Articles for Married Couples

Everything listed under: needs

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    Keys to a Smokin' Hot Marriage

    You found your “soul mate,” dated and fell madly in love. Before long you were fantasizing about what your wedding and wedding night would be like. The honeymoon was wonderful, and so were the weeks and months that followed.

    As you slowly get down to the business of marriage, tasks, opportunities, decisions and real life can hit you square in the face.

    After a couple of years, your home and roles in married life are down to a routine. Looking to the future, you suddenly realize that your romantic life has become as routine as the household chores.

    Since the routine doesn’t have the magic it once had, you wonder, "Did I really marry my soul mate?"

    “This is an all-too-familiar story for many people,” says Dr. Pat Love, author, speaker and educator. "People find this very disconcerting. They know couples who are talking divorce which makes the lack of passion in their own marriage a bit more concerning. Couples have the baby, the recession, responsibilities, job insecurity, and so many irons in the fire that the fire has gone out of the bedroom. Their commitment is strong, yet there is this gnawing worry that maybe they should be doing something to flame the embers and get the fire going again.”

    During the first two years of marriage, couples get a free dopamine ride. Everything is new and exciting and they have an elevated sex drive. But dopamine levels drop around the two-year mark, and spouses begin to wonder what is wrong. To make matters worse, they rarely talk about what is happening in their relationship.

    “These disconcerting thoughts can lead to arguments about things that don’t have anything to do with the real issue at hand – what has happened to us. Research shows that talking about sex during the first year is correlated with high marital satisfaction for men. Discussions after the first year are highly correlated with female satisfaction in marriage," Love says. "If you can’t talk about it in a healthy productive way, both spouses are likely to be dissatisfied. This quickly moves to discontentment which can lead to the dissolution of a perfectly good marriage.”

    Perhaps the passion in your marriage has fizzled. If you want to make sure it stays alive, you can still fan the flames.

    Believe it or not, there are classes and events for couples on topics just like this. In a safe and fun environment, you can consider what makes you feel close to each other. You can also learn how to talk about sexuality and sensuality without being overly-sensitive or blaming.

    To learn more about fully understanding your spouse’s needs or how to deal with differences in creating passion and intimacy in your relationship, please contact us or check out our classes for married couples.

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    What Women Need to Know About Men

    Shaunti Feldhahn is a Harvard-educated analyst who wants to enable men and women to have healthy, long-lasting marriages.

    "I travel a lot," says Feldhahn. "People frequently ask me what I do, and my usual response is: 'I help women understand men.' The men usually laugh and say, 'You know, we really aren't that complicated.'"

    Feldhahn's research found that in most cases, relationship problems happen when a husband and wife care deeply for each other and are trying really hard, but often in the wrong areas.

    "I ended up writing For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men to help open people's eyes so they start trying hard in the areas that will help them avoid hurting each other unnecessarily," Feldhahn says. "We asked men and women ages 15-75 to tell us: 'What are your fears, what are the things that light you up, and what makes you feel really bad?'"

    Women wanted to know: Am I lovable? Am I special? Am I worth loving for who I am on the inside? 

    Guys wanted to know: Am I adequate? Am I able? Am I any good at what I do on the outside?

    "These responses were significant," Feldhahn says. " 'Am I adequate?' leads to an entirely different set of primary needs than, 'Am I lovable?' A solid three-quarters of the men surveyed said, if they were forced to choose, they would choose giving up feeling loved by their wife if they could just feel respected by her."

    Feldhahn realized that women could tell their husbands they love them and be critical at the same time. It happens by questioning his decision-making skills and constantly telling him what to do and how to do it.

    "Trying to gain a greater understanding of this, I was speaking with a friend who made the statement to me, 'I love my wife, but nothing I do is ever good enough,'" Feldhahn says. "I asked what he meant. He told me that they recently had friends over for dinner. When the friends left, his wife needed to run to a meeting so he cleaned up the kitchen. When she returned home she kissed his cheek and looked over his shoulder into the kitchen and sighed. She then went into the kitchen and started cleaning the countertops. I asked the husband if there was anything his wife could have done differently. He said, 'Yes, she could have said thanks.'"

    Feldhahn contends that many women make men feel that what they do isn't good enough and that they are idiots. In fact, women often say it is their job to keep their husband humble. In reality, underneath the mask of confidence, most men want to do a good job in whatever role, but they aren't sure they know what they are doing. And they hope nobody finds out.

    "When we as women are thinking about something you know it because we process out loud," Feldhahn says. "When men are thinking, they almost do an internal chess match before they ever talk about it. Our research showed that in most cases, if you see a decision, instead of asking 'Why did you do that?' if you will ask, 'Help me understand,' in most cases you will hear a long explanation."

    For example, a wife went out to a birthday party, leaving Dad with the kids. When she returned, she asked her husband why he had given the kids juice for dinner instead of milk. He got mad. She got defensive, and things went downhill from there.

    "I asked the husband to help us understand. He said, 'I went to the fridge to get the milk and realized if I gave them milk for dinner there wouldn't be enough for breakfast. I was going to go get more milk, but the baby was already asleep, and we've been having a terrible time with her sleep cycle, so I didn't want to wake her up just to go get milk. I decided to give the kids juice, which I diluted by half with water so they wouldn't have as much sugar.' The look on his wife's face said it all. This was a perfect example of assuming there was no thinking behind the behavior."

    Feldhahn believes it's important to let your husband be the dad he wants to be, not the dad you want him to be. Feldhahn encourages women to stop sending signals or telling your man he is inadequate and doesn't measure up. Instead of questioning his decisions, assume he has thought about it and seek to understand.

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    Keys to a Healthy Family, Part 1

    Relationships are not always easy. Whether you're trying to understand your mate or learning what makes your child tick, the drama and energy it takes can be frustrating. We’ve all been there!

    Dr. Gary Chapman, author The Five Love Languages and The Family You’ve Always Wanted, shares about his own struggles during his early years of marriage. What he learned through the years impacted his own marriage and family.

    “When we got married, I thought things would be great,” says Chapman. “What I missed was that my wife is very social. I was still in school and studied most evenings. I assumed she would sit on the couch and read while I studied. That was not the case. She wanted to be around other people. I also assumed that when I was ready to go to bed we would go to bed together.”

    It didn’t take long for the Chapmans to experience extreme unhappiness in their marriage. Their response to the unhappiness was to point out each other’s faults.

    “We were so angry that we spent a lot of time trying to annihilate each other with our words and actions,” Chapman says. “At some point it occurred to me that I had entered our relationship with a very conceited, self-centered attitude. I thought that whatever made me happy would make Karolyn happy. In reality, I spent little time thinking about my wife's needs and a lot of time focused on my unmet needs and desires.”

    Over time, Chapman realized he would need to do some things differently if he wanted to improve his marriage.

    “At the lowest point in our marriage we were so estranged that we could not even talk about our relationship,” Chapman says. “That’s when I decided to take action. I decided to stop waiting on her to change. I changed my behavior.”

    It started with making the decision to serve.

    “Instead of talking at my wife and getting angrier with her at all that she was not doing for me, I began to quietly respond to my wife’s requests for help with laundry, chores and other things,” Chapman says. “In a few months, her attitude toward me had softened. I actually started feeling love toward her for the first time in a very long time. Instead of enemies living under the same roof, it felt like we were falling in love with each other all over again.”

    The early years of the Chapmans' marriage were rocky and seemed hopeless. But instead of ending in divorce, their marriage is healthy and thriving more than 50 years later. It's all because one person chose to adjust.

    Are you willing and ready to fight for your family by being the one to make a change?

    Oh, wait - there's more to the story! Read it here.

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    Keys to a Healthy Family, Part 2

    Miss part 1? Don't worry - you can read it here!

    It did not take Dr. Chapman long to realize that having an attitude of service toward his wife transformed and actually saved his marriage. As a result, serving others became a core value in their relationship. And when children came along, the Chapmans were intentional about instilling this value into their lives.

    “We played a couple of games at the dinner table that focused on service,” says Chapman. “One game asked each family member to share one way they had served another family member that day. The recipient of the act of service responded by saying, ‘I really appreciate that.’”

    When the children were older, in order to teach them the importance of serving outside the family, the Chapmans loaded the kids in the car and looked for opportunities to serve.

    “In the fall, we would search for yards that needed to be raked,” Chapman says. “I knocked on the door and explained that I was trying to teach my children about serving others and asked permission to rake their yard. I don’t think anybody ever turned down my offer. Some wanted to pay us, but I said no, explaining we weren’t working for pay. I want my kids to grow up understanding that life is about serving others.”

    Healthy families are characterized by an attitude of service. Imagine the impact it could have on the community if that attitude prevailed.

    In a healthy family, there is intimacy between husband and wife.

    “When people hear the word intimacy, they usually think sex,” Chapman says. “Intimacy between a couple should include intellectual, emotional, spiritual and sexual intimacy.”

    Chapman recommends that couples make time to share daily two or three things that happened in their life and how they felt about it. Couples often go for days without sharing, but it's impossible to have intimacy if you never connect.

    In a healthy family, parents teach and train their children so that the children will learn to obey and in turn honor their parents.

    “Three-year-olds are not to be running families,” Chapman says. “If your children don’t learn to obey you, they may never learn to honor you or learn to obey civil laws. If they see you abiding by the laws, they are more likely to live by them.”

    In healthy families, husbands lovingly lead their family.

    “I have learned three important questions to ask my wife in my quest to lead well,” Chapman says. “What can I do to help you? How can I make your life easier? And, how can I be a better husband to you? You have to view your wife as your partner and place her above fishing, golf and football. Love her unconditionally and be intentional about discovering and meeting her needs.”

    The closer your lifestyle comes to what you say you believe, the easier it is to respect you. The greater the distance between your lifestyle and what you say you believe, the more difficult it is to respect you as a leader.

    Serving others, in the home and out, does a family good

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    How to Increase Intimacy in Your Marriage

    If you could have paradise however you imagine it, what would it look like?

    If you could have that kind of paradise, do whatever you wanted to do there and be in charge of it, would you go there?

    If you could have that kind of paradise, but with no one else, would you still go?

    “These are questions I ask couples across this country and internationally,” says counselor Dr. Rick Marks. “As fed up as they might be with their marriage or relationship and as tempting as it may be, these questions actually create tension in a person because human beings were not designed to be alone. I rarely come across a person who says they would take that kind of paradise. Yet, I talk with hundreds of couples who are married and living a lonely existence.”

    Marks contends that the remedy for human aloneness is intimacy. Everybody craves intimacy, and people will find ways to get it.

    “Pain pursues pleasure,” Marks says. “Your brain is wired to avoid pain and pursue pleasure. We are all driven by our needs until the day we die. When you don’t feel loved, you search for ways to get that need met. This is why some people will say to you, ‘Bad love is better than no love at all.’”

    Consider this: If you had not eaten in five days and someone gave you a bunch of hamburgers, would it satisfy your hunger? Yes, because the message to your brain is that you are eating something. Eating rat poison instead of hamburgers would also satisfy your need initially. Why? Because your brain would still release the same squirt of dopamine to signal that the need had been met.

    “This is what people often do in marriage when things aren’t going well,” Marks says. “If I need attention and I get any kind of attention, I feel loved – even if the attention comes from the wrong person. People will go to rat poison to get their needs met, because it satisfies the need in the moment. Needs - met or unmet - affect how we think, feel and behave.”

    How would you respond to the question, "Do you feel loved and valued in your marriage?"

    Believe it or not, creating intimacy in your marriage isn’t only about your spouse. Sometimes husbands and wives actually hinder getting their intimacy needs met due to prideful self-reliance, exalting their own needs as more important than those of their spouse and being hypersensitive.

    “Your spouse could actually be trying to love you, but due to your pridefulness, you refuse to receive it,” Marks says. “We are often so focused on our own needs that we don’t pay attention to the needs of our spouse. This is a recipe for disaster. I, along with many others, have experienced this miserable existence.”

    So, what can you do to increase intimacy in your marriage?

    • Discuss with your spouse: When do each of you feel loved and valued?

    • Then ask yourself: Do I make it difficult to create intimacy in my marriage?

    Honest answers to these questions will help you pinpoint the areas where each of you can meet the other’s needs. This healthy balance of give and take can help you produce a more intimate and fulfilling marriage relationship.