Love is not just a feeling but actions. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). In the marriage relationship, both are responsible for fulfilling the other’s needs. This series of articles is meant to help us learn better how to do that. Men and women both have certain general needs, but effective communication between a husband and wife will help reveal deeper, more personal needs.
All people need affection even from birth. The power of physical touch is essential for well-being and life. Through the skin, we experience sensations which contribute to health. But much more than just physical touch, we communicate appreciation, admiration, and care for those we touch. For most women, affection symbolizes security, protection, comfort, and approval (Harley, 2011, p. 37). As a husband, you can not give her too much of that! If you fulfill her needs for affection, you also protect your marriage from an affair because she likely will not turn to other men for affection. “When it comes to sex and affection you can not have one without the other” (Harley, p. 39).
As Christians, we try to fulfill the other person’s needs; and when both people do that in a marriage, they find a fulfillment that exceeds any other! Philippians 2:3-4 tells us: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” If you are not feeling loving thoughts toward your wife (or husband, for that matter), you need to start by changing your thoughts. The apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13:5, said love “keeps no record of wrongs” (NIV).
We must think what is pure and lovely (Philippians 4:8), always focusing on the positives and not concentrating on the negatives (or mistakes of a person). This is true especially for spouses, who must deal with each other at all times, good and bad. When we are not lovable is when we need love the most. “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly… But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6,8). He loves us when we are unlovable. In much the same way, we must love one another even when it is not easy.
As Dr. and Mrs. Milholland state, “[a] woman’s sexuality is wrapped up in how loved, adored, and cherished she feels,” and “before she can feel safe in the relationship she has to feel loved and adored and cherished” (Milholland, 2002, p. 209). How do you express your affection? Gentle touches, words of appreciation, small meaningful gifts, and thoughtful expressions of your adoration of your wife. Some have called them “love languages.” It is really a combination of these that form a lasting relationship.
So, think positive thoughts of the other person, try to remember what attracted you to one another in the beginning of your relationship, then build a strong marriage. Communicating about your needs is vitally important. It takes work and dedication, but it is well worth it!
Harley, Willard (2011), His Needs, Her Needs (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell).
Milholland, Tom and Sandra (2002), Prelude to Joy (Webb City, MO: Covenant).