His Needs & Her Needs

Lea and I have always tried to attend marriage seminars, His Needs/Her Needs training and other things that build our relationship. I think every couple will agree, “We want the best marriages possible.” If my marriage is bad, I want to make it good. If my marriage is good, I want to make it great. If it’s great, I want to make it even better. But just like anything else, marriage takes work. Sometime hard work. Good marriages don’t just happen by accident.

According to Dr. Willard Harley’s book called His Needs/Her Needs. Here are the top needs of husbands & Wives:

A Husband’s Top 5 Needs:
Sexual Fulfillment
Recreational Companionship
An Attractive Spouse
Domestic Support

A Wife’s Top 5 Needs:
Honesty and Openness
Financial Support
Family Commitment

A wonderful Gospel preacher from years ago named Ira North used to preach a lesson called, “Help for husbands and Wisdom for wives.” His lists looked something like this.

What A Husband wants in a Wife:
A wife that will be his playmate
A wife that will dress with the aim of pleasing her husband
A wife that will give him lots of admiration
A wife who’s not dominating and controlling
A wife who’s warm and wonderful

What a Wife wants in a Husband:
A husband that will continually court her
A husband that will communicate in a caring way
A husband that will give the family plenty of time
A husband that will serve her cheerfully
A husband that will be the spiritual leader in the home

Dr. Harley in his book Love Busters tells us that there are a few things that kill relationships. He calls them Love Busters and lists six:

Love Busters:
Selfish demands: Who wants to live with a dictator?
Disrespectful judgements: Who wants to live with a critic?
Angry Outbursts: Who wants to live with a time bomb?
Dishonesty: Who wants to live with a liar?
Annoying Habits: Who wants to live with a dripping faucet?
Independent Thinking: Who wants to live with an inconsiderate jerk?

Helpful Marriage Links:
Dr. Willard Harley’s Marriage Builders
Family Dynamics
Focus on The Family

So here’s my challenge to you and I (hold me accountable) this weekend: Let’s take the list above, show it to our spouses and ask them how their needs stack up to these here. Find out what his/her top 5 needs are and then make it your goal to focus on those needs this next week. Hey, why not? It’s Valentine’s Day next week.

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Article by Trey Morgan

I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast. Read 1182 articles by
40 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Lisa says:

    Okay, I’m in!! :)

  2. DJG says:

    but surely independent thinking shouldn’t be on there…

    I will try!

  3. Trey Morgan says:

    Excellent … the challenge is on. I find it interesting that to this point only the girls have said, “Ok.”

    As for independent thinking … hum? I think there are a couple of others I’d question too. But I’m not the expert.

  4. Ancient Wanderer says:

    “I find it interesting that to this point only the girls have said, “Ok.””
    That’s simple- it’s because all of the lists make men look shallow and conceited with only external needs all wrapped in a coating of male domination.
    Uggh (caveman talk), why would we even care enough to worry with something that would include “Her Needs”?.

    It’s like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day sermons:

    Basic Mother’s Day sermon- praise and adoration for the good job and hard work mom does. Even God had one!

    Basic Father’s Day sermon- not holding up your end of the bargain with your kids or their mother and you need to be more spiritual!!! [Notice next time you have to listen to one of these how even on Father’s Day- Mom has to be praised.]

    Whoa, back off, this isn’t my opinion it was pointed out to ME by my WIFE years ago. My wife who is an independent and free thinking (female?) is embarrassed by 99% of the Father’s Day sermons she has to endure.

    OK, I feel I have spoken for MANkind 😉

  5. Brian Nicklaus says:

    preacher has started meddlin..

    that’s all good material, my wife and I have talked about it before but it has been awhile, Great Idea!

    I will “man up” and take the Trey Challenge

  6. Mommysmart says:

    I love that picture. It is a great reminder that we aren’t likely married to a prince, but we don’t have to start with a frog either. Thanks for the great “real life” advice. We’ll do this, too!

  7. Trey Morgan says:

    AW, I hear you. Women like all these deep “inside” things and it makes men look pretty cheap. I have noticed your “Mothers Day -vs- Fathers Day” thoughts. I was guilty of this up till someone pointed it out to me. Why do you suppose we do this?

    Brian – Actually, you’re wife asked me to post this today just because you needed it! :)

  8. The Preacher's Household: says:

    I hear Dr. Laura has a new book out about the care and feeding of marriages. Her point on the Today show was that we have to stop just making sure our needs are met, but also try to actually love our spouse so we want to meet their needs even if it means we don’t want to do what they need. Her advice (even as a female) was to make it a point to stop saying no to each other.

    Along with the Mom/Dad Day sermons is the whole notion of people thinking about Jesus for their two times of the year: Christmas and Easter. We are glad they do even that so we preach/teach those sermons appropriately. Valentines is the same way. I say, if you are going to love me, do it all year and buy me presents all of the time. Yes, James has his hands full with an independent thinker. Feel free to pray for him.


  9. JP Manzi says:

    Count me in, my wife will do better then I but, yeah, I’m in.

  10. Trey Morgan says:

    Kathy … I sat down one night while my wife was shopping at Walmart read a couple of chapters from Dr. Laura’s book on marriage. One of the chapters that I read was the one she wrote on sex (insert joke here). I found the book to be very good. I found it to be very helpful. I’m anxious to finish it.

    Also, did you guys notice the two lists? Harley’s and North’s? North lived years ago and probably created the list in the 50-60’s. It was curious to me that they were so much alike.

  11. Ancient Wanderer says:

    Religion is “culturally” seen as a feminine activity and since the majority of the “audience” is female we tend to “play to the crowd”.

    Also, and I know I will get flack over this, it was been the teaching of the Catholic Church for centuries that just being a Mother is a Holy Sacrament.

    That plus men are able to “handle the heat” better ;).
    OK, bring it on!

    Don (that last part was a joke ladies. note i didn’t call your “girls”.)

  12. Trey Morgan says:


    I do think we’re a little afraid to “beat up” on the ladies from the pulpit. But maybe we’ve been harder on dad because generally they haven’t carried the “torch” spiritually in the family as they should the past 100 years. Just a thought. But as you say … I have noticed to that we’re generally harder on the men than women.

    Monica – glad you noticed the picture.

    Any here ever been to a His Needs/Her Needs seminar or other marriage enrichment seminar?

  13. Neva says:

    we’re in,
    We’ve only been married nine years so hopefully we haven’t forgotten yet.

    Ned and Neva

  14. Lisa says:

    Our young marrieds class at church read “His Needs, Her Needs” together. Dan & I also used it for our premarital counseling before we got married.

    I, too, have noticed that sermons tend to beat up on Dads more than Moms. It REALLY bothers my husband that that’s the case. Maybe it has to do with men not holding up their end of the spiritual bargain as much as women, or maybe it has to do with the preaching coming from a man who doesn’t want to hurt women’s extra-sensitive feelings. But which way should the sermons turn–less harsh on the men, or more challenging for the women?? I vote for the latter.

    Don, I’m wondering if you’ve read “Why Men Hate Going to Church” (I think that’s the title). Just curious. I thought that was an interesting book. What you said about religion being seen culturally as a feminine activity reminded me of it.

  15. Ancient Wanderer says:

    No I haven’t read that book, yet. I’ll look it up when I finish here.


  16. Ancient Wanderer says:

    I’ve noticed that most (not all) of the women feel that men aren’t as spiritually minded as women. I know I have always heard that said in the church; but, I think it is more of a gender and cultural thing than a spiritual thing.

    Men are ‘seen’ [let me use that word to avoid conflict] as the spiritual leaders in a congregation. I think they are percentage wise as spiritually minded as women its just not as easily brought to fruition.

    Here is what I mean. Let’s take one of the Top 5 Needs of a “wife” list. In a spiritual sense these needs need to be met in a congregation because we are one0flesh with Christ and they translate roughly this way:

    Affection- friendliness, emotional security

    Conversation- open communication top to bottom – bottom to top.

    Honesty and Openness- solid teaching that is relevant.

    Financial Support- good facilities, funding a variety of works, able to “just do” the Lord’s work in the congregation.

    Family Commitment- fellowship and no or very little congregational friction.

    If you look at these areas most, if not all, congregations suffer with a lack of one or more. Some struggle with all five or at least there is the perception that they don’t meet the marks.
    In a congregation:
    Whose fault is it? The men.
    Whose job is it? The men.
    Who has to fix it so that our spiritual one-flesh is “working right”? The men.
    Who has failed spiritual? The men.

    When the congregational needs aren’t being met… Men are seen as less spiritual than women in the congregation. They failed. In many congregations the women believe that if WE could fix it WE would.

    That is just my opinion 😉


    A new preacher (in every sense of the word) moved into this area and asked me, ‘What is the one thing I need to know.’ I said, ‘The Lord just gave you another wife… treat her accordingly.’ Now, I mean male and female the entire congregation is “another” wife to the preacher… all leaders need to understand this one thing> we are dealing with the Bride of Christ.

  17. Lisa says:

    One thing that I think indicates that men aren’t as spiritual (in our culture if you want to put it that way) is when you look around during services–how many women do you see without their husbands, and how many men do you see without their wives? I’ll grant you that the ministers, elders & most deacons I know personally are extremely spiritual and excellent role-models for the church. I’m just not sure that percentage-wise the numbers are equal. It’s been my experience that there are many more women gathering with the church than men. Perhaps that is an inborn desire to develop relationships that women have more so than men?

    I’ll also grant you that based on my personal experience, my view might be tainted when it comes to men v. women spiritually. I would love to know that others’ experiences are not the same. (I used the phrase “men v. women spiritually,” but I don’t want anyone thinking I view this as some kind of competition)

  18. John Smulo says:

    Great post. But it really does make men look shallow. I have to look inside and see where I’m at with some of these things. Will talk to my wife.

    Great blog.

  19. jel says:

    hey Trey,
    just poped in too, thank ya, for the visit,

  20. Trey Morgan says:

    My feelings are that men have felt, that to be a man, means they are the bread winner and the protector of the family. Generally men have forgotten that God also gave them the responsiblitiy of training their children (Ephesians 6). To me, men haven’t taken on that spiritual leadership role as they should, but have left it for the wives. The wives have done it because the men haven’t.

    Any of that make sense?

    John … as for the shallow part. Yea, makes men look pretty shallow, but I guess it depends on your actual needs. Good thought

  21. Ancient Wanderer says:

    I agree that a good number of men hide in their jobs. I think we as ministers need to ‘force’ them out of the shadows and into the light. One way to do that is to investigate and support the “male” aspects of being a Christian.

    I believe that means preachers being and showing that male Christians can be(oh boy, how do I say this)- manly. A good number of males in and out of the church misunderstand words like ‘meek'; ‘virtuous'; ‘loving’. It’s important to see the Jesus who weeps at the death of a friend and the Jesus who kicks over tables when God is blasphemed.


  22. Anonymous says:

    Trey – I guess what always gets me is “an attractive spouse”. Define “attractive”! Are you talking spirtually or physically? Because, physically, I don’t feel attractive..but I have been married over half my life.

    What is “physically attractive” to you..may not be “physically attractive” to others.

    Love ya TREY!

  23. Trey Morgan says:

    Ford Man’s Wife … welcome to the blogging world.

    First, welcome to the blogging world. Makes my day to have you stop by. To cool, girl. Too cool.

    Second, you got to remember this is not my list. So I’m not sure I can answer for the makers of the His Needs/Her Needs lists . But if I remember what Dr. Harley says in his book about an attractive spouse, he says physically, “You simply have to do the best with what you got.” Now, you can take that to mean whatever you want.

    But I know what Peter said about women in 1 Peter 3, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

  24. Trey Morgan says:

    AW … Amen, preach on brother, preach on.

  25. Lisa says:

    Don, I really think you’d like that book I recommended. Did you find it? If not, I’ll find the right title & author for you. It’s not written by a church of Christ-er, or even by a minister, if memory serves. You may not agree with everything he says, but a lot of it is very applicable.

    Basically, our churches have catered to women. Yes, I said it. Why? Maybe because of what Trey said. That men were failing to train up their children spiritually, so women stepped up to the plate. Churches became more feminine. Churches tried to support the women. Churches were more and more influenced by what women wanted and needed. Nowadays, it’s not very manly (according to culture) to “go to church” or to be spiritual. Churches focus on the relationship aspect of being together–rather than the evangelistic, spreading-the-gospel, aspect of being part of a church. Women are drawn to relationships, men are drawn to challenges. So we need to make our men feel challenged. Make them feel manly! Am I making sense? Sorry, Trey, that I’ve gotten WAY off the subject.

    I tend to feel bad that marriage counseling, books on marriage, etc., seem to be what Don said in his first comment: “the lists make men look shallow and conceited with only external needs all wrapped in a coating of male domination.” I think the first few years of our marriage, my husband was a bit down on himself for not being more of what I needed and feeling like his own list of needs was shallow.

    Do other men feel that way too? What can we do to change that?

  26. NB says:

    Lisa is exactly right. You do see many women in the church without their husbands but it is rare to see a husband in church without his wife.(My husband is one of those who does not attend.)

    I think this is a common issue in most churches – especially among the younger men. Whatever the cause, I am curious as to what other churches have done to address this issue. Any ideas? How do you get the men involved?

    Sorry, Trey, I know this is off the topic.

  27. Trey Morgan says:

    NB – you are SO on target. And, no reason to apologize. We’re not off the topic. I’m sure many women have a NEED for their husband to be the “spiritual leader” in the family, but that need is going unmet by some men because they …

    1. Don’t know it’s a need.
    2. Think it’s the women’s job.
    3. Or they don’t know how.

    As for how to over come this? I think we need to have Christian men who set examples as “real men.” Men who can do all the “men” things and still profess their love to their God, wife and family. Men who unashamedly (not take) but lead their families to church. These men are examples. We’ve tried to reach out to the men through thinks like men’s retreats, early morning prayer groups and other activities. I think their needs to be training and teaching of the “young men” now so we can correct this problem in a generation.

    I honestly believe it’s getting better. I see more men leading their families spiritually than every before. So I think their is hope.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I read His/Her Needs several years back. My spouse refuses to look at this area of the marriage. I started the book about 2 months ago again, looking at what I can do to meet the needs of my spouse. I know I can’t change him/her, but God can. Does this hurt my heart that he/she is not interested in my needs? Yes! So I will just pray and keep my eyes focused on ‘Him.’ God doesn’t need me to change the other person, but He can use me if I get out of His way. Please pray for us! God knows who we are.

  29. Trey Morgan says:

    I will pray for you. I know it can be very frustrating. Making a marriage better takes both sides willing to work. When that doesn’t happen, you have the right plan … just ask for God’s help. While “just praying” doesn’t sound like much, if God is involved, it’s more than “just praying.” It’s power.

    I will pray

  30. Ancient Wanderer says:

    Yes I did find the book on:
    “Why Men Hate Going to Church” by David Murrow
    I will try to pick it up this week.

    I’m not sure why and so I can’t tell you exactly why, but we have about a a 45% male to 55% female ration in our congregation. At this point in time we have only one wife whose husband doesn’t come.

    We have a Thursday morning class that is about 90% male [10-12 in attendance regularly]. Like I said I can’t tell you that we specifically targeted men but we certainly do require participation. And I for one don’t hesitate to make being a Christian both a ‘manly’ as well as ‘feminine’ reality.

    All I can say is that the leaders have to do two things for sure:
    [1] Meet her needs
    [2] Demonstrate being real “men”.

    One thing that will turn men off sooner than women (they are more forgiving and willing to overlook) is hypocrisy and any lack of “a real world” application for Christianity. I know I have a hard time following a man who only “says” and “doesn’t do” and who has a too pie-in-the-sky approach to Christianity.


  31. Lisa says:

    AW, that last paragraph definitely goes along with what I see in my husband & me. Not that I’m perfect by any means, but it definitely bothers Dan a LOT more when people are hypocrites. Of course, he is one of the most honest, full-of-integrity, people I’ve ever known, so if anyone has a right to be bothered by hypocrisy, it’d be him.

    Trey, our congregation has plenty of opportunity for men to be involved, & to lead. We have a Thursday morning breakfast for men, that many attend. But … how do you get the men on the fringe TO those activities? Though my husband isn’t as social as I am, I think he would enjoy the “manly” activities we have going on, if he would just go to them. (Then again, I could be projecting my own interests onto him)

    Don & Trey, & others, thanks for continuing this discussion with me. I’ve enjoyed it & feel inspired & challenged. Thanks for listening to me too!

  32. nb says:

    My husband always says that the church is full of hypocrites that act one way during the week and then act totally different on Sunday. I say, that’s an even better reason for them to be in church.

    I try to inform my husband of the few activities geared toward men that are sponsored by the church but I can only do so much. He would never just show up at one of these functions. I wish some of the men in the church would call and ask my husband to come to one of these events. He has a hard time saying no when other people ask him to do things.

    I think he would see people differently if he just got to know them.

    Trey, you are right. My husband did not grow up with any spiritual male influence and he doesn’t know where to begin to become a spiritual leader himself. And now, in my family, yet another generation is growing up without the influence and example of a spiritual man.

    I worry for my sons. I’m trying to do my best. I hope my boys will learn by watching the examples of the men who do attend church.

    I pray it is enough.

  33. Trey Morgan says:


    Thanks for sharing your heart. Hang in there. Continue to be a good example for him. Let him see Christ through you (1 Peter 3:1-4). I’ve know a lot of men like your husband. I have seen many that have “come around” and seen the light. Keep praying and don’t give up.

  34. Neva says:

    I have been thinking about this since reading the comments. One of the reasons I think women are more apt to attend sans spouses is that we, that is we women, are conditioned from birth to be more dependent. So it is easier for us to say we NEED the Lord and we need to be rescued by Him than it is for most men to say they need to be rescued. Does that make sense?
    As far as Fathers Day vs Mothers Day sermons–that inequality is everywhere, notice how great the selection is for Mothers day cards vs Fathers Day cards–same thing.
    And the main reason preachers don’t beat up on ladies like they do men is because they don’t want to get food poisoning at potluck. :)
    Maybe sermons should not beat up on anybody—they should encourage men and women alike—look for the good, expect the best and love the most. Maybe , , ,

    Very good e-conversation

  35. Lisa says:

    NB–if you’d like to email me, llleichner@yahoo.com, I think we can relate quite a bit. I’d like for us to be able to encourage each other if you could use it. God bless.

    Neva–I think you’re right about women being more dependent. Is it training & natural differences in gender? You’re right that sermons shouldn’t beat up on anyone. Maybe the word “challenge” would have been better to use. I do think sermons should be challenging.

  36. Trey Morgan says:

    Neva & Lisa … good points. I think I agree with you on the men -vs- women. We’re just wired up differently.

    Most preachers try to challenge and encourage … not beat people up. But, unfortunately it does happen.

    As for the poison at the potluck … hum. No I know why the ladies at the potluck are always asking me, “did you try my some of my food?”


  37. Lisa says:

    Trey, hope you’re working on a new post. I’ve been hovering around your blog all morning waiting!! But alas, I need to get going. I’ll check back in later. :)

  38. Trey Morgan says:

    Memorial Stones … got it ready to post in just a little while.

    What’s the slow hang up? My proof-reader is still in bed this morning.

  39. Lisa says:

    Ha! I’d still be in bed too if I could be. And we’re an hour ahead! Yeah, I’d wait for the proofreader too. 😉 Just teasin’!

  40. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, TREY! BTW, I remember the “His Needs, Her Needs”…but I’m not sure Ford Man does. LOL

About Me

Trey Morgan Here are my thoughts about marriage, family, raising children, humor, faith and the life God intended for us all. I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast.

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