We have found that marriage problems can be dropped into relatively few buckets. You have to be careful here because you can go too far generalizing all kinds of marriage issues. The overused “I don’t love you anymore” being the overarching generalization that the unfulfilled partner most commonly uses.
not the cause.
The most common sources of marriage problems fit into these issue categories:
Intimacy: Sexual, emotional, intellectual, etc.
Communication: Physical, verbal, open, honest,respectful,loving, caring.
Finances: Special projects, dreams, budgeting, etc.
Children: How many, problems conceiving, rearing, etc.
Beliefs: Religion, education, culture, stereotypes, etc.
Respect: Selfishness, admiration, insults, abuse, etc.
There are key things in these areas that we can do to either make withdrawals or make deposits from our love bank. To be able to make deposits you need to know what is important for your partner. There have been many attempts over the years to categorize the needs of one of members of a serious relationship.
One of the clearest and easiest to implement come from Dr. Willard Harley. They are documented in his book “His Needs. Her Needs.” A list is reprinted below:
AffectionSexual FulfillmentConversationRecreational CompanionshipHonesty and OpennessPhysical AttractivenessFinancial SupportDomestic SupportFamily CommitmentAdmiration
If you have the time, click on the link below to go to Dr. Harley’s site and get a quick description of each need. Dr. Willard Harley’s most important emotional needs. Basically, once you know what’s important to your partner, follow the time tested Nike slogan and “just do it”.
But making deposits is not enough. You also need to stop making withdrawals. So here… stop doing the things your partner hates!
Again, you can get as complicated as you want here with all kinds of questionnaires and tests to clarify what it is that your partner does not like. But let’s be honest, the test will most likely tell you stuff you already know. So… just stop! Simple enough to understand, but very hard to do.
I hate to say it this boldly but the approach boils down to: Do the things your partner likes, and stop doing the things he dislikes.
Wow! This is far from rocket science! So why do so many couples fail? We believe it is a question of focus. If each partner is fully committed to this strategy then it is a win-win and a never ending upward spiral to a fulfilling and mutually self satisfying relationship. If one of the partners falters the engine breaks and we lose momentum.
The only time where just one partner working in this manner might work, is if he or she is ready to roll with the punches while their loved one takes in deposits and their balance moves above the “love threshold”. In other words, your partner falls out of love, you decide to make things right and “take it” while you fill up their love bank while avoiding withdrawals. This is the best you can do when you are already in the red.
In general, if you are still not in that much trouble the process seems like it should work like this:
1. Agree to do this together.2. Identify each other’s most important needs… In paper!3. Focus on fulfilling each other’s needs.4. Avoid doing the things your partner hates and be contrite when you screw up.5. Spend lots of quality time together.6. DO!
That fifth point deserves some elaboration. You think you are spending quality time together? Let’s define quality time.
Quality time is time where you are giving each other undivided attention and at the same time you are fulfilling each other’s key emotional needs. So do movies count? NO. At the movies youare engrossed in the movie, same goes for baseball game, concerts and obviously for watching TV. With this new definition, count the hours a week you currently spend in this fashion. Dr. Harley recommends no less than fifteen hours a week!!! Don’t know about that metric, but I can safely say that most of us need many more hours than we are currently putting in.
Marriage problems are easy to categorize, name and identify. They are much harder to solve. The tips above should help you on your way.