Foundation of Marriage: Your Most Important Customer

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His Needs, Her Needs- Part 3 in the Foundation of Marriage series.

You have probably heard the term ‘the customer is always right.’  And although many customers are very wrong, the adage still makes sense when you are running a business.  If people don’t like the delicious pistachio ice cream you are selling, then it would be in your best interest to find out what kind of ice cream they want and start selling it.  Sure, you can offer free samples and try to persuade them, but if they don’t like it, then it does not do any good to argue with them.  Give the customer what they want.  Serve your customers!

In the same way, you are truly serving your spouse only when you are serving them in a way that they enjoy.  See our review of the 5 Love Languages for an introduction to this foundational principle.  Today’s review is of another book that approaches this same concept from a different angle: His Needs, Her Needs – Building an Affair-Proof Marriage, by Willard Harley. 

Dana and I went through this book together when we were engaged, ‘way back when!  It was a great way for us to enter into marriage, because it opened our eyes to the idea that our new “customer” may not love pistachio ice cream as much as we do…they actually prefer mint chocolate chip!  (Weird, I know!)  But even more importantly, it focused our attention on this question:  “How can I serve my spouse?”  As we have discussed, this question is the foundation of marriage.

To answer this question, Willard Harley lists 10 categories that he calls the “Most Important Emotional Needs”   These are 10 areas in which you can serve your most important customer well:

  1. Affection 
  2. Sexual Fulfillment
  3. Conversation
  4. Recreational Companionship
  5. Honesty and Openness
  6. Attractiveness of Spouse
  7. Financial Support
  8. Domestic Support
  9. Family Commitment
  10. Admiration

Just like the 5 Love Languages, some of them will be more important to you than the others, and some will be more important to your spouse.  The key is to show your spouse love and serve them in the categories that mean the most to them.  What are your spouse’s top areas?  If you don’t know, how would you find out?  Dr. Harley (very manly name, by the way) makes a nice handout that will help get the conversation started:

Emotional Needs Questionnaire Download

Download these Our Purposeful Life Supplement questions in a printable format:  | PDF_Picture Supplement to Needs Questionnaire  | 

I highly encourage you to print out this questionnaire or buy the book so that you can both rank your 10 areas.  It has been fun to review these concepts that we had first explored 13 years ago and find out the specific ways that we can serve each other within these categories.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, we have changed a little bit over these years, so it was time to have a refresher.  Is the same true for you?

Remember, the customer is always right.  Let’s make this a year where our customer satisfaction ratings go off the charts by focusing on these needs and delighting our spouses!

Other Resources You May Enjoy:

Willard Harley’s Basic Concepts

OPL: Foundation of Marriage:  The 1 Secret to Building a Marriage That Lasts

OPL: Foundation of Marriage:  Sacred Marriage

OPL: 5 Love Languages

OPL: Foundation of Marriage: Proceed with Caution

Prisoner of Hope: 13 Lessons  (See #12!)

Other posts about communicating with your spouse:

OPL: Selfless Communication of Your Needs

OPL: Don’t Play Games

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