In his book "His Needs Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage," Willard F. Harley itemized what his research found to be the top five relational needs of men and women in marriage. No surprise to anyone is the realization that the needs of both differed considerably.
For women, the top five list went as follows: (1) Affection, (2) Conversation, (3) Honesty, (4) Financial Support and (5) Family Commitment. I recommend the book for how it expounds each of these needs. Wise men will strive to understand these common needs for women so that they are adept at meeting them. A man's vow to "love, honor and cherish" his wife uttered during the wedding ceremony basically commits him to grow increasingly competent at meeting these needs over the course of their lifetime together.
For the men, the top five list was: (1) Sexual Fulfillment, (2) Recreational Companionship, (3) An Attractive Spouse, (4) Domestic Support and (5) Admiration. Naomi revealed that Harley's analysis of the woman's needs, though painting in broad strokes, was pretty accurate. This was encouraging to me, since I then felt well trained by Harley's book in being not just a better husband in general, but a better husband specifically to Naomi. However, regarding his exposition of the husband's needs, I felt that he nailed it. As I reflected back on the categories with which I've complemented Naomi the most over the course of our marriage, they overlay well with the categories that Harley explains.
There is not room to wax eloquent in this forum on the ways that Naomi has met my needs in the above listed ways. Nor would it be appropriate for me to detail how adept she is at rendering me satisfied as a husband either. However, regarding one of these needs I can mention something here.
This morning we continued a custom that began months ago: exercising together. It was not the result of a New Year's resolution. It was a result of desiring to develop companionship through the exercise we both need. It's been fun going to the gym together, walking together and focusing on our fitness together. Both of us have needed to develop our cardiovascular health much better though, requiring jogging and running some distance. As a result, we've been developing the habit of jogging together. Having measured a 1.5 mile route through our neighborhood, we're determined to use it as a jogging track for enjoying each other. Although we began this practice weeks ago, this morning was a particular blessing.
Jogging the 1.5 mile route seemed like a time of bonding in a special way. Harley is right to list "recreational companionship" as second only to "sexual fulfillment" in the top five. However, I would consider it a close second. It's a mystery, and I cannot explain it well here, but the after-glow produced from a time of jogging together, testing your endurance, reaching the goal, accelerating 100 yards before the finish and keeping pace together has only one rival. When Naomi and I were first married, I thought we would practice martial arts together. It did not come about. Then I thought we might pursue mountaineering together. No luck. Now though, when we run together I feel as though Willard Harley was spot on with his analysis.
What a blessing. What a fulfilling time together.
What a way to enjoy a New Year's morning.