Emotional Needs in Marriage: What’s Most Important?

Everyone has emotional needs. For each of us, those come down to a few top needs that are most important to us. With those emotional needs unmet, it’s difficult for us to walk in our spouse’s shoes.

Because emotional needs are highly important, which ones should you prioritize first? Which emotional needs are the most important–yours or your spouse’s? That answer isn’t one-size-fits-all.

You can do a few things to determine which needs to meet first in any given situation. Want to know more? Let’s jump right into it.

Know Your Own Top Emotional Needs

It isn’t easy to articulate your emotional needs if you’re unaware of them. If you don’t know your top emotional needs, take some time to figure them out. For instance, maybe you need honesty and admiration to feel loved and fulfilled.

You need to be intimately familiar with your own top emotional needs so that you can show up with more empathy in your marriage. Plus, knowing these needs helps you communicate them. Remember that your spouse must also know their top emotional needs for this approach to succeed.

Help Your Spouse Understand Your Top Emotional Needs

Once you’re familiar with your most important emotional needs, it’s time to help each other understand them. This is where empathy comes into play. As you gain a deeper understanding of your needs, you’ll find more opportunities to be empathic.

Communicate these needs to each other openly and as often as needed. Coming up with considerate reminders can help your spouse remember what you need from them when issues arise. In the same way, listen for your spouse’s cues when it’s time for you to meet their needs.

We like to use phrases such as, “My affection needle is in the red zone,” to alert one another when an important need is unmet. This helps us to course-correct more quickly. It also helps us to prevent unnecessary conflict.

Prioritize Your Emotional Needs from Moment to Moment

When prioritizing one another’s emotional needs, the moment tends to dictate that. Depending on your situation, you’ll need to work together to assess how both of you can feel as loved and supported as possible. While that’s not a simple answer, it’s a loving and doable one.

Using gentle reminders when you’re not feeling your best is most effective. That’s especially true if you’re having difficulty communicating well. Pause as often as you need to, and reassess your needs together.

Walk in Each Other’s Shoes Often

The best way to cultivate empathy and meet each other’s emotional needs is to walk in their shoes regularly! Seeing things from their perspective can help you be a better spouse. Plus, that empathy expands into the world around you.

If you want to dive deeper into emotional needs, check out our book, Trading Places. The secrets to the marriage you really want lie in understanding one another on a deeper level. Take a look and grab your copy here.

How do you and your spouse keep your emotional needs front and center? Share your experiences in the comments.

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