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