Sunday, March 4, 2012

His Needs Her Needs - Book Review

FIVE out of FIVE stars *****

So admittedly, I don't get to do nearly as much reading as I wish I did. But having a working MP3 Player (again after misplacing it for a while) and an subscripion is a huge help in that. Now, I can 'read' while driving, going for a walk, or pulling weeds (or this time of year - shoveling snow). And so on my 4 hour drive this past weekend, that is exactly what I did. I got through most of 'His Needs Her Needs' by Willard F. Harley Jr. and I listened to the rest of it over the next few days on trips to school and the store.

This book basically has a chapter for each of the major needs the typical mate needs from his or her partner giving special attention to the fact that the 5 things men need most are different from women's top 5 and the fact that your mate isn't wrong or weird for prioritizing his or her needs differently than you do your own. Everything is put in terms of your 'love bank'. If we were all little piggy banks walking around that take only deposits and withdrawals of displays of love instead of money. So for instance, if I wash the dishes after the kids are in bed, that might deposit one 'unit' of love with my husband. But because his needs for a tidy home are different than mine. And When he does the dishes, he maybe makes a deposit of 3 'love units' in my bank. A good roll in the hay - for him, 5 units guaranteed. For me, 3 - 5 depending on my mood :) The point is much like the Book on speaking your mate's love language: what you think communicates love to your mate isn't the same as what they perceive. It's all about putting yourself in their shoes.

My driving time couldn't have been better spent. We parents of small kids tend to forget about our poor spouse to some extent when we become parents. After all, they are adults, they understand...right? Yet even if they do understand that certain needs of the kids are more urgent than their own, if loosing out on the things you used to enjoy together becomes an enduring habit, your relationship becomes less and less fun. If you are like me, physically and mentally exhausted, whatever 'having fun' with your mate used to mean probably doesn't seem as important right now as it once was. But if your marriage isn't fun anymore, and at best you are missing out and robbing you and your spouse of what could still be happy years and at worst, you are putting your marriage on the path for a train wreck. During my listen, I realized that that there are several needs my husband has which I could definitely do better at, and some that I probably am doing ok. But it also helped me put a finger areas in which my needs weren't being met. Before I just wished that my husband got along better with some of our kids and talked differently to them - now I know that Most moms have a deep need for their husbands to be good dads, and i now have a means of verbalizing this.

Here is a chapter list:
1. How Affair-Proof is Your Marriage?
2. Why Your Love Bank Never Closes
3. The First Thing She Can't Do Without - Affection
4. The First Thing He Can't Do Without - Sexual Fulfillment
5. Intimate Conversation
6. Recreational Companionship
7. Honesty and Openness
8. Physical Attractiveness
9. Financial Support
10. Domestic Support
11. Family Commitment
12. Admiration
13. How to Survive an Affair
14. From Incompatible to Irresistible

I think its significant to note that he doesn't really make judgements about what a person's needs are in marriage, but simply states them as fact and that if the spouse truly loves them, they should have a desire to fulfill that need to the extent they can, even if they don't share it.
So one of the needs men most always rank higher than women is the need for their mate to be physically attractive. What noble man marries a woman only for her body? Hopefully none. But if seeing someone who still somewhat resembles the bride he married makes him happier - well, what's wrong with that as long as she is able to oblige? Now, after having twins, there is just only so much a poor woman can do. But the point he makes here is that we shouldn't be totally neglecting some effort to look our best if that is something that truly makes our husbands happy. As much as I don't believe that a husband has a right to have a wife who looks the same as the day they were married, I realized that as a mom I am TOTALLY LAZY about the way I look. Sweatshirts and pig tails all the way for me. Make up...what's that? My husband has never complained about it, but I'm sure he would love to see the best me, and no the laziest, grungiest me, and if that makes him happier I'm glad to put some more effort into it. I shouldn't need an excuse to put on make up every day anyway :)
Same with the need Dr. Harley calls 'financial support' which wives usually rank higher than husbands. What kind of woman marries for the money? While marring ONLY for money is certainly deceptive and just plain wrong, you have to admit that a mom who has the option of working only part time, or not at all (if that is what she wants)is going to be alot happier than the mom who begrudgingly sends her kids to daycare to go to a job she hates everyday. And if they can make career changes, education changes, even lifestyle changes that can accommodate that - what's wrong with that?

I guess that there are also several items he mentions that my hubby and I are totally satisfied with - but never though to realize how different, and more difficult our marriage would be without them. That said, I think it was a great book and give it 5 out of 5 stars. I think it is important for us parents to take an occasional break from worrying about what kind of parents we are and to think instead about what kind of spouses we are.