God created us for an intimate relationship with Him and others. Last month we addressed bonding; we were created with biological needs for bonding and closeness. We all have needs and were designed to be dependent. We’re physically needy. We need food, clothing, water and shelter to survive. We’re spiritually needy. Man needs communion with God and freedom from guilt and shame; we need forgiveness, mercy and grace from God. We’re also emotionally and relationally needy. We need a relationship with God and others. We’re intellectually needy. We’re born with intellectual capacity, but we need instruction and information.
Many of our deepest and most powerful desires are wrapped up in our desire to have our needs met through relationships. We want to feel safe and content. We want to experience passion and excitement. We long for acceptance, being seen and appreciated for simply being who we are.
When our needs are met, we feel loved. When our needs go unmet, we feel pain. When we feel pain, we pursue pleasure and very often our pursuit of pleasure takes us places that ultimately bring us back to pain.
Question: If you’re hungry and you eat rat poison, will you still be hungry? Answer: No, your stomach is full whether it’s with rat poison or steak.
You experience a sense of pleasure because of the chemical dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that’s released in the brain giving us a sense of pleasure. So if you eat rat poison because you’re hungry and your stomach is full, dopamine is released even though the rat poison is going to kill you.
The same is true in other scenario’s: We need and want our sexual desires met. Sexual desires can be achieved with my spouse, or I can go to another form of rat poison such as pornography and still experience the sense of pleasure that dopamine provides. Dopamine has no morality. So, the question begs: What are the relational needs that give me pleasure and where do I go (poison) when those needs aren’t met? Is it gambling, alcohol, food, sexual addiction, drugs or my smartphone and computer?
Everyone has a threshold of pain; some people have a high threshold for pain and others have a much smaller limit. The point to remember is “pain always pursues pleasure.” When our needs are unmet, we feel pain. When our needs are met, we feel loved. The goal is to guard your heart, your spouse and your marriage by being INTENTIONAL about meeting the relational needs of your spouse.
Some will say that they should meet their own needs or only God can meet all of our needs, but if we explore the Scriptures, we’ll discover that most often He instructs and chooses to involve others in fulfilling our physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual needs. Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” but, in verse 14 Paul says ‘”Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.”
Ten Emotional Needs
David Ferguson, a renowned psychologist with Intimate Life Ministries, has outlined 10 primary emotional needs noted in Scriptures.
- Acceptance – Receiving another person willingly and unconditionally, especially when the other’s behavior has been imperfect; being willing to continue loving another in spite of offenses. Romans 15:7 – “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
- Affection – Expressing care and closeness through physical touch, carefully respecting the boundaries of the other person; saying “I love you.” Romans 16:16 – “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” Mark 10:16 – “And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.”
- Appreciation – Expressing thanks, praise or commendation. Recognizing accomplishment or effort. I Corinthians 11:2 – “I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you.”
- Approval – (Blessing) Building up or affirming another; affirming both the fact of and the importance of a relationship. Ephesians 4:29 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
- Attention – Conveying appropriate interest, concern and care; taking thought of another; entering another’s “world.” I Corinthians 12:2 – “so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.”
- Comfort – Responding to a hurting person with words, feelings and touch; to hurt with and for another’s grief or pain. Romans 12:15 – “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” II Corinthians 1:3-4 – “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
- Encouragement – Urging another to persist and persevere toward a goal; stimulating toward love and good deeds. I Thessalonians 5:11 – “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
- Respect – Valuing and regarding another highly; treating another as important; honoring another. Romans 12:10 – “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him.”
- Security – (Peace) Harmony in relationships; freedom from fear or threat of harm. Romans 12:16 – “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”
- Support – Coming alongside and gently helping with a problem or struggle; providing appropriate assistance. Galatians 6:2 – “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
All of us experience all of the above needs at some point, but generally, we will have 2-3 needs that are priority needs. I encourage you to evaluate and assess what your top three needs are and then ask your spouse to do the same. Share your priority needs with each other and then ask for what you need from your spouse to have those needs met. Remember, when our needs are met we feel loved.
Lisa May is the Executive Director of Live the Life South Florida etc. She can be reached at [email protected] or by mail at 5110 N. Federal Hwy. Suite 102, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33308