No one wants to be the needy person. Do you ever cringe when you get around the person who is so emotionally needy, like oh no, what do they need now? Or we refer to the less fortunate as needy. The ones who have so many needs we don’t know where to begin.
But 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’ll figure it out. 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.
When I hear “tell your spouse what you need,” I instantly think: what do I need my spouse to do for me.
That type of “need sharing” is easy: I just need you to pull your weight around here! I need you to stop being a jerk! I just need you to… blah, blah.
But those statements aren’t telling my husband anything about me. It’s really an attack disguised as a need.
You and your spouse need the right information about each other in order to best meet each other’s needs. I really love how Danny phrased it in Keep Your Love On: It’s my job to tell you about me. It’s your job to tell me about you.
I rolled that statement around in my head for quite a while. Doesn’t it seem easier to tell your spouse about him? This is what you’re like, these are your motivations, these are your problems. But to be honest about my intentions and needs? No thank you.
If I want Joe to better meet my needs, then the first step lies with me. I need to tell him what’s going on inside me. For real.
So need statements might sound more like this: I feel like my feelings don’t matter. I need to feel like my feelings matter. I feel scared and unsafe. I need to feel safe. I feel overwhelmed. I need more support in the load I am carrying. I feel sad. I need comfort.
This type of need-sharing brings true freedom in marriage.
By sharing these types of statements, my husband now has better information and can choose how to best meet those needs. Not because I demanded it. But out of love. When I am vulnerable rather than demanding, I also realize there is only so much Joe can do. I don’t place all my hope in my husband but instead become grateful. For the love and care he chooses to give me even if he can’t always get it right.
What is it you need? Be brave enough to share it with your spouse!
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:31-32