as he moves to meet them affirm him when he does well. A great way to move forward in meeting each other's needs is to follow these steps: share what you need, then catch your spouse doing it right, and affirm him more than telling him what he did wrong or being silent and withdrawing.
Serving humbly in marriage discovers and meets needs and helps spouses feel honored and understood.