Thursday, July 24, 2014

His needs, Her needs - Book Review

His Needs, Her Needs: Building An Affair-proof Marriage, Willard F. Harley, Jr.

A love bank. This is the main image that Harley uses through out his book on marriage. Each person has a love bank. Deposits and withdrawals can be made into these bank accounts. So I can add to my spouse's love bank and I can make withdrawals from it. The more I add to my spouse's love bank the more they will feel in love with me. The way to add to your spouse's love bank is to meet their needs.
Harley says that men and women have different needs.

Men need: sexual fulfilment, recreational companionship (he wants to have fun with her), an attractive spouse, domestic support (he wants to rest at home), respect.

Women need: affection (non-sexual), conversation, honesty and openness, financial support (she wants to live comfortably - she may work but hopes she will not have to), family commitment (she wants him to be a good father).

The strength of this book is to highlight that we need to be pouring into our spouse's life or our marriages will fail. Love will dry up if we are not making deposits into our spouses love bank. Interestingly enough Harley believes that to have an affair proof marriage we cannot simply meet one of the needs of our spouse but that we need to meet all of them. He says that when he counsels couple where there is an affair often the person committing the affair loves their spouse and the other person (sometimes they cannot choose between the two). This is because those two people are meeting different needs the person has.
Another positive of the book is that it is not very politically correct. It is not politically correct to say that a guy wants a good looking wife and that a woman wants a man to provide for her financially. And we may wish this was different, but if this is reality we might as well face it. Harley see no point it pretending something is not important to you when in fact it is really important.

However this leads to the two large weaknesses of the book. Harley is too ridged in his division of the different needs between male and female. These lists may ring true for many couples but there is a lot different people out there. His book places men and women into boxes. This is a problem. Reinforcing stereotypes for the different sexes can create problems if one spouse doesn't fit the box they are expected to fit.
This book's biggest weakness is that he leaves little room for people to change. He says these are needs. In fact some of these things are actually wants. That is a very big difference. And sometimes what you want is not what you need or should even have. A guy who wants a good looking wife may actually need to change. He may be so caught up with our cultural's definition of sexual beauty that he cannot see the wonderful women he is married to. A woman who marries for money may need to change. Harley says that a woman needs a man to provide for her as well as her father did or better. What about greed and materialism? Perhaps the woman needs to change and learn contentment.

If you read this book with discernment and take some of the things he says with a grain of salt, this book can help your marriage. Especially the picture of the love bank.

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