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Top 10 Emotional Needs in Marriage

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The bond of love between a husband and wife is special because of the “one flesh” intimacy
that God has given us. In a joyful marriage, love is expressed and experienced in a romantic way,
a friendship way and an unconditional, sacrificial way. The goal for marriage should be to keep all these expressions of love strong and in good balance. If your love is strong, there will be minimal conflict in your marriage.

Keeping the love vibrant and alive is very important, yet it doesn’t just happen. There needs to be a more intentional effort. Take advantage of special moments with your spouse to share hugs and kisses, and to tell each other “I love you” daily. It is amazing how meaningful these simple little gestures can be in keeping the loving feelings alive in your marriage.

Inside each of us is an emotional love tank that yearns to be filled. The person that has the greatest impact on filling or draining our love tank is our spouse. In marriage, we can do things unintentionally that impact our spouse’s love tank because we each give and receive love in different ways. In his book, His Needs, Her Needs, Willard F. Harley, Jr. identifies 10 emotional needs that often exhibit themselves in marriage. There are many ways we can express love to our spouse in order to meet their emotional needs, but if we want to have the best impact on filling their love tank, we need to identify what speaks love to them the most.

Here are the 10 emotional needs that Harley has identified as being most important:

  • Admiration

  • Affection

  • Sex

  • Conversation

  • Family support

  • Financial security

  • Honesty

  • Help around the house

  • Recreation

  • Maintaining our physical attractiveness

Different people give stronger value to one emotional need over another. Your spouse probably has emotional needs that vary from your own. Ask your spouse to identify and rank which of the 10 emotional needs would be in their top 5 and share what your 5 would be. See how well they match up and where they differ. Once you identify what is most important to your spouse, become more intentional about loving your spouse by meeting their most important needs.

How to Resolve Conflict in Marriage

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Conflict doesn’t destroy marriages. It is the inability to resolve a conflict that is so destructive.
It is often the harsh words or tone that are used during a conflict that is most lasting and causes hurt feelings to linger long after the conflict is resolved.

We have found that if couples will set a few ground rules for their relationship when they are in a good place, that they agree to follow when things get a little heated, it can save a lot on the lingering hurt feelings.  Here are “9 Rules for Discussion” that are healthy to follow in any discussion or argument.


  1. Speak in a quiet voice

  2. Do not interrupt

  3. Do not bring up the past

  4. Do not blame

  5. Do not use profanity

  6. Do not criticize

  7. Use “I feel” statements, not attacking “you” statements

  8. State your feelings, not your partner’s

  9. Never threaten your relationship

When you a recurring argument or something big that you are disagreeing on that threatens the strength of your marriage if it doesn’t get resolved, it is good to have a plan of action to rely on that will help you reach a resolution. Here is a time-tested formula of “Ten Steps to Resolve Conflict.”


  1. Define the issue to be resolved

  2. Set a time to meet (Be sure to set it off a little bit so you have time to prepare for your discussion)

  3. Set a private place to meet

  4. Each begins by praying

  5. Each shares your position (This is your opportunity to vent using the Rules for Discussion)

  6. Each points out what he or she has done to contribute to the problem

  7. Each points out what he or she can do to help resolve the issue

  8. Agree on a resolution that is acceptable to both

  9. Write down the resolution

  10. End in prayer

If you would like to see a role play of this method, click here.

Remember, conflict doesn’t destroy marriages. It is the inability to resolve a conflict that festers and damages the marriage. Conflict dealt with in a healthy way, can actually draw a couple closer together.


Define the issue to be resolved

  • Set a time to meet

  • Set a neutral place to meet

  • Begin in prayer

  • Each share your position

  • Each point out what have done to contribute to the problem

  • Each point out what you can do to help resolve the issue

  • Agree on a resolution to both

  • Write down the resolution

  • Close in prayer

The Best Way to Enrich Your Marriage

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If I could encourage married couples to do one thing for the health and enrichment of their marriage, it would be to immerse themselves in God’s Word…not only as hearers but doers.
A couple who keeps the attitude of Christ towards one another will be blessed beyond measure. Too many people are casual about their Bible reading, or perhaps it is non-existent. They want God to bless their marriage, but they spend no time learning and obeying His teachings. They want to do things their own selfish way, or the way of the world but want the outcome of God’s blessings. You can’t have it both ways. If you want God to bless your marriage in a bigger way, I want to challenge you to do what this poem summons you to do. Best of all…do it together!

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

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Let your spouse know by your actions that you value them over other people and things.

It is so easy to get caught up in work, taking care of the kids, extended family, church, etc. These are justifiably valuable places to invest your time. But make sure that your spouse is not just getting your leftovers. Be intentional about making your spouse a priority. Here are

Just Say No – Understand that no is a complete sentence. You don’t have to give any excuse other than you want to spend time with your spouse. Remember that you only have 24 hours in a day. Every time you say yes to one thing, you are saying no to something else. Be careful that when you say yes to something you are not doing it at the expense of spending quality time with your spouse.

Demonstrate That Your Spouse is #1 -The greatest gift you can give to your kids is to love your spouse. This will model a healthy marriage to them. The greatest testimony you can give to others about your marriage is to show them in the way you love your spouse in words and actions.

Continue Dating Your Spouse – We invest so much time and energy into courting our spouse, after marriage, it usually comes to a halt. Even though you spend more time together when you are married, you still need to have focused times to reconnect in an intimate way. Regular date nights are one of the best ways to accomplish this. Although dates can cost, you can also put together dates that do not cost much if anything. In fact, you can even make a game of who can arrange the least expensive fun date!

Become intentional about giving your spouse your best and not just your leftovers. Invest more in your relationship with your spouse than you do any other relationship like work, kids, friends, siblings, parents, etc.

Let us love not in word or speech but with actions and in truth. ~ 1 John 3:18


"Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and do not lean on your own understanding."

– Proverbs 1:5  

Enrich Your Marriage
Speak Louder
Emotional Needs
Resolve Conflict
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