|Carol L. Green (D.Hon.Causa)|
Welcome to Listen, Lift, Launch Letters!
As most of you know, we are ministering on the front lines in Harrisburg, PA as community life coaches; particularly as marriage coaches. God has been using this aspect of our coaching to provide practical tools for people who are trying to rebuild their lives in the midst of great devastation. Part of that recovery process involves helping them recognize the lies that played a big part of throwing them off track.
According to Dr. Chris Thurman, who wrote a book, The Lies We Believe, there are at least five categories of lies that are affecting our lives. Those categories are: self-lies, worldly-lies, marital-lies, distortion-lies, and religious-lies, and they have been received and believed by millions of people.
As we continue in our effort to expose the marital lies, I want to discuss the lie that says,
“My spouse can and should meet all of my emotional needs.”
In our many years of marriage coaching, we have found this to be one of the toughest lies to overcome. Although we make promises in our wedding vows and have sincere intentions in our hearts, eventually we come to realize that no human being can always be there to meet all of our emotional needs. Dr. Thurman lists emotional needs such as attention, acceptance, appreciation, approval, affection, affirmation, comfort, encouragement, respect, security, support and understanding. How unrealistic it is to expect a human being to be able to always meet all of those needs.
This week I’m going to quote Dr. Thurman a lot because he helps us deal with the false hope that a spouse will perfectly meet all of our emotional needs. Many believe this lie because they feel that the person they married should somehow automatically know their every need and meet those needs without them even communicating it. This expectation presupposes that our spouse is perfectly, emotionally healthy themselves. It presupposes that they can read our minds, thoughts and feelings on some hyper-spiritual level. When our spouse does not meet our expectations, we often assume that they are the one who is somehow lacking. We conclude that our unmet emotional need is their fault, alone.
Dr. Thurman explains: The reality of any relationship is that NO one person can be the perfect “need meter” for another person. Our needs are too many and can be met only through a variety of people and activities. People who depend solely on one person or one thing usually haven’t developed other resources such as a best friend, hobbies, satisfying work, and a close relationship with God. So rather than recognizing and accepting the fact their expectation is unrealistic, a husband or wife will turn to their spouse and say, “Here’s my life. You take care of all my needs.”
In healthy marriages, there is a mutual commitment to meet each other’s emotional needs as much as possible, and there is a mutual commitment to recognize when we can’t. In healthy marriages, neither spouse depends solely on the other for all of their emotional needs to be met. In healthy marriages, both spouses make every effort to be honest about when they are not meeting each other’s emotional needs and try diligently to do better.
My husband and I have done a lot of pre-marital and marital coaching over the years. It not only helped the couples we coached, but it helped our marriage as well. It helped us to stay in communication with one another about meeting emotional needs and has helped us to develop a habit of staying in communication with one another regarding those needs. The coaching taught us to not accept the lie that our spouse should always be there to meet all of our emotional needs.
Dr. Thurman adds:
When you have emotional needs that are not being met in your marriage, you can basically do the following:
(1) remind yourself that having emotional needs is healthy and it is okay to feel hurt when they are not met;
(2) identify what emotional needs are not being met
(3) ask your spouse if he or she would be willing to meet them (be specific as to which ones and how you would like them met);
(4) affirm and appreciate your spouse for meeting your emotional needs when he or she does; (5) keep meeting your spouse’s emotional needs as best you can, even if he or she is not willing to do the same for you; and
(6) look for other morally appropriate ways for your emotional needs to be met (a close friend, an interesting hobby, volunteer activities, ongoing education, church involvement).
It is normal to have emotional needs. We all have them. It is unrealistic to expect one person to be able to meet all of our emotional needs. Expecting your spouse to meet all those needs is one of the reasons why there are marital problems. This lie puts too much pressure on our spouse and causes damage to our marriage.
The truth is, we are healthier when we have several sources to meet our emotional needs; especially our ultimate source, which is God.
Philippians 4:19 says “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
There is nothing that we need (even emotional needs in marriage) that God cannot supply.
We Listen, We Lift, We Launch,
Coach Carol Green