I can’t even tell you where I first heard about or got His Needs, Her Needs by Dr. Willard F. Harley Jr from. I can tell you I haven’t gone without a copy since. It changed my marriage. It’s the first marriage book that really impacted my relationship by helping me focus on meeting his top 5 needs.
His Needs, Her Needs dives into ten basic needs of husbands and wives. Five are more prominent needs of husbands and five are mainly applicable to wives. He does give the disclaimer that each relationship is unique though and I can attest to the fact that two of the needs my husband and I don’t fall into line with Harley’s book.
The tag line “building an affair-proof marriage” can disuade some from reading it but I take more of a proactive approach. I don’t think my marriage is at risk for an affair but there are other reasons to strive towards meeting my husbands needs. I want to sustain a loving relationship with my Mr.
What I love most about His Needs, Her Needs is that Dr. Harley uses stories to help me remember, psychology to help explain the reasoning behind the needs, and practical application to spring my thought process on how to meet his needs. There are also tons of exercises and resources that he mentions in the book and gives you for free to help you fill your spouses needs.
Basics of the Book
The book covers the top 5 needs of both husbands and wives, therefore it’s obviously for both to read. He suggests one spouse reading and highlighting in one color then the other spouse reading and highlighting in a different color. I like idea of highlighting in different colors but I also know when given a marriage book many men react like a wife would if the husband kept giving her diet books.
Since this blog is for wives, I won’t really be covering our needs. If I’m baring my imperfect soul here – I can tend to fall into a self pity pit when reading what my husband should be doing to meet my needs. I don’t think I’m alone here.
The Love Bank
The concept of love banks is incredibly eye opening and so simple to absorb! Imagine your husband has an account for every person he knows. The interactions with these people either make deposits into or withdrawals from his “love” bank. The love bank idea helps me consciously keep tabs of how much I’ve been intentionally investing in my marriage lately.
Doing regular evaluations of YOUR deposits and withdrawals is so vital to marriage and so often overlooked, even to the point of tragedy. It’s heartbreaking to see a marriage fall apart because either spouse is ignoring their partner’s need out of innocent ignorance. Why do I emphasize “you”? Remember, you are only in charge of YOU. You’ll never be able to force your husband to change and nagging will produce results…but not any good ones. Focus on what you have to offer and making improvements on your end.
His Needs: Five Needs of a Husband
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This genuine need of a husband is at the beginning of Harley’s book. It’s also at the top of most men’s lists when prioritized. I know it is for mine!
It’s not a popular opinion, but men physically and emotionally need their wives to be intimate with them. Does this mean we lay there and take it? No! We have to engage mentally (we all know it’s more emotional for women and more physical for me LOL), figure out what feels good for us, and communicate that with our man. If you’re not sure what feels good talk through it with your husband. I’m sure he’d be more than happy to experiment with new tactics. 😉 I want to encourage you to look at sex with your husband as a fun, enjoyable, exclusive activity and turn away from the ever popular pessimistic view of it being an inconvenient chore.
I’m listing this need second simply because it’s my husband’s second biggest need in the list. Dr. Emerson Eggerichs also talks about this need in his book Love & Respect. He refers to it as side by side friendship. Fun time with your husband strengthens the bond in your marriage. I don’t want to just be the source of sex, co-parent & housekeeper. I want to be his friend!! This involves engaging in fun with him.
Take a moment, close your eyes, and think about all the fun things you did with your husband when you were dating. We cuddled on the couch and watched movies, went shopping, attended concerts. These aren’t activities I did much at all before dating him and wouldn’t be my first choice for fun. But they’re his and that’s what matters! I’ve learned to play Call of Duty and Mario Kart. I’ve wandered around comic conventions and even taken a stab at Chess.
Take interest in what your husband likes to do. Learn the skills with a positive attitude, ask your hubs questions, and enjoy being his friend! I’ve improved my hand-eye coordination (thank you PlayStation) and come to appreciate the art of writing and illustrating comics.
Find common ground. Video games, chess, horror, and movies are a few of his interests. I need to be better at focusing on these. Culture, nature, and productivity are more my preferences. Art, reading & music are both of ours so these come easier to me. It’s not 100% give, 100% take. On the other hand learning a new activity just because my husband likes it speaks volumes louder to this need.
Harley speaks on the need for a husband to have an attractive spouse. Is this a need for your husband? This need is where I think my husband and I flip flop. It’s more one of my needs. Still, I think this is something every wife can easily do to make a big difference to her man. Just because it may be trivial to you doesn’t mean it’s not meaningful to your husband.
What hairstyles, clothes, makeup does your husband like? This is doubly beneficial because we all know looking good makes us feel better as women! It benefits us in that we are taking care of ourselves and fulfills one of our man’s top 5 needs. The book also addresses controlling your weight. I don’t struggle with weight issues but I do struggle with eating emotionally. This is something that will catch up with me as I age. Knowing my husband needs an attractive spouse helps me stay accountable in my eating habits. I’m doing it for me. I’m doing it for him.
Ok, honesty time. I used to be good at this. Now I suck not so much (haha, sorry. couldn’t resist). I think having older kids in a smaller house makes it harder (“I like your pjs Mom.” Uhh, no). But Harley makes sure we know this falls into the category of having an attractive spouse. It’s true. I know looking beautiful for my man, especially when it’s something only he can see, meets a very important need of his.
Having a career outside the home, I really appreciate how Harley addresses the turn in society. In the fifties, the role of financial provision was mainly the husband’s and the role of domestic support was solely the wife’s. Now, many families have both spouses working outside the home in order to uphold their standard of living. My hand is raised. Is yours?
Harley points out that even though this is one of the husband’s top 5 needs it’s not necessarily that the wife needs to do all the housework. She just needs to manage the home. Delegation and prioritizing have proven to be extremely beneficial for this working mom blogger. I know what my husband holds important. Laundry, dishes, and the trash are more important to him than a clean bathroom sink or dusted bookshelves so that is where I focus my energy. What are your husband’s priorities around the house? Don’t know? Test it out. For a week do the household chores that you feel are most important. Take note of whether or not he appreciates them or gets irritated that something else isn’t done. Bam – there are your new priorities. 🙂
Disclaimer – I have a husband who was raised cleaning and cooking so I have that one in a million man who does quite a bit of domestic work. Therefore, it’s lower on his list of top 5 needs. However, Harley has an exercise if you have a man that doesn’t lift a finger to help and you’re drowning in diapers and laundry. Your husband will need to be involved. Go to your man and tell him you want to provide a wonderful home for him but are struggling. Ask him if you can schedule a “date” to go through the exercise together. You’ll make a list of household chores, each spouse will prioritize them, each spouse will star which tasks they prefer to do, and then the remainder will be delegated and agreed upon.
Oh goodness. The explanation of the need for appreciation in His Needs, Her Needs as a top 5 need of husbands reminds me so much of respect in another pivotal book, Love & Respect. Newsflash – men have insecurities too!! Say whaaa?! They’re just better at burying them! But still, men wonder if they’re doing a good enough job. They worry about failing your family. A husband desperately needs to be told and shown that he is doing a good job and that you appreciate him.
Do you struggle to find qualities or accomplishments of your husband that you appreciate? There’s a very practical tool for fostering the art of appreciation. It’s so simple too! You basically just keep record of all the good things your man does during the day, the week, or the month! Stick this cute list in your purse. Keeping a list of things to appreciate in your husband will bring it to the forefront of your mind and you’ll start noticing things more often.
Once you start noticing, it’s time to start showing appreciation! Remember, it’s one of a husband’s top 5 needs. Your husband’s top 5 needs. There are so many ways to show your husband you appreciate him. Tell him! “Hey, I noticed how you ____________ earlier today. I really appreciate the way you handled it.” Elaborate. Eggerichs has a “respect test”. You tell your husband you’ve been thinking lately about all the things you really respect him for then turn around and walk away. The author bets your husband will follow you for more information. This mental picture makes me smile every time! This practice can be applicable with appreciation too.
Another way to fill your husband’s need for appreciation is to show it in his primary love language. Does he love gifts? Buy him a little something and write a short thank you note. Does he light up when you give him affirming words? Go into detail about how special something he did was. If he responds to physical touch (not that kind girl!) grab his arm or slap his butt or wrap your hands around him and tell him you appreciate him. That you’re lucky to have him. Is he a quality time person? I don’t get this one. You’re on your own LOL! Just kidding! While it’s not my strength, quality time is face to face time. Get out and go to coffee and talk about how much you appreciate him. Ask questions about all the things he’s done that you appreciate lately. Finally, if his love language is acts of service, you can easily do something for him. Pick something off this list of his top 5 needs!
I’m not really diving into these because I believe I can only control the things that I do. But I will tell you about a theory I tested. One day I tried to meet as many of these top 5 needs that I could. I used the time before he got home to vacuum, sweep, do laundry, take out the trash, wash dishes, and prep dinner (domestic support). When he came home I engaged in his kiss and invited a longer, more passionate one (sexual fulfillment). I had coffee ready and we sat together then he had some time to relax and decompress (recreational companionship & domestic support). What do you know?! He playfully giggled with our kids (even the crabby one!) and gave me lots of affection and conversation. It’s funny how the circle works. You meet his top 5 needs and chances are he’ll start meeting yours. Eggerichs says you get on an energizing cycle when you respect your husband because he starts showing you love which sparks more respect from you and round and round you go!
Dr. Harley lists a wife’s top 5 needs as the following:
- Financial Commitment
- Family Commitment
Now you know! And now I feel the need to stress it again. Focus on meeting his top 5 needs and don’t get all obsessed on him not meeting yours. I promise it will work out better that way!!
My husband and I started life together at just fifteen years old. We were rebellious and ignorant to what it takes to be a good spouse. Add to the fact that we were teen parents and the odds were stacked against us. Divorce loomed. His Needs, Her Needs turned us around. Understanding the psychology behind it and applying it’s practical tips made worlds of difference in our relationship. So much so, that we’ve made it twenty years now and I have the love that I dreamed of and longed for and had no idea how to get. I highly recommend purchasing this book. Or if you’re like me and constantly multitasking 😉 listen to the audiobook on 1.5x speed!
I’d love to know how you fulfill your husband’s top 5 needs (well, on a PG rating) 😉 . Comment below!