Personal Needs in Intimate Relationships

Download pdf here: SL- Personal Needs in Intimate Relationships

Needs to be met (write in your own observations in each category quadrant):

Physical:

  • Affection and caring shown through touch
  • Sexual intimacy that is open, vulnerable, tender and safe
  • Safe, secure shelter
  • Financial security
  • Nourishment
  • Encouragement of physical health and wholeness
Psychological / Emotional:

  • Affirmation
  • Shared interests
  • Respect
  • Space
  • Companionship
  • Security
  • Trust
  • Support
Social:

  • Public Affirmation
  • Public Naming and Claiming
  • Affirmation of other’s ‘social style’ (Introvert/Extrovert)
  • Mutual circle of friends
  • Acceptance of other’s family
  • Support for other’s interests & appropriate participation
Spiritual:

  • Support of freedom
  • Challenge to grow toward wholeness
  • Spiritual connections
  • Some shared spiritual interests
  • Agreement on spiritual relationship

His needs / Her needs:

Take time, on your own individually, to think through the four categories above. Read through each list, spending time thinking over each item. You may add some others that you think or feel are important and worth listing separately. Pray about each area, and seek to know yourself and your partner honestly and fully. Listen for the leading of your own spirit and God’s Spirit together guiding you through this process. On separate sheets of paper, give yourself plenty of room to elaborate on each item in the four quadrants. Identify both the what and the how of the need – specific enough that you can follow through later. Complete the exercise both for what you perceive your partners needs to be, and what your own needs are. Then, from that work, list below the top needs of each of you that can/should be met by the other. Before you begin, read the back of this page fully.

My needs to be met by my partner:
My partner’s needs to be met by me:

Affirmation and Agreement:

As you come together once you have completed the lists of needs, consider simply trading papers without comment, each of you taking some time, again by yourself, to read through the list, think and pray. What do you hear your partner saying from her/his heart? Then come back together and work through the following:

  1. Affirm the things that your partner discerned about you, both in what your need is now and how they think it can be met. Remember, you are building a foundation for a life together – the more open and generous your conversation, the better your relationship will be and the stronger it will grow over time.
  2. Ask clarifying questions where you do not understand. CAUTION: Your goal is not ot show up your partner and how little they know about you – rather, you want to take this opportunity to reveal more of yourself to your partner for your mutual benefit.
  3. ALERT: Are there some places where needs have been identified that are not yours to meet? No partner or friend can or should try to meet every need in the relationship. Most of us need friendships and interests outside our most intimate relationship. Some needs are only God’s to meet – we can not save one another, fix one another, make one another righteous, heal one another’s brokenness, give one another meaning and purpose in life, or give one another a healthy sense of self-worth. Only God can give these things. However, we can do things to erode or undermine God’s work in our and our partner’s lives.
  4. Agree together on what the priority needs are in your relationship and how you will intend to meet them. Your marriage vows will include your covenant statements to meet one another’s needs – this is a step in that journey together.
  5. Affirm again. Express your gratitude to your partner for the willingness to be open and vulnerable, to trust you with their deepest self, and for their desire to meet those of your needs that are theirs to meet.

Next Steps

A marriage, a family, or any other intimate relationship takes work. And anything that takes work takes commitment. Whatever would be healthy must be fed and nurtured regularly, or it will wither and die. Different relationships require different amounts of nurture and tending, just as do different plants. A cactus needs far less water and nutrition and can bear greater heat and scorching sun – but how many of us want to snuggle up to a prickly-pear?

It will be worth your while to keep this exercise handy. Consider reviewing it at least annually on your anniversary as a way to keep your commitments fresh, and to continue to grow in your awareness of yourself, your partner, and your relationship with one another and with God, as all of these grow and change over time and through experience.

A blessing

May the love that joins you together be boundless as the sky, deep as the oceans, beautiful as the mountains, and powerful as the love that God has for you.

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