The Five Core Needs for a Healthy Marriage

When your marriage is in trouble, there is nothing more valuable than marriage counseling with an experienced marriage counselor. Tens of thousands of hours of marriage therapy, listening and saving marriages teaches one a few things. The most important of these is that a healthy marriage is in harmony in five core areas. In couples counseling we address these core areas of communication, problem solving, intimacy, love and connection.

As healthy men and women, these core areas are best thought of as core needs. Unlike other needs we have we cannot satisfy these on our own. We require a relationship in order to fulfill these needs. Since we all share these same five core needs, our basic operating assumption is that they are met in the same ways, however, they are met differently for men and women. It is this fundamental misunderstanding that sets up an apparently never ending cycle of misunderstanding, miscommunication, compromise, resentment and distress.

A marriage that is experiencing distress is the result of one or more of these five core needs not being met within the context of the marriage. When one or more of these needs is unmet we feel misunderstood and at times even disrespected by our spouse. This tends to lead to a fundamental lack of emotional stability in the marriage. In turn, this leads to disagreements. On the surface these disagreements appear to be about the smallest of things. Of course, when they are happening they don't seem small at all. What underlies these fights is very serious. This is why our fights can be so extraordinarily passionate. Your marriage doesn't need to be this way. There are answers.

The keystone of a thriving marriage is healthy communication. Communication is a listening skill not a talking skill. When our communication is poor we tend to listen defensively, waiting for a “jab” or an “opening” to jab back. This is an emotionally exhausting dynamic. To avoid this dynamic we often find ourselves compromising or “going along to get along” in a vain attempt to “keep the peace”. Over time, these well intended compromises lead to resentments and in turn sow the seeds of recurring conflict. Good communication takes the both of us working together as a collaborative team to facilitate mutual understanding and respect for how each other’s needs are met, and working together to meet those needs.

An experienced marriage counselor can help. Upon close examination of these core needs and how they are met, we will find that the strategies we employ as healthy men and women are in actuality highly complementary strategies. Through our marriage therapy discussions we will bring resolution to recurring conflicts while providing you with the tools you need for healthy and effective communication, problem solving, etc., to enable you to clear the air and allow you to reconnect on an intimate level. Your marriage will be emotionally stable and you will experience the love and harmony we all desire.

Marriage counseling is an investment in yourself and your relationship. It seems that no one teaches us how to be an emotionally healthy person or how to have a healthy marriage. Some of us seek out a coach or a mentor and when we do we find that we have discovered something that we never knew existed. We find that being an emotionally healthy person or having a healthy marriage is not a mysterious or elusive thing that people only talk about. It's real and within your grasp. The time and energy you spend on yourself and your marriage is never wasted! Invest in yourself. Invest in your marriage! The right marriage counseling program for you and your spouse can restore the harmony, respect and love the both of you once shared.

There is hope.

Robert Whitman, Licensed Professional Counselor, MA, CAC III - Denver, CO