Are you needy? The truth is: we all are needy. We all have many, legitimate needs. It reminds me of when I teach my kids “life science” and I ask my kids, how do you know if something is alive? Part of that definition is that all life has needs. Water, air, sunlight, food, the list goes on. Every living thing needs something from outside of itself to survive and grow. Needs aren’t a bad thing!
I recently read a book by Danny Silk called Keep Your Love On and the chapter that he wrote about needs was so eye-opening. There were a few key things I took away from it that resonated with Joe and me.
God created us with needs!
Physical, emotional, spiritual. Having needs isn’t the problem, it’s how we go about trying to get those needs met is where we get ourselves in trouble.
There are certain needs that no spouse can ever meet. Our deepest needs for meaning, significance, and purpose are only met in our relationship with Jesus. Anytime we elevate someone into that God position we will be sorely unsatisfied in the end. But when I put my spouse in his proper place- a human and not God:) and vice versa, we are better able to meet each other’s needs!
The first step is communicating your needs.
Okay, that’s a lot harder than it sounds. That’s why we generally don’t do it. It’s not just because we forget. It’s because communicating your needs in a legitimate, humbling way is scary. It requires vulnerability.
It’s why God asks us to tell Him our needs in prayer. Now if there’s anyone that should know our needs already, it’s God. And He does!! But we need to tell Him for he same reason-it builds relationship. It builds trust. It reminds us of who we are and who He is. As we are vulnerable and humble before Him, it increases our dependence on Him. Lord, I need you!!
It’s the same with your spouse: sharing your needs builds your relationship and makes it stronger.
Joe and I both fail at this but for different reasons.
I often don’t communicate my needs because I want to pretend I don’t have any. I love my independence. I can do it my self. I don’t want to admit I need help. No needs here, I’m good! It’s ultimately self-protection.
Joe struggles with thinking that his needs just do not matter. The ability to feel like your needs matter start in childhood as you build trust with the caregivers around you. Since so may of his needs were not met as a child, it’s been harder for him to have a healthy understanding of his own needs. Self-protection was a survival skill he learned early on.
Both forms of self-protection are unhealthy way of dealing with our needs. We need to learn to communicate our needs in a healthy way.
That’s why I love adding the phrase, “What do you need from me?” to our marriage vocabulary. When Joe asks me that, he is communicating that he sees that I have a need. He is showing me his desire to serve. But he is also requiring me to be vulnerable enough to communicate my needs to him. And, I have to think carefully what exactly he can do to meet my needs. It’s putting our marriage in a position to win.