Relationship Needs

Relationship needs are the reasons a person desires to enter into or to remain in a relationship. As relationship needs are met, relationships grow stronger. If these needs are left unmet, relationships become weak. Infidelity becomes a temptation when another person begins meeting one's relationship needs better than does one's spouse.

As you invest in your mate by making efforts to meet his or her relationship needs, your feelings of compassion (good will) for your mate naturally increase, and your mate naturally feels more attraction (desire) for you. This increased desire helps motivate your mate to meet your relationship needs, and the feelings of compassion and attraction become mutual. This is how romantic love (romance) grows in a marriage.

Meeting your mate's relationship needs can also be thought of as making deposits of “love units” into his or her “love bank” or “emotional bank account.” Read more about the Love Bank at and in His Needs, Her Needs, a book by Willard F. Harley Jr. that every couple should read together. You can read more about the emotional bank account in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, a book by John M. Gottman that is frequently recommended and used by relationship therapists. Here is a worksheet to help you and your spouse make effective deposits into each other's emotional bank accounts.

While marriage is difficult, and discordant and frustrated marriages are common, yet real, lasting happiness is possible, and marriage can be more an exultant ecstasy than the human mind can conceive. This is within the reach of every couple, every person…Love is like a flower, and, like the body, it needs constant feeding. The mortal body would soon be emaciated and die if there were not frequent feedings. The tender flower would wither and die without food and water. And so love, also, cannot be expected to last forever unless it is continually fed with portions of love, the manifestation of esteem and admiration, the expressions of gratitude, and the consideration of unselfishness.—Spencer Kimball

Relationship needs are innate emotional needs. When these needs are left unmet, loneliness, depression, frustration, hopelessness, anger and resentment can result. When they are met, feelings of comfort, safety, peace, pleasure, attraction and good will result, romance grows, and the marriage is strengthened. Feelings of mutual good will and attraction are vital to a functional and happy marriage. They motivate a man and woman to work together, and to forgive when necessary. Nothing creates these feelings better than the meeting of each other's relationship needs.

When a man and woman first fall in love, their romantic feelings for each other are often based on infatuation, which is an inordinate belief that the object of one's desire can readily meet all of one's relationship needs. Infatuation soon fades. It must then, if the feelings of romance are to continue, be replaced by the knowledge that your mate is indeed doing his or her best to meet your relationship needs. As its basis changes from infatuation to knowledge, romance remains pleasurable and exciting. It also becomes more calming and comforting without the obsessive component of infatuation, with its uncertainty and anxiety.1 Many studies have shown that romantic love, with its myriad rewards, can last in marriage.1 For romance to continue in a marriage beyond the infatuation stage, each partner simply needs to get up to speed in meeting the relationship needs of the other.

Follow the links below to learn about the 7 basic relationship needs. Reading these pages together with your spouse can promote a discussion that will help each of you understand the needs of the other.

1. Respect
2. Appreciation
3. Companionship
4. Spiritual Solidarity
5. Domestic Support
6. To Feel Cherished
7. Sensuous Affection

1“Does a Long-Term Relationship Kill Romantic Love?” by B. P. Acevedo and A. Aron. Review of General Psychology 13:59-65. (2009).

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