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Meeting Each Other’s Needs is Not Just for Anniversaries!

March 9, 2011

–Updated–

Perhaps you have heard of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.  Dr. John Van Epp, in his LINKS (Lasting Intimacy through Nurturing, Knowledge and Skills) program, cleverly changes this to the Golden Rule for Marriage: Do unto your spouse as your spouse needs done unto. He reminds us that sometimes you cannot love your partner in the way(s) that you want your partner to love you…you have to love your partner according to the ways(s) that your partner would like to be loved.

Greg demonstrated his understanding of the Golden Rule for Marriage as he stated, “I have finally come to realize the greatest present we can give is our presence in the PRESENT!”  He learned that his wife needs him to get out of his own world and into her world.  Terri implied this concept when she stated “through the best of times and the worst of times.”  Some anniversaries were about a French restaurant and a Hawaiian vacation but others involved the flu and a broken ankle.   She learned that for better or worse included finding joy in anniversary celebrations that focused on meeting her partner’s needs—regardless of the circumstances.

The best part about following the Golden Rule for Marriage is that it takes you out of your own comfort zone and makes you love and give selflessly.  In our class Love Thinks (now the PICK and LINKS programs), we teach an important method from the LINKS program that will help a couple learn to meet each other’s needs in this way.  We learn to be active relationship managers and to regularly take inventory of each other and look at where we have had positive time together and where that has been lacking.  We then alter our schedules to create the activities that will compensate for what has been missing.

Using the acronym RAM SPOUSES here are the top ten categories of intimacy activities that couples should consider:

Romance:  includes activities that are aesthetically pleasing and prompt an appreciation of beauty.  A walk in the moonlight, Greg’s wonderful 16th anniversary evening that explains why his friends “hate” him now, or Terri’s 15th anniversary celebrated perfectly at a romantic French restaurant.

Affection and Nurturing:  some want affectionate touch, while others want affectionate words.  Nurturing interactions are often more than just touch or words; they include care-taking behaviors and helpfulness.  Terri served as her spouse’s nurse for the 20th and 25th anniversaries!

Mental Stimulation:  involves any activity in which learning or thought is stimulated—reading a book together or listening to a workshop or seminar.

Social Activities:  includes activities involving family and friends.

Projects and Tasks:  involves activities which are done together and separately, but which are focused on some task or project.

Openness in Communication:  refers to both structured (planned time to talk) and spontaneous communication.  It also involves the degree of openness that is experienced during these conversations.

Unstructured Time Together:  time where there is no specific event or plan.  An example would be a Saturday when both partners are together without any specific plans, so they just sit on the deck all day and talk or read.

Spiritual Activities and Closeness:  this includes attending a house of worship, praying together or joining a common cause that can be supported.

Entertainment and Recreation:  includes attending something recreational or entertaining, as well as participating in some activity that has these qualities.

Sexual Relationship:  a couple needs to make sure that they understand the needs and desires of their partner in this strong source of bonding and closeness in a relationship.

Two partners committed to understanding and meeting each other’s needs will regularly make adjustments when one or more of these top ten categories is consistently missing. Whether it is your anniversary or just a regular day, balancing these activities will help you practice the Golden Rule for Marriage in your relationship.

~Cindy

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