When marital dissatisfaction grows, our culture tends to tell people that they have just married the “wrong” person. Willard F. Harley in His Needs, Her Needs observes, “We think the dynamics of a good marriage depend on some mysterious blend of the ‘right’ people. Or if a marriage turns out badly, we call the two people ‘wrong’ for each other….More frequently with marital breakups one or both partners lack the skills or awareness to meet each other’s needs.”
Dr. Bill Flatt, a counseling psychologist, observes, “Without God and His power, married couples are left without sufficient strength, guidance or motive to grow through difficulties.” The guidance of scripture and the strength of our faith can help us work through the difficulties. Flatt suggests a list of things to help unlock the door to intimacy in marriage:
- Take time for each other.
- Establish priorities and live balanced lives that allow time for rest, leisure activities and each other.
- Listen empathetically to each other.
- Express feelings in a kind way.
- Be willing to stay with the marriage and work through the problems and anxieties caused by close interaction.
- Express affection continually, including nonsexual touching.
- Get competent counseling if the marriage is stuck or either partner has a desire to do an emotional cut-off.
- Learn what it means to love spouse with agape, unselfish concern.
- Be trustworthy.
- Read appropriate, helpful books.
- Try to understand and meet your partner’s needs.
- Be romantic.
- Do not take your spouse for granted.
- Concentrate upon what each partner likes about the other person.
- Look for strengths rather than weaknesses.
- Try to make your spouse feel special.
- Take time for sex.
- Compromise on different desires and frequency problems.
- Tell your spouse daily something pleasing that he/she did.
- Find a way to get out of double binds. Allow your spouse a possibility of being right.
As people who believe: “What therefore God has joined together let no man separate” (Matthew 19:6b), may we learn and apply Harley’s observation. “Become aware of each other’s needs and learn to meet them.” If we are biblically grounded to understands God’s intent for marriage and have the practical understanding to make marriage what it ought to be, the result will be stronger and happier marriages.